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What to Read During a Lockdown?

2-281285-Main-900x556-8What to read during a lockdown? Well, I’m glad you asked. It is noticeable that many of our customers have decided a big event calls for a BIG read. We have sold many in our classics range as well as some big books like Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel. I’ve chosen Middlemarch by George Elliott to be my lockdown read. It’s a book that I’ve always meant to read but never had the time! But should classics not be your thing, or you need something more modern to balance out War and Peace, here are two fabulous novels that are hot off the press.

First is The Animals in That Country by Australian author Laura Jean McKay. I actually had to read this to review on ABC Radio National’s The Bookshelf with Kate Evans last week. Both Kate and I loved it (you can hear the interview here with a range of other good reads https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-bookshelf/the-bookshelf-friday-24-april-2020/12174890). An astonishing, at times brilliant and at times bonkers book, if you are looking for something completely original this one is for you. Set now, in an animal park, guide Jean is one of life’s battlers, surviving not thriving, when along comes a flu epidemic sweeping the nation (astonishing but true) which has the curious side effect of allowing humans to understand what animals are saying. One of the most original books I’ve read, I can’t recommend this enough.

The second book is The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel. As regular customers would know, I LOVE Emily’s last book Station Eleven which if you are looking for a fictional read about a pandemic flu, this is it! I actually just reread this book with a group of Year 9 English students as part of a bookclub and it has been their favourite book so far. The Glass Hotel again shows of Mandel’s skill with characters, interest in the world and big-life events and how we respond to adversity with art. This one centres around a giant Ponzi scheme and is pretty fabulous.

Remember Fairfield Books remain open. You can collect or have your book delivered. Just ring or email us.

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Women’s Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for one of our favourite prizes of the year has just been announced. The Women’s Prize, which is UK based, always highlights brilliant books and this shortlist is one of the strongest (proving my hunch that 2020 is actually one of the best years for books in ages –  which is probably the kindest way we can describe the start of this decade). The Women’s Prize has brought us some real favourites in the past – Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, Naomi Alderman’s The Power to name just a couple recent winners. The shortlist includes Booker winning Bernardine Evaristo Girl, Woman, Other (now out in paperback), Hilary Mantel‘s marvellous end to her Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, along with Dominciana by Angie Cruz, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, my next read Weather by Jenny Offill. I am so delighted to see Maggie O’Farrell FINALLY make the Women’s shortlist (no idea what took so long) with Hamnet, which if you could come into the shop for a browse would be the book I would thrust into your hands. I’m rereading it again because I loved it. Remember Fairfield Books is still open and you can ring and collect, send your order through email, or even get home delivery! Stay well and keep reading. book-5

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Suggestions for the Easter Bunny (and Easter change of hours)

ImageHandler.ashx-2As we head into a pretty unusual Easter weekend what better thing to do than curl up with a book in hand and some chocolate close by to nibble on. Fairfield Books still remains open from 9.30pm – 5pm but our hours will change over the Easter Weekend. We will be shut on Friday and Sunday but open Easter Saturday from 9am-4pm and also Easter Monday 10am-3pm. So pop in for some great books. Should the Easter Bunny want to deliver some books along with the eggs, then the always brilliant Julia Donaldson is back alongside illustrator Lydia Monks with a glittery new Ladybird adventure – What The Ladybird Heard at the Seaside. Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len are back to their wicked ways and are planning on stealing the mermaid’s long luscious locks. Will our ladybird hero be able to stop them?

For the slightly older amongst us, Joanna Trollope has produced another great page turner with Mum & Dad. Immensely readable, this has three generations of one English family who find themselves running a Spanish vineyard (already feeling nostalgic for the times when this could actually occur – hopefully they will come again!). A great read to banish our decidedly April 2020 woes.

Remember you can always call and collect, email your order in, pay over the phone and if you are in the surrounding suburbs, we can deliver! Stay safe, have a wonderful Easter  in place and remember if you need to escape do it with a book!

