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Summer Reading List 2023

2023 has been a wonderful year of reading and we had the great pleasure of seeing some of that reading come to life with the writers who joined us at the 2023 Festival in May.

We've compiled some of our favourite reading recommendations for the holiday period, spanning fiction, non-fiction, children's and YA.

As we come to the end of the year, with dark and difficult issues in the news, it is hard not to be tempted by exclusively escapist fare, but we all escape in different ways, and for everyone who seeks something light or fun, there are others who find refuge in the most complex and absorbing work that they can find.

We hope you will go and buy some of these for yourself or as gifts from our friends at Gleebooks, or from your local independent bookshop, or your favourite library.

Recommendations from Ann Mossop, Artistic Director

Prophet Song
By Paul Lynch

This is an amazing book, claustrophobic and compelling. Paul Lynch’s fifth novel takes us into a future Ireland where a totalitarian government is in power, and shows us what this means for family who become trapped in this nightmare.

Buy a Copy

Edenglassie
By Melissa Lucashenko

I would sign up for anything by this extraordinary writer and anyone who saw her speak at the Festival opening night in 2021 I am sure feels the same. This is a big and important book that shares new ways of writing stories and histories with its readers and does so with big-hearted, uncompromising brilliance.

Buy a Copy

She Who Became the Sun
By Shelley Parker Chan

A historical fantasy from a former diplomat who is winning international awards and bestseller plaudits for their work. Great reading if you love to immerse yourself in another world and the Chinese settings are fascinating. Start with She Who Became the Sun and follow up with the sequel He Who Drowned the World

Buy a Copy

Resurrection Walk
By Michael Connelly

What is not to love when the maestro puts Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller into the story frame together? Another absorbing chapter in his long-running account of 21st-century America with questions of justice and the law at its heart. And do remember that Bosch and The Lincoln Lawyer are both on the streamers if you have any of the reading averse in your life. 

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Recommendations from Nathan Luff, Manager of Children's & YA Programs

Neil, The Amazing Sea Cucumber
By Amelia McInerney and Lucinda Gifford

My favourite picture book of the year tells the story of Neil, whose life is boring, even by sea cucumber standards. But all that is going to change... The deadpan humour of this book will be equally enjoyed by adults, making this a great read-together book. It's also beautifully designed and presented with gold foil on the cover and a bumpy, tactile Neil.

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Kimmi
By Favel Parrett

This book is a beautiful companion piece to Parrett’s earlier children’s novel Wandi, this time focusing on Kimmi, a tropical dingo cub destined to become Queen of the Dingoes. These books are inspired by true stories that the author came across while volunteering at the Dingo Discovery Centre and they highlight the importance of conservation. Presented in a beautiful hardback edition, this book would make a perfect gift for readers aged 7–9.

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Borderland
By Graham Akhurst

This debut represents an exciting new voice in the YA arena. Described as gothic eco-horror, this novel weaves together the ancient and the modern as it tells the story of Jono, a city-born Indigenous teenager with no connection to his Country or community. Strange visions start appearing and they worsen as he travels to a tiny rural town to help film a documentary. With its unsettling tone and vivid setting, this is a book that stays with you long past the final page.

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Recommendations from Lauren Bennett, Festival Producer

Family Lore
By Elizabeth Acevedo

This adult fiction debut from National Book Award–winning Elizabeth Acevedo traces the lives of the Marte family’s matriarchs. Set in the days leading up to second-eldest sister Flor’s wake, Family Lore follows the Marte women across two generations and between two homes, New York City and the Dominican Republic. A sweeping story of sisterhood, family secrets and special powers, Family Lore will have you completely spellbound this summer.

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West Girls
By Laura Elizabeth Woollett

For something a little closer to home, try this scintillating novel told in short stories by Laura Elizabeth Woollett. At the centre of an intertwining cast of Perth schoolgirls, WAGs, mining heiresses and cosmetic nurses is Luna Lewis, a model whose career rests on a lie. As Luna’s life unravels, so does Woollett’s incisive examination of beauty, race, class and queerness.

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Retro Sydney
By Nathan Mete

You may recognise Retro Sydney as Nathan Mete's wildly popular Instagram account, celebrating Sydney through the decades. Now adapted into a book, this stunning collection of images from the 1950s through to 2000 comes with fascinating insights into the iconic sights and scenes of the city's 'golden age’. The perfect gift for those who call our harbour city home.  

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