Category

Words & Ideas

'I need a wife' It's a common joke among women juggling work and family. But it's not actually a joke. Having a spouse who takes care of things at home is a Godsend on the domestic front. It's a potent economic asset on the work front. And it's an advantage enjoyed - even in our modern society - by vastly more men than women.... read more

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The eternal question 'Who am I?' must be weighed against an even deeper question: 'Who are we?' We are writing each other's stories as much as we are writing our own. In his bestselling book, The Good Life, Hugh Mackay argued that kindness and respect for others are te hallmarks of a life well lived. Now in The Art of Belongi... read more

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Mark Forsyth - author of the Sunday Times Number One bestseller The Etymologicon - reveals in this essay, specially commissioned for Independent Booksellers Week, the most valuable thing about a really good bookshop. Along the way he considers the wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld, naughty French photographs, why Elizabeth Bennet and... read more

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'Missing a young girl, Dora Bruder, 15, height 1.55m, oval-shaped face, grey-brown eyes, grey sports jacket, maroon pullover, navy blue skirt and hat, brown gym shoes. All information to M. and Mme Bruder, 41 Boulevard Ornano, Paris.' The author chanced upon this notice in a December 1941 issue of Paris Soir. The girl has van... read more

Winner Nobel Prize for Literature 2014

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How did everything get so dumb? How did we become hostages to idiocy? What must we do to be freed from a captor whose ransom note simply reads, 'D'oh'? The deteriorating quality of our public debate and the dwindling of common sense in media, politics and culture can drive you to despair and rage. It certainly drove writers H... read more

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The great crises that threaten Australia's national prosperity come from abroad. So do the grandest opportunities. But in Australian politics the big matters are commonly crowded out by the small. International policy is used for domestic point-scoring. Leaders are criticised for travelling beyond the water's edge. Measured a... read more

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From the Orwell Prize shortlisted author of Freedom for Sale, The Richis the fascinating history of how economic elites from ancient Egypt to the present day have gained and spent their money. Starting with Ancient Egypt and Greece and culminating with the oligarchies of modern Russia and China, it compares and contrasts the ... read more

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Who else, but a writer, is really able to interrogate the work of other writers? From Christina Stead, Les Murray and Patrick White to Proust, Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte, David Malouf reads and examines the work of writers who have challenged, inspired and entertained us for generations. He also explores his own work an... read more

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From the author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, here is an essential series of dispatches from the East, the West and the In Between. Divided into sections called 'Life', 'Politics' and 'Art', Discontents and its Civilizations collects the very best of Mohsin H... read more

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From the creator of the wildly popular xkcd.com, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Millions visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. Fans ask him a lot of strange questions: How fast can you hit a speed bump, driving, and live? When (if ever) ... read more

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Should you finish every book you start?
 
How has your family influenced the way you read?
 
What is literary style?
 
How is the Nobel Prize like the World Cup?
 
Why do you hate the book your friend likes?
 
Is writing really just like any ... read more

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In Mind Change, Susan Greenfield discusses the all-pervading technologies that now surround us, and from which we derive instant information, connected identity, diminished privacy and exceptionally vivid here-and-now experiences. In her view they are creating a new environment, with vast implications, because our minds are p... read more

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In this age of constant movement and connectedness, when so many of us are all over the place, perhaps staying in one place - and locating everything we need for peace and happiness there - is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before. Through his extensive interviews with creative geniuses of our day... read more

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After the publication of his novel Slaughterhouse-Five (Delacorte, 1959) brought him worldwide acclaim in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut became one of America's most popular graduation speakers. There were years when public speaking was his main source of income and he put a great deal of thought and preparation into the things he said ... read more

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Over the next two years, Australians will decide if and how Aboriginal people will be recognised in the Constitution. Professor Greg Craven writes: 'We have a committed Prime Minister, and a committed opposition. We have a receptive electorate. There will never be a better time. We have no choice but to address the question.

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In The Best Australian Essays 2014, Robert Manne assembles his picks of contemporary non-fiction writing. Tim Winton reflects on the impact of landscape on the Australian character; Helen Garner remembers her mother with a raw and stirring poignancy; Christos Tsiolkas wonders how the Left forgot its origins; Tim Flannery trac... read more

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Renowned for its unusual mammals, Australia is a land of birds that are just as unusual, just as striking, a result of the continent's tens of millions of years of isolation. Compared with birds elsewhere, ours are more likely to be intelligent, aggressive and loud, to live in complex societies, and to be large and long-lived... read more

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A hilarious, enlightening romp through the world of numbers with one of Australia's best-loved broadcasters. Why do people get freaked out by Friday the 13th? Where does a 'dozen' come from? Who was Erno Rubik? And how do you become a master at Sudoku? In 100 bite-sized chapters, mathematician, broadcaster and comedian Adam S... read more

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We seem to have given up on any serious effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. Despite mounting scientific evidence, denialism is surging in many wealthy countries, and extreme fossil-fuel extraction gathers pace. Exposing the work of ideologues on the right who know the challenge this poses to the free market all too... read more

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We live in small worlds. An astonishing literary debut and the first book in the monumental How To Live trilogy, How We Are explores the power of habit and the difficulty of change. A story told in three parts, this profound and ambitious trilogy gets right to the heart of what it means to be human: how we work, how we break,... read more

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