The Australia Institute Essential Reading List 2022
No Enemies No Friends: Restoring Australia’s Global Relevance
by Allan Behm
Shortlisted for Australian political book of the year award 2022.
The orthodoxy that increased defence spending will deliver increased national security confirms the status quo. But it does not help us to deal with shocks and surprises. How should Australia re-calibrate its national security settings to deal with global disruption?
Australia’s cultural and historical experiences have shaped our security thinking. Our mindset is built around interlocking pathologies: racism, misogyny, isolation, insecurity, a brashness that masks a deep lack of self-confidence, and the perverse effects of the cultural cringe.
This book is not about why Australia has become so good at getting things so bad. Rather, it suggests we have every capability to improve. It is less a lamentation for what might have been than a meditation on how to learn sure-footedness in our international affairs, in a new and less predictable world. We need to maintain a credible defence force, and invest in diplomacy to reduce our dependence on military force and defence alliances. This is crucial for the maintenance of our long-term security and confidence to become a significant international actor.
BIG: The Role of the State in the Modern Economy
by Richard Denniss
Scott Morrison wants to spend a lot more money on defence, the business community wants more spending on infrastructure and education, an ageing population wants better health and aged care, and young Australians want more action on climate change and affordable housing. Each problem requires more public spending, but for decades Australians have been told that the less government spends, the better their lives will be.
Furthermore, while spending more money will be essential to fund more submarines, aged-care nurses and infrastructure, money alone will not solve the problems faced by Australia. Decades of declining standards of accountability and transparency, of privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts, combined with a lack of energy in strengthening the positive role of government, have led to apathy among the public and parliamentarians. We have allowed our public institutions to shrink and atrophy, and our creativity to wane in choosing not just which services government should provide but how best to provide them.
There is a clear alternative: follow the lead of the Nordic countries in the provision of great public health, education, housing and infrastructure, and in doing so boost economic productivity and deliver higher standards of living at lower cost.
It is time to jettison the obsession with the ‘unfinished reform agenda’ of the 1990s, to consider the breadth and depth of the new challenges confronting Australia, and to chart a course in which governments take more responsibility for solving the problems that will dominate Australian lives in the years ahead. We must abandon decades of denial that the public sector can play a bigger and better role in improving our lives. To build the bigger government these times demand, we must first abandon the baggage of the past.
Bulldozed: Scott Morrison’s fall and Anthony Albanese’s rise
by Niki Savva
Between 2013 and 2022, Tony Abbott begat Malcolm Turnbull, who begat Scott Morrison. For nine long years, Australia was governed by a succession of Coalition governments rocked by instability and bloodletting, and consumed with prosecuting climate and culture wars while neglecting policy.
By the end, among his detractors — and there were plenty — Morrison was seen as the worst prime minister since Billy McMahon. Worse even than Tony Abbott, who lasted a scant two years in the job, whose main legacy was that he destroyed Julia Gillard, then himself, and then Turnbull.
Morrison failed to accept the mantle of national leadership, or to deal adequately with the challenges of natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. He thought reform was a vanity project. He said he never wanted to leave a legacy. He got his wish.
Niki Savva, Australia’s renowned political commentator, author, and columnist, was there for all of it. In The Road to Ruin, she revealed the ruinous behaviour of former prime minister Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, that led to the ascension of Turnbull. In Plots and Prayers, she told the inside story of the coup that overthrew Turnbull and installed his conniving successor, Morrison.
Now she lays out the final unravelling of the Coalition at the hands of a resurgent Labor and the so-called teal independents that culminated in the historic 2022 election. With her typical access to key players, and her riveting accounts of what went on behind the scenes, Bulldozed is the unique final volume of an unputdownable and impeccably sourced political trilogy.
Lone Wolf: Albanese and the New Politics
by Katharine Murphy
A prime minister in the making, and a nation on the move. In Lone Wolf, Katharine Murphy offers a new portrait of Anthony Albanese. She reveals a leader who has always had to think three steps ahead, who was an insurgent for much of his professional life, but had to learn to listen and devise “strategies of inclusivity” to win the 2022 election.
Following that victory, Greens leader Adam Bandt voiced hopes for “a great era of progressive reform,” but it is Albanese and Labor who will ultimately decide whether that potential is reached or not.
Drawing on interviews with Albanese, Bandt, Penny Wong, Jim Chalmers, Mark Butler, Katy Gallagher, Simon Holmes à Court, Zoe Daniel and more, Murphy’s brilliant essay draws out the meaning of an eventful political year. She offers a telling character study of the prime minister, investigates the success of the teals and the Greens, and looks to the challenges of the future.
“Taking the party leadership was both a beginning and an ending. Insurgency was done. New skills were required … Albanese knew how to recruit people to a cause and to get them to a similar place. He’d been doing that since his teens. But to win, he had to learn to listen, to trust his team and to lead, understanding that sometimes leadership involves holding back rather than imagining it’s all on you.” Katharine Murphy, Lone Wolf
The Reckoning: How #MeToo Is Changing Australia
by Jess Hill
In 2021, Australia saw rage and revelation, as #MeToo powered an insurgency against sexism and sexual violence. From once isolated survivors to political staffers, women everywhere were refusing to keep men’s secrets.
In this electrifying essay, Jess Hill traces the conditions that gave birth to #MeToo and tells the stories of women who – often at great personal cost – found themselves at the centre of this movement. Hill exposes the networks of backlash against them – in government, media, schools, and in our national psyche. This is a powerful essay about shame, secrecy and, most of all, a revolutionary movement for accountability.
“Here’s what men like Scott Morrison don’t understand: political spin has no power against the rage unleashed by #MeToo. At its heart, this is an accountability movement… The cultural revolution of #MeToo is not just about sexual violence. It is taking aim at patriarchy’s most sacred compact: the keeping of men’s secrets.” —Jess Hill, The Reckoning
A Brief History of Equality
by Thomas Piketty
The world’s leading economist of inequality presents a short but sweeping and surprisingly optimistic history of human progress toward equality despite crises, disasters, and backsliding. A perfect introduction to the ideas developed in his monumental earlier books.
