The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2015 Winner

Congratulations to Stephanie Bishop, author of  The Other Side of the World, the winner of the Readings Prize for New Fiction, 2015.

Established in 2014, The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction (originally known as the Readings New Australian Writing Award) supports published Australian authors working in fiction, and recognises exciting and exceptional new contributions to local literature. The Prize aims to increase the promotion and commercial success of books by Australian authors, earning them greater recognition from the wider community.

Cambridge 1963

Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes marriage and parenthood bring, with losing the time and the energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, wants things to be as they were and can't face the thought of another English winter.
A brochure slipped through the letterbox gives him the answer: 'Australia brings out the best in you.' Before she has a chance to realise what it will mean, Charlotte is travelling to the other side of the world.
Arriving in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light and slowly reveals that this new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte is left wondering if there is anywhere she belongs and how far she'll go to find her way home . . .

Short List

Last day in the Dynamite Factory by Annah Faulkner
Silence, Chris discovered, is easy. If nobody asks, you never have to tell.' Christopher Bright is a well-respected conservation architect, good neighbour and friend. He has a devoted wife, two talented children and an old Rover. He plays tennis on Saturdays and enjoys a beer with his business partner after work. Life is orderly, yet an unresolved question has haunted him for as long as he can remember: Who was his birth father? Devotion to his adoptive parents has always prevented Chris from enquiring too deeply, but when his mother dies, information emerges that becomes the catalyst for changes he has never imagined. As light is cast on his father, attention turns to his birth mother, but when he goes in search of the person behind the photo, he encounters a conspiracy of silence. His quest for information, however, reveals not only the truth about his mother's life but exposes the fault lines in his own, and Chris finds the price of knowledge increasingly heavy. Nevertheless, the truth must be told. Or must it?

In the quiet by Eliza Henry-Jones
A moving, sweet and uplifting novel of love, grief and the heartache of letting go, from a wonderful new Australian author. Cate Carlton has recently died, yet she is able to linger on, watching her three young children and her husband as they come to terms with their life without her on their rural horse property. As the months pass and her children grow, they cope in different ways, drawn closer and pulled apart by their shared loss. And all Cate can do is watch on helplessly, seeing their grief, how much they miss her and how - heartbreakingly - they begin to heal. Gradually unfolding to reveal Cate's life, her marriage, and the unhappy secret she shared with one of her children, In the Quiet is compelling, simple, tender, true - heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.

Arms race by Nic Low
Data theft, internet memes, advertising, terrorism, indigenous sovereignty, drone warfare, opium addiction, syphilis, the moon landing, mining, oil slicks, climate change, giant octopuses: nothing is spared in this collection. Nic Low's stories go beyond satire, aiming for the dark heart of our collective obsession with technology, power and image.

Set variously in London, an Indian village, remote Mongolia, the West Australian outback and mountainous New Zealand, these are prescient visions of the future and outlandish reimaginings of the past. Arms Race is an arresting debut from a fierce, playful new voice in Australian writing.

Hot little hands by Abigail Ulman
Hot Little Hands contains nine funny, confronting and pitch-perfect stories about stumbling on the fringes of innocence, and the marks desire can leave.  Anya, in her fake-leather sneakers and second-hand clothes, just wants to fit in at her Melbourne school.  Ramona, with her suburban family and clique of friends, is just starting to stand out.  Sascha is on the brink of discovery; Elise and Jenni are well beyond it.  Amelia will do absolutely anything to avoid writing her book.  And Kira wants to capture the world, exactly as she sees it, with her brand-new camera.

Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven
Winner of the 2013 David Unaipon Award. In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real. Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In 'Heat', we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In 'Water', van Neerven offers a futuristic imagining of a people whose existence is under threat. While in 'Light', familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging. Heat and Light presents a surprising and unexpected narrative journey while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.

Books to scare your pants off!

 Read these with the light on... 13 tales of horror to scare you silly...

