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Books! We love them! Pity there always seems to be more books on our bedside table and in our to-read lists, than books we actually get a chance to read. When we're in the pits of work or study, it can be hard to make the time to crack open a spine. But in comes the holy period — summer. Weekend getaways and beach outings are made all the better with a nice paperback by your side.
We've been blessed with a sling of fabulous new titles recently that have pulled many out of their dry reading spells. But what to read first? Why not go straight to the source? We've tapped the shoulders of some of Australia's best female authors to take a peek at what they'll be reading this summer. Here are their recommendations for your reading pleasure.
Like many freedom-starved Melbournians, we’ve been dreaming of being poolside with a good cocktail and an even better book this Christmas. One that has been calling to us from our to-read pile is Jessica Dettmann’s This Has Been Absolutely Lovely. It’s a charming, hilarious and relatable novel by a brilliant female Aussie writer. It’s about growing up and giving in, hope and failure, bravery and defied expectation, and whether it's ever too late to try again. We’ve heard that the novel is a pure joy to read, and we think it’ll be just the antidote we need to today’s world.
Poet, critic and now novelist, Kit Fan’s noir debut Diamond Hill presents a striking and nostalgic take on Hong Kong in the 1980s. Set in Diamond Hill, once the ‘Hollywood of the Orient,’ it's now a community on the verge of being redeveloped. Fan vividly captures this city in transition and draws attention to the spaces between important landmarks in Hong Kong’s history. Now more than ever, it is vital for Hong Kong writers to continue telling their stories, particularly when they are captured with such power and skill as Fan has done in his wonderful debut.
When you think of the perfect summer novel, most people think of something light and easy — something to read at the beach. Perhaps controversially, I like my beach-reads heavy. Because if you’re reading by the water, you’ve got sun in your eyes, and waves at your ears, and you need something totally absorbing to cut through the distractions.
To that end, this summer, I can’t wait to read the latest instalment of Helen Garner’s diaries about her disintegrating marriage. A true, intimate story by a writer I’ve long admired… I’m ready to be absorbed!
The book I’m most looking forward to reading this summer is Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise. Yanagihara’s most recent novel, A Little Life, is still one of my favourite novels of all time and definitely the best depiction of trauma in literary fiction. I am also extremely excited for Clementine Ford’s How We Love, which I just know will be packed full of wisdom and insight. I’m also really, really excited to read Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho, a novel that follows a close female friendship between two Taiwanese American women over two decades — it sounds brilliant.
Back in 2000, people of the Western Desert who were sick of people leaving community to go get dialysis and never returning, decided to do something about it. They ran a charity auction, selling art, and raised $1 million to establish an organisation called Purple House to provide dialysis in remote Aboriginal communities.
Purple house has just released the 2nd edition of Patrick Tjungurrayi: Beyond Borders with all proceeds going to build a dialysis unit in the remote community of Balgo. It’s an important book, and an important cause, two good reasons to go out and buy it.
I first read this 1960s book as a child — it is, after all, a children’s book — but I reread it every few years because it’s one of those stories where I wish I could stay on with the characters, be immersed in their ‘afterwards’. It’s a summertime read to me because of where it's set, Northern NSW, an area that to me (now in Sydney) feels like it never really gets cold, is just one long cicada scream of banana plantations and high humidity readings on your back veranda. I’m recommending this book also because it’s a depiction of a part of Australian history that is often overlooked; the blackbirding of Pacific Islanders to work the sugar cane fields of the East Coast.
The last two years have been incredibly stressful thanks to COVID-19. Coming out of the sixth lockdown, it has been incredibly overwhelming to make some sense of the whole situation. This book has given me a whole different perspective and approach on a number of things — why certain things happen, what we should rely on when things are out of our control, and how to be resilient amidst the storm. The book explores the journey of surrendering, finding the strength to let go, building the capacity to forgive, and the faith to move on.