Longlists, Shortlists & Winners

Tis the season for book awards. Love them or hate them, it’s hard to avoid them. Every time I open my emails at the moment, another book award is being announced (or not, in the case of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, but that’s another story!)

Trying to read as many of the nominated books each year is an occupational hazard for booksellers. We love to champion our favourites and marvel when the judges agree with us (& curse them when they don’t!)

Today the Miles Franklin longlist was announced:

  • Peter Carey: The Long Way Home (Staff favourite – Philip)
  • Felicity Castagna: No More Boats
  • Michelle de Kretser: The Life to Come (Staff favourite – Libby)
  • Lia Hills: The Crying Place
  • Eva Hornung: The Last Garden 
  • Wayne Macauley: Some Tests
  • Catherine McKinnon: Storyland 
  • Gerald Murnane: Border Districts
  • Jane Rawson: From the Wreck 
  • Michael Sala: The Restorer 
  • Kim Scott: Taboo

And the winner of the Man Booker International Prize was awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and her translator, Jennifer Croft for Flights. Not a staff favourite yet, but on several of our TBR wishlists.


Closer to home, Alexis Wright recently won The Stella Prize for Tracker, Jessica Townsend was awarded Book of the Year by the Independent Booksellers with her debut children’s book, Nevermoor (staff favourite – Bronwyn), Emily O’Grady received the Australian/Vogel unpublished manuscript award for The Yellow House (now in store) and Taboo by Kim Scott won the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Book of the Year while Bram Presser won an impressive three awards on the same night – the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction , the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing and the People’s Choice Award – for The Book of Dirt.

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The Women’s Prize announced their shortlist last month:

  • The Idiot by Elif Batuman
  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • Sight by Jessie Greengrass
  • When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
  • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (staff favourite – Bronwyn & Libby)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward


as did the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction:

  • Manhattan Beach  by Jennifer Egan
  • Sugar Money  by Jane Harris (staff favourite – Bronwyn)
  • Grace by Paul Lynch
  • The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath
  • Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves  by Rachel Malik (staff favourite – Libby)
  • The Gallows Pole  by Benjamin Myers

The Crime Writers Association Dagger awards announced their various longlists during the week, with the Gold Dagger nominees including Australian author Emma Viskic for her Ned Kelly award winning novel, Resurrection Bay.


Finally, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded to Andrew Sean Greer for Less.

Have you read any of these award winning books yet?


Posted in Bronwyn, CWA Daggers, Indies Book of the Year, Man Booker International Prize, Miles Franklin Award, NSW Premier's Literary Award, Pulitzer Prize, Stella Prize, Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Women's Prize for Fiction | Leave a comment

Author Event with Caroline Beecham

Meet the Author at Brays Books!
Caroline Beecham

Tuesday 29th May 2018

6:30 for a 7:00pm start
Bookings are essential.

Cost: $12.50 per person – $10 for Brays Loyalty Club members.
Finger food and drinks included.
To book, phone 9810 5613, email us at braybook268@gmail.com, or ask our staff in store.


Caroline Beecham grew up by the English seaside but now lives with her husband and two sons by Sydney Harbour.  She has an MA in Film & Television and a MA in Creative Writing.

She relocated to Australia to further her career as a writer and producer in film and television.
Caroline has worked on a documentary about Princess Diana lookalikes, a series about journeys to the ends of the earth, as well as a feature film about finding the end of the rainbow.

In 2012 she decided to explore a new way of storytelling and studied the craft of novel writing at the Faber Writing Academy at Allen & Unwin.

Her first novel, Maggie’s Kitchen, was published in 2016 and her second, Eleanor’s Secret was published this month, both with Allen & Unwin.


Eleanor’s Secret:

An engrossing wartime mystery of past deceptions, family secrets and long-lasting love…

London, 1942
When art school graduate, Eleanor Roy, is recruited by the War Artists Advisory Committee, she comes one step closer to realising her dream of becoming one of the few female war artists. But breaking into the art establishment proves difficult until Eleanor meets painter, Jack Valante, only to be separated by his sudden posting overseas.

