The Piddington Summer Reading Guide
We asked a some judges, magistrates and lawyers for summer book recommendations. Here’s what they suggested.
We spend a lot of time reading. Some of you will be glad to not be reading anything in your downtime. Others will relish the time to read for fun and leisure.
We asked judicial officers and lawyers from across the profession for book recommendations for the Piddington Summer Reading Guide. They have recommended a wide-range of texts for your consideration that will provoke thought and interest.
Please enjoy the Piddington Summer Reading Guide.
The Hon Justice Peter Quinlan
Chief Justice of Western Australia
‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know’ by Malcolm Gladwell
How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear.
In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you’ll hear the voices of people he interviewed — scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There’s even a theme song — Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.”
The audiobook is particularly good.
The Hon Justice Darren Jackson
Judge, Federal Court of Australia
‘But Beautiful (a Book About Jazz)’ by Geoff Dyer
It has been said many times that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, but this book shows that it is possible to capture the essence of music with words.
But Beautiful is a series of prose sketches, each one about a 20th-century jazz musician, and each one depicting uncannily the greatness of their art and, in many cases, the sadness of their lives. All glued together with vignettes from a road trip with Duke Ellington.
Read it if you have any interest in jazz, or even just in gorgeous prose.
Magistrate Wendy Hughes
Magistrate, Children’s Court of Western Australia
‘12 Writers, 12 Stories of Perth’
Reading this book is like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and should do more often.
The book contains 12 great stories from a variety of perspectives of what it is like to live in Perth. The authors capture the beauty, quirks, idiosyncrasies and the mundane of living in our city.
The first story “Split” by Indigenous author Cassie Lynch provides a wonderful reminder of how land and culture exists in our CBD whilst we rush through our working day oblivious to its wonder and power.
“Local Police are now targeting us” by Mathew Chrulew is also a great read. As a Volvo driver myself I see the authors point of view.
An enjoyable and humorous read that will leave you feeling nostalgic for life in Perth. Perfect way to kick off summer in Perth.
Karen Farley SC
Senior Appeals Consultant, Legal Aid WA
‘The House in The Cerulean Sea’ by TJ Klune
I don’t read fantasy. I have never before read “gay fiction”. I haven’t read young adult fiction since John Marsden.
This book defies description. I initially thought I would describe it as 1984 meets Harry Potter, but that would not do it justice.
Anything I could tell you about the plot would be a spoiler.
It made me laugh out loud. It made me cry. It left me thinking… And it left me with a silly smile on my face. Which is very unusual.
Henry Jackson SC
Barrister, Francis Burt Chambers
‘The Rain Heron’ by Robbie Arnott
It’s a beautiful book by a new Australian author that remakes your understanding of Australian literature — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
Clare Thompson SC
Barrister, Francis Burt Chambers; President, Women Lawyers of Western Australia
‘Nora Heysen: A Portrait’ by Anne-Louise Willoughby
Nora was Australia’s first female war artist, the first woman to win the Archibald Prize and an amazing portrait artist. Portraiture tells us so much about the times in which someone lived, so its like history in pictures. Nora chose portraiture to differentiate herself from her well-know father, landscape painter Hans Heysen.
This is an extremely accessible biography and is full of lovely plates of her work, so you really feel like you get to know her, which you should, because she is fabulous as is her work.
Lawyer, Legal Aid; 2019 Australian Lawyer of the Year
‘The People Smuggler: The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi’ by Robin de Crespigny
This is the story of one man’s escape from Saddam’s Iraq to become ‘the Oskar Schindler of Asia’.
When Ali Al Jenabi flees Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers, he is forced to leave his family behind in Iraq. What follows is an incredible international odyssey through the shadowy world of fake passports, crowded camps and illegal border crossings, living every day with excruciating uncertainty about what the next will bring. Through betrayal, triumph, misfortune — even romance and heartbreak — Ali is sustained by his fierce love of freedom and family. Continually pushed to the limits of his endurance, eventually he must confront what he has been forced to become.
With enormous power and insight, this book tells a story of daily heroism, bringing to life the forces that drive so many people to put their lives in unscrupulous hands.
Managing Lawyer — Civil Law and Human Rights Unit, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA
‘Terra Nullius: A Novel’ by Claire G Coleman
The description on the back cover reads: ‘The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace and to bring the savages into line … This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history. This Terra Nullius is something new, but all too familiar.’
This is a gripping read with an unexpected twist that will make you reconsider all your preconceptions. Coleman reminds us that we all belong to the human race and the unity that should bring.
Principal of Boujos Legal; 2021 President of the Law Society of Western Australia
‘A Month in Sienna’ by Hisham Matar
‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
When asked for a book review I went into a panicked state — do I write about the only Booker Prize winning novel I have ever read? Thereby possibly establishing bona fides as an intellectual.
Or, do I record in print my voracious consumption of detective novels and detective characters: Christie = Poirot, Sayers= Lord Peter Whimsy, Greenwood = Corinna Chapman and Phryne Fischer, Leon = Inspector Brunetti, Mc Dermaid = Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, Rankin = Inspector Rebus, George = Inspector Lynley, Cleeve = Vera and Jimmy Perez, Robothom = Joseph O’loughlin; Galbraith = Cormaron Strike….you get the picture.
