The usual end of year listmania has begun, and I also like to join in, but with a focus on Aussie book lists. This year, I’m starting with the Aussie books subset of the books recommended on ABC’s Bookshelf program. Recommenders, in addition to the show’s presenters, Kate Evans and Cassie McCullough, were Stephen Romei, Literary Editor of The Australian; David Gaunt, independent bookseller of Sydney’s Gleebooks; and Michaela Kalowski, interviewer and moderator for writers and ideas festivals and local libraries. To see the full list of books they recommended, check out their page or, even better, listen to the program (accessible on that page). Do listen to the program if you have time, as they discuss issues like books that are hard to sell (and why) and liking (or not) books that are grim or too close to the bone.
Books from around the world were mentioned, but of course there was an emphasis on Aussie books, and that’s what I’m focusing on here. I like that this list roams across genre (including historical fiction, crime and sci-fi/fantasy) and to some degree across time (including books not out until next year. That’s prescient of them!)
Here are the Aussie books mentioned, separated into fiction and nonfiction, and ordered alphabetically by author.
Fiction (and poetry)
- J.M. Coetzee, The death of Jesus: novel, coming in May 2020
- Trent Dalton, Boy swallows universe: novel, my review (Also recommended was Dalton’s second novel, All our shimmering skies, coming in June 2020.)
- Garry Disher, Peace: crime fiction
- Lexi Freiman, Inappropriation: novel
- Chris Hammer, The Martin Scarsden series: crime fiction series
- Kathryn Hind, Hitch: novel
- Toni Jordan, The fragments: historical fiction, Lisa’s review
- Leah Kaminsky, The hollow bones: novel, Theresa’s review
- Paul Kane, A passing bell: Ghazals for Tina: poetry (by an American poet who spends half his time in Australia)
- Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Aurora rising: YA sci-fi/fantasy novel
- Melissa Lucashenko, Too much lip: novel, 2019 Miles Franklin Award winner, my review
- Roslyn McFarland, All the lives we’ve lived: novel
- Adrian McKinty, The chain, of The Sean Duffy series (Irish really, but lives – or has lived – in Australia, and has won the Ned Kelly Award more than once): crime fiction
- David Malouf, Ransom: novel, my review
- Heather Rose, Bruny: novel, on my TBR, Lisa’s and Bill’s reviews
- Dominic Smith, The electric hotel: novel, Australian-born but now US-based, my review
- Ilka Tampke, Songwoman: novel, 2019 MUBA winner, Lisa’s review
- Peter Temple, works: crime fiction, my review of Truth, his 2010 Miles Franklin Award winner
- Lucy Treloar, Wolfe Island: novel, Lisa’s review
- Christos Tsiolkas, Damascus: historical fiction, on my TBR
- Rohan Wilson, Daughter of bad times: speculative fiction, Lisa’s review
- Rohan Wilson, The roving party: historical fiction, winner of NSW Premier’s Literary prize, Lisa’s review
- Tara June Winch, The Yield: novel, on my TBR, Lisa’s review
- Charlotte Wood, The natural way of things: novel, 2016 Stella Prize winner, my review
- Charlotte Wood, The weekend : novel, on my TBR, Lisa’s review
- Meera Atkinson, Traumata: creative nonfiction/part memoir
- Trent Dalton, By sea and stars: nonfiction
- Helen Garner, Yellow notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1987: non-fiction, on my TBR
- Katharine Murphy, On disruption: essay
- Cathy Perkins, The shelf life of Zora Cross: biography, on my TBR
This is a lot of books, and there was a good number of non-Australian books mentioned too, many of which I’d love to read, so the program covered a lot of reading in an hour!
By the way, if you really, really, really love end-of-year book lists, you need go no further than Kate’s (booksaremyfavouriteandbest) blog post, Best Books of 2019 – A List of Lists. She will keep adding to it as more lists appear!
Do you use these lists to direct your own reading or – as I suspect many listmakers hope – to help with your gift-shopping?