Meet the Author at Brays

Following our hugely successful evening with Michael Brissenden – we have another fabulous author event coming up on Tuesday, September 19th!

Tania Blanchard
6:30 for a 7:00pm start


The origin story of Tania’s novel, The Girl from Munich, is hinged on a series of very fortunate discoveries. The first is Tania’s discovery of a collection of letters belonging to her grandmother, telling of her life in Germany during the second world war, and her eventual emigration to Australia; the fascinating true story on which Blanchard would base her historical fiction novel.

Then, the discovery of the manuscript of the novel itself, by an editor at a writing masterclass Blanchard was attending; they were so taken by it that they decided not only to publish it, but to offer her a deal for a second book as well.

Tania currently lives in Sydney with her family. Following a career in physiotherapy, she has returned to her passion for writing, and is looking forward to delving further into her interests of history and family stories. She is currently working on the sequel to The Girl From Munich, set in 1950s Australia.

Tickets are $12.50 or $10 for Brays Loyalty club members.

Book your ticket in store, by calling 9810 5613 or emailing


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Special Story Time Event

Speech Pathology Week is coming up on the 20-26th August. The aim of the week is to not only promote the work of speech pathologists but to ensure that communication is a basic human right for everyone. Each year, during this week, they also announce the winners of their best books for language and literacy development in children across a variety of age groups.

To celebrate this announcement we’re hosting, along with Let’s Connect Speech & Language Pathology, Balmain, a free story time at Brays Books at 10am on the 21st August.

If you would like to attend please leave a comment below or call us on 9810 5613 to reserve a spot for your child/ren.

Tips for successful communication*

  • Always treat the person with the communication disability with dignity and respect
  • Be welcoming and friendly
  • Understand there are many ways to communicate
  • Ask the person with the disability what will help with communication
  • Avoid loud locations, find a quiet place
  • Listen carefully
  • When you don’t understand, let them know you are having difficulty understanding
  • If you think the person has not understood, repeat what you have said or say it a different way
  • Try asking the person yes or no questions if you are having difficulty understanding them
  • Ask the person to repeat or try another approach if you don’t understand
  • To make sure you are understood, check with the person that you have understood them correctly
  • If you ask a question, wait for the person to reply
  • Allow the person time to respond, so always be patient
  • Speak directly to the person and make eye contact. (Though be mindful that there are some people who may not want you to look at them, e.g. some people with autism spectrum disorder)
  • Speak normally. There is no need for you to raise your voice or slow your speech.

*Source: Adapted from SCOPE, Communication for All Bookletwww.

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Author Visits at Brays

Exciting news!
We are now able to host author evenings in our shop. We will have a range of authors – someone to interest everyone.

Michael Brissenden
First off the rank, on Tuesday August 8th, is Michael Brissenden – who you probably know as ABC political journalist and foreign correspondent.

michael brissenden

He is also an ex-staff member of Brays Books!

Michael’s book The List draws on his experiences covering world conflicts and is a top class thriller set in the familiar streets of Lakemba, Cronulla and Canberra.

Young Muslim men on ASIO’s terror watch list are turning up dead in Sydney’s suburbs. Federal Police officers Sid Allen and his partner Haifa Hourani, a Muslim woman, try to find out what’s going on: their investigation of the murders leads them, however, to a much wider threat.

The list

The List confronts us with the local impacts of a global conflict, examining the effects of its violence on individuals and of divisive fear on communities, and the things done in the name of national safety.

Don’t miss the book or Michael’s evening at Brays.

August 8th at 6:30 for 7pm.

Bookings are essential. Tickets are only $10 for our Loyalty Members (normally $12.50) and finger food and drinks are included. To book, phone 9810 5613, email, or call in at the shop.

Tania Blanchard

tanya blanchard

Make a note also of September 19th, for a fascinating evening with Tania Blanchard.

The origin story of Tania’s novel, The Girl from Munich (not yet published), is hinged on a series of very fortunate discoveries. The first is Tania’s discovery of a collection of letters belonging to her grandmother, telling of her life in Germany during the second world war, and her eventual emigration to Australia; the fascinating true story on which Blanchard would base her historical fiction novel.


Then, the discovery of the manuscript of the novel itself, by an editor at a writing masterclass Blanchard was attending; they were so taken by it that they decided not only to publish it, but to offer her a deal for a second book as well.

We will keep you posted as more author evenings are finalised.

Philip Bray


Posted in Australian Authors, Australian Books, Event, Meet the Author, Michael Brissenden, Philip, Philip Bray, Tania Blanchard | Leave a comment

The promise of a cookbook…

At Brays, we not only love to peruse the wonderfully delicious cookbooks that grace our shelves, we also love trying them out on our family and friends!

