Staff Picks

Discover what our library staff have enjoyed reading recently.




Hell Ship by Michael Veitch Hell Ship by Michael Veitch
The horrific tale of the Ticonderoga, a ship travelling with emigrants from Britain which, by the time it arrived in Australia, had lost over 100 passengers to typhus. The ship was forced to go into quarantine on the end of the Mornington Peninsula, near to modern day Portsea, in a bay now named after the ship. Michael Veitch’s great grandparents were on the ship, his great grandfather a young doctor and his mother a highland lass who ended up helping to look after the sick. Veitch tells the story of the ship’s journey starting in Liverpool in August 1852 but intersperses it with chapters giving the social history too. I found the ones about the Highland Clearances and the plight of the poor, gaelic-speaking highlanders the most poignant. Despite the horror I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written and well-reasearched book.




The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper
An account of the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009 and in particular the investigation into the fires around Churchill and Brendan Sokaluk who was found guilty of 10 counts of arson causing death. The story of what happened is told from multiple points of view and in chronological order after the fires from the forensic investigations which identified the source of the fires, through the police investigations, identification and arrest of the suspect, his remand and the legal proceedings. It is fascinating and horrifying by turns. It is also beautifully written.




The Children Act by Ian McEwan The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Family Court judge Fiona Maye presides over a case where a hospital is seeking permission to treat a boy without his and his parent’s consent. The boy is 3 months shy of his 18th birthday and is suffering from leukaemia. He has accepted some of the treatment (chemotherapy) but, being a Jehovah’s Witness, is refusing to have a blood transfusion and is in serious danger of dying a slow, distressing death. Against this, there is a personal tragedy in the judge’s life as background. I saw the film starring Emma Thompson a few months ago. It’s very good and follows the book fairly faithfully. I have read a number of McEwan’s books and find him a bit hit and miss. I think this is a hit.




Everybody Died, So I Got A Dog by Emily Dean Everybody Died, So I Got A Dog by Emily Dean
British writer and radio presenter Emily Dean’s hilariously heartbreaking memoir about her glamourously dysfunctional family and what happened when they all died. Spoiler alert: the clue’s in the title. PS If you enjoy the memoir, have a listen to the delightful podcast Walking the Dog in which Dean interviews special (human) guests (usually comedians) whilst walking dogs in the park.