Gordy's desk 2024

April 2024

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.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann  

Killers of the Flower Moon : oil, money, murder and the birth of the FBI

By David Grann

'Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.'

This is a highly compelling, and very unsettling, read for anyone interested in true crime or neglected aspects of American history. Grann's descriptive and, occasionally, speculative prose is reminiscent of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. But the exhaustive scope and depth of research that Grann presents here eclipses that classic tome. Hesitant readers who have already seen the film based on this book should rest easy. This book is a very different experience - more richly detailed in its presentation of characters, places and events.

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Kind of sort of maybe but probably not by Imbi Neeme  

Kind of, sort of, maybe... but probably not

By Imbi Neeme

Gordy’s desk brings you something a little different this month, a little lighter and quirkier … why not try something different but just be sure not to be slurping your tea or munching or crunching too loudly near anybody while reading … (if you’ve ever seen me eat an apple I’m sure you would know what I mean!)

A charming, nostalgic, quirky, uplifting novel of people young and old finding their tribe, gaining courage to be themselves and perhaps falling in love, too.

Librarian Phoebe Cotton lives with misophonia. The sound of other people crunching an apple, slurping their tea or snapping chewing gum fills her with a rage that she buries deep within.

Mortified by her ‘Not Quite Right’ brain, she hides away inside 6 Salmon Street, the family home that her formidable grandmother Dorothy has abandoned for a more convivial life at the Western Retreat Retirement Village. But when Phoebe begins receiving mysterious postcards in the mail, she slowly, but surely, finds herself being pulled back out into the world and towards Monty, the sweet postal clerk.

Across town, Suze, a university student with a high distinction in study avoidance, is clinging to the hope that the neglectful J might actually be her boyfriend. When J’s attention turns to Ky, it sets Suze on a path that leads her to 6 Salmon Street and Phoebe Cotton.

Together with Suze and Monty, Phoebe goes on a mission to solve the mystery of the postcards but ends up finding much, much more, including acceptance, strength and love.

Lead character Phoebe is the kind of lead character I love. Reminiscent of some of my favourites over recent years, such as Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman and Lenny Marks gets away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne.

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Servo by David Goodwin  


By David Goodwin

Have you ever wondered what happens at service stations in the middle of the night, Gordy has!

An eye opening, humorous memoir that reaffirms that fact is often stranger than fiction.

Most of us have done our time in the retail trenches, but service stations are undoubtedly the frontline, as Melburnian David Goodwin found out when he started working the weekend graveyard shift at his local servo.

From his very first night shift, David absorbed a consistent level of mind-bending lunacy, encountering everything from giant shoplifting bees and balaclava-clad goons hurling cordial-filled water bombs from the sunroof of their BMW, to anarcho-goths high on MDMA releasing large rats into the store from their matching Harry Potter backpacks.

Over the years, David grew to love his mad servo, handing out free pies and chocolate bars on the sly as he grew a backbone and became street smart. Amidst the unrelenting chaos, he eventually made it out of the servo circus - and lived to tell the tale.

For anyone who's ever toiled under the unforgiving fluorescent lights of a customer service job, SERVO is a side-splitting and darkly mesmeric coming-of-age story from behind the anti-jump wire that will have you gritting your teeth, then cackling at the absurdity, idiocy and utterly beguiling strangeness of those who only come out at night.

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4am answers to the conundrums that keep you up at night  

4am answers to the conundrums that keep you up at night - advice from Ask Shameless

Edited by Michelle Andrews & Zara McDonald

Sometimes I feel like reading something completely different, fun and interesting where I might actually learn something about others and maybe myself – or you could just be asking for a friend!

Since 2021, tens of thousands of readers have devoured the Ask Shameless weekly columns on dating, friendship and self-development, written by the Shameless podcasters and a team of talented young Australian writers.

In 4am, Zara and Michelle have curated forty of their very best columns alongside ten brand-new ones - plus the follow-up replies from many of the original contributors, updating readers on what happened next.

From navigating toxic friendships and romantic dilemmas to finding the courage to pursue your dreams, these are the conundrums that keep us up at night - answered with compassion, wisdom and wit.

Also available as an audiobook on the LibrariesSA Libby App if you rather listen to it.

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Hilary Mantel : a memoir of my former self  

A memoir of my former self : a life in writing

By Hilary Mantel

In A Memoir of My Former Self: A Life in Writing, Hilary Mantel writes: “There is no failed writing, only work pending.” She’s referring to the 97 notebooks that she kept in a wooden box. Mantel promised: “There is nothing I won’t say, only what I haven’t said yet.”