Bazaar of bad dreams by Stephen King
The master storyteller at his best delivers a generous, thrilling new collection of stories featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why and how he came to write each story.

Plague of the Manitou / Graham Masterton
Virus expert Anna Grey is disturbed when a dying patient is wheeled past her lab vomiting fountains of blood and screaming like a banshee. To make matters worse, when she examines the man's corpse, she could swear she hears him whisper: 'Get it out of me.' John Patrick Bridges is dead. He's definitely dead. But if he's dead - how is he talking? Anna wonders if she's going mad. But then a second man haemorrhages and dies; yet Anna hears him whisper, 'Please help me.' There is no such things as demons, Anna tells herself.

Wake / Elizabeth Knox
One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that they are trapped with something unseen, which is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.
The damned / Andrew Pyper
Danny Orchard died on his 16th birthday-and so did his twin sister, Ashleigh-but only Danny came back. He wrote a bestselling memoir about his experience of heaven called The After, but despite his fame and fortune he's never been able to enjoy his second chance at life. His sister won't let him. Charming and magnetic in life, Ash appeared perfect to outsiders but the budding psychopath privately terrorized her family, and that hasn't stopped with her death. She's haunted Danny for twenty years and now, just when he's met the love of his life and has a chance at a real family, Ash is more determined than ever to keep him all to herself. Danny's already been to heaven. But in order to silence his sister once and for all, he'll have to meet her where she now resides. Which means he has to die one more time before he - and the ones he loves - can go on living.

Blood & dust by Jason Nahrung
For outback mechanic Kevin Matheson, it’s just another summer’s day. Mulga wavering in the haze, sweat on his brow, bastard flies getting in his way.
And then the vampires arrive, leaving his life like road kill in their wake.
Caught between vicious nomadic bikers and their brutal foes from the coast, Kevin fights to save not only those he holds dearest, but his own soul.
But how far will he go to save the people he loves?

Little girls / Ronald Malfi
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desparation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it's as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods...
At first, Laurie thinks she's imagining things. But when she meets her daughter's new playmate, Abigail, she can't help but notice her uncanny resemblence to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie's uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Bird box / Josh Malerman
In Bird Box, brilliantly imaginative debut author Josh Malerman captures an apocalyptic near-future world, where a mother and her two small children must make their way down a river, blindfolded. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them -- but is it man, animal, or monster? Within these tracks, Malerman, a professional musician, discusses his love of horror and invokes an ethereal and atmospheric experience in an homage to Orson Welles à la War of the Worlds.

Touched / Joanna Briscoe
Rowena Shawn is fed-up. She and her family have recently moved into a new house in a small English village. They've taken on a local builder, but his efforts to knock two cottages into the bigger single house she envisages is fraught with problems. The walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceilings sag, and strange noises - voices - emanate from empty rooms. And then there's her daughter, Eva, who has always been odd, but is now positively strange. Once fat, she appears to be starving herself, becoming thinner with each passing week. Neglected and unloved, Eva has formed a close and inappropriate attachment to the builder - too close some of the villages think, and inappropriate because Pollock likes children just a little too much. Then Rowena's eldest and prettiest daughter, Jennifer, goes missing. As a frantic search is mounted, the house reveals its darkest secret: a hidden room with no windows and no obvious entrance. Boarded up, it smells of breath, custard, Dettol - and death.

The woman in black by Susan Hill
The Woman in Black is Susan Hill's best-loved novel, and the basis for the UK's second longest ever running stage play, and a major film starring Daniel Radcliffe. Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, travels to a remote village to put the affairs of a recently deceased client, Alice Drablow in order. As he works alone in her isolated house, Kipps begins to uncover disturbing secrets - and his unease grows when he glimpses a mysterious woman dressed in black. The locals are strangely unwilling to talk about the unsettling occurrence, and Kipps is forced to uncover the true identity of the Woman in Black on his own, leading to a desperate race against time when he discovers her true intent...