Melbourne, 2010
Although reluctant to leave her family at home, Kathryn can’t refuse her grandmother Eleanor’s request to travel to London to help her return a precious painting to its artist. But when the search uncovers a long-held family secret, Kathryn has to make a choice to return home or risk her family’s future, as Eleanor shows her that safeguarding the future is sometimes worth more than protecting the past.

Posted in Australian, Caroline Beecham, Event, Historical Fiction, Local Author | Leave a comment

Staff Favourites

We recently asked our staff to tell us the last book they had read AND loved.

Tim read AND loved He by John Connolly.


He is Stan Laurel and in this biographical novel you feel as if you are treading the boards of vaudeville and wandering the film sets of the ever evolving Hollywood. What shines is his friendship with ‘Babe’ – Oliver Hardy – and the drive that led them to a beloved place in cinema-goers hearts.

Sara read AND loved Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty.

rain dogs

Crime fiction is my holiday from literary fiction, but Adrian McKinty’s crime series is anything but light. McKinty has created a flawed and complex character in Duffy. His books are set in Northern Ireland in the 1980s with a background of real events: IRA hunger strikes, the bomb attack on Thatcher and so on. Not just an engaging mystery, they are a broader look at the social, political and historical issues of the time.

Nell read AND loved SPQR by Mary Beard.


Beard’s writing is very engaging and completely submerges you into the time of the Roman world. She also discusses historical figures and the debates surrounding them in order to turn them into more 3-dimensional characters. I also loved that she explored more alternative themes like gender and class.

Bronwyn recently read AND loved The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar.


Azar has given us a classic story of good and evil. Her words are fluid as is her approach to time and truth. Belonging, love and loss are the major themes while the search for solace is the main concern for her characters. Given the horrific events that occurred during the Iranian Revolution, it is easy to understand why and how an author would choose to wrap these unreal events up in mythology. When the real world you live in suddenly gets turned on it’s head, sometimes the only response is imagination and the only hope is magic.

What have you read AND loved recently?

Philip, Libby, Sylvia & Charlotte’s picks will be revealed soon!

Posted in Bronwyn, Favourites, Reading Habits, Staff Favourites | Leave a comment

Local Business Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Inner West Local Business Awards!

The public now have the opportunity to nominate their favourite local businesses in a selected category.”

To vote for Brays Books please click on this link to our Inner West Local Business Awards page.


Voting is open until the 24th April, 2018.

Posted in Inner West Business Awards, Philip Bray | Leave a comment

Slow Reading

Many of you may have heard of the slow movement, especially as it relates to food, parenting and travel, but in recent times, slow reading has been added to the list of things to enjoy in a more leisurely fashion.

Slow reading is related to ‘deep reading’ or ‘close reading’ which is often encouraged in academic circles as a way to ‘fully comprehend and appreciate a complex text’ (thank you Wikipedia).


However, the recent slow reading approach is more about savouring the experience of reading. As our days and years spin by faster and faster and our daily lives get cluttered with digital technologies, many people are looking to take back their time – to slow down, unwind and disconnect from their devices.

I’m currently participating in a slow reading readalong. With a group of fellow bloggers and tweeters, we have undertaken to read Victor Hugo’s classic Les Miserables – all 365 chapters – one chapter a day throughout 2018.

It has been a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable experience so far.

Some of the chapters are only one or two pages long. It has been an exercise in self-restraint and patience to not read ahead. The advantage of these shorter chapters, though, is that if you miss a day, it’s easy to catch up.

Most of the readers involved have read the book before or have at least seen the stage production or one of the movies. A few, like me, have never seen or read any version of the story.

Slow reading has allowed all of us to savour Hugo’s language, research and discuss archaic French terms and compare translations. All the nuances of character development and plot are teased out. Understanding and empathy for each character is being fully realised. Those who know what’s coming up appreciate the set up, as those of us with very little foreknowledge, experience the thrill and shock of new discoveries.

