Do you have a perfect day? I do. It would involve waking up when ready, having a walk by the river, going for a fancy breakfast and maybe going to the movies. After that, it would be a retreat back home to read on the couch while the rain trickled down, interspersed with cooking something low and slow for dinner. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t extraordinary – but it is quite perfect.

But what would this ideal day be without something good to read? Here’s Ruby Assembly’s latest recommendations for your reading and beautification: go ahead and include them in your own perfect day.


For the body: Nourish and comfort your skin throughout Autumn with Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, a golden oil from the Gods. It smells like a delicious person you want to hug (more properly described as orange blossom, rose, and vanilla). Equally good on skin and hair, this product has a cult following for good reason. I too doubted its gorgeousness before trying it, but now am properly hooked.

For the brain: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is a feat of sorts. Sure, it’s a bookstop of a Man Booker-prize winning Autumn reading. But it’s nowhere near as intimidating as its size and perceived seriousness imply: a tightly-wound plot that ticks away as its complex plot unfolds, The Luminaries is set on the New Zealand goldfields of Hokitika in the 1860s. Written with sparkling realism and close attention to historical details (the result of rich and deep research by its author), The Luminaries is a mystery played out over more than 12 interconnected characters of diverse ethnicity, culture and motivation. Its two most interesting characters – Anna Wetherall, local prostitute and Mrs Lydia Wells, entrepreneur and recent widow – hold your attention at the very heart of Hokitika commerce and obsession. Highly enjoyable and an education in what it meant to live in a just-civilized goldfield town, The Luminaries – whilst beguiling – never fully engages with the heart. It’s more like an expertly-constructed pocket watch, whose beauty and relentless logic you can’t help but admire. There’s gold, there’s wenches, there’s lost fortunes, there’s murder on the high seas. What’s not to enjoy?
For the body: Remember those glosses of the 90s? Poppy King’s gloopy, eminently-wantable gloss pots? MAC’s lipglass? Remember how your hair would stick to your lips in the slightest wind, and how you’d get ‘the white line’ of product buildup around your inner lip after talking enthusiastically around your mouth? YSL’s Glossy Stain is a weirdly futuristic lip gloss which seems to finally offer all the benefits that glosses have pretended to their audience for 20 years. Firstly, it’s beautifully packaged and scented. Of course it is: it’s YSL and for nigh on $40 a pop, it had better be. The product itself goes on smoothly as a light stain which you can easily build to a rich uniform color. It then ‘sets’ without going matte (I don’t know how this witchcraft is achieved, but there it is) and doesn’t really budge, or get eaten off without a good crack at carbonara. It has a very slightly ‘filmy’ sense on the lips, but the color payoff and weightless feel make this beauty product one which delivers.
For the brain: Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel is a rip-snorter of a novel. The sequel to her award-winning novel of high intrigue in the Tudor Court as narrated by Thomas Cromwell – Wolf Hall – Bring Up The Bodies is masterful, complex and utterly engrossing. Sitting as you are, perched on Cromwell’s shoulder, you are given a first-person unfolding of Henry’s separation and ultimate murder of Anne Boleyn and many once-trusted members of his inner-circle. Mantel never lets you off the hook: it’s not simply a tale of a psychopathic Prince and his gold-digging bride who comes a cropper. Every character is beautifully drawn, from Cromwell’s son who is training to be a counsellor Princes, to the bitter, tired ladies of the Queen’s court. Cromwell’s own tinder-dry observations of the weaknesses of his Prince and his own precarious position as favoured confidant genuinely feel like private asides into yon ear. Yes, yon. You will love this book if you are one of my people, and that you undoubtedly are.
For the brain: I make no apologies for the darker reading materials of this autumn’s Beauty and the Book. Autumn and Winter are a time for reflection and retreating indoors to ruminate and meditate. I read Helen Garner’s This House of Grief over one weekend of blankets, cups of tea and utter engrossment. One of my favorite Australian authors, Garner’s books are a mix of true crime, investigative journalism and personal memoir. This House of Grief recounts Garner’s observation of the Farquharson trial, charting her responses to learning of the death of the three Farquharson children at the hands of their Father. In many ways more of an examination of the way our legal system works and the tissue-thin difference between a person who has evil thoughts and a person who acts on them, This House of Grief is often painterly in its descriptions of subjects and the drowning of the Farquharson boys themselves. Not a light read, but indeed one you are compelled to read through. Despite Farquharson being found guilty of murder by two juries, you are not left at the end of This House of Grief with a clear picture of ‘what really happened’. Legal outcomes are about a process rather than any kind of natural justice, and none of us are truly safe from the savagery that lies within. We like to imagine there’s justice, and we like to imagine that those who commit atrocious crimes are ‘the other’. Garner’s work shows us that these imaginings are hopes rather than realities. A brilliant read for a time when you feel robust.
For the  body: Sometimes you need to forget about heavy things: heavy subjects, heavy workloads, heavy piles of washing. Just chill, bro. If you’re on the go and you start to feel like things are getting a bit pacey or out of control, try Perfect Potion’s Chakra Balancing Balm on for size. With a verbena lemon scent and packed with essential oils, rub this on your temples and pulse points, breathing deeply. I always keep this in my handbag, and can attest to its balancing powers! If that doesn’t relax you, hopping in the bath and popping Sukin’s Super Greens Detoxifying Clay Mask is just the thing. Cooling, luxurious to the touch and cleansing, this little beauty is friendly-priced and full of kale, spirulina and parsley. I recommend.
That’s it for autumn, dear reader. What are your favorite reads of late? Your new hero beauty products? Please let me know because – frankly – we could all do with more beauty and brains. Happy luxuriation!