It’s easy to be pessimistic about inequality. We know it has increased dramatically in many parts of the world over the past two generations. No one has done more to reveal the problem than Thomas Piketty. Now, in this surprising and powerful new work, Piketty reminds us that the grand sweep of history gives us reasons to be optimistic. Over the centuries, he shows, we have been moving toward greater equality.
Piketty guides us with elegance and concision through the great movements that have made the modern world for better and worse: the growth of capitalism, revolutions, imperialism, slavery, wars, and the building of the welfare state. It’s a history of violence and social struggle, punctuated by regression and disaster. But through it all, Piketty shows, human societies have moved fitfully toward a more just distribution of income and assets, a reduction of racial and gender inequalities, and greater access to health care, education, and the rights of citizenship. Our rough march forward is political and ideological, an endless fight against injustice. To keep moving, Piketty argues, we need to learn and commit to what works, to institutional, legal, social, fiscal, and educational systems that can make equality a lasting reality. At the same time, we need to resist historical amnesia and the temptations of cultural separatism and intellectual compartmentalization. At stake is the quality of life for billions of people. We know we can do better, Piketty concludes. The past shows us how. The future is up to us.
Rebellion, Rascals and Revenue: Tax follies and wisdom through the ages!
by Michael Keen & Joel Slemrod
Governments have always struggled to tax in ways that are effective and tolerably fair. Sometimes they fail grotesquely, as when, in 1898, the British ignited a rebellion in Sierra Leone by imposing a tax on huts—and, in repressing it, ended up burning the very huts they intended to tax. Sometimes they succeed astonishingly, as when, in eighteenth-century Britain, a cut in the tax on tea massively increased revenue. In this entertaining book, two leading authorities on taxation, Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod, provide a fascinating and informative tour through these and many other episodes in tax history, both preposterous and dramatic — from the plundering described by Herodotus and an Incan tax payable in lice to the (misremembered) Boston Tea Party and the scandals of the Panama Papers. Along the way, readers meet a colourful cast of tax rascals, and even a few tax hero
While it is hard to fathom the inspiration behind such taxes as one on ships that tended to make them sink, Keen and Slemrod show that yesterday’s tax systems have more in common with ours than we may think. Georgian England’s window tax now seems quaint, but was an ingenious way of judging wealth unobtrusively. And Tsar Peter the Great’s tax on beards aimed to induce the nobility to shave, much like today’s carbon taxes aim to slow global warming.
Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue is a surprising and one-of-a-kind account of how history illuminates the perennial challenges and timeless principles of taxation — and how the past holds clues to solving the tax problems of today.
Rigged: How networks of powerful mates rip off everyday Australians
by Cameron Murray & Paul Frijters
The shocking story of how networks of Mates have come to dominate business and government, and managed to rob the majority of ordinary Australians of half our wealth.
Australia has become one of the most unequal societies in the Western world, when just a generation ago, it was one of the most equal. This is the story of how networks of Mates have come to dominate business and government, robbing ordinary Australians.
Every hour you work, thirty minutes of it goes to line the Mates’ pockets rather than your own. Mates in big corporations, industry groups, government departments, the halls of parliament and the media skew the system to suit each other. Corporations dodge taxes, so you pay more. You pay more for your house and higher interest rates on your mortgage, more for your medicines and transport, and more for your children’s education and insurance, because the Mates take a cut.
Rigged uncovers the pattern of political favours, grey gifts and information sharing that has been allowed to build up over two decades. Drawing on extensive economic research, it exposes the Game of Mates as nothing less than corruption on a grand scale across Australia, and how Australia has fallen behind other countries in combatting it.
Hard Labour: Wage Theft in the Age of Inequality
by Ben Schneiders
A startling investigation of how some of Australia’s best-known companies have abused their power to systematically underpay their workers in recent years.
Whether it’s at McDonald’s, Coles, 7-Eleven, Woolworths, the major banks, high-end restaurants, or on farms, wage theft has become endemic. Billions of dollars have been unlawfully taken from workers at countless businesses, large and small.
Hard Labour is an examination of why this has occurred and what it says about inequality and power in twenty-first century Australia. It tells the stories of individual workers, temporary migrants, and those without influence and connections. It also describes how many businesses — whether owned by private equity or wealthy families, or operating through tax havens or on the stock exchange — have structured themselves to avoid paying minimum wages.
Drawing on years of extensive research, economic data, and hundreds of interviews, Ben Schneiders puts the issue of wage theft in a broader context to describe how the loss of worker power in Australia has led to rising inequality and what this means for our democracy. Hard Labour examines some of the shifts of power in Australian history between capital and labour — from the living-wage Harvester decision of 1907 to the Accord of the 1980s, the rise of neoliberalism, and the continuing decline of the union movement.
Hard Labour shows the scale of the wage-theft problem, and what needs to be done to change what is, in effect, a massive rip-off of ordinary workers.
Our Members Be Unlimited
by Sam Wallman
An original and visually powerful exploration of unionism.
In our current political climate, people are looking for answers — and alternatives. The promise of unions is that their ‘members be unlimited’: that they don’t belong to the rich, the powerful, or special interests, but to all workers.
How did the idea of unionism arise? Where has it flourished? And what are its challenges in the 21st century? From Britain to Bangladesh, from the first union of the 18th century to today, from solidarity in Walmart China to his own experiences in an Amazon warehouse in Melbourne, comics journalist Sam Wallman explores the urge to come together and cooperate that arises again and again in workers and workplaces everywhere.
With a dynamic and distinctive art style, and writing that’s both thoughtful and down to earth, Our Members Be Unlimited serves as an entry point for young people or those new to these notions of collective action, but also as an invigorating read to those already engaged in the struggle for better working conditions — and a better world.
