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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‘I’m stockpiling novels and reisling’ Annabel Crabb

2020 doesn’t seem to have much going for it at the moment but it does have some brilliant books with more on the way and it would be so sad if people didn’t get to read them so be prepared and stock up now! Should you find yourself unexpectedly stuck at home and twiddling your thumbs, feel free to ring and order over the phone or email us. You can even pay over the phone! We are happy to be like the doctor in Altona and drop books into car windows or should you live near the shop (Fairfield, Alphington, Ivanhoe, Northcote, Thornbury) we are happy for the month of March to start dropping them in letter boxes.  Lose yourself (like me) in 900 wonderful pages of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light (it is genius!), feast on crime with new books from Karina Kilmore and Dervla McTiernan. Literary fiction fan? Try Anna Goldsworthy’s Melting Moments or Lucy Trealor‘s Wolfe Island. We have the Indie Book Award shortlists, the Stella Prize shortlist and the Costa Prize winners. Have a few kids keeping you company because school is shut – talk to us about what we are reading with our various kids bookclubs. Middle fiction in particular is super strong at the moment and there are fabulous titles for the 8-12s in your life. Suddenly got the time to do some unexpected comfort baking – grab a recipe book. The Monday Morning Cooking Club is back with a stunning dessert book – Now for Something Sweet – and if there is one community who knows the comfort of cooking in hard times, it is the Jewish community. It is fantastic! Alternatively support a fab local bakery in North Melbourne and grab Natalie Paull’s Beatrix Bakes! Feeling stressed and not sleeping well – Michael Moseley‘s brand new Sleep might be just the ticket. So if you find yourself quarantined or sick at home a book will help so send a friend into the  store or we are just a phone call  (90174748) or email books@fairfieldbooks.com.au away!

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More and More Magazines

If you have been in store lately you will have noticed that we’ve been doing a bit of rearranging and now have a magazine rack just as you walk in next to the audiobooks. We have always stocked Quarterly Essay, The Monthly, Limelight, Meanji, Griffith Review and Dumbo Feather. To that we have added three more titles – New Philosopher, Womankind and The Dura. Each of them are chock full of fascinating articles by writers from all around the world and are beautifully produced. New Philosopher and Womankind are full colour whereas The Dura – a magazine who’s subtitle is History, Stories, Politics and Shenanigans (how perfect!) – is the size of a newspaper and has a deliberate old-style black and white aesthetic. It combines ‘scathing social criticism with long-form story telling’. Each edition has a particular theme. The current one focuses on English Satire and Satirists, Dark Emu and The Kulin People, and perfect for Fairfield, a focus on Greece. Well worth a look.

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Opening Pages – TOMORROW – Wednesday March 4 7pm

It’s been a bookish last week at Fairfield Books. We’ve run two of our bookclubs (Adult and Kids) and hosted the fabulous Dervla McTiernan at our first Sunday Stories for the year and now we aim to complete the trifecta with our first Opening Pages. It’s going to be a cracker of an event with Kirsten Alexander and Kate Murdoch talking about their new books. Riptides is an absolute page-turner based on the premise that one bad decision can tear your world. In this case the decision is leaving the scene of a car accident. Set in Queensland, set in the 1970s, an earlier version of this book was shortlisted for the Bellwether Prize by PEN America and is a great read. Kate Murdoch was a painter before turning her hand to writing. The Orange Grove is her second book and is deliciously set in 1705 in a chateau in France. The perfect escapist read for everyone who is finding 2020 all a bit much. Come join us for a lovely chat with two fabulous authors and raise a glass or two to their new books and what is shaping up to be a fabulous year of reading! RSVP via email books@fairfieldbooks.com.au, Facebook, ring us or in store if you drop in today. See you there.

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