The Great Wardini book recommendations

By   louie   -  February 9 / 2022
Written by Louise Ward

Summer is about the outdoors, food, wine, escaping in mind if not in body.

Here’s what we’ve been reading that will match with the warmth on your skin and the grapes in your glass, even if it turns out cool, and you’re sober.

Still Life by Sarah Winman (Harper Collins, $35) is a gorgeous treat of a novel spanning the decades after the second world war. Ulysses Temper returns to London to find his social circle in upheaval. Those he loves have struggled, and Ulysses, Peg, lovely old Cress, the kid Alys and the parrot Claude will find themselves in heartbreaking and beautiful moments of beauty, friendship, delicious aromas, the warmth of chianti and the bite of grappa as they drift towards Florence. Such love and humour amidst the sorrow. 

Taste: My Life in Food by Stanley Tucci (Penguin, $45) is an utterly charming, warm and witty food memoir. Tucci’s writing style, while at times rambling and casual, is very personable and sincere. Like a chocolate éclair consumed in bed in the dead of night, this is an absolute treat. 

This one is not so tasty unless you think vomiting inside your astronaut helmet holds appeal. No? How about a pacy thriller. The Apollo Murders by real life astronaut Chris Hadfield (Quercus, $34.99) is a page turner of a novel about the cold war space race. What on earth are the Russians up to with their latest space tech? The Apollo 18 mission is tasked with investigating and what ensues includes some fabulous surprises, moon walks and an actual big old fight scene in space. Fabulous.

The Liminal Space by Jacquie McRae (Huia, $25) revolves around William, eccentric man of the village who appears to be dispensing something from his garden shed. Into his orbit are pulled: Emily, trying to make sense of a toxic relationship; Marco, working out how to be a decent human; James, figuring out who he is, not who others think he should be. These are normal lives made extraordinary by eloquent and lyrical writing. There is a purity and goodness to this novel, an acceptance of human frailty that is heartening.

Need to check your privilege? Read After the Tampa by Abbas Nazari (Allen & Unwin, $36.99). Abbas was seven years old when his family fled Afghanistan, their Hazari tribe facing persecution from the Taliban. The story is one of a perilous journey exacerbated by people smugglers, unseaworthy vessels and pacific politics. It is also one of hope, as this Fulbright scholar now fights for the rights of his Afghani compatriots.

Gripping, adventurous, inspiring, relaxing, beautiful: whatever you do this summer, we’ll have a read to suit your mood.

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