Gordy's desk 2023

August 2023

Gordy is a member of our Collections team. Consequently, her desk sees lots of interesting items pass across it. Here are some of her recommendations of books and DVDs for this year.

Here be monsters by Richard King  

Here be monsters

By Richard King

Technology is developing fast - so fast that it threatens to overwhelm the very species whose genius lies in its technological cunning: us. From the metaverse to genetic engineering and mood-altering pharmaceuticals, to cybersex and cyberwar and the widespread automation of work, new technologies are rewriting the terms of our existence, not in a neutral spirit of 'progress' but in line with the priorities of power and profit, and in ways that often work against the grain of our fundamental being.

In this timely, provocative book, Richard King argues that we need to evolve a more critical attitude to new technologies if we are to avoid a world in which humans are no different in kind from algorithmic machines. The stakes could not be higher. As science, technology and capitalism fuse into a single system, and activists and entrepreneurs talk of a 'post-human' future in which individuals will transform themselves using powerful computers and biotechnologies, we are entering unchartered territory - a territory marked with the mapmaker's warning, Here Be Dragons... Here Be Monsters.

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The velvet queen

The art of patience by Sylvain Tesson

The velvet queen

Directed by Vincent Munier

Two men explore the high-altitude wilderness of Tibet with many cameras, filming wildlife from a respectful distance and searching for the rare snow leopard.

The velvet queen was such a good documentary that I watched it twice! Immediately I felt inspired to read the book - The art of patience  by Sylvain Tesson.

High up on the Tibetan plateau. Amongst unexplored and inaccessible valleys lies one of the last sanctuaries of the wild world, where rare and undiscovered fauna lives.

Vincent Munier, one of the worlds most renowned wildlife photographers takes the adventurer and novelist Sylvain Tesson with him on his latest mission in search of the elusive snow leopard. 

Through their journey in the Tibetan peaks, inhabited by invisible presences, the two men ponder humankind's place amongst the magnificent creatures and glorious landscapes they encounter along the way.

“Not everything was created for the human eye,” narrates Sylvain Tesson in Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier's exceptional wildlife documentary ...

Beautifully evocative and sublime music by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave, Gordy’s Desk highly recommends!

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The art of patience : seeking the snow leopard in in Tibet

by Sylvain Tesson

The Art of Patience sees the renowned French adventurer and writer Sylvain Tesson undertake an expedition to the mountains of Tibet in search of the famously elusive snow leopard.

After the publication of 'The Consolations of the Forest (2014)', Sylvain Tesson had a devastating climbing accident that broke far too many bones in his body. A year later, determined to walk himself back to health, he set off on the backroads of France from the Piedmont to Brittany. Then in 2018, in the footsteps of the admired American writer Peter Matthiessen, he undertook a far more ambitious, far more testing journey, to learn the art of patience, waiting for the snow leopard to appear, no small challenge for a man who all his life has sought to beat time by out-running it.

In the company of leading wildlife photographer Vincent Munier and two companions, Tesson headed up to the high plateaux of remotest Tibet. There, at 5,000 metres and in temperatures of -25°C, the team set up their hides on exposed mountainsides, and occasionally in the luxury of an icy cave, to await a visitation from the almost mythical beast. This tightly focused and tautly written narrative is simultaneously a dazzling account of an exacting journey, an apprenticeship in the art of patience, a meditation on what happens when time slows right down, an acceptance of the ruthlessness of the natural world and, finally, a plea for ecological sanity. It is also a small masterpiece.

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The tree of ecstasy and unbearable sadness

By Matt Ottley

This is an allegorical story of a boy's experience of psychosis, with mental illness represented as a fantastical tree whose flowers are ecstasy and whose fruit is unbearable sadness.

A moving and complex picture book for mature audiences. Matt Ottley's vividly detailed artwork recalls the likes of Salvador Dali and Gerald Scarfe. Included with the book is a CD featuring music and a narrated version of the text; providing a totally different, immersive way of experiencing the story.

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Grow : let's go outside

By Joe Sugg

Having grown up in the rise of the digital age and becoming one of the UK's biggest social media stars, Joe knows better than anyone how it feels to be overwhelmed by the online world. To cope, Joe has come up with creative and practical ways to embed nature into everyday life no matter where you live. Part memoir, part practical guide, Grow will share Joe's own journey to reconnecting with nature, alongside tools for a more balanced life. Above all, it will allow us to grow healthier, happier and calmer lives, and isn't that what we all need more of?

It may be darker outside, but we can still enjoy the benefits of nature - let Joe Sugg show you how in this essential guide to fixing your relationship with the online world by bringing nature inside.

