Gift ideas for mothers who always have a way with words!
For the green-thumbed mum
The Plant Thieves: Secrets of the herbarium, by Prudence Gibson
In The Plant Thieves, Prudence Gibson explores the secrets of the National Herbarium of New South Wales and unearths remarkable stories of plant naming wars, rediscovered lost species, First Nations agriculture, illegal drug labs and psychoactive plant knowledge. It is both a lament for lost and disappearing species and a celebration of being human, of wanting to collect things and of learning more about plant life and ourselves.
Gum: The story of eucalypts & their champions, by Ashley Hay
Australia’s First Nations have long knowledge of the characters and abilities of the eucalypts. And as part of the disruption wrought by colonial Australia, botanists battled in a race to count, classify and characterise these complex species in their own system – a battle that has now spanned more than two hundred years.
Gum: The story of eucalypts & their champions tells the stories of that battle and of some of the other eucalyptographers – the explorers, poets, painters, foresters, conservationists, scientists, engine drivers and many more who have been obsessed by these trees and who have sought to champion their powers, explore their potential and describe their future states. Eucalypts have fuelled this country’s mighty fires as readily as they’ve fuelled so many arguments about the ways they might be thought of – and yet they are as vulnerable as any other organism to the disruptions and threats of climate change.
For the earth mother
Underground Lovers: Encounters with fungi, by Alison Pouliot
What can we learn from the lives of fungi? Underground Lovers brings us to our knees, magnifier in hand, to find out.
Fungi offer a way to imagine life differently. In Underground Lovers Alison Pouliot reaches down to earth, and deeper, to dwell with fungal allies and aliens, discover how fungi hold forests together, and why humans are deeply entwined with these unruly renegades of the subterrain. Told through first-hand stories — from the Australian desert to Iceland’s glaciers to America’s Cascade Mountains — Alison Pouliot shares encounters with glowing ghost fungi and unearths the enigma of the lobster mushroom. Melding science and personal reflection, she explores the fungi that appear after fire, how fungi and climate change interact, the role of fungi in our ecosystems, and much more.
Plastic Free: The inspiring story of a global environmental movement and why it matters, by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and Joanna Atherfold Finn
'I'm going plastic free next month, who wants to join me?'
When Rebecca Prince-Ruiz asked her colleagues this question in 2011, she had no idea that less than a decade later it would inspire a global movement of 250 million people in 177 countries to reduce their plastic use. Plastic Free tells the incredible story of how a simple community initiative grew into one of the world's most successful environmental movements. It also shares tips from people around the world who have taken on the Plastic Free July challenge and significantly reduced their waste.
Plastic Free is a book about positive change and reminds us that small actions can make a huge impact, one step – and piece of plastic – at a time.
For anyone needing to be inspired
Bhutan to Blacktown: Losing everything and finding Australia, by Om Dhungel with James Button
Bhutan is known as the land of Gross National Happiness, a Buddhist Shangri-la hidden in the Himalayas. But in the late 1980s, Bhutan waged a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign against its citizens of Nepali ancestry, including Om Dhungel and his family.
Bhutan to Blacktown tells Om Dhungel’s remarkable story — his journey from a remote village to a senior position in the Bhutanese Civil Service, to life as a human rights activist in Nepal and, eventually, to his work as a community leader in Blacktown, western Sydney. Every step prepared Om for the central role he would play in settling more than 5000 Bhutanese refugees, in one of the most successful refugee initiatives in Australia’s history.
Written with Walkley Award-winning journalist James Button, Bhutan to Blacktown is a story of grit and struggle, humour and irrepressible optimism — and how losing nearly everything shaped one man’s character and fate.
For the history enthusiast
Women and Whitlam: Revisiting the revolution, edited by Michelle Arrow
The Whitlam government of 1972–75 appointed a women’s advisor to national government — a world first — and reopened the equal pay case. It extended the minimum wage for women, introduced the single mother’s benefit and paid maternity leave in the public service, ensured cheap and accessible contraception, funded women’s refuges and women’s health centres, introduced accessible, no-fault divorce and the Family Court, and much more.
Women and Whitlam brings together three generations — including Elizabeth Evatt, Eva Cox, Patricia Amphlett, Elizabeth Reid, Tanya Plibersek, Heidi Norman, Blair Williams and Ranuka Tandan — to revisit the Whitlam revolution and to build on it for the future.
Elizabeth and John: The Macarthurs of Elizabeth Farm, by Alan Atkinson
In Elizabeth and John, Alan Atkinson, the prizewinning author of The Europeans in Australia, draws on his work on the Macarthur family over 50 years to explore the dynamics of their strong and sinewy marriage, and family life across two generations. With the truth of Elizabeth and John Macarthur’s relationship much more complex and deeply human than other writers have suggested, Atkinson provides a finely drawn portrait of a powerful partnership.
For the lovers of art and literature
The trailblazing McDonagh sisters were the first women in Australia to form their own film production company. Between 1926 and 1933, while they were in their mid-twenties, these sassy sisters produced four feature films and a number of documentaries.
The youngest, Paulette, was one of only five women film directors in the world. Phyllis produced, art directed, and conducted publicity. And the eldest, Isabel, under her stage name Marie Lorraine, acted superbly in all the female leads. Together, the sisters transformed Australian cinema’s preoccupations with the outback and the bush – and what they mocked as ‘haystack movies’ – into a thrilling, urban modernity.
In Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters, Mandy Sayer reveals the sisters’ remarkable story, from daughters of a respected Sydney surgeon with a love of theatre and the arts, to their first feature film, Those Who Love (1926), an instant hit, and their controversial final film, Two Minutes Silence (1933).
Sneaky Little Revolutions: Selected essays of Charmian Clift, edited by Nadia Wheatley
Charmian Clift was a writer ahead of her time. Lyrical and fearless, her essays seamlessly blended the personal and the political.
This new edition of Charmian Clift’s essays, selected and introduced by her biographer Nadia Wheatley, is drawn from the weekly newspaper column Clift wrote through the turbulent and transformative years of the 1960s. In these ‘sneaky little revolutions’, as Clift once called them, she supported the rights of women and migrants, called for social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, opposed conscription and the war in Vietnam, acknowledged Australia’s role in the Asia-Pacific, fought censorship, called for a local film industry — and much more. In doing so, she set a new benchmark for the form of the essay in Australian literature.