Here are the Library team’s holiday recommendations 


Humankind – A hopeful history by Rutger Bregman





It’s a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Dawkins, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we’re taught, are by nature, selfish and governed by self-interest.

Humankind makes a new argument- that it is realistic to assume that people are good. The instinct to co-operate rather than compete, trust rather than distrust, has an evolutionary basis going right back to the beginning of Homo sapiens. By thinking the worst of others, we bring out the worst in our politics and economics too.

In this book, author Rutger Bregman takes some of the world’s most famous studies and events and reframes them, providing a new perspective on the last 200,000 years of human history. 

From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the Blitz, a Siberian fox farm to an infamous New York murder, Stanley Milgram’s Yale shock machine to the Stanford prison experiment, Bregman shows how believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think and act as the foundation for achieving real change in our society.

Library Call Number:  128 BRE


We Are Here   by Fiona Harari






We Are Here shares the personal stories of  18 Australian Holocaust survivors, now aged in their 90s and beyond.  These brave survivors were children during World War II  and now, many decades later, journalist Fiona Harari asks them what age has taught them.   Is it  insight, wisdom, perspective or perhaps forgiveness?

Many survivors spent their lives trying to block the past and not speak of the atrocities they endured.  However without their first- hand accounts,  we would not have the understanding of what they witnessed, lived through and what it took to survive the camps, ghettos, violence and the cruelty.

These stories are a reminder of the cost of forgetting our history at a time in society there is a rise in right wing politics, intolerance and cultural divisions.

Library Call Number: 940.53  HAR 


Rodham by  Curtis Sittenfeld







In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. 

In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.   But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined work of  fiction, Hillary takes a different road. 

Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the trade- offs all of us must make in building a life.

 Weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterise the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is an unforgettable novel.

Library Call Number: F SITT


The Only Plane In The Sky  by Garret M Graff







Although nearly two decades have passed, September 11 still manages to bring back vivid memories for people who lived through it.   Everyone old enough remembers where they were on September 11, 2001.

This book captures the voices of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances during an unparalleled day in history.

Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, new and archived interviews from nearly five hundred people, historian Garrett Graff masterly tells the story of the day as it was lived.

It begins in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, where we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights. In New York, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable chaos at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker beneath the White House, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice watch for incoming planes on radar. In the offices of the Pentagon, top officials feel the violent tremor as their headquarters come under attack.

We hear the stories of the father and son working on separate floors in the North Tower; the firefighter who rushes to the scene to search for his wife; the telephone operator who keeps her promise to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the chaplain who stays on the scene to perform last rites, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; the teachers evacuating terrified children from schools mere blocks from the World Trade Centre; the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try and rescue their colleagues.

The Only Plane in the Sky is a must read account of September 11.  Having been in New York on that day, I can safely say it accurately and graphically depicts the events that changed the course of history.

Library Call Number  973.931 GRAF


The Henna Artist – by Alka Joshi






The Henna Artist was a recent Reese Witherspoon pick, ensuring much hype and a gazillion copies sold worldwide.

The book, 10 years in the making, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Lakshmi, who escapes an abusive marriage and makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur.  There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist-and confidante-to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow-a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Library Call number   HIST F JOSH


Get Well Soon    by Jennifer Wright







In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon 34 more villagers joined her. Then more and more. In a month more than 400 people had been stricken by the mysterious dancing plague. In late-seventeenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. 

And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary.

Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. 

Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humour, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks, and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they’ve shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember.

Library Call Number: 614.4 WRI


The Spill by Imbi Neembe






In 1981, a car overturns on a remote West Australian road. Nobody is hurt, but the impact of the crash is felt for decades.

Nicole and Samantha Cooper both remember the summer day when their mother, Tina, lost control of their car – but not in quite the same way. 

It is only after Tina’s death, almost 40 years later, that the sisters are forced to reckon with the repercussions of the crash. Nicole, after years of sabotaging her own happiness, seems finally content but still can’t get through to her sister. And Samantha is hiding something that might just tear apart the life she’s worked so hard to build for herself.

The Spill explores the cycles of love, loss and regret that can follow a family through the years – moments of joy, things left unsaid, and things misremembered.  It is a moving portrait of two sisters falling apart and trying to find a way to fit back together.

Library Call number  F NEEM


Please ask the helpful AHL staff for further recommendations

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