Investigators by Anthony HillInvestigatorsAnthony Hill, Michael Joseph, $32.99Many books have been written about explorer Sir John Franklin, whose 1847 Arctic expedition to the Northwest Passage was lost with no survivors. Anthony Hill's historical novel focuses on the other end of his seafaring career when he was a young midshipman for his cousin Matthew Flinders aboard the Investigator, surveying and then circumnavigating the south coast of Australia. Franklin joined the Navy at 14 and served under Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen before joining Flinders, and Hill's meticulous research anchors his imagination, infusing nautical adventure with a vivid sense of the dangers and hardships of life at sea. This kind of colonial history fiction has perhaps understandably gone out of fashion, but there is a place where it can be written in an informed and thoughtful way with no apparent anachronism.Nonfiction books of the weekOver the hill and up the wallTodd Alexander, HarperCollins, $34.99Over the hill and up the wall of death AlexanderIt was Freud, says Todd Alexander, who coined the term PEthnic Jew to describe the "acute psychological excitement caused by the irrational behavior of the aging parents". Of course he's joking. The dual roles of Pete and Jude are his parents, the subject of this laugh-out-loud road trip starring Alexander and his partner Jeff. Who would have thought that so much humor could be extracted from the struggle to buckle up or get into a car? What works it is Alexander's unequivocal affection for his parents, along with the way they seem to have conspired to send themselves upstairs, be it Pete's fondness for cheesy trills - "Mittagong in My Heart" rather than " With a Song in My Heart\u201d \u2013 or Jude's panicked driving in the back seat. A bit like David Sedaris without the tragedy, this is a book that will bring a smile of appreciation to anyone with aging elders, and hopefully the elders themselves.Nuts and Bolts: Seven Little Inventions That Changed the World (Big Way). by Roma Agrawal.Nuts & BoltsRoma Agrawal, Hodder & Staughton, $32.99Inventions are not just technological advances. The basic elements that make them possible are self-evident innovations: the nail, the lens, the wheel, the magnet, the spring, the cord and the pump. In the expert hands of Roma Agrawal, the engineering is broken down into individual parts and woven into a story that allows us to understand how something as simple as nuts and bolts hold a skyscraper or bridge together, and how a curved piece of glass can reveal a forging growing embryo or bionic eyes. Alongside the usual suspects, Agrawal tells of the forgotten workers and inventors, like the 'nail women' of Britain and women like Josephine Cochran, the 19th-century American who invented the dishwasher. What seems to be beyond our knowledge is made accessible through this story of the small things that make great things possible.The Uncertainty Effect by Michelle D LazarusThe Uncertainty EffectMichelle D Lazarus, Monash University Publishing, $34.99"Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position," Voltaire observed. "But certainty is absurd." In a world experiencing climate change and the destabilizing effects of increasing globalization, we have no choice but to reconcile the uneasiness of uncertainty. How we can learn to promote \u201cuncertainty tolerance\u201d is the topic of this guide. For example, teachers can encourage students to understand that education isn't just about shedding light, but about the excitement of discovering how much you don't know. Rather than opting for systems that attempt to quell uncertainty, such as checklists that can become routine exercises, healthcare providers and patients must accept that "uncertainty is not the exception, but rather the rule." Lazarus points to scientific practice as an example of how a creative and curious mindset can make uncertainty fruitful.The Last DaughterBrenda Matthews, text publication, $34.99After Brenda and Gary Simon's seven children were kidnapped from their home by Social Services in 1973, the devastated parents bought seven dolls, placed them in their crib and kissed them goodnight.The Last Daughter by Brenda MatthewsOne of those children was Brenda Matthews. She was two years old when she was welcomed into a white family who loved her as their own for five years before the ministry ordered she and her siblings returned to their parents. For many years, Matthews felt torn between her two families and grieved for both. "My white family is the first family I can remember, but I come from my black family." Forty years after she last saw them, Matthews tracked down her foster family and was overwhelmed by "joy mixed with pain \u201c. It's not just a touching story of two families, The Last Daughter speaks of the healing potential between two cultures.A cultural guide to going out and making love in the city. Sign up for our Culture Fix newsletter here.