Ghost story by Peter Straub
For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.
Peter Straub's classic bestseller is a work of "superb horror" (The Washington Post Book World) that, like any good ghost story, stands the test of time -- and conjures our darkest fears and nightmares.

NOS4R2 : a novel / Joe Hill ; illustrations by Gabriel Rodríguez
Adventure fiction. Suspense fiction. Summer. Massachusetts. An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business.Anyone could be next. We're going to Christmasland...NOS4A2 is an old-fashioned horror novel in the best sense. Claustrophobic, gripping and terrifying, this is a story that will have you on the edge of the seat while you read, and leaving the lights on while you sleep. With the horrific tale of Charles Manx and his Silver Wraith, Joe Hill has established himself as the premiere horror and supernatural thriller writer of his generation.

American psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
With an introduction by Irvine Welsh A cult classic, adapted into an award-winning film starring Christian Bale. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? Patrick Bateman has it all: good looks, youth, charm, a job on Wall Street, reservations at every new restaurant in town and a line of girls around the block. He is also a psychopath. A man addicted to his superficial, perfect life, he pulls us into a dark underworld where the American Dream becomes a nightmare ...Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho is one of the most controversial and talked-about novels of all time. A multimillion-copy bestseller hailed as a modern classic, it is a violent black comedy about the darkest side of human nature.

Night music by John Connolly
A decade after Nocturnes first terrified and delighted readers, John Connolly, bestselling author of thirteen acclaimed thrillers featuring private investigator Charlie Parker, gives us a second volume of tales of the supernatural. From stories of the monstrous for dark winter nights to fables of fantastic libraries and haunted books, from a tender narrative of love after death to a frank, personal and revealing account of the author's affection for myths of ghosts and demons, this is a collection that will surprise, delight - and terrify.

Books in the news 24-25 October...

Check out these new fiction and non -fiction titles from 24-25 October Spectrum, you can request them from the Library.

Long Bay by Eleanor Limprecht
Set in Sydney in the first decade of the 1900s, Long Bay is based on the true case of a young female abortionist who was convicted of manslaughter and served out her sentence in the newly opened Long Bay Women’s Reformatory – the first of its kind in Australia. The woman, Rebecca Sinclair, was pregnant when she went to prison.

Long Bay is a compelling fictional account of how Rebecca became involved in the burgeoning illegal abortion racket in Edwardian-era Sydney and how she was drawn into Donald Sinclair’s underworld. In unadorned prose, it examines the limiting effects of poverty, the mistakes we make for love, and the bond between mother and child.

The long haul : lessons from public life / John Brumby
The Long Haul offers a series of practical lessons on leadership and public life from John Brumby's thirty years in politics. It gives insights into the challenges and opportunities Australia currently faces and argues for real political reform, a different future for our federation and strong leadership in a world in transition.

Natural born Keller : my life and other palaver / Amanda Keller
By turns hilarious and moving, Amanda Keller takes us on a nostalgia filled journey through her life. From her childhood in sunny Brisbane to her daggy teen years in suburban Sydney. Then onto heady college days in Bathurst, where wine was called 'claret' and came in a box, and finally to establishing a stellar career in TV and radio.
Along the way she falls in love with 'a nice Kiwi boy' who becomes her husband and she tells the story of the arrival of their two hard-won sons. But without too many icky bits.

Amanda also takes us behind the scenes of her TV career - from the challenge of turning on a typewriter at Simon Townsend's Wonder World! to the fun of travelling the globe for Beyond 2000, despite having no scientific background and absolutely no sense of direction. More recently she was able to officially represent an entire generation on Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation and share a couch with three blokes and the odd snake on The Living Room.

Amanda loves 'the wireless' and looks back on twenty years of radio. From sharing a mic with Andrew Denton on Triple M to topping the breakfast show ratings with Jonesy on WSFM.

Vivid, funny and hugely entertaining, Natural Born Keller will have you laughing out loud, nodding in recognition and occasionally bawling uncontrollably - in a cathartic sort of way.