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Lochs of Scotland : the comprehensive guide to Scotland's most fabulous inland and sea lochs 

By Stuart Fisher

There are at least 31,460 freshwater lochs in Scotland, and hundreds of sea lochs. This stunning book showcases more than 50 of the most popular, interesting and beautiful, and is a perfect guide for anyone visiting or exploring Scotland, or wanting to find out about these iconic and breathtaking locations, sometimes sitting by spectacular coast and other times nestled in between towering mountains. The book also features a great sample of photos and maps of various lochs, that not only inform the reader but give a window into the beauty of the rural Scottish landscape.

Why not borrow and have a loch for yourself?

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First, cream the butter and sugar : the essential baking companion

By Emelia Jackson

Make baking your happy place. It's not so much a science; it's practice plus play which becomes instinct and then art. And even the failures are delicious. 

This comprehensive compendium is filled with great ideas for DIY baking. There are stacks of inspirational ideas for sweet desserts and snacks, including cookies, biscuits, brownies, cakes, puddings and more. Outside of sweets there are a number of recipes for more savoury treats, including hot cross buns, bagels, English muffins, and crumpets. There are perfect recipe ideas for cooking with kids or for those rainy, wintery days when you're stuck indoors.

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Winter swimming by Susanna Soberg  

Winter swimming : the Nordic way towards a healthier and happier life

By Susanna Søberg

Whether in lake, lido, river or sea, we know the benefits of swimming outdoors and in nature - environmentally friendly and accessible, it can influence our happiness, our energy and our inner tranquillity, and give us that winter glow. Danish scientist Dr Susanna Søberg leads us step by step into the icy water and explains the "cold-shock response", the massive endorphin rush as our body reacts and adapts to very cold temperatures through the winter season. Not only do our circulation, heart, lungs and skin respond positively, but our immune system, metabolism and mental health too. In particular she explains how our "brown fat" is activated to benefit multiple health conditions.

You may be thinking no way, bbbbrrrrr! I was too initially but I am slowly embracing the cold and actually feeling less stressed and happier for it!

I’m not at the bathtub full of ice cubes level yet but I can do a brisk shower and a dip into the winter ocean which surprisingly feels warm after being out in the elements!

This book has all the encouragement you need to dip a toe in, very inspiring plus packed with great photography.

This beautifully illustrated exploration of cold-water traditions in Scandinavia and around the world shows how it can have a significant positive impact on our physical and mental health, confidence and well-being, providing such a boost to body and soul.

If you are interested in learning more definitely have a look at  Wim Hof’s book – The Wim Hof method –also check out his Instagram posts for inspiration.

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A conscious home by Rebecca Sullivan  

A Conscious Home: practical projects and recipes for eco living

By Rebecca Sullivan

In our ever changing world, climate resilience is more important than ever. Small actions in our own homes, make a massive difference and can be quick, simple and inexpensive. Join author and sustainable living advocate Rebecca Sullivan on a room to room journey to create a natural, healthy lifestyle for your whole family using easy recipes and projects with stunning photographs, tips and tricks for all eco minded Aussies, just starting out or already in action.


A lovely and timely new book for our Sustainable Living Collection.

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Banned books, Senior editor, Victoria Heyworth-Dunne  

Banned Books

Senior editor, Victoria Heyworth-Dunne

Banned Books explores why some of the world's most important literary classics and seminal non-fiction titles were once deemed too controversial for the public to read -- whether for challenging racial or sexual norms, satirizing public figures, or simply being deemed unfit for young readers. From the banning of All Quiet on the Western Front and the repeated suppression of On the Origin of the Species, to the uproar provoked by Lady Chatterley's Lover, entries offer a fascinating chronological account of censorship and the astonishing role that some banned books have played in changing history.

Shocking and often surprising these books offer a fascinating insight into censorship, culture, society and politics.

There is a fabulous list here to choose from!

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JapanEasy Bowls and bento by Tim Anderson  

JapanEasy bowls & bento : simple and satisfying Japanese recipes for all day, every day

By Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson shows you how you can build your own delicious bowl from scratch as well as how you can construct your very own bento (Japan's beloved and beautiful lunch boxes) from the comfort of your own home. Fun to make (and eat) JapanEasy: Bowls & Bento celebrates the versatility, simplicity and joy of Japanese food. This is everyday self-care and self-love, in bowl and bento form. Tim will show you just how easy it is to cook your very own Japanese meals any time of day. You can expect to find everything from soups and noodle bowls to Japanese donburi and curries: warming, filling dishes that can function as either fun, crowd-pleasing dinner party dishes or soothing sofa-based suppers. You will also discover a wide variety of effortless bento recipes that can be made by mixing and matching various small, super-fast dishes prepared in advance (or leftover from dinner) - all of which can also easily be converted into exquisite Japanese breakfasts!

JapanEasy: Bowls & Bento (Japan’s beloved and beautiful lunch boxes) celebrates the versatility, simplicity and joy of Japanese food. This is everyday self-care and self-love, in bowl and bento form.

