‘Essential’, ‘Quietly Hopeful’, ‘Inspiring’: the best Australian books out in August | Australian books

Zugherr von Oliver Mol

Memoirs, Penguin Random House, $35

Train Lord is the story of a derailment, but not the locomotive variant. Plagued by a monstrous and unrelenting migraine, Mol, the bright young novelist, could neither read nor write. As the migraines dragged on – month after agonizing month – he began to lose himself. Bereft and desperate, Mol took a job as a railroad attendant, but he wasn’t the only person to take refuge on the trains.

His memoir is not a tale of triumphant recovery — of pain overcome — but something far more tender, vital, and faintly hopeful: a tale of reconfiguration. How do we tell a new story of ourselves? To answer that question, Mol explores the craft, power, and comfort of storytelling. “Now I understand,” he writes, “Stories are miracles.” Beejay Silcox

Longing by Jessie Cole

Fiction, text publishing, $32.99

Longing by Jessie Cole

Fodder for your fiery dinner party this month, Desire is Jessie Cole’s attempt to come to terms with an affair she was having with an older man who, to put it simply, just wasn’t that into her. It is presented in the past tense, but as Cole explains in the epilogue, it was “written in near real time…without the benefit of hindsight.”

This means the reader is immersed in the deep pain, magical thinking, and humiliating missteps that accompany an almost obsessive longing – made all the more raw because Cole drives it deeply, instinctively, and with a trauma-laced physicality (rashes, tremors, convulsions) cannot control which gives her the ability to keep cool. Desire is driving, honest and tender; it will throw you back to your own worst heartache whether you want to revisit it or not. – Stephen Harmon

Around the table by Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Cookbook, Plum, $44.99

Around the table by Julia Busuttil Nishimura

With her first two cookbooks, Ostro and A Year of Simple Family Food, Busuttil Nishimura established herself as a cookery writer whose work is tasty, accessible, and beautiful to look at. Focused primarily on Italian and Japanese cuisine, Around the Table will bring its existing fans a lot more of what they like while first-time readers will learn some new tricks.

This book has some great inspiration for quick and easy weeknight meals, and the sweet dishes stand out. Some are ambitious, but as Nishimura makes clear, a day in the kitchen is its own reward; and if you have a bite for dessert that has every component made from scratch, then that’s just icing (or ricotta cream) on the cake. – Alyx Gorman

Summer dresses: natural fibers and the future of fashion by Luciane Tonti

Nonfiction, Black Inc, $32.99

Summer dresses: natural fibers and the future of fashion by Luciane Tonti

In Sundressed, Luciane Tonti – whose Closet Clinic column I edit for Guardian Australia – looks at the ugly side of beautiful clothes with surprising tenderness. Tonti doesn’t shy away from the complexities of fashion’s impact on the planet and isn’t afraid to call it greenwashing when she sees it, but she never judges the reader for wanting to dress well: this book was written for love .

Each chapter delves deep into the history, present and possible future of a different natural fiber. Together they form a tapestry of ways to fix a broken industry. It is essential reading for those working in the rag business; For everyone else, the book is a well-taught lesson on the true cost (and value) of clothing. – Alyx Gorman

Quickfoot by Robert Drewe

Fiction, Penguin Random House, $32.99

Robert Drewe's Nimblefoot will be published by Penguin Random House in August 2022

John Day was an 18th-century child superstar, an Australian world champion spectator pedestrian. As a teenager he became an apprentice jockey and won the Melbourne Cup in 1870 on a horse named Nimblefoot. Then he vanished from history – so Drewe decided to invent a life for him, starting with the night of his Melbourne Cup win.

Of Drewe’s 18 books of fiction and non-fiction, Nimblefoot is probably his most imaginative novel – and as he told me in an interview to be published in the Guardian on Saturday, it’s also his favorite book to write. In challenging times, his protagonist, John Day, began to feel like a friend to him; Drewe’s imaginative leaps and bounds — featuring historical characters both real and fictional — are steeped in whimsical humor in this tremendous achievement of a book. – Susan Chenery

The Wrong Woman by JP Pomare

Crime, Hachette Australia, $32.99

The Wrong Man by JP Pomare

This breezy crime thriller is the latest small-town thriller from world bestseller Pomare, who was born in New Zealand and lives in Melbourne. His fifth novel is about Reid, a private investigator who has left his hometown after retiring from his career. After receiving an offer he can’t refuse, Reid returns to investigate a suspicious car accident – only to find himself implicated in the disappearance of two local teenage girls. Reid’s narration alternates with that of Eshana, one of two car accident victims who speak from the past before she fell into a coma.

Pomare’s books are undeniably driving, and The Wrong Woman’s twists and cliffhangers are clever enough to be satisfying. Yes, it’s all a bit familiar – but who doesn’t enjoy reading about a private investigator with a checkered past? – sian cain

Any version of you by Grace Chan

Fiction, Affirm Press, $32.99

Any version of you by Grace Chan

Chan’s speculative debut novel is set in an almost apocalyptic Melbourne some 60 years from now. Most of the middle class are fleeing (virtually) to Gaia, a commercial VR platform where they can meet, eat and go to galleries while their bodies are left in tiny, sterile apartments dipped in transmitter gel. When the chance to fully upload to Gaia arises, a couple, Tao-Yi and Navin, find themselves divided: how can you give up life on earth? On the other hand, why stay?

Chan’s short stories have been shortlisted for several science fiction awards, and you’re in good hands with her first novel. The science feels seamless and believable (to this layman) – as does, more interestingly, Chan’s quiet, intelligent explorations of the psyche, family ties, and what really binds us together. – Imogen Dewey

Rigged by Cameron K. Murray and Paul Frijters

Nonfiction, Allen & Unwin $32.99

Rigged by Cameron K. Murray and Paul Frijters

Originally self-published as a pamphlet by economists Murray and Frijters under the title Game of Mates, Rigged is a fascinating and infuriating investigation into how nepotism, corruption and shady dealings between the aforementioned mates undermine Australian society and the general populace around the Have robbed half of our fortune. “Every hour you work, 30 minutes of that goes into your mates’ pockets and not yours,” they write.

Murray and Frijters examine how large corporations, industrial groups and government agencies have distorted everything from the housing market to pensions to our medical system and transportation. Right side of academic and right side of entertainment, Rigged explains in compelling detail how Australia has gone from one of the most equal societies in the western world to one of the most unequal in just a decade. – sian cain

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