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Comfort Reads – Falastin (its almost the new Ottolenghi

xfalastin.jpg.pagespeed.ic.bIh2fhP8xDIf there is anything better than a book during this crisis, it is a home cooked meal, which probably means books about home cooked meals are the apex of a comfort read. This one is a beauty. For the many of our customers who LOVED Ottolenghi SIMPLE (copies available in store) this is what I would describe as Ottolenghi adjacent. Sami Tamimi has been Ottolenghi’s co-author on a few of his recipe books and here he is working with Tara Wigley. This is simply a ground-breaking Middle Eastern delight and has over one hundred recipes that look sensational. My family has already made their first dish (eggplant, chickpea and tomato bake) and it was superb – even better the second day. Described as a culinary love letter to Palestine, this would be the type of book that we would thrust into your hands in store and tell you of the twelve favourite dishes that we’ve cooked from it. Instead, why not buy it from us and when this is all over we can have that conversation together with us both sharing favourite dishes. We are still open (just!) and are encouraging customers to either CALL and then COLLECT from the store or we will DELIVER to the surrounding suburbs around us. So email us on books@fairfieldbooks.com.au or give us a call on 9017 4748. Take care and keep reading.

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Brilliant New Reads – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

So you’ve finished The Mirror and The Light and want a new read. Look no further. As many of you would be aware award -winning Maggie O’Farrell is one of Fairfield Books’ favourite authors so a new book by Maggie is something worth celebrating no matter what! For those who haven’t read Maggie before, all her books are very good. My particular favourites are The Vanishing of Esme Lennox and her only non-fiction I Am, I Am, I Am but both of these need to move over and make way for her brand new book Hamnet. Escape our current predicament by heading back into not just Shakespearean times but actually to his family. Shakespeare himself is barely referred to as name rather the focus is on his wife Ann (known as Agnes) and their children. Covering the span of Shakespeare and Agnes meeting up until the writing of Hamlet, it begins (no spoiler but more a historical heads up) with Hamnet, their son, getting sick from the plague. Beautifully written, this is just a joy to read and has unexpected parallels to our current day. As an author, Maggie O’Farrell, has always focused on the domestic and human relationships, but this work especially demonstrates her mastery of love, grief, what it means to be a wife, parent, child. Already, critically acclaimed, it is hauntingly beautiful and deserves all the praise (and hopefully a few awards as well). Highly Recommended! Don’t forget you can even have your book home delivered – just email or ring the store to organise.

P.S. Head on over Twitter to Maggie’s husband William Sutcliffe (also an award winning writer worth checking out) and you can be part of the virtual launch party for Hamnet @Will_Sutcliffe8 – starts 6am tomorrow morning!

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Free Delivery for Books to your door

These are strange times we live in and it is uncertain how long our shop will remain open because although books are essential to us, bookshops are not an essential service. But never fear we are determined to still provide books to our customers even if we have to (temporarily) shut our doors. We are now offering free delivery to not just FAIRFIELD, NORTHCOTE, ALPHINGTON, THORNBURY and IVANHOE but also CLIFTON HILL and PRESTON. It is best if you email us books@fairfieldbooks.com.au with the title of the book and your phone number for us to call back to take payment or otherwise give us a call on 90174748. Alternatively, ask us for suggestions (I just finished Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light). What better than a book to bunker down with? Also remember we sell puzzles, educational books, games etc. We would love to hear from you. Thanks to all our fabulous customers for their wonderful support over this extraordinary time. Stay safe everyone.

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April Opening Pages – CANCELLED – STAY SAFE and BUY A BOOK

Unfortunately due to the times we live in, we are having to cancel our upcoming Opening Pages on 1 April. It was intended to be a Y.A. showcase with Emily Gale, Michael Pryor and Michael Earp and we hope that we can postpone it to later in the year! We stock their books so why not support them and make a purchase for the teen in your life (who may have not that much to do in the next little while!)

Just a reminder that we will be staying open for as long as we can and are doing out best with disinfecting surfaces etc to keep everyone as safe as possible. Also, should you not be able to come into the shop, give us a ring and you can purchase books over the phone and we will work out the best way to get them to you. If you live locally then we can drop in mailbox or if you want to drive past, drop them in through your car window. These are crazy anxious times so stay safe and keep a book or two nearby!

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