Most of us (participating in the #LesMisReadalong) generally read more than one brief chapter a day, so we have found that we are supplementing our one LesMis chapter with bio’s on Hugo, French history books, other translations and a few brave souls are even tackling some of the chapters in French. The intellectual stimulation is amazing!

We have quickly discovered that there is an art to slow reading.

  • Pick a time of day that works best for you is important so that you don’t feel rushed.
  • Create a little ritual (read over breakfast on your front porch, with your morning coffee or snuggled up in bed late at night) to make the time feel special.
  • Switch off devices and take a slow, deep breath to clear your head space of any clutter before starting.
  • Read some sections aloud to really savour the language.
  • Make notes of any unusual words, poetic phrases or curious titbits.
  • Allow connections and deeper meanings to evolve.
  • Explore symbolism, themes, foreshadowing and other literary devices.
  • It’s the journey, not the destination.
  • Linger, delve, meander, luxuriate, play, relish…

But the best thing I have found so far about slow reading, is that it feels good. Really, really good.

It’s not too late to join in.

Posted in Bronwyn, Slow Reading | 5 Comments

Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year

Last week we heard that the Macquarie Dictionary Committee’s Choice for Word of the Year 2017 went to…


Perhaps, like me, you were a little puzzled, out of the twitter loop, and left wondering what on earth was a ‘milkshake duck’ and how would I ever use this new word in a sentence! Except I just found a way 🙂

The People’s Choice for Word of the Year 2017, however, might be more your style (it was the word I voted for anyway).


For a full list of the shortlisted words click on the link at the beginning of the post. Which one would you have voted for?

Posted in Australian, Bronwyn, Dictionary, Word of the Year | Leave a comment

Meet the Author – Luke Slattery

Tuesday 21st November at Brays Books

6:30pm for a 7pm start

$12.50 of $10 for Brays Loyalty Members

luke slattery

Luke Slattery is a Sydney-based journalist, editor and columnist. His work has appeared in The Australian, The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review. Internationally he has been published at The New Yorker online, the LA Times, the International Herald Tribune, the UK Spectator, and the US Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Slattery is the author of four non-fiction books: Crisis in the Clever Country: Why Our Universities are Failing (with Geoffrey Maslen), Dating Aphrodite: Modern Adventures in the Ancient World, Reclaiming Epicurus: Could an Ancient Philosophy of Happiness Save the World? and  The First Dismissal.

Mrs M is his first foray into historical fiction and already a strong staff favourite. His publishers, Harper Collins have said it is,

a bravura literary achievement, a rich and intense novel of an imagined history of desire, ambition and dashed dreams, and a portrait of one passionate, unforgettable woman – Elizabeth Macquarie.

Elizabeth Macquarie, widow of the disgraced former Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, is in mourning – not only for her husband, but the loss of their shared dream to transform the penal colony into a bright new world. Over the course of one long sleepless night on the windswept isle of Mull, she remembers her life in that wild and strange country; a revolution of ideas as dramatic as any in history; and her dangerous alliance with the brilliant, mercurial Francis Greenway, the colony’s maverick architect.

A stirring, provocative and thrilling novel of passion, ideas, reforming zeal and desire.

mrs m

Don’t miss out on our final Meet the Author event for the year.

Call our friendly staff on 9810 5613 to reserve your seat.


Posted in Australian Authors, Bronwyn, Event, Historical Fiction, Luke Slattery, Meet the Author | Leave a comment

Meet the Authors

John Lyon & Sylvie le Clezio chat with Philip Bray
Tuesday, November 14th
6:30 for a 7:00pm start


Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir tells the story of John, Sylvie and their son, Jack’s six years living and working in Jerusalem.

John is a three times Walkley Award winning journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent for The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. His TV credits include Sunday and Four Corners.

Sylvie is a film maker, producer and director. Her photographs grace the center pages of the book. Together they contributed on the 2014 Walkley winning Four Corners program, Cold Stone Justice. John and Sylvie also received three United Nations Human Rights Awards during their time in Jerusalem.