Island home : a landscape memoir / Tim Winton
'I grew up on the world's largest island.'

This apparently simple fact is the starting point for Tim Winton's beautiful, evocative and sometimes provocative memoir of how this unique landscape has shaped him and his writing.

For over thirty years, Winton has written novels in which the natural world is as much a living presence as any character. What is true of his work is also true of his life: from boyhood, his relationship with the world around him – rockpools, seacaves, scrub and swamp – was as vital as any other connection. Camping in hidden inlets of the south-east, walking in the high rocky desert fringe, diving at Ningaloo Reef, bobbing in the sea between sets, Winton has felt the place seep into him, with its rhythms, its dangers, its strange sustenance, and learned to see landscape as a living process.

The road to Little Dribbling : more notes from a small island / Bill Bryson
In 1995, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his home. The hilarious book he wrote about that journey, Notes from a Small Island, became one of the most loved books of recent decades, and was voted in a BBC poll as the book that best represents Britain. Now, in this hotly anticipated new travel book, his first in fifteen years and sure to be greeted as the funniest book of the decade, Bryson sets out on a brand-new journey, on a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis on the south coast to Cape Wrath on the northernmost tip of Scotland. Once again, he will guide us through all that's best and worst about Britain today while doing that incredibly rare thing of making us laugh out loud in public.

R&R by Mark Dapin
John 'Nashville' Grant is an American military policeman in the R&R town of Vung Tau, tucked safely behind the front lines of the Vietnam War. Nashville knows how everything works: the army, the enemy, bars, secrets, men and women. He's keeping the peace by keeping his head down and making the most of it.

His new partner is a tall man from a small town: Shorty, from Bendigo. Shorty knows nothing about anything, and he wishes people would stop mistaking that for stupidity.
When another MP shoots a corpse in a brothel, the delicate balance between the military police, South Vietnamese gangsters and the Viet Cong is upset. Nashville and his partner are drawn into the heart of the matter by their violent colleague Sergeant Caution, the obsequious landlord Moreau, the improbable entrepreneur Izzy Berger and the mysterious, omnipotent Mamasan. Events begin to force the pair to uphold the law and eventually to take it into their own hands.

Sweet caress : the many lives of Amory Clay / William Boyd

Amory's first memory is of her father standing on his head. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, and, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future.

A spell at boarding school ends abruptly and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, living in his tiny flat in Kensington, earning two pounds a week photographing socialites for the magazine Beau Monde. But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love and artistic expression will take her to the demi monde of Berlin of the late 20s, to New York of the 30s, to the Blackshirt riots in London and to France in the Second World War where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. Her desire for experience will lead Amory to further wars, to lovers, husbands and children as she continues to pursue her dreams and battle her demons.
In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of some of the most defining moments of modern history, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman, Amory Clay. It is his greatest achievement to date.

Teen reads worth checking out!

The rest of us just live here by Patrick Ness
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness's bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions.

I was here by Gayle Forman
This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide. As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

All the bright places by Jennifer Niven
Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I'm broken, and no one can fix it.
Violet Markey is devastated by her sister's death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.
They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins.
It's only together they can be themselves . . .
I send a message to Violet: 'You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.'
You're so weird, Finch. But that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.
But, as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

Game Changer
Life is hard for Mikey. He's frightened of open spaces and would much rather curl up in his room and avoid the world outside. So going to a noisy, public place is a big deal - but with his sister Meggie by his side, it should be safe. And Mikey is determined to overcome his fear. But things go badly wrong when he encounters a gang and witnesses something terrible. To make matters worse, they know where he lives, and now they want to see him... This time, there's no hiding place for Mikey...

Remix by Non Pratt
A novel about boys, bands and best mates. Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life... Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record. Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.

