Top Picks - Non-Fiction

Banks

$39.99

Sir Joseph Banks was a man of passion whose influence spanned the globe. A fearless adventurer, his fascination with beautiful women was only trumped by his obsession with the natural world and his lust for scientific knowledge.

Fabulously wealthy, Banks was the driving force behind monumental voyages and scientific discoveries in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and the Arctic. In 1768, as a galivanting young playboy, he joined Captain James Cook’s Endeavour expedition to the South Pacific. Financing his own team of scientists and artists, Banks battled high seas, hailstorms, treacherous coral reefs and hostile locals to expand the world’s knowledge of life on distant shores. He returned with thousands of specimens of plants and animals, generating enormous interest in Europe, while the racy accounts of his amorous adventures in Tahiti made him one of the most famous and notorious men in England.

As the longest-serving president of Britain’s Royal Society, Banks was perhaps the most important man in the scientific world for more than half a century. It was Banks, one of the first Europeans to set foot on Australia’s east coast, who advised Britain to establish a remote penal settlement and strategic base at Botany Bay, and he eventually became the foremost expert on everything Australian. Early governors in the colony answered to him as he set about unleashing Australia’s vast potential in agriculture and minerals. For decades, major British voyages of exploration around the globe only sailed with his backing.

By award-winning bestselling writer Grantlee Kieza, Banks is a rich and rollicking biography of one of the most colourful and intriguing characters in the history of exploration.

Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us

$32.99

Suddenly, when the country caught fire, people realised what the government has not: that climate change is killing us.

But climate deaths didn’t start in 2019. Medical officers have been warning of a health emergency as temperatures rise for years, and for at least a decade Australians have been dying from the plagues of climate change – from heat, flood, disease, smoke. And now, pandemic.

In this detailed, considered, compassionate book, Paddy Manning paints us the big picture. He revisits some headline events which might have faded in our memory – the Brisbane Floods of 2011; Melbourne’s thunderstorm asthma fatalities of 2016 – and brings to our attention less well-publicised killers: the soil-borne diseases that amplify after a flood; the fact that heat itself has killed more people than all other catastrophes put together. In each case, he has interviewed scientists to explore the link to climate change and asks how – indeed, whether – we can better prepare ourselves in the future.

Most importantly, Manning has spoken to survivors and the families of victims, creating a monument to those we have already lost. Donna Rice and her 13-year-old son Jordan. Alison Tenner. The Buchanan family. These are stories of humans at their most vulnerable, and also often at their best. In extremis, people often act to save their loved ones above themselves. As Body Count shows, we are now all in extremis, and it is time to act.

Respected journalist Paddy Manning tells these stories of tragedy and loss, heroism and resilience, in a book that is both monument and warning.

Read an extract.

PRAISE FOR BODY COUNT

“A climate emergency tour de force” – Dr Bob Brown

“A stunningly powerful call to political leaders everywhere who hear the warnings of the devastating impacts of climate change on health but fail to act” – Dr Helen Haines

Bush School

$29.99

In 1960, newly minted teacher Peter O’Brien started work as the only teacher at a bush school in Weabonga, two days’ travel by train and mail car from Armidale.

Peter was only 20 years old and had never before lived away from his home in Sydney. He’d had some teaching experience, but nothing to prepare him for the monumental challenge of being solely responsible for the education of 18 students, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old. With few lesson plans, scant teaching materials, a wide range of curious minds and ages to prepare for, Peter was daunted by the enormity of the task ahead.

Because of Weabonga’s remoteness, the students were already at a disadvantage, but they were keen and receptive and had been blessed with an enthusiastic and committed teacher. Indeed it was the children and their thirst for learning who kept Peter afloat during the early days of shockingly inadequate living conditions, a deficient diet and the terrible loneliness he felt being isolated so far from family, friends and his burgeoning romance.

Bush School is an engaging and fascinating memoir of how a young man rose to a challenge most would shrink from today. It tells movingly of the resilience and spirit of children, the importance of learning and the transformative power of teaching.

Care

$32.99

From the internationally bestselling author of SLOW comes a new call-to-arms for a new approach to living well – for everyone.

There is little doubt that the world is in desperate need of care; however, despite the overwhelming global problems that face us, we can find ourselves caring too much, while at the same time caring too little. By spending so much time and energy caring about the big problems of the world, we’ve lost sight of what smaller, personal acts of care can look like and just how powerful these small acts can be.

Care: The radical art of taking time explores what it means to care in smaller ways – for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities – and discovers that caring doesn’t need to cost us our wellbeing, happiness or relationships. That making simple changes to how we live, spending more time in nature, putting down our devices and connecting with each other face-to-face, finding awe and wonder in the world around us and remembering how to play, will have ripple effects that reach far beyond our own corner of the planet.

With unwavering compassion and understanding, Brooke McAlary takes us on a journey to rediscover the small pleasures that create large ripples, reminding us that no one needs to shoulder the burden of doing it all by themselves – we only need to cast our eyes forward and start small, with care.

Chasing the Light

$35.00

A rare, controversial, and totally no holds barred memoir from one of Hollywood’s greats.

In this powerful and evocative memoir, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, Oliver Stone, takes us right to the heart of what it’s like to make movies on the edge.

In Chasing The Light he writes about his rarefied New York childhood, volunteering for combat, and his struggles and triumphs making such films as Platoon, Midnight Express, and Scarface.

