My Top Ten Books

Here are ten books that I enjoyed reading last year and thought were worth sharing. They’re a mix of fiction and non-fiction in no particular order. I read them at the beach, on the train, on the couch, in the park, in waiting rooms and in bed. Enjoy!



Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit   hinthedrs                                          Rebecca Solnit embodies two of my favourite attributes, she writes exquisitely and is a radical peddler of hope. Described as a ‘cultural historian in the desert mystic mode’, Solnit argues that our pessimism and despair arise from assuming we know what will happen next. Subtitled Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, this fascinating collection of essays unearths the transformative power of political engagement.


xjourney-s-end-jpg-pagespeed-ic-erloa0y-mvJourney’s End by Jennifer Scoullar                                                               Set in the Byron Bay hinterland this is the perfect summer holiday read.  In the genre of page turning rural romances but with a rewilding twist, it will have you dreaming of selling up your city life and escaping to the country.


Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit  wrs                                                                     Ok so it’s obvious I’m a big Solnit fan but she just writes so beautifully. This is a book about walking. It’s also a history of thinking while wandering, with tales and adventures of the mind and spirit from philosophers and poets, trouble makers and adventurers. I also recommend The Faraway Nearby,  A Field Guide to Getting Lost and The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness.


Philosophy for Life And Other Dangerous Situations by Jules Evans    pforl                               Part self help, part cognitive psychology this entertaining and wise book inspires us to use classical philosophy to solve modern day problems. Structured as a day shadowing  the ancient philosophers at the School of Athens it will inspire you to keep your New Year resolutions.


Oldest foods on Earth: A History of Australian Native Foods by John Newton  oldest-foods                This is a fascinating survey of the native foods that grow on our continent and have been used for thousands of years by Indigenous Australians. I love the suggestion that we celebrate Australia Day with a meal of native Australian foods shared between European and Aboriginal Australians. A revolutionary idea and a perfect way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of  the 1967 referendum this year.


The Art of Grace by Sarah L Kaufman art-of-grace                                                              A delight to read, this beautifully written book delves into all aspects of the elusive quality of grace.  Subtitled, On Moving Well Through Life it’s like a wander through a well curated modern art museum. It ends with a lovely chapter guaranteed to make even the most slothful and clumsy amongst us more at ease in the world.


The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones         last-chinese-chef                                             A delicate love story immersed in the philosophy and high art of Chinese cuisine. Sublimely written it is nourishment for the soul but it will also make you hungry for the traditional food of the Middle Kingdom.  (Try Chinatown’s Golden Century where Sydney’s top chefs can be found after their shifts). I also enjoyed Mones’ other novels set in modern China, Lost in Translation and A Cup of Light.


My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem gslonther                                                            This is a terrific memoir of a life well lived. Gloria Steinem regales us with tales from her travels.  As a feminist activist, democratic organiser and writer since the 1960’s, she credits a deeply held attitude of hope to a lifetime on the road.



Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen xmiller-s-valley                                                                    I love this writer and this, her latest novel, is possibly also my favourite. Set in a small American town that is about to be drowned to make way for a dam, it is a beautiful exploration by the main character, Mimi Miller, of truth, identity and home. Quindlen is just one of several female American writers whose novels I have enjoyed. Others include Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Patchett, Amy Tan, Ursula Le Guinn, Toni Morrison, Nicole Mones and Marilyn Robinson.


The Story. An anthology in three parts: Love, Loss, Life Chosen by Victoria Hislop                 I thoroughly enjoyed this  terrific collection of short stories by women writers such as Katherine Mansfield, Doris Lessing, Alice Walker, Flannery O’Connor, Hillary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and many, many more. These are some of the most brilliant and profound pieces of short fiction I have ever read.

Top image: Winslow Homer, Reading by the Brook (wikimedia commons)


About sagesomethymes

Daniela is a writer, theatre producer and civic educator. She has had short stories and poetry published in: 'Prayers of a Secular World', Inkerman & Blunt; 'Blue Crow Magazine', Blue Crow Press; 'Knitting and other stories', Margaret River Press and Radio National’s '360 documentaries'. Her debut play, 'Talc', was produced in 2010. Her short play, 'Sicilian Biscotti', was produced for the launch of “Women Power and Culture” at New Theatre in 2011 and shortlisted for the Lane Cove Literary Award in 2015. Her second full length play, 'Friday', was produced by SITCO at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in 2013. 'The Poor Kitchen' was produced in 2016 as part of the Old 505 Theatre’s Fresh Works Season and was published by the Australian Script Centre in 2017 ( It was re-staged by Patina Productions at Limelight on Oxford in 2019. She co-wrote 'Shut Up And Drive' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at KXT in 2016. 'Seed Bomb' was produced at Old 505 Theatre as part of the FreshWorks Season in 2019 and has been published by the Australian Script Centre ( She co-wrote 'Softly Surely' with Paul Gilchrist and it was produced at Flight Path Theatre in 2022. She is the co-founder of indie theatre company subtlenuance ( Her published short stories can be read via the Short Stories tab on this blog.
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