John’s outspoken and candid reporting on events in the Middle East has surrounded him in controversy and earned him many critics determined to discredit his opinion.

Tickets: $12.50 or $10 for Brays Loyalty Club Members.

Call to book your seat on 9810 5613.

Posted in Australian Authors, Bronwyn, Event, Israel, John Lyons, Meet the Author, Memoir, Sylvie Le Clezio | 1 Comment

Meet the Author – Scott Bevan

Scott Bevan – journalist, author, TV presenter, playwright and musician.

scott bevan

Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s greatest and most beautiful bodies of water.

Scott Bevan has explored its many coves and bays by kayak, yacht and barge, gathering our Harbour’s stories. He has talked to boat builders, fishermen, ship’s captains, historians, divers and environmentalists. The result is a beautiful, authoritative, meditative journey – and of course, the Balmain Peninsula features prominently!

The Harbour: A City’s Heart, A Country’s Soul is due for release on the 1st November with Simon & Schuster, Australia. We can’t wait to see the final product!

Scott has worked in newspapers and television for 32 years. From 2005 to 2016 he was with the ABC, working on the 7:30 report, ABC News, ABC Local Radio and as Moscow Correspondent.

He is the author of four books: The HunterBattle Lines: Australian Artists at War, Water From The Moon: A Biography of John Fawcett and Bill: The Life of William Dobell. His documentary work includes Oll: The Life & Art of Margaret Olley and The Hunter. He is now a musician.

On Wednesday 1st November, Scott will be chatting with Philip Bray about his new book, The Harbour, his career and his music.

Time: 6:30pm for a 7pm start

Cost: $12.50 or $10 for Brays Loyalty Club members. Finger food and drinks provided.

Tickets: available in store, or call (9810 5613) or email braybook@iprimus.com.au

download (1)

In the bestselling tradition of Peter Ackroyd’s The Thames, a celebration of one of the world’s great waterways. 

Everyone knows Sydney Harbour. At least, we think we do.

Everyone can see the harbour, whether they have ever been to Sydney or not. By as little as a word or two, the harbour floats into our mind’s eye. The Bridge. The Opera House. Fireworks on New Year’s Eve. When we see those images, we feel a sense of belonging. No matter who we are or where we’re from, we see the harbour and we feel good.

In this beautiful, authoritative and meditative journey, Scott Bevan takes us from cove to cove, by kayak, yacht and barge to gather the harbour’s stories, past and present, from boat builders, ship captains and fishermen to artists, divers, historians and environmentalists, from signs of ancient life to the submarine invasion by the Japanese.

This is the ultimate story of Sydney Harbour – a city’s heart and a country’s soul.

Posted in Australian Authors, Australian Books, Bronwyn, Event, Meet the Author, Philip Bray, Scott Bevan | Leave a comment

Meet the Author – Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill
Tuesday, October 3rd
6:30 for a 7:00pm start


Sulari Gentill is best known as the author of the award winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of historical crime novels set in 1930s Australia. Gripping, beautifully written and deeply researched, they follow the exploits of one Rowland Sinclair, youngest son of a wealthy high society family; an artist and a gentleman, possessed also of a significant talent for scandal. As well as this, she is the author of the Hero Trilogy, a fantasy adventure series for teens.

Sulari’s newest book, Crossing the Lines, is a literary crime novel  that has been described as “a shining (and refreshing) example of meta-fiction at its best.” The novel is an intricate, postmodern piece of storytelling that blurs the real and the fictional.

Sulari set out to study astrophysics, though graduated in law, and later, as she says “abandoned her legal career to write books instead of contracts.” She lives with her family on a small farm in the Snowy Mountains, where she grows truffles and breeds miniature cattle.

I, personally, am a huge fan of the Rowland Sinclair books. You can see my responses as I read each book on my ‘at home’ blog, Brona’s Books.

Hope to see you all on Tuesday evening for a scintillating chat about books, crime, art, the 1920’s and fine food!

Posted in Australian, Australian Authors, Bronwyn, Crime and mystery fiction, Event, Meet the Author, Sulari Gentill | Leave a comment