The door that led to where by Sally Gardner
When the present offers no hope for the future, the answers may lie in the past. AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change - but he could never have imagined by how much. Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth - and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past - 1830, to be precise - where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain's means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They've gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose - and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Fourteen-year-old Audrey is making slow but steady progress dealing with her anxiety disorder when Linus comes into the picture and her recovery gains momentum. Meet Audrey: an ordinary teenage girl with not-so-ordinary problems. Aside from her completely crazy and chaotic family, she suffers from an anxiety disorder which makes talking to her brother's hot new best friend a bit of a challenge. But Audrey has a plan to help her face her fears and take on the world again. First stop: Starbucks

Talk under water by Kathryn Lomer
Will and Summer meet online and strike up a friendship based on coincidence. Summer lives in Will's old hometown, Kettering, a small Tasmanian coastal community. Summer isn't telling the whole truth about herself, but figures it doesn't matter if they never see each other in person, right? When Will returns to Kettering, the two finally meet and Summer can no longer hide her secret - she is deaf. Can Summer and Will find a way to be friends in person even though they speak a completely different language?

 If you were me by Sam Hepburn
Not long after Aliya's family escapes Afghanistan for Britain, her brother is accused of a bomb attack. Aliya is sure of his innocence, but when plumber's son Dan finds a gun in their bathroom, what's she to think? Dan has his own reasons for staying silent: he's worried the gun might have something to do with his dad. Thrown together by chance, they set out to uncover a tangled and twisted truth.

One true thing by Nicole Hayes
When is a secret not a secret? When your whole life is public. Most sixteen-year-olds get woken up by their parents because they're late for school, or the dog needs walking. Ordinary reasons both boring and predictable, but also, well, safe. My mum drags me out of bed with reminders that she has to fight for international peace, or solve world hunger. Frankie is used to being the daughter of a politician, but with her mum taking over as the Victorian Premier and an election coming up, life's been crazier than usual. Add to that a brother with asthma to keep an eye on, a best friend who's been weirdly distant lately, and the fact that Frankie's just humiliated herself in front of a hot guy - who it turns out is a budding journalist wanting to interview her about her band. Frankie has a tough decision to make. Jake seems interested in her - but is it all for show, or does he really like her? Then everything crumbles. Photos appear of Frankie's mum having secret meetings with a younger man - and she refuses to tell the public why. No one's talking but someone knows the truth. With her family falling apart around her, Frankie is determined to find out - even if it means losing Jake.

The Nib Waverley Library Award for Literature 2015 Shortlist

The Nib Waverley Library Award, 2015, now in it's 14th year,  is presented for excellence in research in the creation of a literary work first published between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015. Other factors considered by the judges include readability, literary merit and value to the community. All genres of fiction and non-fiction are eligible.  The winner will be announced on 25 November, 2015.

 Shortlisted books: 

 The Director is the Commander by Anna Broinowski
Funny, multi-layered and utterly compelling, The Director is the Commander is a gripping account of an extraordinary journey inside a nation we can usually only see from the outside looking in.

The Director is the Commander centres around the bizarre twenty-one day shoot Broinowski did in North Korea to make her documentary, Aim High in Creation! She meets and befriends artists and apparatchiki, defectors and loyalists, and gains a new insight into the world's most secretive regime. Her adventures are set against a parallel exploration of propaganda in general: both in its ham-fisted North Korean form and its sophisticated but no less pervasive incarnation in the corporate West.

 John Olsen - An Artist’s Life by Darleen Bungey
This landmark biography by Darleen Bungey, the author of the celebrated biography of Arthur Boyd, graphically depicts the forces that drove John Olsen to become one of the country's greatest artists. An exhilarating book, both trenchant and tender, it strips away the veneer of showmanship and fame to show the substance of a painter driven by a need to depict his country's landscape as Australians had never seen it before.
Given access to his uncensored diaries and drawing on years of extensive interviews with both Olsen and those who have known him best, she explores his passionate life and follows his navigation though the friendships, rivalries and politics of the Australian art world. How did a shy, stuttering boy from Newcastle, neglected by his alcoholic father, come to paint the great mural Salute to Five Bells at the Sydney Opera House?
This biography follows that journey - through Olsen's early experiences in the bush, particularly a formative period at Yass (a time previously unrecorded), to years of cleaning jobs to pay his way through art school, to a milestone time spent in France and Spain - and traces his constant travels and relocations within Australia, including his epic journeys into the outback and to Kati thanda-Lake Eyre.