But then, this year I have had a new read and a re-read and both were wonderful experiences. My new read was ‘A Month in Sienna’ by Hisham Matar. A beautiful small book that is described as “an encounter between the writer and the city”. Sienna is the birthplace of a group of paintings that Hisham Matar connected with after his father’s disappearance and death. The reproductions are modest and exquisite, the personal journey is bewitching. In the words of Peter Carey, “What a jewel this is, driven by desire, grief, yearning, loss, illuminated by hope and the kindness of strangers”.
My re-read was Lewis Carroll’s, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’— what a very enjoyable, at times laugh out loud read this is. The story of a little girl following a rabbit into a strange land invites you to fall in love with its eccentric characters and unpredictable plot, but perhaps what makes the story timeless more than anything else are the delightful things that the characters say:
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
“Curiouser and curiouser!”
“I don’t think — “ “Then you shouldn’t talk.”
“Off with their heads!”
Lawyer, Glen McLeod Legal; Vice President, National Environmental Law Association (WA); Junior Council Member, Law Society of Western Australia
‘See What You Made Me Do’ by Jess Hill
This might be the most important book that I have ever read.
Prior to reading this book I thought that I was reasonably well informed about domestic abuse — I wasn’t.
Jess Hill’s book is eye-opening and challenges the stereotypes that I wasn’t even aware that I believed. It’s a deep dive into what coercive control is and focuses on the role of the perpetrator rather than asking why the victim stayed in a relationship or otherwise acted as they did. The book approaches this topic from numerous angles, including the role of the legal system.
Most importantly in my view, while it educates us on the grim reality which many women and families face every day, it also provides hopeful and well-researched solutions to addressing the issue of domestic abuse in Australia.
Director, Cullen Macleod Lawyers; 2021 Woman Lawyer of the Year; Committee Member, The Piddington Society
‘Sum — 40 Tales from the Afterlives’ by David Eagleman
This is an unnerving collection of short tales of imagined worlds/the afterlife we inhabit when we die. The stories, and the worlds, are wildly different, surreal and unsettling e.g. one is a world populated only by the people you remember — imagine the boredom of never meeting another human that you don’t already know? Part philosophy, part science fiction, part morality tale(s), it’s a striking, thought-provoking, crazy collection that by giving you so many possible afterlives, makes you think what actually makes a good life while you’re still here?
Associate Professor Hannah McGlade
Associate Professor, Curtin University Law School; Member, UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues
‘Indigenous Legal Judgments: Bringing Indigenous Voices into Judicial Decision Making’
This book is a collection of key legal decisions affecting Indigenous Australians, which have been re-imagined so as to be inclusive of Indigenous people’s stories, historical experience, perspectives and worldviews.
In this groundbreaking work, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars have collaborated to rewrite 16 key decisions. Spanning from 1889 to 2017, the judgments reflect the trajectory of Indigenous people’s engagements with Australian law. The collection includes decisions that laid the foundation for the wrongful application of terra nullius and the long disavowal of native title. Contributors have also challenged narrow judicial interpretations of native title, which have denied recognition to Indigenous people who suffered the prolonged impacts of dispossession. Exciting new voices have reclaimed Australian law to deliver justice to the Stolen Generations and to families who have experienced institutional and police racism. Contributors have shown how judicial officers can use their power to challenge systemic racism and tell the stories of Indigenous people who have been dehumanised by the criminal justice system.
Director, Magent Legal; 2021 Rural, Regional and Remote Woman Lawyer of the Year
‘Who gets to be Smart’ by Bri Lee
This book explores the intersections of knowledge, power and privilege within the education system. Lee calls out institutional prejudices in Australia’s education system. Unfortunately, it is not the call to action that I was hoping for, it perhaps lacks the broader research it required. However, it illuminates current issues in our education system and offers some great discussion points.
Lawyer; Committee Member, The Piddington Society
‘The Wizard of Oz’ by L Frank Baum
It’s the perfect holiday book for someone who wants just a light-hearted quick read.
I picked a copy up by chance (it was the only book in English that I could find) and finished the whole thing in a couple of hours; at only 105 pages it’s shorter than most High Court Judgements and, delightfully, in plain English.
It’s just a whimsical read over a beautiful fantasy scape and highly enjoyable.
Chief Executive Officer, Ruah Legal Services and Mental Health Law Centre; Executive Manager Strategic Advocacy and Legal, Ruah Community Services
‘Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less’ by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Increasingly, the more hours I worked, the less productive I felt, and the less ideas I had.
Innovation and change from fresh ideas make me feel alive, and I wanted to rediscover that. The way the brain works is also endlessly interesting to me.
This compelling book helped me by looking at real-life examples of prominent and successful people; writers, scientists and leaders, all who actively and intentionally used — and valued — rest. This mental rest then allowed their brain to think, solve, find ideas and innovate.
For anyone who struggles to rest, read this book.
Special Counsel, Corrs Chambers Westgarth; President, Asian Australian Lawyers Association (WA)
‘Rubik’ by Elizabeth Tan
Elizabeth is a Perth author and winner of the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2020.
Rubik is a series of cleverly interconnected and surreal stories. It’s witty, sharp and incorporates keen social commentary. I thought it was an immense amount of fun to read.
The book begins with an ordinary day in the life of Elena Rubik and rapidly escalates to include conspiracies, alternate realities, anime characters, intrepid reporters, Hollywood-esque action sequences and a mysterious Rube Goldberg machine.