Billy Connolly’s Route 66 – The Big Yin on the Ultimate American Road Trip
Hachette, RRP $35.00
Like many an armchair traveller, comedian Billy Connolly always dreamed of ‘getting his kicks’ on America’s most famous highway – the legendary Route 66. Unlike most armchair travellers, Connolly actually got on a motorbike and rode the 2,488 miles. Connolly illuminates the iconic journey with his own brand of wit and insight, irreverent and wide-eyed as ever. Route 66 has become something of a pilgrimage for anyone who admires the Great American Dream and this book captures its magic.
Best Australian Political Cartoons 2011
Edited by Russ Radcliffe
Scribe, RRP $29.95
A hilarious romp through one of the most cartoon-worthy years in recent Australian politics. Cartoon annuals can sum up a year in politics better than any other kind of analysis. This little gem of a book features the work of Australia’s best political cartoonists, including Fiona Katauskas, Bill Leak, Alan Moir, Cathy Wilcox and Paul Zanetti. It will make you laugh and shake your head at the antics of our political elites in 2011 – if you weren’t already.
The Australian Women’s Weekly Retro Cookbook
Random House, RRP $49.95
This is a trip down memory lane that lovers of cupcakes, high tea and the AWW recipe tradition will particularly adore. The current fashion for everything retro and the television series Mad Men makes this a timely book in terms of design, but there’s also something sweet and comforting about the old-time imagery and vintage advertisements which brand this book a “keeper”. Recipes include all the retro classics – finger foods, high teas, sandwiches and family dinners that speak of a more innocent time, when Mums were in the kitchen, Dads were at work, and kids were in the yard swinging on the clothesline.
Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99
The diary of revolutionary French poet Rimbaud links this tale’s protagonists, past and present, in this tale of subterfuge and transformation. A shadowy Australian official code-named Devlin insists on interviewing an equally mysterious woman, gravely ill in an asylum at the edge of the desert in North Africa. But the desert holds secrets some would die to protect. Fast-paced fiction for the summer holidays, this novel is one lovers of the Da Vinci Code and The English Patient will thoroughly enjoy.
Andreas C Chrysafis
Evandia Publishing (UK), RRP $17.00
Set in the mid 1950s, Andartes (Guerrillas) is an absorbing glimpse into the fiercely fought EOKA struggle for the independence of Cyprus from British colonial rule: the drama all the more poignant given its basis in historical fact. Once picked up it’s difficult to put down. It is vividly written, brutal and emotional, with a most touching story. Anyone reading this book cannot easily forget it. This absorbing read follows Alexis, whose pride and ideals lead him on a journey that results in his paying the ultimate price.
Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight
Penguin Australia, RRP $45.00
James Attlee travels the world, searching for the lore of the moon. In modern times, the city lights deny many of us the moods and meanings of moonlight. Attlee reminds us of the moon’s influence and inspiration down through the ages, through tales of myth and imagination. He asks us to turn off the lights and bathe once again in the magical light that has inspired generations of visionaries to do great things. This is a subtle and elegant traveller’s tale, perfect for the poetic soul.
Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99
Christopher Hitchens is the kind of writer who inspires deep thought and the occasional headache. Loved by many, passionately detested by others, he writes what he thinks and he doesn’t pull any punches. This is a comprehensive collection of Hitchens’ most provocative writing over a decades-long career. It covers a broad range of topics, from Mother Theresa to Vietnam and the existence of God. It’s impossible to ignore the genius of Christopher Hitchens as a writer, whether you agree with his views or not. At over 800 pages, this masterful, at times scandalous, book will keep the dinner party conversation flowing throughout the festive season and beyond. (Note: Mr Hitchens sadly died shortly after this review was printed)
Dear Me: A Letter to my Sixteen-year-old self
Simon & Schuster, RRP $24.99
Do you ever wish you could take your younger self aside and give a few words of advice or encouragement? In Dear Me, 75 famous people do just that. Hugh Jackman writes to his 16-year-old self about sunscreen, zits and marriage. Jodi Picoult writes of calculus, curls and career, and Alice Cooper advises himself to give trashy girls a miss and look for a nice churchgoer. With a foreword by JK Rowling, this collection is sometimes funny, sometimes moving but always fascinating. There’s even a space at the end of the book to write your own letter to your younger self. There’s something here for everyone.
If you’re interested in visionary politics (and are old enough to remember what that term really means in the Australian context) buy Keating’s book. It is a collection of his post-Prime Ministerial speeches, which inspire and chastise and make me remember why I became interested in politics in the first place.
Read an extract on the Meanjin website (link below) and see for yourself how Keating’s ideas are as relevant today as they always were.
After Words by Paul Keating, published by Allen and Unwin, $59.99, Out Now