But what Mantel hasn’t said “yet” is precisely the problem. The author suffered a stroke and died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2022. Reflecting on her death, her admirer and peer Margaret Atwood asked: “What might she have written next? I don’t know, but I will miss it.”

In addition to her celebrated career as a novelist, Hilary Mantel contributed for years to newspapers and journals, unspooling stories from her own life and illuminating the world as she found it. “Ink is a generative fluid,” she explains. “If you don’t mean your words to breed consequences, don’t write at all.” A Memoir of My Former Self collects the finest of this writing over four decades.

Her subjects are wide-ranging, sharply observed, and beautifully rendered. She discusses nationalism and her own sense of belonging; our dream life popping into our conscious life; the mythic legacy of Princess Diana; the many themes that feed into her novels—revolutionary France, psychics, Tudor England; and other novelists, from Jane Austen to V.S. Naipaul. She writes about her father and the man who replaced him; she writes fiercely and heartbreakingly about the battles with her health that she endured as a young woman, and the stifling years she found herself living in Saudi Arabia. Here, too, is her legendary essay “Royal Bodies,” on our endless fascination with the current royal family.

From her unusual childhood to her all-consuming interest in Thomas Cromwell that grew into the Wolf Hall trilogy, A Memoir of My Former Self reveals the shape of Hilary Mantel’s life in her own luminous words, through “messages from people I used to be.” Filled with her singular wit and wisdom, it is essential reading from one of our greatest writers.

For Mantel, the writer’s life is a promiscuous one – with so many other lives to pursue and so little time for the task. This book leaves the reader certain that her imagination and resources would never have been exhausted.

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Cover of book Listen by Michel Faber bright coloured squares  

Listen: On Music, Sound and Us

By Michel Faber

An enlightening, thoughtful and witty exploration into how and why we listen to music, from the award-winning author Michel Faber.

'I'm not here to change your mind about Dusty Springfield or Shostakovich or Tupac Shakur or synthpop. I'm here to change your mind about your mind.'

There are countless books on music with much analysis given to musicians, bands, eras and/or genres. But rarely does a book delve into what's going on inside us when we listen.

Michel Faber explores two big questions: how we listen to music and why we listen to music. To answer these he considers biology, age, illness, the notion of 'cool', commerce, the dichotomy between 'good' and 'bad' taste and, through extensive interviews with musicians, unlocks some surprising answers.

This idiosyncratic and philosophical book reflects Michel Faber's lifelong obsession with music of all kinds. 

Listen will change your relationship with the heard world.

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Eventually everything connects : eight essays on uncertainty by Sarah Firth  

Eventually everything connects : eight essays on uncertainty

By Sarah Firth

How about something a little different from Gordy’s desk? .. I’m not a regular graphic novel reader but I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious mix of daily life, science, philosophy, pop culture, daydreams and irreverent humour, Eventually Everything Connects is a work of graphic non-fiction that is comforting, confronting and mind-expanding in equal measure.

What is going on? How can I find joy in these precarious times? Is my smartphone hijacking me? What do I do with this grief? What's it like being the slug that lives in my bathroom sink?

Eventually Everything Connects is Sarah Firth's debut graphic novel, a collection of interconnected visual essays created over eight years. Sarah invites you into her wild mind as she explores ways to see with fresh eyes, to face the inevitability of change, and to find freedom in sensuality.

With raw honesty and vulnerability, Firth reminds us that the profane and the sacred, the tender and the cruel, the rigorous and the silly, all coexist in dynamic tension. This book is a delicious mix of daily life, science, philosophy and irreverent humour that is comforting, confronting and mind-expanding in equal measure.

We perch on her shoulder as she probes and investigates the mysteries and quandaries which confront her, as she stumbles about in the often beautiful, occasionally distressing messiness of her life, which will remind you of your own. Heading down to the dog park. Olympic weight-lifting. The weirdness of sex. The interior vision of a coffee companion suddenly liquefying like a zombie in a horror movie. There is an alarming, charming intimacy here, a breathtaking can-do candour, a willingness by Firth to keep the camera rolling even when, in fact especially when, the matters under discussion become deeply personal.

I hope you like it as much as I did!

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Visit Gordy's recommendations for 2022 and 2023

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