You will also discover a wide variety of effortless bento recipes that can be made by mixing and matching various small, super-fast dishes prepared in advance (or leftover from dinner) – all of which can also easily be converted into exquisite Japanese breakfasts!

I love Japanese food and this book is easy to follow and so beautifully illustrated and almost everything in this book can be prepped ahead and eaten later, either cold or re-heated, with no loss in quality, allowing you to have Japanese food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a matter of minutes. Because after all, Japanese food is not just for dinner - Japanese food is forever.

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Beside companion for book lovers  

Bedside companion for book lovers : an anthology of literary delights for every night of the year

Edited by Jane McMorland Hunter

A glorious treasury of literary curiosities for every night of the year, Bedside Companion for Book Lovers contains an eclectic mix of fact and fiction, letters, diaries, essays and dedications, all suffused with the joys of books and reading. It contains snippets from some of the greatest writers and book collectors from throughout history, including: Charles Dickens on the smell of books, Maya Angelou on the pleasures of reading aloud, Virginia Woolf on finding space for writing, Nick Hornby on reading for pure enjoyment and much more. Along the way, you'll find advice on how to look after your most precious volumes, what to do when books start taking over your home, and where to find the most atmospheric libraries and bookshops around the world. Keep this beautifully illustrated book by your bedside and wander into a magical world of books every night of the year.

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Medical medium brain saver by Anthony William  

Medical medium brain saver: answers to brain inflammation, mental health, OCD, brain fog, neurological symptoms, addiction, anxiety, depression, heavy metals, Epstein-Barr virus, seizures, Lyme, ADHD, Alzheimer's, autoimmune & eating disorders

By Anthony William

If you have been suffering brain fog like I have or just would like to read up on how to best look after our magnificent though often tired brain, this book is really worth having a look at

Anthony William, the Medical Medium, has created a new way through the confusion of mental and physical suffering, with steps towards achieving a healthy brain.

Burnout, deficiencies, panic attacks, vagus nerve problems, mental health struggles, neurological symptoms, and beyond-as you search for lasting relief, it's easy to become lost and blame yourself, wondering what you did wrong. Answer- you're not the problem.

With Medical Medium Brain Saver and its companion volume, Medical Medium Brain Saver Protocols, Cleanses & Recipes, Anthony William sheds light on our brain and nervous system. Brain Saver unveils the why behind more than 100 brain- and nervous system-related symptoms, diseases, and disorders; Protocols reveals the truth about how to heal in even more detail. 

Best of all, Brain Saver offers a way forward with specialized healing techniques. In addition to fresh perspective on how to nourish your brain and reduce your exposure to everyday toxins and contaminants, you'll find cleanse protocols, heavy metal detox guidelines, and recipes designed to bring instant relief when the brain is under particular stress.  

"We suffer for very real and physical reasons," Anthony writes, "and we can address those reasons at their core with the information here. When we know how to navigate this world, we have the power to heal."

I have found Anthony Williams books very helpful and if you like this one there are others to be found at the Library, I can especially recommend Cleanse to heal.

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I'm not fine, thanks by Wil Anderson  

I'm not fine, thanks

By Wil Anderson

'How are you?'

How am I? How do you think I am? I know in the Before Times the tradition was to reply, 'I'm fine, thanks.' Then you would ask how they were, and they would reply, 'I'm fine, thanks.' And then we would all get on with our lives. But I can't play me part in that pantomime anymore. I cannot say, 'I'm fine, thanks,' because (spoilers) I am not fine, thanks.

What do you get when a household comedian is left with no option but to make comedy using only a rampant washing machine, a lot of Vaseline, a roast chook and an unused exercise bike to keep him company? You get I am NOT fine, thanks.

From prime ministers who don't hold a hose, to billionaires who think they're astronauts, to people who think lizards are ruling the country and that thermometers are wiping your memory, it's abundantly clear that the world is going to hell.

Wil Anderson uses his iconic dry humour to soothe the sting of the last few years - laughter is the best medicine, after all (or is it apple cider vinegar?). Part memoir, part manifesto and all comedy, this is a book that will both make your every frustration feel heard and show you that there is plenty to hope for.

Good sense, good jokes and good WIL - a book about enduring turbulent times with humour, community and just a dash of apple cider vinegar.

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Iris by Fiona Kelly McGregor  


By Fiona Kelly McGregor

Who is Iris Webber?

A thief, a fighter, a wife, a lover.

A scammer, a schemer, a friend.

A musician, a worker, a big-hearted fool.

A woman who has prevailed against the toughest gangsters of the day, defying police time and again, yet is now trapped in a prison cell.

Guilty or innocent?

Rollicking through the underbelly of 1930s sly-grog Sydney, Iris is a dazzling literary achievement from one of Australia's finest writers. Based on actual events and set in an era of cataclysmic change, here is a fierce, fascinating tale of a woman who couldn't be held back. 

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