My week in books

toy clothesline clothespin sunset time in autumn

How many books have you read, skimmed, touched, discussed, borrowed or bought this week? I decided I would tally up mine!


  • The secret scriptures by Sebastian Barry – this was my bookclub book and and it was my turn to host. Half of our bookclub had read it, half had started it. We all agreed it was a very slow start. It’s a dual narrative with both sections written in first person. Roseanne is a one-hundred-year-old woman who has been a patient at a mental hospital in Ireland for many, many years. Dr Grene is her psychiatrist. I enjoyed Roseanne’s story more because she was the more interesting character with a strong voice. When I read Dr Grene’s sections, I had to remind myself that his story was current – his tone was quite formal for a contemporary voice.
  • Becoming a writer by Dorothea Brande – this book was published in the 1930s, but is still relevant today, despite the 1930s tone. I reread this book because the writer discusses the two personalities of the author – the rational or conscious side and the dreamy or unconscious part. I’m interested in this at the moment because I’m trying to balance writing a logical outline for my book so I can see where the problems lie, as well as use my subconscious to solve the problems. Wish me luck!
  • When the teddy bears came by Martin Waddell – this is a gorgeous picture book which is a perfect present for a toddler about to become a big sister or brother. I put all my kids’ much-loved soft toys in the washing machine yesterday – 34 degrees! – and hung them on the line to dry by their ears or tails. They looked both bedraggled and comical, and the lines of teddies and penguins and dogs reminded me of Waddell’s book, with its collection of teddy bears.
  • The last painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith – I have only started this book but am really enjoying it so far.


  • Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi – I’m doing a cooking class next weekend with a friend, based on Ottolenghi’s recipes. I didn’t know much about him at all so I borrowed my friend’s cookbooks. We are having caramelised fennel and roasted eggplant with lamb mince for dinner this week – yum!
  • Information is beautiful by David McCandless – my kind brother gave me this book – I did cook him a decent dinner and agreed to be interviewed for his business! Its pages show different ways to present information, trends and statistics from different types of fish, carbon usage and the connection between facial hair and the number of people one has killed! It’s a visually stunning book – would be an asset to any marketing department. I have only flicked through it but can already see how I’ll use it as a resource for inspiration, marketing and storytelling.


  • One by Sarah Crossan – my friend Tess, a remarkable young woman, is going to start a bookclub with some university friends and wanted some recommendations for books on feminism, female empowerment and gender roles. So this section is for Tess, as I went through my bookshelves for options for her. One is a young adult fiction book about conjoined twins – definitely empowering.
  • The poisonwood bible by Barbara Kingsolver – four sisters who leave the US with their parents to live in the Congo. Different directions, different choices by the sisters in this novel.
  • All that I am by Anna Funder – set in Germany during the Second World War, this is a fictional account of two female cousins who work against Hitler. Chilling.
  • Speaking out and The fictional woman by Tara Moss – two non-fiction books by an Australian model, author and activist. Powerful reading.
  • The wife drought by Annabel Crabbe – this book covers the same old ground about the division of duties at work and home between men and women. A fiery read.
  • Motherhood and creativity, the divided heart by Rachel Power – a series of interviews with creative women who are also mothers. While the emphasis is on creative careers, many of the stories can also be applied to the business world.


  • The beast’s garden by Kate Forsyth – I lent my copy to one of the lovely baristas at my local cafe because she is an avid reader. She’s just started it, so I’m looking forward to hearing what she thinks of it when she’s read a little bit more.
  • Zen habits by Leo Babuto – I also lent my copy of this book to another lovely barista at the same cafe because he wanted to stop procrastinating and this book has fabulous tips for creating habits to do the things that you want to do but just can’t. However, he has been procrastinating reading it so we haven’t had any conversations about it yet!


  • Big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – I love this book, and pulled it out to flip through because I wanted some tips and tricks on how to be more creative. Will probably end up reading this one cover to cover again.
  • Zakka┬ácompiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale – Miss 10 and I are on a sewing project roll at the moment – we made lavender sachets in the holidays. I have found a little project in this book we could sew. Now to choose the fabric from my stash – blue flowers or blue butterflies?


  • Goodbye stranger by Rebecca Stead – my friend Renee suggested I read this as apparently Stead’s style and subject matter is similar to what I’m working on with my book. Just borrowed it yesterday from the library so I’m looking forward to a good middle-grade fiction read.
  • Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman – because he’s Neil Gaiman and this book happened to be lying by itself on the library shelf. Need I say more?
  • Fabric pictures by Janet Bolton – love a beautifully photographed craft book and the cover had me at hello!


  • Zero! I have a Christmas book voucher which is begging to be spent but I am trying to hold off for a little while longer.

I hope you have had an equally bookish week with fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, children’s fiction – let me know about your week in books, please.




Her sheer audacity



Great to learn about different topics, subjects and authors.
Thanks Karen

February 10, 2017 at 8:52 am


I can’t get anywhere near that number of books, Karen!

I finished Jodie Picoult’s “Small Great Things”, I found it a book I couldn’t put down and it stayed with me for a long time after I had finished. Do we all need to look at ourselves and our racist attitudes?

I enjoyed a “who dunnit” “The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni, the 4th in the Tracy Crosswhite series. As well as a good read it follows the detective’s personal life.I will certainly read No. 5 due in September.

Just started my bookclub book, “The Memory of Salt” by Alice Melike Ulgezer, not far enough into it to comment.


February 10, 2017 at 10:12 am


All that I am by Anna Funder is a definite must read Karen. A very thought provoking novel.
And I am enjoying the Beast Garden. I need to be making more time for reading.

February 10, 2017 at 10:47 am


Hi Karen. I’m not reading a lot at present as John and I are cruising the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.
I think I’ll be doing some non fiction reading about the troubled history of this sad country where the people are so lovely!
I’ve just finished The Beast’s Garden which I enjoyed although I thought the ending a little too good to be true?!
I’m currently reading the latest Phiiippa Gregory novel, Three Sisters, Three Queens. I’ve read all her books. I have a “thing” about English history. I might try your Jodie Picoult choice Terri.

February 10, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Karen Comer

    Lucky you, Kathy! Nice to have your travels influence your reading. ‘The beast’s garden’ definitely has a happy ending, which wasn’t the case for many living in that time.

    February 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Colleen Warfield

Hope you enjoy The last painting of Sarah deVos as much as I did, read it after being discussed on book club ABC.

February 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm


This is such a fantastic list of books Karen! Thanks for taking the time to compile it. My eldest had to read Stasiland last year for year 12 English.

I have listened to two audiobook recently that I have loved, both by Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage.

February 11, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Karen Comer

    Thanks, Nic. I loved ‘The Alchemist’, too. I haven’t read ‘The pilgrimage’ but will now after your recommendation.

    February 12, 2017 at 11:50 am


Aah, you put me to shame! I’m reading Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance which is illuminating in it’s discussion of the social culture of life in the US Midwest. I bought my mum Sarah de Vos for her birthday and it is her current read. She has been enjoying it. I think I’d like to give it a go too, especially since it is partly set in NY where we’ve recently visited. I have to give All That I Am another go. I tried it a few years back and couldn’t get into it, but I want too! I read Stasiland and really enjoyed it, so yes, you should definitely give it a go, Karen! And I thought about A Man Called Ove, which I think I will read next!

February 11, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Karen Comer

    Thinking and discussing books all count, Carolyn! And sometimes you need to read books at the right time – ‘All that I am’ is definitely not a beach read.

    February 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

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