Three books we’ve read and loved recently

If we hadn't just sent out a Melbourne-based book about an unplanned pregnancy, then Small Joys of Real Life would likely have ended up in your brown paper bags as our August pick. We loved it! The plot is simple but devastating: Eva finds out she's pregnant after a casual hookup with Pat who has since died by suicide. Sounds heavy, yes, and certainly there is no denying the book's interest in grief, pain and melancholy, but, as the title suggests, there is joy to be found within its pages. As well as exploring Melbourne on a bicycle through a nostalgic lens (think small gigs at bowling clubs, theatre jaunts and wine bars), Richards writes endearingly and authentically about female friendship. Often books are likened to well-loved classics to create buzz, but we reckon the Garner and Rooney comparisons are justified for this debut.
Another debut, because how good is Aus Lit at the moment?! Hannah Bent spent a decade writing this novel about sisters who, shaped by the loss of their mother in childhood, share a bond deeper than most. "For Harper, living with what she calls the Up syndrome and gifted with an endless capacity for wonder, Marlowe and she are connected by an invisible thread, like the hum that connects all things. For Marlowe, they are bound by her fierce determination to keep Harper, born with a congenital heart disorder, alive".

Bent asks profound questions about disability, terminal illness, love, friendship, family, fate and morality. The strength of the book is in its balance - yes, you will be heartbroken and will require many tissues at hand, but you will also be buoyed up by the life-affirming spirit of Bent's writing and her charming, charming characters.


Nothing But My Body by Tilly Lawless

Best read in one sitting to complement the book's introspective tone, Nothing But My Body is a work of auto-fiction by queer, Sydney-based writer, sex worker and activist Tilly Lawless. Equal parts droll, smutty and poetic, the book takes place over eight days spaced out over thirteen months and follows an unnamed protagonist as she navigates climate anxiety, heartache and what it's like to be a sex worker during a pandemic. If you follow Lawless on Instagram, you will know that she is razor-sharp and passionate about having conversations around consent, desire, feminism and queerness, and it was satisfying to see these topics so at home in a lyrical setting.

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