Recently Sara’s daughter baked one of Annabel Crabb’s yummy recipes – Blueberry and Orange Cake with Lady Grey Sauce from Special Delivery.

They also highly recommend the Cumin and Cauliflower with Fried Lentils & Spinach Yoghurt in Community by Hetty McKinnon.

Sylvia is another fan of Community – her favourites so far are Balsamic Brussel Sprouts & Puy Lentils with Parmesan & Mint and Spicy Fried Edamame with Eggplant & Soba Noodles.


Bronwyn has been making seasonal variations of Sarah Wilson’s Coco-Nutty Granola from I Quit Sugar since 2013.

More recently, Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate salad in Plenty More is Bron’s favourite go-to BBQ salad. However, Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian is her all-time fave, with several never-fail recipes under her belt including Cashew & Chicken Curry and Fish Baked in a Bag with Lime Butter & Potatoes.

Libby is another Yotam Ottolenghi fan. Lately she has been been exploring the various vegetable salads in Jerusalem. She is still swooning over his Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs and Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds.

Sadly, the first food director of delicious. magazine, Valli Little passed away two weeks ago. In April she celebrated the launch of her last cookbook called My Kind of Food. We’re hoping one of our clever colleagues will soon be inspired to bake her scrummy Moroccan Spice Cake!

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Miles Franklin Shortlist 2017

The Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist was announced this week.


The finalists are:

  • An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire (Picador)
  • The Last Days of Ava Langdon by Mark O’Flynn  (UQP)
  • Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill (Black Inc.)
  • Waiting by Philip Salom (Puncher & Wattmann)
  • Extinctions by Josephine Wilson (UWA Publishing)

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, State Library of NSW Mitchell librarian Richard Neville had this to say about the five shortlisted novels:

None of these novels draws on familiar tropes of Australian literature, yet each brings a distinctive pitch of truth and insight into the Australian experience. (They) explore the restorative power of love, the pernicious influence of the past upon the present, the tragedy of the present avoiding the past, the challenge of unconventional identities, the interweaving of lives across communities, the devastation of grief, and the warzone that is the media, masculinity and a small country town.


An Isolated Incident is a psychological thriller about everyday violence, the media’s obsession with pretty dead girls, the grip of grief and the myth of closure, and the difficulties of knowing the difference between a ghost and a memory, between a monster and a man.

The Last Days of Ava Langdon is an intimate, witty and soulful conjuring of a once-great artist in her final days, which will leave the reader questioning – what passion would sustain you if everything was lost?

Their Brilliant Careers is a playful set of stories, linked in many ways, which together form a memorable whole. It is a wonderful comic tapestry of the writing life, and a large-scale parody in which every detail adds to the humour of the overall picture.

Waiting is a story of two odd couples in prose as marvellously idiosyncratic as its characters.

Humorous, poignant and galvanising by turns, Extinctions is a novel about all kinds of extinction – natural, racial, national, and personal – and what we can do to prevent them.

For more details see their website.

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What are We Reading?

It’s official!

Reading books is Australia’s most enjoyable leisure activity.

A recent survey showed that ‘reading books’ rated well ahead of ‘browsing the internet’, ‘watching tv’ and ‘creative craft’.


The top 4 reasons given for reading were:

  1. For relaxation
  2. To learn
  3. The drama of good stories
  4. To become immersed in another world

Crime/mystery/thriller is the most popular fiction genre for nearly half of Australian readers. While a third enjoy reading historical fiction, contemporary fiction and science fiction/fantasy.

Autobiography, biography and memoir are the most widely read non-fiction books – read by up to 45% of Australians. These are followed by cook books at 37% and history & humour books at 28%.


And how did people find out about books?

66% said ‘word of mouth’ and 53% said ‘browsing in bookshops’. Obviously there is an overlap there!

Speaking of word of mouth (ho ho) we would love you to recommend Brays to your friends so we can bring the enjoyment of books to still more people.

Happy reading!

Posted in Philip, Reading Habits, Survey | 1 Comment

Pretty Book Covers

Do attractive covers influence you when you’re book browsing?

The good folk at the Australian Book Design Awards 2017 think so. Each year for the past 65 years, they have celebrated

the bravest and brightest, the most original and beautiful books published in Australia.

