Stranger Care by Sarah Sentilles
Oh, this book! Heartbreaking but incredibly profound and illuminating, it would not be hyperbolic to say it will change you. Sarah Sentille's memoir asks what it means to mother. In her specific case, it's not only the vulnerable newborn she is trying to adopt through foster care, but also the birth mother who loves the child too. We appreciated what Sarah Krasnostein had to say when she called the book revelatory in its capacity to reveal that "our personal and collective survival depends on converting pain into love". This is a universal story about compassion, vulnerability and our shared humanity. Do take care reading this one, especially if you have experience with adoption and/or foster care.
Reading Like an Australian Writer edited by Belinda Castles
One for the writers amongst us, this is a collection of essays by some of Australia's top writers on moments of revelation told through the dog-eared pages of their favourite Australian books. As the blurb explains, this is an "ode, a love letter, to the magic of reading. To the spark that’s set off when the reader thinks ... I can do this too." Some of our favourite essays: Kinship in fiction and the genre blur of Swallow the Air as novel in stories (Ellen van Neerven on Tara June Winch); Postcards to Charlotte: Revisiting The Natural Way of Things (Ashely Hay on Charlotte Wood); and A Metaphysical Meeting Place: Sixty Lights by Gail Jones (Irini Savvides on Gail Jones).
Gunk Baby by Jamie Marina Lau
Set almost entirely in a shopping complex in the fictional outer suburb of Par Mars, Gunk Baby is a wonderfully and weirdly unique novel about consumerism and class, orientalism and the Zen movement, violence, fashion, middle-class boredom, and....ear-cleaning! If you love your fiction sophisticated with a good dose of dark comedy, horror and existential adventure (it really is quite a feat to combine all those things), then this book will be entirely for you. Do recommend reading Declan Fry's review in The Guardian that describes the book as a "dystopic portrait of post-industrial alienation".