The best books you’ll read this summer

Photo: Pexels.com

Photo: Pexels.com

Forget the beach, the festive season (Christmas) and all those boozy parties. The best bit of the summer holidays is a chance to switch off our screens and flop down with a good book. From Greek mythologies to tips for your new years resolutions, here are some great reads that will definitely keep you turning the pages.
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Self help books (that are actually helpful)

Let’s start by getting practical. If you’re after self help that’s actually helpful, try 101 Things To Take The Stress Out of Christmas and 101 Things To Do Instead Of Worrying About The World, the first in a series of pocket-sized pop psychology volumes packed with tips serious and not-so-serious. If you want help getting ahead of your new year’s resolutions Shine by The Essentialists offers a snappy guide to cutting back on noise and distraction. Related is a Gallic twist on a booming, irreverent trend in self-help – The French Art of Not Giving a F*ck by philosopher Fabrice Midal.

Books for brain food

If you’re wanting to broaden the brain over the break, The Bumper Book of Things That Nobody Knows by William Hartson is the sort of fun and fat volume guaranteed to keep the family entertained post-Christmas lunch. Likewise, Dr Karl’s annual hit of remarkable science Karl, The Universe and Everything is a worthy addition to any stocking. For a suitably irreverent (and inaccurate) education on all things Aussie, consider Strayapedia by Dominic Knight of The Chaser fame.

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Audiobooks (if you’d rather listen)

Long dedicated to improving minds, Stephen Fry has taken on the Greek Myths in Mythos for an undeniably entertaining retelling, complete with amusing asides. The book is great, but the audiobook (read by Fry) is even better.

Audiobooks are in boom at the moment, with Audible offering exclusive readings of hits old and new, including Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient ExpressLady Chatterley’s Lover and Artemis, the thrilling new blockbuster from Andy Weir of The Martian fame

Thrilling reads

If it’s unputdownable you’re after, Force of Nature is the follow up to Jane Harper’s extraordinary Aussie crime thriller The Dry. For less gritty entertainment try Dan Brown’s Origin, a predictably unpredictable return to the world of The Da Vinci Code.

Set during the Irish famine, Paul Lynch’s Grace is a powerful, epic tale of an extraordinary girl overcoming the bleakest of times. Just as haunting is First Person by Richard Flanagan, the tale of a ghostwriter overwhelmed by the darkness surrounding his dubious subject.

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Books about Aussie (and New Zealand) characters

Ada sees Kaz Cooke unearth a more appealing, if no less reliable, character in the shape of an 1890s showgirl who travels the world with a trunk of tricks and secrets. It’s fabulously entertaining and irresistibly glamorous stuff inspired by true life tales. Text Publishing have volumes dedicated to other remarkable Australian characters this Christmas. First, two books celebrating the life and writings of the much-missed John Clarke – A Pleasure To Be Here, which collates the best of his sketches with Bryan Dawe and Tinkering, which collects a lifetime’s scribblings. Two other books offer handsome compendiums of Helen Garner’s work – Stories (her short fiction) and True Stories (her non-fiction).

Reads for romantics

If you’ve had enough of reality this year, British bestseller Karen Swan has a seasonal romance set on the beautiful Scottish Isle of Islay. In The Christmas Secret, highflier Alex is brought in to save a troubled whisky company but ends up butting heads (and presumably more besides) with the darkly charismatic CEO.

Trading snow scenes for red dirt, Suddenly One Summer by Fleur McDonald sees a complicated kind of love develop between a Western Australian farmer and the detective investigating her family. For a blunter approach to all things romantic, try Romantically Challenged by TV personality and serial monogamist Sami Lukis – a relentlessly frank and entertaining tour through the wreckage of her love life.

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Books for literary lovers

Peter Carey’s latest A Long Way From Home is a fast-paced, acerbically nostalgia tale in which an unlikely mob goes on an around Australia rally in the mid-1950s. From the other side of the Pacific, No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts has been enjoying a fantastic amount of hype, with its tale of a struggling African American family drawing comparisons with The Great Gatsby. Another family is at the heart of The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, where four children are told by a psychic how each of them will die – and have to live with the consequences.

Texts that will have you laughing

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin is the print-based spin off of the hit comedy YouTube channel Just Between Us. Told in a series of texts and emails, it offers a hilarious and honest story of two teenage BFFs going through all the things growing up can throw at you. For more old fashioned laughs, Five Go Down Under is the latest comic volume to thrust Enid Blyton’s quintet into the modern, adult world. This time, they’re tangling with guitar strumming Kiwis, a media mogul called Rupert and the Sydney real estate market. More novelty gift than novel, but worth a chuckle or three.

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Books the kids will love

Bloomsbury have brought out a wealth of Harry Potter goodness – lavishly illustrated hardbacks including Fantastic Creatures and Where To Find Them and two new volumes mixing fact and fantasy, inspired by the celebrated Potter exhibition at the British Museum. New magical thrills can by found in Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, Jacyln Moriarty’s The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone and Unearthed, a Lara Croft-in-space adventure co-written by Melbourne’s Amie Kaufman.  The very young will marvel at the gorgeous cosmic spread of Oliver Jeffers’ Here We Are, while primary kids can learn some timely moral lessons from Anthony McGowan’s I Killed Father Christmas, in which serious naughtiness from the protagonist sees the man in red kick the bucket.

 

 

 

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