Warning: The story of Cyclone Tracy by Sophie Cunningham
The sky at the top end is big and the weather moves like a living thing. You can hear it in the cracking air when there is an electrical storm and as the thunder rolls around the sky…
When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped the heart out of Australia’s season of goodwill.
For the fortieth anniversary of the nation’s most iconic natural disaster, Sophie Cunningham has gone back to the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through the devastation—and those who faced the heartbreaking clean-up and the back-breaking rebuilding. From the quiet stirring of the service-station bunting that heralded the catastrophe to the wholesale slaughter of the dogs that followed it, Cunningham brings to the tale a novelist’s eye for detail and an exhilarating narrative drive. And a sober appraisal of what Tracy means to us now, as we face more—and more destructive—extreme weather with every year that passes.

The Nashos' War - Australia’s National Servicemen and Vietnam by Mark Dapin
On 10 March 1965, the first nasho's birthdate was drawn from a lottery barrel at the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne.  Over the next seven years, a total of 63740 young Australian men would be drafted into the army and face the prospect of being sent to war.
The nashos came from all walks of life: plumbers and dentists, footballers and musicians, Christians and Jews, willing and unwilling.  Some spent their two years square-bashing in Singleton.  Others went to Vietnam to fight – and die – in Australia's bloodiest battles, including the slaughter at Long Tan.
But our ideas of national service contain strange contradictions and inaccuracies: that the draft was unpopular but militarily necessary; that the nashos in Vietnam all volunteered to go to war; and that they were met by protesters and demonstrations on their return to Australia, rather than the huge welcome-home parades reported at the time.

Acute Misfortune - The Life and Death of artist Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen
An unflinching portrait of talent and addiction.
In 2008 the artist Adam Cullen invited journalist Erik Jensen to stay in his spare room and write his biography.
What followed were four years of intense honesty and a relationship that became increasingly claustrophobic. At one point Cullen shot Jensen, in part to see how committed he was to the book. At another, he threw Jensen from a speeding motorbike. The book contract Cullen used to convince Jensen to stay with him never existed.
Acute Misfortune is a riveting account of the life and death of one of Australia's most celebrated artists, the man behind the Archibald Prize-winning portrait of David Wenham. Jensen follows Cullen through drug deals and periods of deep self-reflection, onwards into his court appearance for weapons possession and finally his death in 2012 at the age of forty-six. The story is by turns tender and horrifying: a spare tale of art, sex, drugs and childhood, told at close quarters and without judgement.

Blood and Guts- Dispatches from the Whale Wars by Sam Vincent
I pull on my balaclava and step onto the bridge wing.  It's loud outside: I can hear the rumbles of nine vessels' engines and the hiss of ten water cannons . . . suddenly the bridge is full of refugees from the upper deck.  They are blocking my view out the back windows, but their faces – afraid, excited, awestruck – illustrate the looming presence of the Nisshin. I bend my knees and grip the bench, ready for the crunch.
In Blood and Guts, Sam Vincent plunges into the whale wars.
Vincent sets sail with Sea Shepherd, led by the charismatic and abrasive Paul Watson.  He attends the recent case at the International Court of Justice, which finds Japan's 'scientific' whaling in the southern Ocean to be unlawful. And he travels to Japan to investigate why its government doggedly continues to bankroll the unprofitable hunt.
This is a fresh, funny and intelligent look at how Australia has become the most vocal anti-whaling nation on Earth.  Vincent skewers hypocrisy and sheds light on motives noble and otherwise.

People's Choice Award
Voting for The Nib People's Choice Award is now open! If you've got an eye for a winner, let us know which book you think is the best. You don't have to read all the shortlisted books, simply vote for your favourite author, the book most worthy, thought-provoking or timely at:  before 8 November.