Before the international success of Platoon in 1986, Oliver Stone had been wounded as an infantryman in Vietnam, and spent years writing unproduced scripts while taking miscellaneous jobs and driving taxis in New York, finally venturing westward to Los Angeles and a new life.

Stone, now 73, recounts those formative years with vivid details of the high and low moments: we sit at the table in meetings with Al Pacino over Stone’s scripts for Scarface, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July; relive the harrowing demon of cocaine addiction following the failure of his first feature, The Hand (starring Michael Caine); experience his risky on-the-ground research of Miami drug cartels for Scarface; and see his stormy relationship with The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino. We also learn of the breathless hustles to finance the acclaimed and divisive Salvador; and witness tensions behind the scenes of his first Academy Award-winning film, Midnight Express.

PRAISE FOR CHASING THE LIGHT

“Riveting.” – The New York Times

“Raw, savagely honest, as dramatic as any of his movies.” – Mail on Sunday

“A tremendous book – readable, funny and harrowing.” – The Sunday Times

“He provokes outrage. He stirs up controversy. He has no respect for safe places. Oliver Stone is larger than life. Chasing the Light says it all.” – Sir Anthony Hopkins

China Panic

$32.99

When he visited Australia in 2014, Chinese president Xi Jinping said there was an ‘ocean of goodwill’ between our country and his. Since then that ocean has shown dramatic signs of freezing over. Australia is in the grip of a China Panic. How did we get here and what’s the way out?

We hear, weekly, alarming stories of Chinese influence, interference or even espionage – in politics, on campus, in the media, in community organisations and elsewhere. The United States now sees China as a strategic rival, and pressure on Australia to ‘get tough on China’ will only intensify.

While the xenophobic right hovers in the wings, some of the loudest voices decrying Chinese subversion come, unexpectedly, from the left. Aligning themselves with hawkish think tanks, they call for new security laws, increased scrutiny of Chinese Australians and, if necessary, military force – a prescription for a sharp rightward turn in Australian politics.

In this insightful critique, David Brophy offers a progressive alternative. Instead of punitive measures that restrict rights and stoke suspicion of minorities – moves that would only make Australia more like China – we need democratic solutions that strengthen Australian institutions and embrace, not alienate, Chinese Australians. Above all, we need forms of international solidarity that don’t reduce human rights to a mere bargaining chip.

Comrade Aeon’s Field Guide to Bangkok

$29.99

The secrets hidden in an overgrown plot of land in the centre of Bangkok reveal the politics, society and culture of contemporary Thailand; in an authentic and luminous debut novel for readers of Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Coe.

In Bangkok, a plot of land behind a city slum resonates with the hopes, dreams and fears of the local community. For Comrade Aeon, a homeless insurgent who fled to the jungle after a military crackdown on student protestors in 1976, it’s a verdant refuge and the place from which he documents the underbelly of the city. For Ida Barnes, an ex-pat whose husband may be cheating on her, it’s an inviting retreat. For Witty, an urbane property developer married to one of the city’s most famous movie stars, it’s a ‘Bangkok Unicorn’ – that rare chance to make his mark on the Bangkok skyline. But the slum-dwelling spirits who guard its secrets know that it holds a much darker history, that it masks the silent politics at the heart of Thai culture.

Written with a tender compassion for Bangkok’s people and customs, Comrade Aeon’s Field Guide to Bangkok is a masterful, propulsive debut which introduces a fresh new talent in fiction.

Culture is Life

$39.99

Culture is Life is a modern, photographic celebration of the diversity of Indigenous Australians. Pre-eminent Aboriginal photographer Wayne Quilliam has an archive of thousands of images and interviews with Indigenous people across the country.Through the images in this stunning collection, Wayne’s work explores the nuances of Indigenous thinking and identity, and focuses on how the First peoples view their place within the contemporary culture of Australia.

The people featured in Culture is Life include many high-profile Indigenous Australians, as well as community members of different ages from Tasmania to the Torres Strait, offering insights into the dreams of youth and the reflections of Elders. With various feature sections on significant events such as Sorry Day and the All Stars game, this book is an accessible gateway to better understand and appreciate the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, presented as a stunning and contemporary photo book.

Daddy Cool

$32.99

“Every family has secrets. Ours also has an award-winning biographer. My sister’s discoveries astonished me.” – Geraldine Brooks

Who can ever truly know their parents? He was a glamorous heart-throb, a famous American singer performing in front of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable and other stars at the Academy Awards. In the 1930s, his recording of ‘Hawaiian Paradise’ outsold those of Bing Crosby and Guy Lombardo. So how did he become an Australian infantryman, fighting alongside and performing for his fellow Diggers in Palestine, Beirut, Egypt and New Guinea? Why did he leave Hollywood and the ritziest hotels in America for a modest Californian bungalow in suburban Sydney? And what caused him to cease his endless drifting from one woman to another, one marriage to another, and settle with the love of his life?

She was a strong Aussie woman, a talented radio broadcaster and publicity agent. Why did she take a chance on this reckless vagabond and notorious womaniser? Seeking answers, Darleen Bungey turns her biographical skills on her own family, exploring her father’s multi-layered and at times tempestuous life with a truthful eye and loving heart.

REVIEWS
“This memoir does maximum honour to the idea that each family is its own unique story.” Tom Keneally

“Bungey’s writing is as spellbinding and wondrous as the subject she has so bravely, forensically, gracefully explored.” – Trent Dalton

“Unexpected, sweet and raw.” – David Marr

1 2 3 11