July was a fabulous non-fiction month with a mix of art, true crime, politics, feminism, Indigenous culture, science, food and Buddhism.
Australian politicians might rank low in public esteem but as this incisive book from Judith Brett reveals, our system of voting is admirable compared to the rest of the world’s democracies and certainly superior to those of the United Kingdom and the United States.
Jennifer Cameron-Smith shared her thoughts on Clemintine Ford’s Boys Will Be Boys:
In some ways this book is a depressing read, in other ways it is heartening, Depressing because I doubt that I’ll live long enough to see automatic equality; heartening because the more conscious we become of gendered inequality the more momentum we can generate to address causes and consequences.
This is not a comfortable read. It’s confronting. I loved the epilogue: the lovely, loving letter Ms Ford wrote to her son in which a different definition of boyhood will not be seen as incompatible with being a man.
Australian true crime writer, Justine Ford has written a fascinating, heartbreaking book featuring thirteen unsolved mysteries that Cold Case police have worked hard at, sometimes going back decades. We are also introduced to some extremely influential people and learn of their dedication, their quest for answers for the families.
Sam George-Allen, a PhD candidate at UTAS, has filled in some gaps for me in my understanding of women, gaps I hadn’t really realised were there before. She also makes me feel not so alone in this broad tapestry of genderhood. Witches isn’t an angry examination of the wrongs done to women, which you might say Fight Like a Girl is (a good book but I still haven’t finished it because it gets me so riled up!), but a “celebration of the power and pleasure of working with other women.” Celebration is the perfect word for it, and she celebrates aspects of being ‘woman’ that I had previously dismissed as trite or stifling.
She argues in this essay that the mainstream Australian population is much more progressive than our politicians. After some pages discussing the term ‘social democracy’, and research from many sources into community understandings of the role of government in a democracy, she comes to the conclusion that fairness – both for individuals and the collective – matters more to Australians than freedom (the reverse of what we generally believe to be the case in, say, the USA):
The point of democratic government is to do things for people, not to prevent government from doing things to people.
In undertaking her research the author has explored and taught herself various techniques used by ancient cultures to store in their memory their knowledge of the their flora, fauna and legends.
One of the things I appreciated most about this book is that it looks at loving animals in a holistic way. You may still need or want to eat meat, but you may also want to protect the welfare of animals. This book is very much geared towards not feeling guilty about this, steering the reader to other means of animal protection, and there is a big focus on reducing waste, which impacts animal welfare greatly.
Mirka and Georges is not just about the art and the food. Harding and Morgan have written an engaging, personal account of both Mirka and Georges’ childhoods in France, their subsequent meeting and marriage after WWII and eventual emigration to Australia.
The initial ‘welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People‘ is presented in both English and Wurundjeri language, with a another reminder to ‘only take from this land what you can give back.’ The book celebrates Indigenous language, culture and art and is another example of a book naturally introducing the local language to a wider audience.
About Bronwyn: I have been a book blogger at Brona’s Books since 2009 and a bookseller (specialising in children’s literature) in Sydney since 2008. Prior to this I was as an Early Childhood teacher for 18 years in country NSW.
I joined the AWW team in 2015 as the History, Memoir, Biography editor. In 2017 I moved to the General Non-fiction page and in 2018 I picked up the role of editor of Poetry. You can also find me at The Classics Club as one of the new Gen 2 moderators.
I taught myself to read when I was four by memorising my Dr Seuss books. I haven’t stopped reading since.
You can find me on Twitter @bronasbooks and Litsy @Brona.