(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns, millions of Australians are cowering under their doonas, desperate for distraction.

Sensing an opportunity, the book industry is rushing out a swathe of new and repackaged books reflecting recent local and global developments. Are they any good?

The Hunt For Dud October by Christopher Pyne

The old adage “Write what you know” is advice that has served former defence minister Christopher Pyne well in his first dive into airport fiction.

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Drawing heavily from his time in government, The Hunt for Dud October tell the story of “The Fixer”, a plucky able-bodied seaman who, against great odds, establishes a new submarine base in Lake Burley Griffin. Whether he’s battling naval top brass, ACT town planners or his own personal demons, readers can rest assured he’ll fix it.

Strangers You Can Trust Blindly by Christian Porter

In this part memoir, part DIY handbook, Porter explains the dark art of not knowing the things you need to know and knowing the people you do but being able to say you don’t.

A must-read for anyone on a fixed salary and stuck in a legal or ethical bind, Strangers is a rollicking read of legal derring-do, political intrigue and the gift of moral ambiguity.

Ladies Bring a Plate by Nadia Bartel

This tell-all blows the lid on the high times of football wives and Instagram influencers. It is a rip-snorting, wags-to-witches tale that delivers line after line of chatty, erratic and occasionally overconfident prose. It will leave readers wanting more. Heaps more.

The Handmaid’s Tale: New Edition by Margaret Atwood

This reprint includes a new foreword by the author in which she apologises for the way her work has unintentionally inspired and emboldened oppressive chauvinists from Texas to Kabul. “The book was always intended to be a warning. Sadly, for too many men, my speculative fiction has become a kind of Misogyny for Dummies,” Atwood said.

Similar rereleases are expected for The Plague by Albert Camus, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 

…Not Very by Peter Van Onselen

A trenchantly, non-rhetorical follow-up to How Good is Scott Morrison, Van Onselen’s new work is a pithy and well-told tale, although the central character’s unreliable narration can grate. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Doing F*ck All by Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo’s world-conquering debut The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was carefully constructed around a single powerful idea: if your stuff doesn’t bring you joy, bin it. For this book, the core message appears to be: “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

It explores the languid allure of indolence, sloth, prevarication, avoidance, denial, lethargy and meh. Essential reading, particularly during a third wave. 

The Subtle Art of Using ‘F*ck’ in Book Titles by Mark Manson

It’s hard to know if Mark Manson’s follow-up to Everything is F*cked is a carefully calibrated satire on the vagaries of modern-day book marketing, or a cynical cash-in. Either way, there are plenty of laughs as Manson drops f-bombs into classics such as: Pride and F*cking Prejudice, Moby F*cking Dick, The F*cked Gatsby, F*cker in the Rye and F*cking Boy Swallows F*cking Universe. Not too f*cking shabby.  

12 Rules for Being Incel Catnip by Jordan B. Peterson

In 12 Rules for Being Incel Catnip, public thinker and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson attempts to understand why so many of his readers are sad and broken misogynists — and why they use his books to justify their terrible memes and poor hygiene. After 674 long pages, and several quixotic tilts at political correctness and feminism, Peterson concludes absolutely none of it is his fault.

The Bandana Republic by Peter FitzSimons

Often referred to as Australia’s best storyteller, and not just by himself, Peter FitzSimons has crash-tackled some of our nation’s tallest tales — Gallipoli, Kokoda, James Cook, Ned Kelly and, um, Kim Beazley. Now he’s set his sights on the biggest target yet: himself.

In this hard-hitting expose, FitzSimons asks: “Should I have done more to stop Malcolm Turnbull screwing up the republic referendum?”, “Is there anyone who doesn’t know I’ve given up the grog?” and “How funky do those bandanas get under studio lights?”

A worthy addition to the canon.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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