Bibliotherapy...uplifting reads

The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

The chaperone by Laura Moriarty
On a summer's day in 1922, Cora Carlisle boards a train from Wichita, Kansas, to New York City, charged with the care of a stunningly beautiful young girl with a jet-black bob and wisdom way beyond her fifteen years.
The girl is Louise Brooks and, for her, New York offers a chance of stardom beneath the bright lights of Broadway. For Cora, whose formative years were spent at The New York Home for Friendless Girls, the trip offers the opportunity to discover the truth about her past. It will also, although she doesn't realise it yet, offer her the chance for a very different future.
Set in a time of illicit thrills and daring glamour, a time when prohibition reigns and speakeasies thrive behind closed doors, The Chaperone tells Cora's story as she finally discovers who she is and - more importantly - who she wants to be.

Seven letters from Paris by Samantha Vérant
In the best romantic tradition of Almost French, a woman falls madly in love with a Frenchman in Paris, but with a twist. It takes her twenty years to find him again …
Samantha's life is falling apart - she's lost her job, her marriage is on the rocks and she's walking dogs to keep the wolf from the door.
When she stumbles across seven love letters from the handsome Frenchman she fell head over heels for in Paris when she was 19, she can't help but wonder, what if?
One carefully worded, very belated email apology, it's clear that sometimes love does give you a second chance.
Jetting off to France to reconnect with a man you knew for just one day is crazy - but it's the kind of crazy Samantha's been waiting for her whole life.
Truth may be stranger than fiction but sometimes it's better than your wildest dreams.

A hundred pieces of me by Lucy Dillon
Gina is ready for a fresh start. She's gone through cancer, and a separation, and now it's time to focus on what makes her happy right here, right now. Moving into a new flat in Longhampton, she decides to clear some space for herself physically as well as mentally: giving away her possessions bar one hundred special items. But what means the most to her? What sums up who she really is? In order to work it out, she will have to come to terms with her past, saying goodbye to certain memories and people, before she can move on. Over the course of a year, Gina will find a sense of happiness and acceptance she has never felt before, and what it means to finally live life to the full. This is a story about letting go that will stay in your heart forever.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is a sweet, moving novel about two misfits finding love in the most unexpected of places. Meet Eleanor. She's just moved to a new town, is struggling to make friends and is finding it even harder living under the same roof as her dysfunctional family. When she first meets Park, she thinks he's obnoxious. Meet Park. He's liked by everyone but has never felt liked he fitted in. He loves his family but feels like they don't understand him. When he first meets Eleanor, he thinks she is weird. It is hate at first sight. But as they suffer each other's company in silence on the bus rides from and to home every day, Eleanor and Park realise that first impressions can be deceiving.

The girl who saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
On June 14th, 2007, the King and Prime Minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the Royal Castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill: the truth is different. The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world's most secret projects.
Here is where the story merges with, then diverges from reality. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is a story about the seventh missile . . . the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she's on the run from both the South African justice and the most terrifying secret service in the world. She ends up in Sweden, which has transformed into a nuclear nation, and the fate of the world now lies in Nombeko's hands.

The One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she's written another contemporary opposites-attract love story. Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can't afford to pay for. That's Jess's life in a nutshell-until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess's knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages. maybe ever. One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You'll laugh, you'll weep, and when you flip the last page, you'll want to start all over again.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Try me...Test me...Taste me. When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock - especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. War is declared as the priest denounces the newcomer's wares as instruments of murder. Suddenly Vianne's shop-cum-cafe means that there is somewhere for secrets to be whispered, grievances to be aired, dreams to be tested. But Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community in a conflict that escalates into a 'Church not Chocolate' battle. As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate clair? For the first time here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance, emerging as a moral issue, as an agent of transformation - as well as a pleasure bordering on obsession.

The storied life of A.J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman
There is something about Ove. At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets. But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...