Just 5? It’s hard to choose from all the great books I read last year, but here are 5 of the best…

The Sleep Revolution; Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Ariana Huffington (Penguin Random House) Do you regularly have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early? This book is a revelation! Written by co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post after recovering from a traumatic sleep-deprived incident herself, this book is powerful. Huffington talks about the Industrial Revolution and its effect on our work and sleep habits ever since. She unashamedly claims that the first half of the book (until page 165) are facts which will shock you in to action and, let me tell you, after reading all the statistics you are desperate to get to page 165 to find techniques to master your sleep (even if you are don’t have trouble sleeping, you’ll want to improve your sleep technique after reading this book). This is a must read for anyone who has a little difficulty sleeping, but also is fascinating read for the rest of the population. Highly, highly recommended.

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens (Thomas Nelson and Sons) The 2018 Book of the Year for the NSW Dickens Society, this book shows the true mastery Dickens had for storytelling and creating intricate characters. Based on a family will and the impact of changing fortunes to a variety of characters, it’s a great story that spans England and pioneering USA. You can just imagine the fun Dickens had creating names such as Cherry, Merry, Chuzzlewit, Pecksniff, Pinch, Slyme, and then described each of them in clear and wonderful detail throughout their adventures. Dickens is a celebrated master observer of people and this book does not disappoint. For more information about the NSW Dickens Society and the fabulous conference we are holding in October 2018, please email me at: louiseo@bigpond.net.au

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Allen and Unwin) I laughed, I cried, I pondered. Having worked for years in a book department, I really enjoying reading this book which is written in diary format. Owner of a bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, Bythell writes of the joys and despairs of running a contemporary bookshop and also the Wigtown Book Festival. He writes of the ways he has adjusted his business over the years, crazy conversations with customers, buying trips to old estates and auction houses, the thrill of unexpected finds and the challenges of working in the book world. His wry and honest style of writing is both endearing and entertaining. Loved this book! 

Van Gogh’s Ear; The True Story by Bernadette Murphy (Penguin Random House) This book was recommended to me by a dear friend and, having read and enjoyed it so much, I find myself recommending it constantly. It’s part mystery, part art history, part travel guide. Who really was Vincent van Gogh? Did he actually cut off his ear? Why? Was he mad? And just why do his paintings now sell for such exorbitant prices? Murphy does the most amazing amount of research and travel, tapping into new sources and reviewing old ones to reveal some truly extraordinary new information about this very talented and misunderstood genius. Read it – you won’t be disappointed!

 Jane & I; A Tale of Austen Addiction by Susannah Fullerton (Jane Austen Society of Australia) Fullerton is the President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia and is a self-proclaimed Austen addict. This beautiful memoir follows Fullerton’s journey of her love of all things Jane from a child, to a collector, to a speaker and President. How did Fullerton’s love of reading start? When was she first introduced to Austen’s works? Why Austen? What is in her collection? The stories answering these questions make for a great read. Stunning design by Claudette Palomares, I was also fortunate to be invited to be involved in the production of this edition. A beautiful book showing how Fullerton’s love of Jane Austen’s novels developed into a passionate and lifelong addiction.