Best Australian Fiction Books: Summer Reads We Recommend
Get excited about this edit of the best books in Australian fiction.
Summer holidays in Australia are best spent beachside (or poolside, lakeside or riverside!). Anywhere with a lovely body of water within which to dip in every couple of chapters will do. There is no joy quite like a day spent by the water, page-turner in hand. And with such a swell array of new Australian fiction, there's never been a better time to be a reader. If you're keen to avoid the disappointment of a less-than-excellent read, be sure to peruse this tried and tested list of our favourite releases this year. You're bound to find your perfect book. Read on for our edit of the best books in Australian fiction.
Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton
As far as summer reads go, we can’t think of a better book to be spending the holidays with. Besides, it wouldn't be much of a best in new Australian fiction list without Trent Dalton, right? Lola in the Mirror has everything we’re looking for - a cast of quirky characters brought to life via exceedingly original characterisation, a plot that will keep you turning the pages and the opportunity to learn more about a part of society that is often forgotten and left out. Lola in the Mirror is a story about a girl, an artist of incredible talent, with no clear past or future, looking to find who she is against a backdrop of homelessness, domestic violence and the Brisbane drug scene. It’s an alternately light, dark, funny and deeply heartbreaking story by one of Australia’s most beloved authors and a book that everyone will be able to find beauty in.
Sunbirds by Miranda Riwoe
Love getting caught up in the story? Miranda Riwoe’s Sunbirds is elevated historical fiction at its finest. The story is set in Dutch occupied Indonesia in the time just before the Japanese invasion and follows the lives of the Van Hoorn family and their housekeeper Diah. The book weaves together themes of imperialism, war and identity and offers the opportunity to learn about a time and place unfamiliar to many. The intricacies of the relationships within make it a page-turner, perfect for summer.
Over This Backbone by Ya Reeves
Sometimes things can only ever be figured out by walking. That’s what Peta thinks, anyway. This evocative journey across the Australian Alps Walking Track weaves delightful descriptions of landscape with the inner turmoil (and inner monologues) of Peta’s past, her troubling recent relationship and the fearsome unknown. The story delves deep into the complexities of the relationships we have - good, bad and ugly and the quest to let go is made all the more real with the backdrop of Australia’s unique, harsh and simultaneously beautiful landscapes. Over this Backbone is a must-read on our summer list.
No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak
Sometimes a good summer read calls for something relatable. No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak is just that. This quarter-life crisis novel is set in Australia so you can expect plenty of relatable references bound to get you giggling. For those who loved Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, this is Australia’s answer to the hungover, underpaid and overwhelmed struggles of a twenty-something. Follow along as Penny navigates jealousy, her tyrannical boss and incessant doom scrolling.
Wifedom by Anna Funder
Wifedom is more than just fiction - it's a genre-bending read that blends memoir with biography, historical fiction with counterfiction. Orwell's first wife, Eileen has previously been written out of any existing Orwell biographies and Funder sets out to change that. Analysing a set of newly discovered letters between Eileen and her best friend, this fascinating book seeks to shed light on Eileen's undeniable influence on the career of George Orwell. Exploring the unsung and unpaid work of women, Funder's book speaks to what it means to read between the lines.
Honeybee by Craig Silvey
Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, Honeybee tells the story of fourteen-year-old Sam Watson as he tries to grapple with identity against a backdrop of violence, poverty and domestic abuse. Introducing a cast of incredibly vivid characters, Sam's journey begins overlooking the overpass with a chance encounter with a man named Vic. An exploration of resilience, you'll also encounter plenty of action as Sam makes his way around suburban Australia and into your heart.
Lion Attack by Oliver Mol
If you're interested in the possibilities of what a 21st-century novel can be, Mol's semi-fictionalised memoir is a must-read. Short sentences mimic communication in the digital age whilst juicy one-liners will hit you right in the feels. Lion Attack! is hilarious, hard-hitting and utterly unique - a peek into a vivid imagination mixed with the mundanity of reality. Mol's debut takes the reader on a journey through relatable and outrageous anecdotes as he tries to situate himself in a new city. It's the coming-of-age novel we all need - regardless of our actual age.
If you've loved our guide to the best Australian fiction books and you're looking for more great books to get your hands on, check out our guide to the best classic Australian literature. and the best Australian coffee table books. Also, please support local and buy books from your local bookstore. Check out our favourite local bookstores in Sydney, the best bookstores in Melbourne and Adelaide's ultimate bookstore guide.
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