Literature / Books about Books

We love books about books, and keep a collection of books on reading, books on book design, and books on writers and writing. There are also collections of literary essays and biographies of important literary individuals.

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Dreams Must Explain Themselves: The Selected Non-Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin
Cover Image, Dreams Must Explain Themselves

Ursula K. Le Guin
Orion Publishing
ISBN 9781473205949    
Trade paperback 2018
Price $AU 32.99
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This selection of the best of Le Guin's non-fiction shows an agile mind, an unparalleled imagination and a ferocious passion to argue against injustice. In 2014 Ursula Le Guin was awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and her widely praised acceptance speech is one of the highlights of this volume, which shows that one of modern literature's most original voices is also one of its purest consciences.


The Best of A. A. Gill

Cover Image, The Best of A.A. Gill

Adrian Gill
Orion Publishing Co
ISBN  9781474607742   
Paperback 2017
Price $AU 32.99
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For over twenty years, people turned to A. A. Gill's columns every Sunday - for his fearlessness, his perception, and the laughter-and-tear-provoking one-liners - but mostly because he was the best. 'By miles the most brilliant journalist of our age', as Lynn Barber put it. This is the definitive collection of a voice that was silenced too early but that can still make us look at the world in new and surprising ways. In the words of Andrew Marr, A..A. Gill was 'a golden writer'. There was nothing that he couldn't illuminate with his dazzling prose. Wherever he was - at home or abroad - he found the human story, brought it to vivid life, and rendered it with fierce honesty and bracing compassion. And he was just as truthful about himself. There have been various collections of A. A. Gill's journalism - individual compilations of his restaurant and TV criticism, of his travel writing and his extraordinary feature articles. This book will collect examples of the very best of his work: the peerlessly funny criticism, the extraordinarily knowledgeable food writing, assignments throughout the world, and reflections on life, love, and death.


The Pleasures of Leisure

Cover Image, North Water

Robert Dessaix
Random House
ISBN 9780143780045     
Hardback 2017
Price $AU 29.99
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In today's crazily busy world the importance of making time for leisure is more vital than ever. Yet so many of us lack a talent for it. Robert Dessaix shows, in this thoughtful and witty book, how taking leisure seriously gives us back our freedom - to enjoy life, to revel in it, in fact; to deepen our sense of who we are as human beings. He explains how we can reclaim our right to 'rest well', and to loaf, groom, nest and play, as he looks at leisure from many angles- reading, walking, travelling, learning languages, taking siestas and simply doing nothing. The result is a terrifically lively and engaging conversation that reminds us that at leisure we are at our most intensely and pleasurably human.


Feel Free
Feel Free

Zadie Smith
ISBN 9780241146903
Trade Paperback 2018
Price $AU 35.00
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The one and only Zadie Smith, prize-winning, bestselling author of Swing Time and White Teeth, is back with a second unmissable collection of essays. No subject is too fringe or too mainstream for the unstoppable Zadie Smith. In Feel Free, pop culture, high culture, social change and political debate all get the Zadie Smith treatment, dissected with razor-sharp intellect, set brilliantly against the context of the utterly contemporary, and considered with a deep humanity and compassion. This electrifying new collection showcases its author as a true literary powerhouse, demonstrating once again her credentials as an essential voice of her generation.


Everywhere I LookCover Image, Helen Garner

Helen Garner
Text Publishing
ISBN 9781925498080
Paperback 2017
Price $AU 23.99
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Helen Garner is one of Australia's greatest writers. Her short non-fiction has enormous range. Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It includes Garner's famous and controversial essay on the insults of age, her deeply moving tribute to her mother and extracts from her diaries, which have been part of her working life for as long as she has been a writer. Everywhere I Look glows with insight. It is filled with the wisdom of life.


Love + HateCover image, Love and Hate

Hanif Kureishi
Faber & Faber
ISBN 9780571319701
Paperback 2016
Price $AU 23.99
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Hate skews reality even more than love. In the story of a Pakistani woman who has begun a new life in Paris, an essay about the writing of Kureishi's acclaimed film Le Week-End, and an account of Kafka's relationship with his father, readers will find Kureishi also exploring the topics that he continues to make new, and make his own: growing up and growing old; betrayal and loyalty; imagination and repression; marriage and fatherhood. The collection ends with a bravura piece of very personal reportage about the conman who stole Kureishi's life savings - a man who provoked both admiration and disgust, obsession and revulsion, love and hate.


Cover image, The Writers Room

The Writer's Room

Charlotte Wood
Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760293345
Paperback 2016
Price $AU 32.99
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Charlotte Wood's online journal The Writer's Room has become essential reading for writers at all stages of their careers, and also pure reading pleasure for booklovers everywhere. Charlotte's interviews with a wide range of well-known writers range in topic from the subject matter of the writers' work to quite intricate - and intimate - revelations about the ways in which they work. Charlotte's subjects are frank about the failures and successes, the struggles and triumphs of the writing life, and extremely generous in their revelations. A must-read for writers and readers.


