My top five favourite books of summer

Photo Credit: Prasanna Kumar (Unsplash)

Photo Credit: Prasanna Kumar (Unsplash)

Summer is here, which means long days at the beach, poolside cocktails, afternoon naps and lots of time to read good books!

We all love reading but during the year life gets busy. I mean, Facebook and Instagram aren’t going to trawl themselves, and those Netflix mini-series are just begging to be binged — so when the sun peeks through the clouds and the days start to get longer, there’s no better time to grab your lay-low, find a sunny spot (preferably near some water) and get your read on.

For those looking for some inspiration for summer reads, I have put together a list of my favourite books from Australian authors — some new, some classics — to devour this summer!

1. Looking for Alibrandi

Like most Australian teenagers of the 90s I read this book at high-school and completely fell in love with it.

Exploring sexuality, divorce, class, multiculturalism, depression and suicide, it was a book for teenage Australian women, by a woman who had been there, done that, and had the scars to prove it.

Reading this book at high-school made being a teenager bearable — the heartbreak, the confusion, the hormones, the breakdowns in friendships, the parties, boys, guilt, fear and pressure to succeed — Alibrandi touched on it all with humour, wisdom and a true sense of empathy.

If you haven’t read it, buy a copy today, and when you’re done with it give it to a teenage girl you love!

2. My Brilliant Career

We think we’ve got it hard today ladies, just wait until you read this reality check.

Not only is the book about a woman, Sybylla Melvyn, who is struggling to map out her own career as a writer through financial burden and low social standing (resulting from her father’s alcoholism), the author herself, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, had to give herself the male pseudonym “Miles Franklin” just to get the damn thing published!

It’s a great read, romantic, sad, poetic and a wonderful insight into 19th century Australian culture.

Also, if you can’t be stuffed reading it, there’s a fab film version directed by Gillian Armstrong starring Judy Davis and featuring a very young and oh so handsome Sam Neill as her love interest.

3. The Anti-Cool Girl

This critically acclaimed national bestseller lives up to its hype, and then some. I first discovered Rosie Waterland when a girlfriend read me one of her hilarious The Bachelor Australia recaps and I was instantly hooked.

It was like she saw the world in exactly the same awkward, funny, self-deprecating widely inappropriate way I did, every word, every sly joke, every eye roll. She was speaking from the depths of my soul, a part of my soul I very rarely let anyone see unless I was a few Rieslings deep.

That’s why when her first book, an autobiography, hit the shelves I was one of the first to buy it — and rock up to her book signing like a crazy fan girl! The Anti-Cool Girl is a stark, honest, darkly funny and terribly sad book about Rosie’s triumph over unbelievable trauma, and is a must read of any Australian, but particularly young women.

Rosie’s story will make you laugh out loud and cry like a baby, but more than anything it will make you just so damn proud of the author for dragging herself out of every difficult situation she was dealt as a child and young woman, and making it in to a wonderfully successful career that has inspired, and continues to inspire, young women everywhere to be their beautifully flawed, fabulous selves.

4. NeuroSlimming

If you’ve ever had a complicated relationship with food, whether you think you eat too much or too little, this book is an absolute breath of fresh air.

I know it looks and sounds like another diet book but in this instance, I’d advise you to not judge a book by its cover.

Helen Popovic’s NeuroSlimming is not about getting skinny or losing weight, it’s about reframing your perspective and retraining your brain to be positive about food again. Hallelujah!

This book not only provides a refreshing perspective, it offers the reader a reflective journey that goes beyond food and slimming to something bigger. It allows you to really rediscover who you are, what you want out of life and how having a more positive relationship with food might just be the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) for many of us.

5. The Secret River

This is one of my favourite books of all time and one I’d implore all Australians to read. It tells the tale of Will Thornhill, a poor, down and out London boy whose desperate situation in the old dart leads him to an even more desperate situation — colonial imprisonment as a convict in Australia.

The real intrigue begins when he’s made a free man, and finds a plot of land for himself and his young family along the Hawksbury River.

The book explores his relationship with a local indigenous family and is a tragic insight into just how far some people are willing to go to protect their own perspective and place in the world.

The saddest thing about this book — which didn’t quite translate in the ABC TV mini-series version of it — is that you actually fall in love with Will, through his travels and hardships and his passion for his wife and family. You want him to succeed, you want him to be happy, you want him to be a hero.

But will his land be destined for daffodils or weeds?

This book inspired me so much, I wrote a song about it! It’s now the title track of my most recent album, Daffodils or Weeds.

Kate FullerComment