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This year’s winners include:

  • Darren Holt for the Best Designed Commercial Fiction BookRed Herring by Jonathan Cullinane (Harper Collins).
  • Sandy Cull for the Best Designed Literary Fiction BookThe Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose (A&U).
  • Mary Callahan for the Best Designed Nonfiction BookThe Art of Reading by Damon Young (MUP).
  • Sandy Cull for the Best Designed SeriesWisdom Tree books by Nick Earls (Inkerman & Blunt).
  • Bruno Herfst & Marc Martin for Best Designed Children’s Illustrated BookLots by Marc Martin (Viking).
  • Amy Daoud for Best Designed Children’s Fiction BookMagrit by Lee Battersby (Walker).
  • Allison Colpoys for Best Designed Young Adult BookGirl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (Harper Collins).
  • Allison Colpoys for Best Designed Children’s/YA SeriesWord by Word series -various authors (Little Hare).
  • Daniel New for Best Designed Fully Illustrated Book Under RRP $50Grown and Gathered by Matt and Lentil Pubrick (Plum).
  • Allison Colpoys & Kasia Gadecki for Best Designed CookbookFlorentine by Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant).

Which cover is your favourite?

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NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2017

On Monday night the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards were announced. For the first time in the awards history the Book of the Year prize was taken out by a play. Congratulations to all the winners. We were delighted to see many staff favourites feature in the list below.

Sara had the good fortune to see Purcell’s stunning and powerful performance in The Drover’s Wife at Belvoir St last year. She has been raving about it ever since.

Bron & Libby both adore The Museum of Modern Love. Bronwyn was thrilled to hear Rose talk about her book and what it means to win an award like this at The Award Goes To….session at the Writer’s Festival on Thursday. Also at the session were James Roy & Noël Zihabamwe, talking about One Thousand Hills, Bron’s favourite teen book of 2016.

Have you read any of these books yet? Or heard a mind-blowing bookish discussion at the Sydney Writer’s Festival on the radio or at Bookclub? We’d love to know what has caught your attention lately.

Book of the Year Prize & Playwriting Prize

  • The Drover’s Wife (Leah Purcell, Currency Press)

Christina Stead Prize for Fiction 

  • The Museum of Modern Love (Heather Rose, A&U)

UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing

  • Letter to Pessoa (Michelle Cahill, Giramondo Press)

Douglas Stewart Prize for Nonfiction

  • Our Man Elsewhere: In Search of Alan Moorehead (Thornton McCamish, Black Inc.)

Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry

  • Ghostspeaking (Peter Boyle, Vagabond Press)

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature 

  • Iris and Tiger (Leanne Hall, Text)

Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature

  • One Thousand Hills (James Roy & Noël Zihabamwe, Omnibus)

Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting 

  • The Code: series two episode four (Shelley Birse, Playmaker Media)
  • Down Under (Abe Forsythe, Riot Film)

Multicultural NSW Award

  • The Hate Race (Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hachette)

The NSW Premier’s Translation Prize

  • Royall Tyler

Multicultural NSW Early Career Translator Prize

  • Jan Owen

People’s Choice Award

  • Vancouver #3 in the series ‘Wisdom Tree’ (Nick Earls, Inkerman & Blunt).

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New Philosopher & Womankind Magazine

The latest editions of our best selling Womankind and New Philosopher magazines have now arrived in store.

This quarter, #16 New Philosopher is all about food. What we eat and why. Too little; too much. Production, consumption and waste. Articles by Will Self, Andre Dao, DBC Pierre & Lisa Heldke will simply whet your appetites for more!

A woman’s place is in the resistance according to #12 Womankind magazine, featuring articles on the refugee crisis, mid-life odyssey’s, yoga and stoicism. Contributing authors this quarter include Lucy Treloar, Kate Forsyth, Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore and Stav Dimitropoulos.

Both magazines (& some of their back issues) are available at Brays Books for $14.95


Posted in Bronwyn, Magazines, New Philosopher, Womankind | Leave a comment

Sydney Writer’s Festival 2017 Launch

One of the pleasures of being a book seller is attending the many book and festival launches that occur throughout the year.

Last night was the Launch of the 2017 Sydney Writer’s Festival season. It was also the first time that many of us caught up with the new Artistic Director, Michaela McGuire as well. She impressed us with her humour and laid back charm.

This year’s theme is refuge. Michaela feels that now, more than ever, “readers will be turning to literature as a place of refuge.

Being able to see the world through someone else’s eyes is one of the enduring functions of literature. It can provide comfort in belonging; wonder and curiosity in diversity and also, at times, shock us out of our complacency.


This is the 20th year of the Sydney Writer’s Festival and they are celebrating with a new look website here. Bookings for the festival opened today, so you can expect teething problems and queues (that’s me saying that, not the organisers!)

I have no doubt that certain talks will book out very quickly. However I have usually been able to attend some of the lesser known talks on the spur of the moment and have often enjoyed these spontaneous events all the more for being unexpected and unplanned.

After the festival is over, Create NSW will take over the Walsh Bay site for a two year redevelopment scheme that will create an arts precinct around Pier 2/3 and Wharf 3/4. Apparently a proper amenities block will be part of the new plan!

Details about the venue for the 2018 and 2019 SWF will be revealed in due course.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at this year’s Festival?

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