A “summer reading list” is a list of wishful thinking. A pipe dream of lazy summer days by the beach or the pool, or even on the couch with a cold beer.
The reality? More of the same we’ve had for the rest of the year, just hotter (and in 2020, less covid lockdowns).
But, it’s that time of year when serious and respected people in Australia’s writing and reading community share their summer reads.
Which means it’s that time of year I think I’ll join in.
These are books I’ve read this year that I highly recommend. It’s not an exhaustive list of the books I highly recommend, but ones that may have otherwise been overlooked by general bookish discussion:
Too Much Lip, by Melissa Lukashenko
Ok, there’s no way this book has been overlooked, there’s a reason this book is highly decorated, but I liked it so much I wrote a blog post explaining why. The story is engaging, the characters are very real, and it may just challenge your perspective on some things.
The Biographer’s Lover, by Ruby J Murray
Australian literature is full of books set in capital cities and books set in country towns. There’s not a lot set in regional cities, and very few set in my hometown of Geelong. It was comforting reading a book set in familiar streets with familiar landmarks and its engaging story means it’s a worthwhile read for people anywhere. And yes, I wrote a blog post about this one too.
Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands, by Mary Seacole
Travel to Central America and the Crimean War with a woman history forgot, but should never have forgotten. It’s interesting to read about life from her 19th Century eyes, how she fitted into the world as a Woman of Colour, and how she saw the world and its grit. It’s so foreign yet so familiar; her descriptions of Americans are timeless.
Spinifex & Sunflowers, by Avan Judd Stallard
This book brings humanity and complexity to the people who work at immigration detention centres. You don’t want to like them because, well, they enforce inhumane rules at immigration detention centres, but reading something from their perspective, even if fiction, is something missing from the discussion. I recognised people I know in this, which is eye-opening in itself.
A Lovely and Terrible Thing, by Chris Wormersly
Every summer reading list needs a book of short stories and this one is great. Sure, it’s a bit dark, but it’s also quirky, and every story holds your attention and leaves you wondering what on earth was going on.
What will I be reading? This is (some of) what’s planned:
Searching for Charlotte : the fascinating story of Australia’s first children’s author, by Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell.
The idea of a memoir/biography by two sisters are they search for their great-great-great-great grandmother sounds just delightful!
Rodham: a Novel, by Curtis Sittenfeld
What if Hillary didn’t marry Bill? Love the concept. Super keen for this one.
My Name is Mahtob, by Mahtob Mahmoody
I studied the film Not Without My Daughter in Year 10 English, and promptly read the memoir it was based on. Then, a few weeks ago, I found out there’s a memoir from the daughter’s perspective!
Kokomo, by Victoria Hannan
My curiosity was piqued after reading Dr Emma Maguire’s review in The Conversation, particularly with its discussion of millennial writers and millennial characters. Plus, it’s an ear worm, so what’s not to like? (Except for the book, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.)
And I’ll still be chipping away at Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert…