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Simon & Schuster HB WAS $49.99 NOW $39.99

Biography & Memoir LEONARDO DA VINCI Walter Isaacson

Following his acclaimed biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson has turned his attention to another towering figure in popular culture. At once a biography and a reflection on genius and creativity, Leonardo Da Vinci is a thought-provoking exploration of the great man’s life. Isaacson’s passion for his subject is infectious, and his wry sense of humour enlivens the narrative. The book looks back at history through a modern lens, revealing unexpected connections between then and now. Isaacson describes Leonardo as ‘wildly imaginative, passionately curious and creative across multiple disciplines’, and this absorbing and multifaceted work pays tribute to both his genius and his humanity.

LOGICAL FAMILY Armistead Maupin

The warmth, humour and commitment to entertaining his readers that were all so evident in Armistead Maupin’s iconic Tales of the City books are to be found throughout this hugely appealing memoir. Just as his characters found in each other a ‘logical family’, a family that made sense to them, so too did Maupin. As he traces his gradual move away from his blood family towards Doubleday PB $35 his logical family, he also traces his political and personal shift from conservative and repressed to liberal and proudly out. Divided between his childhood and adolescence in the South, and his awakening in San Francisco, this memoir reminds us of the darkness of the closet, the casualties of AIDS, and the joy of finding one’s people and place. BER DECEM SE A E L E R


WH Allen PB $29.99


Giramondo PB WAS $39.95 NOW $34.99

James Aldred began climbing trees in adolescence, when he spent hours exploring the dense woodland canopies around his childhood home. He has carried that same passion for adventure into adulthood as a professional tree climber and wildlife documentary cameraman. The Man Who Climbs Trees is his account of a life spent above ground, told in a series of illuminating anecdotes of his extraordinary experiences in trees. More personal reflection than scientific text, this is an accessible and delightful memoir that is ultimately a love letter to trees, as well as a warning and a plea to protect their ecosystems and habitats from natural and man-made catastrophes.


Fleet PB $32.99

PRAIRIE FIRES Caroline Fraser

Drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries and public records, Caroline Fraser uncovers the real-life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie books. Wilder (1867–1957) had a life full of drama and adversity. Settling on the American frontier amid land-rush speculation, Laura and her family endured Biblical tribulations of locusts and drought, poverty and want, before she left at the age of 18 to be married. This is where the books end, but Prairie Fires follows Laura in the decades that followed, when she endured personal tragedies, crisscrossed the country and eventually, aged 60, wrote a bestselling and much-loved series of novels in which she recast her extraordinarily difficult childhood as a triumph of the pioneering spirit.

John Murray PB WAS $32.99 NOW $29.99


TRACKER Alexis Wright

Miles Franklin Award–winner Alexis Wright further affirms her reputation as one of Australia’s most important writers with Tracker, a ‘collective memoir’ of charismatic Aboriginal leader, Tracker Tilmouth. A member of the stolen generation, the Arrente man was known for his activism and bold ideas as much as for his irreverent sense of humour and lively stories. Wright draws from extensive interviews with Tracker as well as with his friends, family and colleagues, interweaving these distinct voices to create something that is both intimate and expansive. As well as being a portrait of a man and a period of history, the structure of this book is testament to the value and role of storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life.

RENOIR’S DANCER Catherine Hewitt

Icon PB $29.99

Text PB WAS $32.99 NOW $29.99

THE TRAUMA CLEANER Sarah Krasnostein

A stand-out debut, this is narrative nonfiction writing at its best. Sarah Krasnostein explores the meaning and impact of trauma by fusing the compelling life story of Sandra Pankhurst, the trauma cleaner of the title, with descriptions of the houses she cleans and – more importantly – the people who live in them. Sandra is an extraordinary woman whose own traumas (as an abused child, as a transgender person, as a rape survivor) have had their impact on her life, but have left her determined to do the best job she possibly can as she supports people suffering their own traumas. Eschewing voyeurism in favour of deep thinking and emotional truth-telling, Krasnostein delivers a book that perfectly balances empathy and clear-sightedness.

This is no worshipful tribute to the late musician. Instead, it is an impeccably researched biography of the man and an expert assessment of his extraordinary musical legacy. Long-time Rolling Stone contributor DeCurtis charts Reed’s life from his childhood through to his time at Syracuse University, the formation of the Velvet Underground, the band’s development under the Svengali-like oversight of Andy Warhol and his wildly inconsistent but hugely productive post-Velvets solo career. DeCurtis does a wonderful job in profiling the man’s life and work among NYC’s demi-monde (he describes the 1970s as Reed’s ‘wild ambisexual night crawler’ period) and offers a fascinating insight into what made Reed such a self-destructive character.

5. Where do Kate Moss and Madonna like to eat?



LOU REED: A LIFE Anthony DeCurtis

In the 1880s, Suzanne Valadon was considered the Impressionists’ most beautiful model. In Renoir’s Dancer, art historian Catherine Hewitt follows Valadon’s life and work, presenting a fascinating portrait of a strong, unorthodox and talented woman. Born in poverty in rural France, Valadon made her way to Paris as a teenager and began posing for – and having affairs with – some of the age’s most renowned painters. She also began to paint, and friends including Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas acknowledged her skill. Rebellious and opinionated, Valadon refused to be confined by tradition or gender.


4th Estate PB $32.99

Here, the bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club reveals the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. Drawing on vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, Tan shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her novels. She also, for the first time publicly, writes about her complex relationship with her father, who died when she was 15. A fascinating insight into the mind and creative process of a bestselling writer.


Brené Brown Vermilion PB $29.99 Social scientist Brené Brown argues that humanity is experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of what she calls ‘true belonging’ to address this.


Mark Raphael Baker Text PB $32.99 A moving memoir of Baker’s wife of 32 years, Kerryn Baker, who died 10 months after her diagnosis, aged 55, from stomach cancer.


Penelope Lively Fig Tree HB $35 A memoir of the celebrated novelist’s own life in gardens in Egypt and England, as well as a far-ranging exploration of gardens in literature.



Erling Kagge Viking HB $29.99 A Norwegian adventurer explores the power of silence and the importance of shutting out the world, arguing that we can experience perfect stillness if we know where to look.


Geoff Blackwell, Ruth Hobday & Kieran E Scott Echo HB $60 A book about equality featuring 200 original and diverse interviews with women from around the world.

THE UNFINISHED PALAZZO Judith Mackrell Thames & Hudson PB $45 The story of Venice’s Palazzo Venier dei Leoni told through the lives of three of its most unconventional, passionate and fascinating residents – Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim.

Joe Hagan Viking PB $34.99 The story of Rolling Stone magazine and its creator, Jann Wenner. Features interviews with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Keith Richards, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe, David Geffen and many others.


Jimmy Barnes HarperCollins HB WAS $49.99 NOW $39.99 Barnesy continues on from where Working Class Boy ended, leaving Adelaide with a then-unknown band called Cold Chisel and heading towards success, fame and addiction.

Gleebooks Summer Reading Guide 2017  

Summer 2017's best books selected by your favourite independent bookseller.