The Kraus ProjectCover image, The Kraus Project

Jonathan Franzen
Fourth Estate
ISBN 9780007517442
Paperback 2014
Price $AU 24.99
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A hundred years ago, the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus was among the most penetrating and prophetic writers in Europe: a relentless critic of the popular media's manipulation of reality, the dehumanizing machinery of technology and consumerism, and the jingoistic rhetoric of a fading empire. But even though his followers included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work. Thankfully, Jonathan Franzen is one of them.

In The Kraus Project, Franzen not only presents his definitive new translations of Kraus but annotates them spectacularly, with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann. Kraus was a notoriously cantankerous and difficult author, and in Franzen he has found his match: a novelist unafraid to voice unpopular opinions strongly, a critic capable of untangling Kraus's often dense arguments. While Kraus lampoons the iconic German writer Heinrich Heine and celebrates his own literary heroes, Franzen's annotations soar over today's cultural landscape and then dive down into a deeply personal recollection of his first year out of college, when he fell in love with Kraus. Painstakingly wrought, strikingly original in form, The Kraus Project is a feast of thought, passion, and literature.


Mystery & MannersCover image, Mystery and Manners

Flannery O'Connor
Faber & Faber
ISBN 9780571309597
Paperback 2014
Price $AU 24.99
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At her death in 1964, O'Connor left behind a body of unpublished essays and lectures as well as a number of critical articles that had appeared in scattered publications during her too-short lifetime. The keen writings comprising Mystery and Manners, selected and edited by O'Connor's lifelong friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, are characterized by the directness and simplicity of the author's style, a fine-tuned wit, understated perspicacity, and profound faith. The book opens with 'The King of the Birds,' her famous account of raising peacocks at her home in Milledgeville, Georgia. Also included are: three essays on regional writing, including 'The Fiction Writer and His Country' and 'Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction'; two pieces on teaching literature, including 'Total Effect and the 8th Grade'; and four articles concerning the writer and religion, including 'The Catholic Novel in the Protestant South.' Essays such as 'The Nature and Aim of Fiction' and 'Writing Short Stories' are widely seen as gems. This bold and brilliant essay collection is a must for all readers, writers, and students of modern American literature.


On WritingCover image, On Writing

Stephen King
Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN 9781444723250
Paperback 2012
Price $AU 19.99
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There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as 'the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature', Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 - and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.


Against Interpretation and Other EssaysCover image, Against Interpretation

Susan Sontag
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780141190068
Paperback 2009
Price $AU 27.99
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A series of provocative discussions on everything from individual authors to contemporary religious thinking, Against Interpretation and Other Essays is the definitive collection of Susan Sontag's best known and important works published in Penguin Modern Classics. Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag's first collection of essays and made her name as one of the most incisive thinkers of our time. Sontag was among the first critics to write about the intersection between 'high' and 'low' art forms, and to give them equal value as valid topics, shown here in her epoch-making pieces 'Notes on Camp' and 'Against Interpretation'. Here too are impassioned discussions of Sartre, Camus, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, Levi-Strauss, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis and contemporary religious thought. Originally published in 1966, this collection has never gone out of print and has been a major influence on generations of readers, and the field of cultural criticism, ever since.


Why Read the Classics?Cover image, Why Read the Classics

Italo Calvino
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780141189703
Paperback 2009
Price $AU 24.99
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Why Read the Classics? is an elegant defence of the value of great literature by one of the finest authors of the last century. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic (number one - classics are those books that people always say they are 'rereading', not 'reading'), this is an absorbing collection of Italo Calvino's witty and passionate criticism.


Inner WorkingsCover image, Inner Workings

J.M. Coetzee
Random House
ISBN 9781741666205
Paperback 2008
Price $AU 19.99
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Coetzee the critic is every bit as good as Coetzee the novelist. - Irish Times Following on from STRANGER SHORES which contained J.M. Coetzee s essays from 1986 to 19F99, INNER WORKINGS, gathers together his literary essays from 2000 to 2005. Of the writers discussed in the first half of the book, several lived through the Austro-Hungarian fin de siecle and felt the influence of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud. Coetzee further explores the work of six of twentieth-century German literature s greatest writers. There is an essay on Graham Greene s Brighton Rock and on the short fiction of Samuel Beckett, a writer whom Coetzee has long admired. American literature is strongly represented from Walt Whitman, through William Faulkner, Saul Bellow and Arthur Miller to Philip Roth. Coetzee rounds off the collection with essays on three fellow Nobel laureates- Nadine Gordimer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and V.S. Naipaul.


Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common ReaderCover Image, Ex Libris

Anne Fadiman
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780140283709
Paperback 2000
Price $AU 24.99
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This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. Writing with humour and erudition, Fadiman revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at building bricks with her father's 22-volume set of Trollope, and who considered herself truly married only when she and her husband merged book collections, she is well-equipped to expand upon the perverse pleasures of compulsive proofreading, the satisfactions of reading aloud, and the siren call of literary gluttony.


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