The Care-Less State: Reforming Australia’s Social Services
by Mark Considine
A powerful statement of how to fix Australia’s failing social services
The lives of all Australians are profoundly affected by the quality of social services available, but a long list of royal commissions and public inquiries have revealed them to be failing. In The Careless State Mark Considine shows that the preferred model of reform has failed to adapt and improve. In the 1980s Australian governments faced rapidly increasing demand for services in areas like employment assistance, aged care, childcare and vocational education and training; to respond to this challenge, governments led by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating pioneered the introduction of service markets, where private companies compete with public institutions and charities in newly constructed social services. This ‘choice revolution’ was embraced and extended by the Howard government. Market choice continues to drive reform across a wide spectrum of programs and social services. Considine’s detailed investigation demonstrates conclusively that important aspects of the experiment with social service markets have failed. Weak quality control, systematic rorting and entrenched disadvantage have become the norm. Private business interests and shareholders’ interest have often displaced established charities and commitment to quality care for all. The service systems are careless, leaving clients to make choices without real information or protection. Considine points to alternative ways that reforms could be configured to get the best from both private and public agencies, and find a new approach to save these failing services.
Humanity’s Moment: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope
by Joelle Gergis
A personal call to action from an Australian IPCC author.
Acknowledging that the world as we know it is coming apart is an act of courage.
If I live to look back at this troubled time, I want to say that I did all that I could, that I was on the right side of history.
The question is, do you want to be part of the legacy that restores our faith in humanity?
When climate scientist Joëlle Gergis set to work on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, the research she encountered kept her up at night. Through countless hours spent with the world’s top scientists to piece together the latest global assessment of climate change, she realised that the impacts were occurring faster than anyone had predicted.
In Humanity’s Moment, Joëlle takes us through the science in the IPCC report with unflinching honesty, explaining what it means for our future, while sharing her personal reflections on bearing witness to the heartbreak of the climate emergency unfolding in real time. But this is not a lament for a lost world. It is an inspiring reminder that human history is an endless tug-of-war for social justice. We are each a part of an eternal evolutionary force that can transform our world. Joëlle shows us that the solutions we need to live sustainably already exist – we just need the social movement and political will to create a better world. This book is a climate scientist’s guide to rekindling hope, and a call to action to restore our relationship with ourselves, each other and our planet.
Together We Can
by Claire O’Rourke
Inspiring stories about people around Australia who are taking action on climate change, helping create a better future for our children and for the planet, while at the same time deepening connections with each other.
Millions of Australians are quietly freaking out about climate change, and Claire O’Rourke is one of them. We know the science is bad, we’re signing petitions, recycling our garbage and switching our light bulbs to LED – and we know so much more needs to be done. Australia is on the front lines. It’s going to take a big, all-hands-on-deck effort to turn this around, and it can be overwhelming thinking about where to start.
Together We Can is an invitation to anyone worried about what climate change means for our future on this planet. Claire challenges us to make the choice to contribute by reconnecting with our communities. You can start small and simple, and before you know it, it’s empowering, transformative and hopeful.
Claire tells the stories of everyday people all around Australia who are already making a difference, and they come from every walk of life: food producers, sportspeople, financiers, psychologists, entrepreneurs, public servants, scientists, teachers, actors, farmers, kids and retirees. Our fragmented modern lives have pulled us away from the deep connections with other people that nurture and inspire. These stories show how how contributing to healing our broken world also enriches our connections with each other. It’s what we need to face uncertain times.
The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism
by Adrienne Buller
Public understanding of, and outcry over, the dire state of the climate and environment is greater than ever before. Parties across the political spectrum claim to be climate leaders, and overt denial is on the way out. Yet when it comes to slowing the course of the climate and nature crises, despite a growing number of pledges, policies and summits, little ever seems to change. Nature is being destroyed at an unprecedented rate. We remain on course for a catastrophic 3°C of warming. What’s holding us back?
In this searing and insightful critique, Adrienne Buller examines the fatal biases that have shaped the response of our governing institutions to climate and environmental breakdown, and asks: are the ‘solutions’ being proposed really solutions? Tracing the intricate connections between financial power, economic injustice and ecological crisis, she exposes the myopic economism and market-centric thinking presently undermining a future where all life can flourish. The book examines what is wrong with mainstream climate and environmental governance, from carbon pricing and offset markets to ‘green growth’, the commodification of nature and the growing influence of the finance industry on environmental policy. In doing so, it exposes the self-defeating logic of a response to these challenges based on creating new opportunities for profit, and a refusal to grapple with the inequalities and injustices that have created them. Both honest and optimistic, The Value of a Whale asks us – in the face of crisis – what we really value.
The Big Switch: Australia’s electric future
by Saul Griffith
Climate change is a planetary emergency. We have to do something now – but what? Australian visionary Saul Griffith has a plan. In The Big Switch, Griffith lays out a detailed blueprint – optimistic but feasible – for fighting climate change while creating millions of new jobs and a healthier environment. Griffith explains exactly what it would take to transform our infrastructure, update our grid, and adapt our households. The same natural advantages – incredible resources on an enormous continent – that helped Australia prosper in the 20th century are the ingredients for becoming the most prosperous, entirely renewable, economy in the world.
‘The point is, we don’t have to be perfect to solve climate change. We just need to be electric. If we go hard and go early on cutting emissions – and if by so doing we encourage other countries to increase their ambition and follow us – we have everything to win. We’ll be winning so much, we’ll win, win, win, win, win. Lower energy prices for all Australians. Driving our vehicles will be cheaper than it has ever been. Heating our homes and our showers will be cheaper too. The average household will probably save $5000 a year or more on energy and car expenses.’—Saul Griffith
August in Kabul: America’s Last Days in Afghanistan
by Andrew Quilty
Told through the eyes of witnesses to the fall of Kabul, Walkley award-winning journalist Andrew Quilty’s debut publication offers a remarkable record of this historic moment.
As night fell on 15 August 2021, the Taliban entered Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. After a 20-year conflict with the United States, its Western allies and a proxy Afghan government, the Islamic militant group once aligned with al Qaeda was about to bury yet another foreign foe in the graveyard of empires. And for the US, the superpower, this was yet another foreign disaster. As cities and towns fell to the Taliban in rapid succession, Western troops and embassy staff scrambled to flee a country of which its government had lost control. To the world, Kabul in August looked like Saigon in 1975. August in Kabul is the story of how America’s longest mission came to an abrupt and humiliating end, told through the eyes of Afghans whose lives have been turned upside down: a young woman who harbours dreams of a university education; a presidential staffer who works desperately to hold things together as the government collapses around him; a prisoner in the notorious Bagram Prison who suddenly finds himself free when prison guards abandon their post. Andrew Quilty was one of a handful of Western journalists who stayed in Kabul as the city fell. This is his first-hand account of those dramatic final days.
