Biography and memoir

Great music books from 2023

This year was another fantastic one for music books. Below you'll find a selection of our favourites that include memoir, essay, nonfiction and even the fashion of an icon.

Half Deaf, Completely Mad by Tony Cohen & John Olson

Maverick music producer-engineer Tony Cohen defined Australia’s punk and rock sounds in the late ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. His long and celebrated career took him from the studios of Melbourne and Sydney to West Berlin and London’s Abbey Road, working with…

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An extract from I'd rather not by Robert Skinner

Take a break from whatever you should be doing with this edited extract from Adelaide-born, Melbourne-based writer Robert skinner’s memoir, I’d Rather Not, in which he attempts to evade gainful employment in pursuit of literary enlightenment, reflects on escapades ranging from reaching for the stars while sleeping in a ditch to running a literary magazine out of a dog park, and is generally thwarted in his search for a meaningful life by endless jobs, beagles, house parties, ill-advised love…

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Coming-of-age memoirs exploring deconstructions of faith, nonconformity, and reinvention

These coming-of-age memoirs explore intergenerational trauma, cycles of poverty, deconstructions of faith, and overwhelmingly, what it's like to grow up in an isolated environment that you feel 'other' to yet struggle to break free from. Engaging at the intersection of cultural studies and personal narrative, you won't forget these stories of survival and reinvention.

The Forgotten Girls by Monica Potts

Growing up gifted and working-class in the foothills of the Ozarks, Monica and Darci became fast friends. The girls bonded…

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An interview with Margaret Simons, author of Tanya Plibersek: On Her Own Terms

In anticipation of our upcoming event discussing the recent biography of Tanya Plibersek, our community engagement and programming manager Chris Gordon asks the biographer's author, Margaret Simons, a few questions.

CG: First, thank you for your wonderful accessible writing. I know writing in plain language is a craft. (I found myself constantly compelled by your words.)  When you are writing a biography are you considering who will read it? Is there anyone in particular  you hope will read it? (e.g.

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Great music books from 2022

Year to year, categories wax and wane in their popularity with readers as well as the number of titles published; 2022 was a fantastic year for essay and memoir on music. Below you'll find a selection of our favourites.

This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music edited by Sinéad Gleeson & Kim Gordon

Published to challenge the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men, This Woman’s Work seeks to confront the male dominance and sexism…

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New and noteworthy biography + memoir

This month we have a complete – and compelling – gamut of both local and international memoir. Blurring the lines between cultural studies, memoir, and graphic novel or visual diary - July releases offer unforgettable insight into another’s experiences of the world.

Big Beautiful Female Theory by Eloise Grills

big beautiful female theory is an anarchic and vital memoir unlike anything you’ve read before. Part feminist manifesto, part comic book, it is a carnivalesque exploration of the ways identity is…

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The National Biography Award shortlist 2022

The State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) has announced this year’s shortlist for the National Biography Award! This Award is presented annually to a published work of biographical or autobiographical writing aiming to promote public interest in these genres.

Each shortlisted author will receive $2000 while the winner will receive $25, 000.

The shortlisted works are:

Car Crash by Lech Blaine

Leaping Into Waterfalls by Bernadette Brennan

One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987-1995 by Helen Garner

The Mother

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Bestselling books from Clunes Booktown

by Angela Crocombe

After predictions of dire storms and a torrential downpour on the Friday night, we weren’t sure what to expect for our first post-Covid Booktown. But the sun shone brightly all weekend as thousands of book lovers descended upon the picturesque town of Clunes to hear authors speak and fossick through the many pop-up bookshops and local stores. Visiting authors came to the Readings marquee to sign their books after their talks, with the following books becoming our top sellers:


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Fury and Joy: International Women’s Day

by Chris Gordon

Join us for an event this International Women’s Day!

One of the most joyful ways I have chosen to celebrate International Women’s Day is to gift my son and my daughter, each year, a book about a woman that was or is incredible. I want their heads to be filled with women’s stories because we are not there yet.

All the way back in 1911, only eight countries allowed women to vote, equal pay for equal work was unheard of…

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Best-selling books celebrating 10 years

These best-selling books are currently celebrating 10 years since their local publication!

A decade on, it’s incredible to see how these works have endured and heartening to know how many of these authors have continued to produce fantastic literature. How many of the below blockbuster books have you read?

Blood by Tony Birch

Jesse has sworn to protect his sister, Rachel, no matter what. It’s a promise that cannot be broken. A promise made in blood. But, when it comes…

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Challenge your thinking

It’s the time of year where we begin to think about how we want to make our lives and the lives of those around us better in the new year. Committing to the work of challenging and deconstructing the thoughts, preferences and values that derive from oppressive systems is a good place to start. Below are our recommendations for books published in 2021 that can help you along the way.

Another Day in the Colony by Chelsea Watego

A ground-breaking…

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Extract from Dear Son

For each copy of Dear Son purchased online or from our shops during September, Readings will donate $3 directly to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

In this heartfelt new anthology, 12 First Nations men each write a letter to their son, father or nephew, bringing together a range of perspectives on life, culture and First Nations masculinity.

Below is a shortened extract from editor Thomas Mayor’s letter.

Dear Son,

Do you remember, when you were about nine, you tried to…

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New and noteworthy biography + memoir

July memoirs are full of hard fought emotional journeys and explore where we draw strength during periods of extreme adversity and pain. Below are eight uniquely compelling books for those looking to explore journeys of identity and belonging through another’s eyes.

Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz by Gail Crowther

Introduced at a workshop in Boston University, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton formed a friendship that would soon evolve into a fierce rivalry, colored by jealousy and respect in equal terms…

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New and noteworthy biography + memoir

May memoirs are full of reckonings. Below are ten compelling books for those looking to explore journeys of identity and belonging through another’s eyes.

Fury by Kathryn Heyman

A roadmap of recovery and transformation, this is the story of becoming heroic in a culture that doesn’t see heroism in the shape of a girl. At the age of twenty, after a traumatic sexual assault trial, Kathryn Heyman ran away from her life and became a deckhand on a fishing trawler…

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New and noteworthy biography + memoir

April has been particularly kind to lovers of memoir and biography, with an influx of compelling local stories: from a long-awaited rock ‘n’ roll tell all, to a blistering political unpacking of life as a woman in parliament – this month’s reads are united in their calls to look more closely at the kind of systems and power structures we participate in.

Here are nine scintillating stories for those looking to step into another’s life and mind for a time.

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New and noteworthy biography and memoir

February brings an exciting and eclectic mix of biography and memoir: from a search for meaning in the modern world, to a troubling account of consent, and a childhood spent as an unwitting amateur spy – this month is full of insight into lives lived all over the world. Here are seven interesting reads for those looking to step into another’s life and mind for a time.

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

Growing up in the 1950s, the…

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