My parents owned a bookshop for the first ten plus years of my life. I grew up in that shop, my journey through the shelves mirroring my personal development. It was an incredible independent bookshop the kind you see in movies but not so much in real life these days. My parents eventually sold the shop when I was about 14 and for years it felt like I was missing part of myself. Eventually I worked in other bookshops while studying at university and now I manage a literary festival, so books are definitely in my blood. A love that I am very happy to share with my girls, who have one whole wall of their bedroom filled with books.
I thought I’d start a regular series here sharing the books that I’m reading or that catch my eye. I read widely for my work and hundreds of books land on my desk each year. Despite the number of books that find their way to me, I am often in bookshops searching out beautifully produced art books, gardening books and photography books or an interesting novel or children’s book.
Today I’m going to share five books that are currently sitting on my coffee table, including my favourite novel of the year, and a delicious vegetarian cookbook. But first I have to start with a book that is jaw droppingly beautiful, The Maker by Tamara Maynes, published by Murdoch Books.
You may have seen this stunner of a book being shared on social media recently, it is so beautifully produced with a rounded bottom corner and striking cover. The production values are really high, and the content inside is equally beautiful. Tamara Maynes is a maker, designer, stylist and creative director of The Establishment Studios. This book is her homage to the maker, looking at craft and design and things that we make with our hands. There are profiles of Australian makers, projects that you can do yourself and beautiful images of objects, art and furniture. I’ve shared a couple of the pages below that caught my eye, but honestly each page is stunning and the book itself is a work of art.
I love the use of colour in this book.
Although I read almost anything (except true crime, I’m not a fan) my great love is fiction. I am in awe of anyone who can create a compelling story. The next book in my pile is Fates and Furies by American writer Lauren Groff. This is such a riveting read, it tells the story of a marriage in two parts. The first part, the fates of the title, tells the husband Lotto’s story. It’s light, optimistic, joyful and funny. He is a failed actor and celebrated playwright and tells the story of his marriage to Mathilde from his perspective. The second half, the furies, is her story. It’s much darker, furious and an interesting counterbalance to the first half. Groff explores the little lies we may tell in our day to day lives to make a marriage work. This novel is filled with literary references, a greek chorus and is a multi layered masterpiece. I loved it.
I’ve been trying to bring more vegetarian cooking into our daily meals at home, while I love meat I am very aware of the environmental impact that eating too much meat can have, as well as the health implications. While I love vegetables and vegetarian cooking I’m not very creative during the week when I’m trying to plan meals. Enter this fabulous book by UK author and chef Anna Jones. Anna has spent many years working with Jamie Oliver as his food stylist and was one of the first students to go through his restaurant school Fifteen. This is her second cookbook and it’s terrific. Lots of really easy but creative vegetarian meals, and the book is broken into sections based on how much time you have to cook. Perfect for me, as while I love cooking, I find it a chore during the week when I’m trying to get dinner on the table quickly. This is a beautifully produced book, with clean design and lovely food styling.
And now one for the flower lovers like me. This next book, Flower Addict by Saskia Havekes is breathtaking and one to gaze at when you need a bit of floral inspiration. Havekes is a florist and the owner of Grandiflora in Sydney. Her floral creations and installations are stunning and this book shares some of her favourite floral moments and her experiments with flowers such as encasing them in ice. Each page is filled with sumptuous imagery.
And the final one I’m going to share with you today is this gorgeous book by Kara Rosenlund, Shelter: How Australians Live. Kara is a photographer and stylist, and some of you may be familiar with her from instagram and her styling work. This book is the product of her journeying around Australia looking at the different and interesting rural houses and dwellings that people live in. The photography is beautiful, and the houses are incredible, from dilapidated farm houses to converted shipping containers. So many beautiful moment and vignettes captured within the pages.
I’ll leave you with those five for today, and will be back soon with some more reading suggestions, from magazines to blogs. I’d love to hear what you are reading too if you fancy leaving me a comment.