Africa is Not a Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa
by Dipo Faloyin
Definitive proof that Africa is *not* a country. A lively, entertaining and informative portrait of modern Africa that pushes back against harmful stereotypes to tell a more comprehensive, personal story.
‘This book should be on the curriculum.’ Nikki May, author of WAHALA.
Africa Is Not A Country is a bright portrait of modern Africa that pushes back against harmful stereotypes to tell a more comprehensive story.
You already know these stereotypes. So often Africa is depicted simplistically as an arid red landscape of famines and safaris, uniquely plagued by poverty and strife.
In this funny and insightful book, Dipo Faloyin offers a much-needed corrective. He examines each country’s colonial heritage, and explores a wide range of subjects, from chronicling urban life in Lagos and the lively West African rivalry over who makes the best Jollof rice, to the story of democracy in seven dictatorships and the dangers of stereotypes in popular culture.
By turns intimate and political, Africa Is Not A Country brings the story of the continent towards reality, celebrating the energy and fabric of its different cultures and communities in a way that has never been done before.
Disconnect: Why We Get Pushed to Extremes Online and How to Stop it
by Jordan Guiao
A lively, topical look at the rise of internet extremism and what we can do about it.
Many of us know an anti-vaxxer or a selfie-obsessed narcissist who clutters our social feeds; an online conspiracy theorist or a child whose face is buried in a smartphone. Some of us even live with one. How do we pull these people back from the brink of a digital abyss?
In this compelling account, researcher Jordan Guiao reveals what happens when we fall into online addiction and radicalisation. He speaks to Covid-19 ‘freedom fighters’, QAnon conspiracists, social media egoists, online gamers and men’s rights activists, tracing their path into obsession and how they found their way out. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience and research on addiction, he prompts us to ask: how can we use the tools that connect us to stop isolating us? And what should our governments do to protect us?
In an age of online outrage and social media schisms, where Big Tech tracks our every click, it is time for a conversation about how to use the internet safely and for social good. Let’s stop the disconnect and create an online world we can all be proud of.
Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We’ll Win Them Back
by Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow
A call to action for the creative class and labor movement to rally against the power of Big Tech and Big Media.
Corporate concentration has breached the stratosphere, as have corporate profits. An ever-expanding constellation of industries are now monopolies (where sellers have excessive power over buyers) or monopsonies (where buyers hold the whip hand over sellers)—or both.
In Chokepoint Capitalism, scholar Rebecca Giblin and writer and activist Cory Doctorow argue we’re in a new era of “chokepoint capitalism,” with exploitative businesses creating insurmountable barriers to competition that enable them to capture value that should rightfully go to others. All workers are weakened by this, but the problem is especially well-illustrated by the plight of creative workers. From Amazon’s use of digital rights management and bundling to radically change the economics of book publishing, to Google and Facebook’s siphoning away of ad revenues from news media, and the Big Three record labels’ use of inordinately long contracts to up their own margins at the cost of artists, chokepoints are everywhere.
By analysing book publishing and news, live music and music streaming, screenwriting, radio and more, Giblin and Doctorow deftly show how powerful corporations construct “anti-competitive flywheels” designed to lock in users and suppliers, make their markets hostile to new entrants, and then force workers and suppliers to accept unfairly low prices.
In the book’s second half, Giblin and Doctorow then explain how to batter through those chokepoints, with tools ranging from transparency rights to collective action and ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work.
Chokepoint Capitalism is a call to workers of all sectors to unite to help smash these chokepoints and take back the power and profit that’s being heisted away—before it’s too late.
Facts and Other Lies: Welcome to the Disinformation Age
by Ed Coper
From fringe conspiracy theories to ‘alternative facts’, a timely look at how we arrived in the ‘fake news’ era.
Would your younger self believe the news of today? An entire city block blown up by a suicide bomber on Christmas Day because he believed phone towers spread disease. A Representative elected to the US Congress on a platform that Democrats are secretly harvesting an anti-aging chemical from the blood of abused children. Angry rioters in furs and horns overrun the Capitol in a bloody carnage of insurrection. The Prime Minister of Australia employing the wife of his friend who fronts a group the FBI has declared terrorists. A global pandemic which, even as they lie dying from it, people refuse to believe exists.
Many who sat in shocked disbelief as these events beamed around the world asked the same question: ‘How did we get here?’ For those rioters, it was the culmination of a journey of online radicalisation that began with the weaponisation of disinformation by their political leaders and outrageously biased ‘news’ commentators.
Facts and Other Lies puts fake news in its historical context and explains how disinformation has fractured society, even threatening democracy itself. It explains why disinformation is so potent and so hard to stop, and what we can do to help prevent its proliferation in Australia – where politicians and shock jocks are already operating from the same dark playbook. It outlines how anyone can defuse disinformation in the home, office or pub, or wherever the deluded gather to spread their nonsense. Be prepared!
Strength in Numbers: How Polls Work and Why We Need Them
by G. Elliott Morris
An insightful exploration of political polling and a bold defense of its crucial role in a modern democracy.
Public opinion polling is the ultimate democratic process; it gives every person an equal voice in letting elected leaders know what they need and want. But in the eyes of the public, polls today are tarnished. Recent election forecasts have routinely missed the mark and media coverage of polls has focused solely on their ability to predict winners and losers. Polls deserve better.
In Strength in Numbers, data journalist G. Elliott Morris argues that the larger purpose of political polls is to improve democracy, not just predict elections. Whether used by interest groups, the press, or politicians, polling serves as a pipeline from the governed to the government, giving citizens influence they would otherwise lack. No one who believes in democracy can afford to give up on polls; they should commit, instead, to understanding them better.
In a vibrant history of polling, Morris takes readers from the first semblance of data-gathering in the ancient world through to the development of modern-day scientific polling. He explains how the internet and “big data” have solved many challenges in polling—and created others. He covers the rise of polling aggregation and methods of election forecasting, reveals how data can be distorted and misrepresented, and demystifies the real uncertainty of polling. Candidly acknowledging where polls have gone wrong in the past, Morris charts a path for the industry’s future where it can truly work for the people.
