Still looking for some last-minute Chrissie presents?

Sometimes, you just can’t go past a good book. Here are a few we feel you may find worth bunging in Santa’s stocking!

Memoirs

Valerie Taylor: An Adventurous Life (Hachette, $34.99)

In the 50s, Australian Valerie Taylor and husband Ron famously made a career out of sailing the world and photographing their marine adventures. Along the way, they became marine experts, and on land, they met some fascinating characters too (including Mick Jagger, royalty and a young naked Mel Gibson.)  Now 84, Valerie reflects on her remarkable life in this. She talks of her fight to save the world’s oceans and reefs and the push to help create marine parks before it’s too late.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, An Earthquake, And The Making Of A Famly, by Mitch Albom (Hachette, $34.99)

This moving memoir is about Chika Jenue, born three days before the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010. She ended up in an orphanage run by Mitch Albom and wife Janine. The little girl made a quick impression on everyone. But aged five, she was suddenly diagnosed with a terminal disease. Mick and Janine took Chika to America, hoping the treatment there would work. They ended up travelling around the world in search of a cure with a child that became a huge part of their lives. This poignant and powerful book is an international number one best-seller.

Julie Andrews: Home Work (Hachette, $45)

This is the superstar’s recollection of her time in Hollywood, rubbing shoulders with cinematic giants. It gives an insight into the highs and lows of showbiz, plus a personal window into her private world, including her love for the brilliant Blake Edwards.

Walking Towards Thunder:  By Peter Fox (Hachette, $34.99)

The true story of a whistleblowing cop who took on the church. In November 2012, former detective chief inspector Peter Fox put his job on the line when he went public with claims of systemic cover-ups of institutional child abuse by the Catholic church. You can imagine how well that went down with the men of the cloth when he bravely appeared on the ABC to make his claims. This sparked the Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of kids in institutions. It also cost Peter his career, his health, and friendships. But to many, Peter is a hero. This is his story.

Saving the Last Rhinos, The Life of a Frontline Conservationist, by Grant Fowlds and Graham Spence (Robinson)

Grant Fowlds is a passionate conservationist, hell-bent on saving the magnificent White Rhino. He’s taken great personal risks to prove a link between southern Africa and the illicit lucrative trade in rhinoceros horn. There are only 16,000 White Rhinos left in the wild and only 5000 Black Rhinos. Each year, more than 1000 rhinos are killed for their horns, which fools believe contain magical properties which will help them be sex gods. Of course the horns are just made from keratin, the substance in our toenails. Grant works with schools and communities to galvanise people into caring about these glorious beasts.

House

Iconic: Modern Australian Houses 1950-2000 by Karen McCartney (Murdoch Books, $59.99)

This beautiful coffee table book is a cut above. It contains quality photos of Australia’s finest houses, accompanied with interesting text. Too often books about architecture are written in a way that’s easily understood only by other architects. Not so with author Karen McCartney’s informative text. She knows her topic intimately and is keen to share her passion for our architectural history in an easily digestible way; she’s also a natural storyteller.

Garden

The Waterwise Australian Native Garden (Murdoch Books, $39.99)

Looking for ways to “draught-proof” your garden? Botanical experts AB Bishop and Angus Stewart show us how to create a beautiful sanctuary in our backyard using the plants best able to cope with our oft-harsh Australian climate – our resilient and beautiful natives.

Kitchen

Venetian Republic, Recipes from The Veneto, Adriatic Croatia and the Greek Islands, by Nino Zoccali (Murdoch Books, $49.99)

By Sydney-based WA chef Nino Zoccali, it’s part culinary journey, part cookbook. Nino’s passion for food, Venice and its surrounds comes through on every appealing page.

Coffee Table

Paris: A Photographic Journey, By Sandra Forty ($29.99)

Ooh la la! You’ll feel as if you’re back in the world’s favourite city with this coffee table book. It has nearly 200 photos capturing many of Paris’s architectural gems. The book includes an historical introduction. Sandra Forty is a UK author who has written extensively on art, travel, architecture and history.

Word of Dog by Megan Anderson: (Fremantle Press)

One for the hound-obsessed. Terrific illustrations of pooches with varying personalities, accompanied with colourful text.  We featured this book in The Starfish recently.

This Chicken Life: Stories of Chickens and the Australians who Love Them, by Fiona Scott-Norman with photography by Ilana Rose (Plum/Pan Macmillan Australia, $32.99)
Some Australians just adore their chooks. Like Summer Farilly, a 12-year-old with autism who connects with the world through her feathered pals, Nic Round, an ad exec trying to save a heritage breed, and Holly Snowflake, a comedian who performs with her silkie bantams. This book is a playful celebration of our clucky little feathered pals.

Fiction

Bruny, by Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin)

How far would you go to protect the place you love? This political thriller, by Stella Prize-winning novelist Rose, a seventh-generation Tasmanian, starts with a terrorist attack. When Tasmania’s Bruny Bridge is bombed, UN troubleshooter Astrid Coleman agrees to return home to help her twin brother, Tasmania’s Premier, before the election. Fast-paced, with a jaw-dropping twist, there’s been quite a bit of buzz around this one.

Out Of Time, by Stephen Hawke (Fremantle Press)

This new novel is a late-life love story, about happy couple, Jo and Anne, readying for retirement and the joys ahead. Then Joe, a gifted architect, finds himself losing things, making miscalculations and blanking parts of his day. As his condition worsens, he and Anne grapple with big questions. Written by the acclaimed author of best-selling novel The Valley.

Red Can Origami, by Madelaine Dickie (Fremantle Press)

Set in a fictional town in the Kimberley, it’s the story of a young journalist who stumbles on a big story involving a Japanese uranium company and a conflict with the local indigenous people. It’s Dickie’s second novel. Her first, Troppo, was published three years ago, to critical acclaim.

History

James Cook, The Story Behind the Man Who Mapped The World, by Peter FitzSimons (Hachette, $49.44)

Captain James Cook is of course the explorer who had the first recorded European contact with eastern Australia. His many other achievements include conducting the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand and mapping a third of the globe.  But what do we really know about James Cook, the man? Author Peter Fitzsimons’s new book explores how a farm lad from Yorkshire ended up becoming an icon. Says Fitzsimons: “I record the three angles of Captain Cook that interest me most: Cook’s time in Australia and New Zealand, his role in asserting British sovereignty over lands with peoples that had been there for thousands of years – in  Australia’s case, 65,000 years – and his interaction with the Indigenous peoples of those lands.”

 

 

 

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