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Happy’s Best New Books of 2021

Updated weekly by the fine folk at Happy Mag, these are the best new books that this week has to offer from Australia and around the world!

Richard Flanagan – Toxic

Yes, it’s that Richard Flanagan. The Booker-prize winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North cares deeply about his native Tasmania. And for decades, one of the state’s chiefest exports has been salmon, with the industry trading on the island’s pristine wilderness. Flanagan’s damning exposé, however, puts pay to this toxic myth.

9.1

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Toxic

RICHARD FLANAGAN
TOXIC

Scott Ludlam – Full Circle

Penned by former senator Scott Ludlam, Full Circle details the systems that have led us to the precipice of climate disaster. Crucially, however, it explores how humans can interact with nature in a sustainable way, with benefits for people and the planet. Fascinatingly, Ludlam explains our relationship with the planet on a biological level, helping readers to understand the impact that humans have had on it. A compelling call to arms from a daring thinker.

8.9

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Full Circle

SCOTT LUDLAM
FULL CIRCLE

Irvin D. Yalom and Marilyn Yalom – A Matter of Death and Life

Irvin Yalom is a psychiatrist, accustomed to supporting patients through the darkest periods in their lives. When his wife, the acclaimed author Marilyn Yalom was diagnosed with cancer, his therapeutic instincts had to be turned inward. In this heartbreaking memoir, the couple provides their own accounts of Marilyn’s final days. If you’re in the mood for pondering the essence of love and what it means to grieve, this should be at the top of your list.

9.1

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A Matter of Death and Life

IRVIN D. YALOM AND MARILYN YALOM
A MATTER OF DEATH AND LIFE

Gwendoline Riley – My Phantoms

My Phantoms marks the return of Gwendoline Riley, the award-winning London-based author of First Love. It traces the tale of Helen and her adult daughter Bridget, a pair who are basically estranged. Yet, the two feel a mutual draw which is difficult to reconcile, amid the constant tumult. Stacked with wry humour and bleakness, the emotional punch of this novel is a hefty one.

9.0

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My Phantoms

GWENDOLINE RILEY
MY PHANTOMS

Georgie Carroll – Off the Charts

If you’ve ever spent any time in a hospital, you’d realise that nurses are the daily miracle workers that keep the whole shebang going. At the front line of care, nurses are exposed to the best and worst of humanity — I’d argue that they have to be comedians by necessity. In Off the Charts, Georgie Carroll (an actual nurse and comedian) sends her dispatches from the pointy end of care in this hilarious and candid memoir.

8.6

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Off the Charts

GEORGIE CARROLL
OFF THE CHARTS

Evelyn Araluen – Dropbear

Evelyn Araluen has risen to become one of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry in Australia; Dropbear is the culmination of her unique talents. Expertly viewing her own history as it relates to colonialism — all the while playfully circumventing genre-bound norms — Dropbear is a razor-sharp, funny, and ambitious collection.

9.2

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Drop Bear

EVELYN ARALUEN
DROPBEAR

Andrew Mikolajski – Grow Your Own Pet Plants

Need companionship, without the noise…and with preferably as little maintenance as possible? Why not go green? Grow Your Own Plants is as practical a guide as you’ll find to cultivating that dormant green thumb of yours. And if you’re certifiably hopeless when tasked with keeping the damn things alive, the book is brimming with easy-to-follow tips for looking after your new leafy babies.

8.3

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Grow Your Own Pet Plants

ANDREW MIKOLAJSKI
GROW YOUR OWN PET PLANTS

Joaquim Paulo – Jazz Covers

Though jazz — especially post the dizzyingly complex compositions and improvisations of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane — is the subject of much intellectualisation, the covers of these iconic albums reflected the colours and bombast of the music and its surrounding culture. Jazz Covers is a visually indulgent sojourn into an era spanning five decades. A euphoric artefact of one of the century’s greatest musical innovations.

9.0

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Jazz Covers

JOAQUIM PAULO
JAZZ COVERS

Ben Green, Nikos Keim, Sebastian Keim, Robert Mullins and Matthew Smith – Beck Poems

It’s not every day you find a debut book from a new publisher (in this case Brisbane’s Psychic Dairy). Rarer still, a volume dedicated to a single musical artist. But if anyone was to inspire verse, it would be the ever-morphing Beck. And just like the lyrical output of the genre-hopping crooner — who’s tackled everything from country to R ‘n’ B — this chronological celebration reflects Beck’s absurdity and gift for profound observation.

8.8

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Beck Poems

BEN GREEN, NIKOS KEIM, SEBASTIAN KEIM, ROBERT MULLINS AND MATTHEW SMITH
BECK POEMS

Lidia Yuknavitch – Verge

The latest collection of short stories by Lidia Yuknavitch is a powerful portrait from the margins of humanity. A kaleidoscopic range of scarred characters populates these pages, with stories that push readers head-on into uncomfortable truths, while simultaneously offering inspiration. Yuknavitch isn’t known for pulling punches — and Verge is true to form.

9.1

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verge

LIDIA YUKNAVITCH
VERGE