Every month, we look at a non-fiction book chosen to challenge your perspective on the world, teach you something new and/or just plain entertain. Read along with us, and let us know what you think on Facebook or here on the website.

Please note that this booklist is not recommended for readers under the age of 18, and a book being included in the list does not constitute an endorsement. 

This Month's Book

Empathy Exams‘The Empathy Exams’ by Leslie Jamison

Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other?

By confronting pain―real and imagined, her own and others’―Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel.

She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory―from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration―in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.

April's Book

51x5Me0w7zL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_‘Private Empire’ by Steve Coll

In this, the first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil—the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States—Steve Coll reveals the true extent of its power. Private Empire pulls back the curtain, tracking the corporation’s recent history and its central role on the world stage, beginning with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and leading to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The action spans the globe—featuring kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin—and the narrative is driven by larger-than-life characters, including corporate legend Lee “Iron Ass” Raymond, ExxonMobil’s chief executive until 2005, and current chairman and chief executive Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination for Secretary of State. A penetrating, news-breaking study, Private Empire is a defining portrait of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy.

May's Book

Book Club May‘Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures’ by Heidi Postlewait, Kenneth Cain and Andrew Thomson

Published amidst great controversy in hardcover, Emergency Sex has literally shaken the foundations of the United Nations and made headlines around the world. Three idealists searching for meaning in the world’s toughest war zones; three people thrown together who bond for dear life.

In a memoir so powerful and staggeringly well-written that it’s impossible to put down, Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson describe the UN Peacekeeping missions that challenged everything they believed in and changed them irrevocably.

Please note that this booklist is not recommended for readers under the age of 18, and a book being included in the list does not constitute an endorsement. 

June's Book

51yIs+Ff3qL‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond

Why has human history unfolded so differently across the globe?

Jared Diamond puts the case that geography and biogeography, not race, moulded the contrasting fates of Europeans, Asians, Native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans, and aboriginal Australians.

An ambitious synthesis of history, biology, ecology and linguistics, Guns, Germs and Steel is a ground-breaking and humane work of popular science.

 

 

 

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Last Year's Books

  • ‘The Wife Drought: Why Women Need Wives and Men Need Lives’ by Annabel Crabb: The Wife Drought is about women, men, family and work. Written in Annabel Crabb’s inimitable style, it’s full of candid and funny stories from the author’s work in and around politics and the media, historical nuggets about the role of ‘The Wife’ in Australia, and intriguing research about the attitudes that pulse beneath the surface of egalitarian Australia.
  • The Good War: Why we Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan’ by Jack Fairweather: In its earliest days, the American-led war in Afghanistan appeared to be a triumph—a “good war”—in comparison to the debacle in Iraq. It has since turned into one of the longest and most costly wars in U.S. history. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the 21st century—yet as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather explains, it should also give us reason to hope for an outcome grounded in Afghan reality, rather than our own.
  • ‘Yassmin’s Story: Who Do You Think I Am?’ by Yasmin Abdel-Magied: Born in the Sudan, Yassmin and her parents moved to Brisbane when she was two, and she has been tackling barriers ever since. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation focused on helping young people to work for positive change in their communities. In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year and in 2010 Young Queenslander of the Year.
  • ‘Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy’ by Gabriella Coleman: Half a dozen years ago, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman set out to study the rise of this global phenomenon just as some of its members were turning to political protest and dangerous disruption (before Anonymous shot to fame as a key player in the battles over WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street).