THE BEST BOOKS OF OCT-DEC 2011

So I’ve spent the past two days listening to all major Australian publishers pitching their Christmas lists to indie Queensland booksellers, and can I say, the future looks bright. These are the books that I’m looking forward to, but they’re the tip of the iceberg. There are  plenty of books that people of any taste will want to read/give as presents this Christmas. Just remember, if you read them here first, you have to buy a copy from an indie bookseller! And remember, there’s more of them than you’d think.


FICTION:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (late October)

If you’ve followed this blog for long enough, you’ll know I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long, long time. Clocking in at around 900 pages, this is a monstrous (but hopefully amazing) piece of literature. I’ll reserve my judgement on the cover until I see a final version, but needles to say, WHAT THE HELL? I guess when Chip Kidd designs the US cover, you’ve got something to live up to.


Animal People
by Charlotte Wood (October)

Set over a single day in Sydney, we follow Stephen, one of the characters from Charlotte’s earlier book The Children as he simultaneously unravels and relearns. I can’t wait to read this, particularly what promises to be an hilarious set piece at a child’s birthday party. P.S. If you don’t follow Charlotte on Twitter you’re a dill.


The Cook
, Wayne Macauley

People far more in the know then me have been mentioning Wayne Macauley’s name in reverential whispers for years, so I was incredibly excited to see Text Publishing is bringing his work to a wider audience in October.


Ed King
by David Guterson (October) 9781408807477

The author of the magnificent Snow Falling on Cedars turns his hand to the kind of American saga I’m always a sucker for.


The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides (October)

I’ve just finished this book. And it is great. Effortless brilliance. A no-brainer purchase.


The Night Circus
by Erica Morgenstern (October)

Halfway through this book at the moment, and it’s very good. It got me in because it’s about two duelling (in a competitive and romantic sense) magicians who both work for a mysterious and marvellous circus, where nothing is quite as it seems. It is full of rich imagination and it’s quite enchanting, but I’m waiting to see if there is enough narrative interest to carry the more fantastical elements.


The Street Sweeper
, Elliot Perlman (October)

It’s been a long wait for a new book by Elliot Perlman, author of the excellent Three Dollars, The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming, and the critically-acclaimed (but, in my opinion, highly overrated) Seven Types of Ambiguity. Set in New York, Melbourne, Chicago, Warsaw, Berlin and Auschwitz, The Street Sweeper is a multi-strand epic narrative that promises to be very interesting and will certainly be pushing for major awards.


Triptych
, Krissy Kneen (October)

Triptych is made up of three erotic novellas from the Brisbane-based author of the wildly successful memoir Affection, and should build on this book’s success. I have the pleasure of not only working with Krissy, but often writing alongside her, and from what I know about this book, it’s going to blow your bloody socks off. Get set for shock, controversy and a lot of national interest.


What the Family Needed
by Steven Amsterdam (November)

This is so exciting. Steven Amsterdam’s first book Things We Didn’t See Coming was one of my favourite books of 2009, and his new one sounds freaking fantastic. From what I could gather, it centres around a dysfunctional family whose members each receive a superpower, but this does not necessarily mean they are able to become a perfect family.


COOKING
:

Kitchen Coquette by Katrina Meynink (November)

In the large, potent soup of end-of-year cookbooks, this one easily stood out. Beautifully designed, yes, but also funny an unique. I think I’ll just let the author explain it.


Cumulus Inc.
by Andrew McConnell (November)

If you’ve been here for breakfast, you’ll know how exciting this is.


The Family Meal
by Ferran Adria

The author of 2008’s beautiful but impenetrable A Day at elBulli (and head chef of the world-renowned restaurant elBulli) Ferran Adria, returns with a cookbook which promises to show us real food. It’s broken up into 100 simple, seasonal recipes, separated into three-course “family meals” (i.e. the food elBulli’s staff eat). The layout is very easy to follow, with plenty of step-by-step photographs. Dare I say it has a Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals feel to it? Probably not.


KIDS

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (October)

The wonderful-looking new book from the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This is a book told through two voices set 50 years apart; one is made up entirely of text, the other entirely of images. It sounds incredible, and the best way to fully explain it is to let Brian Selznick tell you himself.


Star Wars: The Jedi Path
by Daniel Wallace (October)

The important thing to remember here is that yes, the book does open like a vault when you press a button and there is a cool noise when you do it. And a flashing blue light. Go to it, nerds.


The Enchanted Wood
and The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (November)

Yes, finally, a reprint of the proper, full-sized books I loved as a child, complete with the original illustrations! The only downside is Dick and Fanny’s names have been changed. Probably to something less “offensive”, like Jaelyn or Breyahnnah.


Midwinterblood
by Marcus Sedgwick (October)

I know very little about this YA book except the writing is being compared to Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell. Enough said.


Wildwood
by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis (October)

A really great looking tale (The first of “The Wildwood Chronicles”) from husband-and-wife team Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) and Carson Ellis. At the moment, it’s pure McSweeney’s-bait (with requisite blurbs from Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon), but I’m pretty sure the story will match the potential. In fact, if you like, you can read the first four chapters (PDF LINK). If you’d prefer, you can listen to these fucking hipsters.


OTHER
:

The Last Testament: A Memoir by God (December)

Simon & Schuster have scored a real coup here. David Javerbaum, the head writer of The Daily Show, gives us what will without doubt be the funniest (and possibly most seasonally appropriate) book this Christmas. Read an excerpt, or follow God on Twitter. This press release (PDF) is also pretty good.

M C Escher Popups (November)

I’m not prone to hyperbole, but if they pull this off, it will be the best thing ever.


Swainston’s Fishes of Australia
, Roger Swainston (November)

I include this book not only because of its breathtaking detail and depth (individual illustrations of over 1500 fish species), but because its scheduled publication for Christmas last year was ruined by a bookmark that left a red stripe down any page it touched. Copies had been printed and shipped to bookstores before the fault was recognised, meaning every copy had to be pulped. So get out there and support this amazing achievement this Christmas!

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5 thoughts on “THE BEST BOOKS OF OCT-DEC 2011

  1. Thanks Chris, it’s good to know what will be on the shelves in the next few months. I’m ridiculously excited about a new Jeffrey Eugenides book. I will buy the relaunched Enid Blytons for my daughters even though they’re only babies (ie for me) but am sad about the loss of Dick and Fanny…

  2. Thanks Chris, I manage an independent bookstore in Bright, a small but heavily touristed town in country Victoria. I do all the ordering, and have greatly appreciated your heads up on these books. I’ve already ordered Eugenides, but still midway through my October telesales – Penguin next!! Fun, but sometimes hard with first time Aussies you’ve never heard of but desperately want to support. Keep up the good work xx clare

    1. Hi Clare,

      Your bookshop sounds fantastic (found the Country Tales page on Facebook). I don’t envy you with telesales… There’s some really strong titles coming for Christmas, so here’s hoping it’s a strong sales season!

      A great year for Aussie fiction, but especially for first-timers: The Ottoman Motel (obviously!), Favel Parrett’s “Past the Shallows”, Jessica Au’s “Cargo” and Penny Frew’s “House of Sticks” to name just a few.

  3. I am only interested in books under 200 pages, and preferably under 150 pages. can you do me two new lists: the best forthcoming books under 150 pages?; and the best books all up under 150 pages. Go up to 200 pages if you have to.

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