Persuasively argued and deeply researched, Strength in Numbers is an essential guide to understanding and embracing one of the most important and overlooked democratic institutions in the United States.
by Adam Grant
Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. Intelligence is no cure, and it can even be a curse: there’s evidence that being good at thinking can make us worse at rethinking. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.
As an organizational psychologist, Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people’s minds–and our own. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, harness the surprising advantages of impostor syndrome, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. Think Again reveals that we don’t have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It’s an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility, humility, and curiosity over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.
Telling Tennant’s Story: The Strange Career of the Great Australian Silence
by Dean Ashenden
Tennant Creek and Australia’s Unresolved Past.
Winner of the 2022 Australian Political Book of the Year Award.
The tale of a town, and a nation.
Returning after fifty years to the frontier town where he lived as a boy, Dean Ashenden finds Tennant Creek transformed, but its silence about the past still mostly intact.
Provoked by a half-hidden account, Ashenden sets out to understand how the story of ‘relations between two racial groups within a single field of life’ has been told and not told, in this town and across the nation.
In a riveting combination of memoir, reportage and political and intellectual history, Ashenden traces the strange career of the great Australian silence – from its beginnings in the first encounters of black and white, through the work of the early anthropologists, the historians and the courts in landmark cases about land rights and the Stolen Generations, to still-continuing controversy.
In a moving finale, Ashenden goes back to Tennant Creek once more to meet for the first time some of his Aboriginal contemporaries, and to ask how the truths of Australia’s story can best be told.
Black Lives, White Law: Locked Up and Locked Out in Australia
by Russell Marks
How and why Australia’s legal system fails Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
‘Russell Marks unravels a national tragedy. From the front line he delivers a first-rate, firsthand account of how so many First Nations people end up in jail, again and again.’ —Patrick Dodson, Labor Senator for Western Australia
Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people on the planet. Indigenous men are fifteen times more likely to be locked up than their non-Indigenous counterparts; Indigenous women are twenty-one times more likely.
Featuring vivid case studies and drawing on a deep sense of history, Black Lives, White Law explores Australia’s extraordinary record of locking up First Nations people. It examines Australia’s system of criminal justice – the web of laws and courts and police and prisons – and how that system interacts with First Nations people and communities. How is it that so many are locked up? Why have imprisonment rates increased in recent years? Is this situation fair? Almost everyone agrees that it’s not. And yet it keeps getting worse.
In this groundbreaking book, Russell Marks investigates Australia’s incarceration epidemic. What would happen if the institutions of Australian justice received the same scrutiny to which they routinely subject Indigenous Australians?
‘How should we tell the story of Indigenous incarceration in Australia? Only part of it is in the numbers. And we can’t get very far by looking at the crimes that see Indigenous offenders punished by courts and sentenced to prison … To really grapple with the problem of Indigenous incarceration requires us to accept the possibility that there might be another way. That the current state of affairs – where entire families sometimes spend time behind bars – is not inevitable.’ —Russell Marks
How to Lose Friends and Influence White People
by Antoinette Lattouf
A guide through the balancing act of activist, advocate and ally, remembering that just because others are learning you don’t need to be the teacher, from the dynamic and sharp co-founder of Media Diversity Australia, Antoinette Lattouf.
Poignant, inspiring, funny and most importantly authentic, How to Lose Friends and Influence White People explores how to make a difference when championing change and racial equality.
A powerful and personal guide on how to be effective, no matter who you’re trying to influence. Whether it’s the racist relative sitting across the table at a family function, or the CEO blind to the institutional barriers to people of colour in the workplace, award-winning journalist and vivacious leader Antoinette Lattouf has some tips and advice on what to do.
Unlike Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, it won’t advise you not to ‘criticise, condemn or complain’ but instead explores the fallout when you do just that. With searing insights into the popularity contests you’ll forgo, and how to decide which races are worth running — and crucially which simply aren’t worth time or energy.
With wit and warmth, drawing on her own experiences and some very public missteps others have taken, Antoinette Lattouf shows us that a world of allies and advocates will be a better place for all of us – you just need to learn how to make (and keep) them!
Voices of Us: The independents’ movement transforming Australian democracy
by Tim Dunlop
Australian politics is changing.
The two-party system is disappearing, and the balance of power is shifting. While these changes might feel fragile, we may just be on the precipice of a transformative era for democracy in Australia.
At the 2022 federal election, Australia voted — not just for change in individual seats — but a realignment of the way in which our political system works.
This book is about how that happened.
It’s also about what we have to do next to ensure these changes are bedded down so that we can move towards being a progressive, open, economically stable and egalitarian nation. A nation so many of us desire.
Voices of Us tells the inspiring story of the transformation of Australian democracy.
How Many More Women?
by Jennifer Robinson, Keina Yoshida
In this powerful and accessible exploration of our legal systems, two human rights lawyers break open the big judgments, developments and trends that have and continue to silence and disadvantage women.
How many more women have to be raped and abused before we act?
How many more women need to accuse him before we believe her?
How many more women will be failed by the criminal justice system?
How many more women need to speak out before we do something?
How many more women will be sued for defamation for speaking out?
How many more women will be silenced by NDAs?
How many more women lawyers, judges and legislators do we need for the law to evolve?
How many more women must yell and cry in protest before things will change?
From two internationally acclaimed lawyers comes a masterful and urgent exploration of the legal response to MeToo in both Australia and around the world.
We are in a crucial moment: wave after wave of women are breaking through the cultural reticence around gender-based and sexual violence. But even as they have grown empowered to speak, a new form of systematic silence has made itself more and more evident: the spike in survivors speaking out has been followed by a spike in legal actions against them – in defamation, in contract, in breach of confidence.
The law is currently being wielded to reinforce the status quo. Our criminal justice system is impeded by a flood of civil cases that act as gag orders. Defamation laws inhibit media from giving platforms to central voices. Binding non-disclosure agreements signed under duress keep the truth submerged.
In How Many More Women?, Jennifer Robinson and Keina Yoshida examine the broken systems and explore the changes needed in order to ensure that women’s freedom, including their freedom of speech, is no longer threatened by the laws that are supposed to protect them.
Not Now, Not Ever
edited by Julia Gillard
Ten years on from the speech that stopped us all in our tracks – Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech. Where were you then? And where are we now?
Then it was done. After staying silent, I’d had my say. At no time did I feel worked up or hotly angry. I felt strong, measured, controlled. Yet emotion did play its role in the energy of the speech. The frustration that sexism and misogyny could still be so bad in the twenty-first century. The toll of not pointing it out.
On 9 October 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard stood up and proceeded to make all present in Parliament House that day pay attention – and left many of them squirming in their seats. The incisive ‘misogyny speech’, as her words came to be known, continues to energise and motivate women who need to stare down sexism and misogyny in their own lives.
With contributions from Mary Beard, Jess Hill, Jennifer Palmieri, Katharine Murphy and members of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Julia Gillard explores the history and culture of misogyny, tools in the patriarchy’s toolbox, intersectionality, and gender and misogyny in the media and politics.
Kathy Lette looks at how the speech has gained a new life on TikTok, as well as inspiring other tributes and hand-made products, and we hear recollections from Wayne Swan, Anne Summers, Cate Blanchett, Brittany Higgins and others of where they were and how they first encountered the speech.
While behaviours may have improved since the misogyny speech, there remains a way to go and Julia Gillard explores the roadmap for the future with next-generation feminists Sally Scales, Chanel Contos and Caitlin Figueiredo to motivate us with that rallying cry: Not now, not ever!
by Amy Remeikis
On Reckoning tells of the moment when the personal became very political, when rape became the national conversation.
What happens when the usual political tactics of deflect and dodge are no longer enough?
The Guardian’s political reporter Amy Remeikis has spoken before about being a survivor of sexual assault, but Brittany Higgins going public with her story ripped the curtain back not just on political attempts to deal with real-world issues, but also how unsafe women can be, even inside the most protected building in the country.
Amy didn’t expect to see political leaders fumble the moment so completely. And what followed was people taking back the conversation from the politicians.
On Reckoning is a searing account of Amy’s personal and professional rage, taking you inside the parliament – and out – during one of the most confronting and uncomfortable conversations in recent memory.
Memoir & Biography
by Oliver Mol
An arresting memoir about a 10-month migraine, a recovery in Australia, and a job on the railway when there were no other options.
Oliver Mol was a successful, clever, healthy twenty-five-year old. Then one day the migraine started. For ten months, the pain was constant, exacerbated by writing, reading, using computers, looking at phones or anything with a screen. Slowly, Oliver began to disappear.
One evening, Oliver googled the only thing he could think of: ‘full-time job, no experience, Sydney’. An ad for a train guard appeared. For two years Oliver watched others live their lives, observing the intimacy of strangers brought together briefly and connected by the steady march of time.
Exquisitely written and bravely told, Train Lord is a searingly personal yet hugely relatable book, which asks what happens when your sense of self is suddenly destroyed, and how you get it back.
Tell Me Again
by Amy Thunig
For years, Amy Thunig thought she knew all the details about the day she was born, often demanding that the story of her birth be retold. Years later, heavily pregnant with her own first child, she learns what really happened that day. It’s a tale that exemplifies many of the events of her early life, where circumstances sometimes dictated that things be slightly different from how they might seem – including what is meant by her dad being away for ‘work’ and why her legal last name differs from her family’s.
In this remarkable memoir, Amy narrates her journey through childhood and adolescence, growing up with parents who struggled with addiction and incarceration. She reveals the importance of extended family and community networks when your immediate loved ones are dealing with endemic poverty and intergenerational trauma. In recounting her experiences, she shows how the stories we tell about ourselves can help to shape and sustain us. Tell Me Again will captivate, move and inspire readers with its candour and insight.
A Kind of Magic: A memoir about anxiety, our minds, and optimism in spite of it all
by Anna Spargo-Ryan
Where do mental illness stories begin?
Anna’s always had too many feelings. Or not enough feelings – she’s never been quite sure. Debilitating panic. Extraordinary melancholy. Paranoia. Ambivalence. Fear. Despair.
From anxious child to terrified parent, mental illness has been a constant. A harsh critic in the big moments – teenage pregnancy, divorce, a dream career, falling in love – and a companion in the small ones – getting to the supermarket, feeding all her cats, remembering which child is which.
But between therapists’ rooms and emergency departments, there’s been a feeling even harder to explain … optimism.
In this sharp-eyed and illuminating memoir, award-winning writer Anna Spargo-Ryan pieces together the relationships between time, mental illness, and our brain as the keeper of our stories. Against the backdrop of her own experience, she interrogates reality, how it can be fractured, and why it’s so hard to put it back together.
Powerfully honest, tender and often funny, A Kind of Magic blends meticulous research with vivid snapshots of the stuff that breaks us, and the magic of finding ourselves again.
Don’t Be Too Polite, Girls
by Wendy McCarthy
Educator, activist, agent of change – the life and career of one of Australia’s most influential women.
Wendy McCarthy has made her mark on Australia in many extraordinary ways. For more than 50 years, she has been on the leading edge of feminism and corporate and public life in this country and her trailblazing advocacy and leadership have made her a widely respected and revered figure. Wendy is a woman who shaped her times as much as she was shaped by them, and now, at 80 years of age, she shares her remarkable life and achievements, and the lessons she learned – and taught us all.
From sheltered country schoolgirl to relentless campaigner for abortion and contraception, from passionate teacher to lifelong advocate for education, to smashing that glass ceiling again and again and showing the way to subsequent generations of women, Wendy has championed change across the public, private and community sectors – in education, family planning, human rights, public health, overseas aid and development, conservation, heritage, media and the Arts.
This inspiring and enlightening memoir is filled with cautionary tales and insider stories about being female in Australia – as well as a few helpful survival tips. Above all, it encourages the reader to find her own voice and listen to it.
The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: A memoir
by Grace Tame
Grace Tame has never walked on middle ground.
From a young age, her life was defined by uncertainty – by trauma and strength, sadness and hope, terrible lows and wondrous highs. As a teenager she found the courage to speak up after experiencing awful and ongoing child sexual abuse. This fight to find her voice would not be her last.
