Looking for a new book to get stuck into while you settle into Autumn? Jo McColl and Chloe Blades from Unity Books have put together a list of their top reads right now, check them out below and head instore or online to purchase. 

Unity-Books- Top-5-Armchair-Adventures-10.jpg

Atlas of Improbable Places: A Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Corners by Travis Elborough and Alan Horsfield (Allen & Unwin, $23)

Fancy exploring the chapel hanging midway down a cliffside in Verona, Italy, or the village left abandoned post-World War II in Limousin, France? How about the tower of the Church of San Juan Parangaricutiro, peeping out through the lava from the Parìcutin Volcano that sunk the town? What about the abandoned fairytale castle near Beijing that stands derelict and crumbling after China’s failed attempt at Asia’s biggest theme park? Reading this book is a holiday in itself, if you’re into the kind of adventures that are seeped in history, political warfare, financial corruption, and are just a bit creepy. This tiny page-turner is for those with a penchant for a tale told by the campsite fire. 

Unity-Books- Top-5-Armchair-Adventures-8.jpg

House of Gucci: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed by Sara Gay Forden (HarperCollins, $25)

“I would rather weep in a Rolls Royce than be unhappy on a bicycle,” said Patrizio Gucci, ex-wife of the murdered Maurizio Gucci, heir to the luxury fashion dynasty. There’s a sense that someone with that kind of sass isn’t living a quiet life in a small village, and that would be correct. If you haven’t heard already, she hired a hitman to murder her ex-husband because his spending was out of control, or was it because he was marrying his mistress? Or maybe it wasn’t her at all… Sara Gay Forden, fashion journalist in Milan for 15 years at the time of the crime, documents a riveting account of the Gucci family’s rise, demise and resurgence, making this a tale for anyone intrigued by Italy, dysfunctional families, fashion, high profile marriages, wealth, and unparalleled luxury. 

Unity-Books- Top-5-Armchair-Adventures-7.jpg

Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn (HarperCollins, $33)

Cal Flyn immerses you so deep into the minute details of the worlds spectral, ravaged, and polluted areas that you can practically smell Chernobyl’s radiation and feel the ghostly presence within the world’s most derelict sites. She tiptoes around Cyprus’ buffer zone spotting new flora, fauna and wildlife, and meanders through Detroit’s derelict mansions to see what or who’s made itself a home. She sleeps alone at the abandoned Rose Cottage on Scotland’s Swona Island, a place that’ll give you goosebumps as she watches the once domestic and now feral cattle roam, while there’s a ghostly presence of someone watching her. Islands of Abandonment is a book of hope that shows new ecological discoveries and nature adapting to the tragedy, decay and waste left behind by mankind, through stunning storytelling. Hope’s not lost yet. 

Unity-Books- Top-5-Armchair-Adventures-9.jpg

Flight of the Diamond Smugglers by Matthew Gavin Frank (Icon Books, $33)

Matthew Gavin Frank and his wife went to South Africa’s “Big Hole,” claimed to be the deepest hole excavated by hand, to scatter the ashes of their sixth miscarriage, a move that led him to investigate the country’s controversial diamond industry. After discovering that a portion of the Diamond Coast was officially closed to the public by the international conglomerate De Beers, the pull to visit was irresistible. Travelling through the closed-off mining towns, he met a diamond digger who trained carrier pigeons to smuggle diamonds from the mines to the diamond digger’s homes. From De Beer’s secret agents shooting pigeons in flight to the trainers preparing pet pigeons for their missions, this is a thoroughly researched book with an array of complex perspectives that tugs your opinions to and fro. You will see the heroic pigeon in a whole new light.

Unity-Books- Top-5-Armchair-Adventures-6.jpg

Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall by Helena Merriman (Hachette, $38)

Marking 60 years since the building of the Berlin Wall, Tunnel 29 is a heart-pounding account of the daredevil student diggers who constructed the 135-metre tunnel under the “death strip” for dozens of East Germans to escape through. Merriman interviews the survivors, uses thousands of pages of Stasi documents, and immortalises the unbelievable history of Joachim and his comrades. From the brutality of the Red Army and the motivation for escape to the gruelling construction of the tunnel, and the Stasi catching wind of the plot, this is a work of history that recreates the physicality of their experience you’ll be on tenterhooks from the start. At times heartbreaking, Tunnel 29 is a reminder of how far people will go to help one another in times of unbelievable crisis. 

Last updated: 29 March 2022