In 2021 Grace stepped squarely into the public eye as the Australian of the Year, and was the catalyst for a tidal wave of conversation and action. Australians from all walks of life were inspired and moved by her fire and passion. She was using her voice and encouraging others to use theirs too.
The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner is Grace’s story, in Grace’s words, on Grace’s terms. Here she returns, again and again, to the things that have driven and saved her: love, connection and radical, unwavering honesty. Like Grace, this book is sharply intelligent, deeply felt, wildly unexpected and often blisteringly funny. And, as with all her work, it offers a constructive and optimistic vision for a better future for all of us.
by Chelsea Manning
The extraordinarily dramatic story of one of the world’s most famous whistle-blowers and trans women.
**CHOSEN AS A SUNDAY TIMES BOOK TO WATCH OUT FOR, A NEW STATESMAN BOOK TO READ, AND ONE OF COSMOPOLITAN’S BEST FORTHCOMING BOOKS**
An extraordinarily brave and moving memoir from one of the world’s most famous whistle-blowers, activists and trans women.
In 2010 Chelsea Manning, working as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army in Iraq, disclosed 720,000 classified military documents that she had smuggled out via the memory card of her digital camera. In March 2011, the United States Army sentenced Manning to thirty-five years in military prison, charging her with twenty-two counts relating to the unauthorized possession and distribution of classified military documents. The day after her conviction, Manning declared her gender identity as a woman and began to transition. In 2017, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence and she was released from prison.
In her memoir, Manning recounts how her pleas for increased institutional transparency and government accountability took place alongside a fight to defend her rights as a trans woman. She reveals her challenging childhood, her struggles as an adolescent, what led her to join the military, and the fierce pride she took in her work. We also learn the details of how and why she made the decision to send classified military documents to WikiLeaks.
This powerful, observant memoir will stand as one of the definitive testaments of the digital age.
The Uncaged Sky
by Kylie Moore-Gilbert
The extraordinary true story of Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s fight to survive 804 days imprisoned in Iran.
On September 12, 2018 British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran Airport by Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Convicted of espionage in a shadowy trial presided over by Iran’s most notorious judge, Dr Moore-Gilbert was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin and Qarchak prisons for 804 days, this is the full and gripping account of her harrowing ordeal. Held in a filthy solitary confinement cell for months, and subjected to relentless interrogation, Kylie was pushed to the limits of her endurance by extreme physical and psychological deprivation.
Kylie’s only lifeline was the covert friendships she made with other prisoners inside the Revolutionary Guards’ maximum-security compound where she had been ‘disappeared’, communicating in great danger through the air vents between cells, and by hiding secret letters in hava khori, the narrow outdoor balcony where she was led, blindfolded, for a solitary hour each day.
Cut off from the outside world, Kylie realised she alone had the power to change the dynamics of her incarceration. To survive, she began to fight back, adopting a strategy of resistance with her captors. Multiple hunger strikes, letters smuggled to the media, co-ordinated protests with other prisoners and a daring escape attempt led to her transfer to the isolated desert prison, Qarchak, to live among convicted criminals.
On November 25, 2020, after more than two years of struggle, Kylie was finally released in a high stakes three-nation prisoner swap deal orchestrated by the Australian government, laying bare the complex game of global politics in which she had become a valuable pawn.
Written with extraordinary insight and vivid immediacy, The Uncaged Sky is Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s remarkable story of courage and resilience, and a powerful meditation on hope, solidarity and what it means to be free.
Freedom, Only Freedom: the Prison Writing of Behrouz Boochani
by Behrouz Boochani
Over six years of imprisonment in Australia’s offshore migrant detention centre, the Kurdish-Iranian journalist and writer Behrouz Boochani bore personal witness to the suffering and degradation inflicted on him and his fellow refugees, culminating eventually in his prize-winning book – No Friend but the Mountains. In the articles, essays, and poems he wrote while detained, he emerged as both a tenacious campaigner and activist, as well as a deeply humane voice which reflects the indignity and plight of the many thousands of detained migrants across the world.
In this book Boochani’s collected writings are combined with essays from experts on migration, refugee rights, politics, and literature. Together, they provide a moving, creative and challenging account of not only one writer’s harrowing experience and inspiring resilience, but the wider structures of violence which hold thousands of human beings in a state of misery in migrant camps throughout Western nation-states and beyond.
Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation
by Hannah Gadsby
“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself,” Hannah Gadsby declared in her show Nanette, a scorching critique of the way society conducts public debates about marginalized communities. When it premiered on Netflix, it left audiences captivated by her blistering honesty and her singular ability to take them from rolling laughter to devastated silence. Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby’s tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.
Gadsby grew up as the youngest of five children in an isolated town in Tasmania, where homosexuality was illegal until 1997. She perceived her childhood as safe and “normal,” but as she gained an awareness of her burgeoning queerness, the outside world began to undermine the “vulnerably thin veneer” of her existence. After moving to mainland Australia and receiving a degree in art history, Gadsby found herself adrift, working itinerant jobs and enduring years of isolation punctuated by homophobic and sexual violence. At age twenty-seven, without a home or the ability to imagine her own future, she was urged by a friend to enter a stand-up competition. She won, and so began her career in comedy.
Gadsby became well known for her self-deprecating, autobiographical humor that made her the butt of her own jokes. But in 2015, as Australia debated the legality of same-sex marriage, Gadsby started to question this mode of storytelling, beginning work on a show that would become “the most-talked-about, written-about, shared-about comedy act in years” (The New York Times).
Harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette traces Gadsby’s growth as a queer person, to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, and her struggle with late-in-life diagnoses of autism and ADHD, finally arriving at the backbone of Nanette: the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral significance of truth-telling.
The Cost of Labour
by Natalie Kon-Yu
Natalie Kon-yu was nine weeks pregnant when the trembling began. Two weeks later she checked herself into a mental health unit. Rather than a woman with a health concern, the doctors saw Natalie as a vessel carrying precious cargo. This loss of agency carried on through childbirth and into her early years as a mother. Natalie discovered that she was far from alone.
In fact, her experience typifies the inequalities that weigh heavily on child-bearing women, as well as the devaluation of what is still perceived as ‘women’s work’. With bracing clarity and verve, Kon-yu tackles the outdated institutions, expectations and ideologies that hold us hostage as parents. The pressure is building and the cost on families is stacking up. Something has to give.
Drawing on personal narratives, history, social research and interviews, The Cost of Labour tackles the expectations that keep us all hostage to a dynamic unfit for contemporary society and offers hope for a way out of the trap.
What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma
by Stephanie Foo
A searing memoir of reckoning and healing by acclaimed journalist Stephanie Foo, investigating the little-understood science behind complex PTSD and how it has shaped her life.
“Every cell in my body is filled with the code of generations of trauma, of death, of birth, of migration, of history that I cannot understand… I want to have words for what my bones know.”
By age thirty, Stephanie Foo was successful on paper: She had her dream job as an award-winning radio producer at This American Life and a loving boyfriend. But behind her office door, she was having panic attacks and sobbing at her desk every morning. After years of questioning what was wrong with herself, she was diagnosed with complex PTSD–a condition that occurs when trauma happens continuously, over the course of years.
Both of Foo’s parents abandoned her when she was a teenager, after years of physical and verbal abuse and neglect. She thought she’d moved on, but her new diagnosis illuminated the way her past continued to threaten her health, relationships, and career. She found limited resources to help her, so Foo set out to heal herself, and to map her experiences onto the scarce literature about C-PTSD.
In this deeply personal and thoroughly researched account, Foo interviews scientists and psychologists and tries a variety of innovative therapies. She returns to her hometown of San Jose, California, to investigate the effects of immigrant trauma on the community, and she uncovers family secrets in the country of her birth, Malaysia, to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations. Ultimately, she discovers that you don’t move on from trauma–but you can learn to move with it.
Powerful, enlightening, and hopeful, What My Bones Know is a brave narrative that reckons with the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body–and examines one woman’s ability to reclaim agency from her trauma.
Seeing Other People
by Diana Reid
After two years of lockdowns, there’s change in the air. Eleanor has just broken up with her boyfriend, Charlie’s career as an actress is starting up again. They’re finally ready to pursue their dreams—relationships, career, family—if only they can work out what it is they really want.
When principles and desires clash, Eleanor and Charlie are forced to ask: where is the line between self-love and selfishness? In all their confusion, mistakes will be made and lies will be told as they reckon with the limits of their own self-awareness.
Seeing Other People is the darkly funny story of two very different sisters, and the summer that stretches their relationship almost to breaking point.
by Victoria Hannan
Some moments change everything. For five friends, what should have been a birthday to remember will instead cleave a line between before and after. From then on, the shockwaves of guilt, sorrow and disbelief will colour every day, every interaction, every possibility. Each will struggle. Each will ask why. Secrets will be kept. Lies will be told. Relationships reassessed. Each friend will be forever changed. And the question all of them will be forced to ask is: can they ever find a way to live without what was lost?
A raw, powerful novel from the prize-winning author of Kokomo that exposes the ripple effect of grief. With profound insight and a tender heart, Marshmallow shows how quickly the life you thought you had can be shattered forever.
The Bookseller’s Apprentice
by Amelia Mellor
Inspired by Melbourne’s first version of the iconic Queen Victoria Market, this historical fantasy novel is ideal for readers aged nine to twelve. This prequel to The Grandest Bookshop in the World can be enjoyed by both fans and newcomers.
Someday, Billy Pyke will be a scholar of Australian history, and the manager of the grandest bookshop in the world.
But in 1871, he’s twelve years old, and struggling under the burden of his parents’ expectations as the eldest of seven children. He’s happiest at work in Paddy’s Market — the loud, smelly, marvellous heart of Melbourne — where he uses his skills in magic to organise the book stall run by eccentric Mr Cole.
When Billy meets Kezia Nobody, a talented young seamstress, she warns him of a sinister magician called the Obscurosmith. At first, Billy can’t believe her stories of magical deals gone horribly wrong — but then he sees them happening.
And the night that the Obscurosmith crosses a terrifying and dangerous line, endangering the lives of everybody in the market, Billy realises that if he wants the Obscurosmith stopped, he’ll have to do it himself.
Bodies of Light
by Jennifer Down
Miles Franklin Literary Award (2022), Victorian Premier’s Literary Award Nominee for Fiction (2022), The Stella Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2022)
So by the grace of a photograph that had inexplicably gone viral, Tony had found me. Or: he’d found Maggie.
I had no way of knowing whether he was nuts or not; whether he might go to the cops. Maybe that sounds paranoid, but I don’t think it’s so ridiculous. People have gone to prison for much lesser things than accusations of child-killing.
A quiet, small-town existence. An unexpected Facebook message, jolting her back to the past. A history she’s reluctant to revisit: dark memories and unspoken trauma, bruised thighs and warning knocks on bedroom walls, unfathomable loss.
She became a new person a long time ago. What happens when buried stories are dragged into the light?
This epic novel from the two-time Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year is a masterwork of tragedy and heartbreak—the story of a life in full. Sublimely wrought in devastating detail, Bodies of Light confirms Jennifer Down as one of the writers defining her generation.
Best of Friends
by Kamila Shamsie
Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction
Fourteen-year-old Maryam and Zahra have always been the best of friends, despite their different backgrounds. Maryam takes for granted that she will stay in Karachi and inherit the family business; while Zahra keeps her desires secret, and dreams of escaping abroad.
This year, 1988, anything seems possible for the girls; and for Pakistan, emerging from the darkness of dictatorship into a bright future under another young woman, Benazir Bhutto. But a snap decision at a party celebrating the return of democracy brings the girls’ childhoods abruptly to an end. Its consequences will shape their futures in ways they cannot imagine.
Three decades later, in London, Zahra and Maryam are still best friends despite living very different lives. But when unwelcome ghosts from their shared past re-enter their world, both women find themselves driven to act in ways that will stretch and twist their bond beyond all recognition.
Best of Friends is a novel about Britain today, about power and how we use it, and about what we owe to those who’ve loved us the longest.
‘A new Kamila Shamsie novel is always worth celebrating, but Best of Friends is something else: an epic story that explores the ties of childhood friendship, the possibility of escape, the way the political world intrudes into the personal, all through the lens of two sharply drawn protagonists’ —Observer, Books of the Year 2022
The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.