It’s all well and good to be able to dig into a massive international blockbuster book, but there’s something comforting about picking up a book set in our own backyard.
That’s not to say that Australian stories are always comforting... Sometimes it’s quite the opposite! Australian authors push us to extremes with their words, and often in ways that international authors can’t quite manage. Australian authors tell our stories, both good and bad, both heartbreaking and life-affirming.
We’ve been proudly supporting Australian authors since 1879, and we asked some of our staff members to recommend their favourite Australian book to you.
Happy reading, Booklovers!
Diary of a Wombat
by Jackie French
This is a modern classic in children’s picture books. Follow Mothball’s diary as she demands carrots, digs holes and deals with her humans. Jackie French’s love of (and familiarity with) wombats comes through in every perfect entry, and Bruce Whatley’s illustrations are the perfect icing on a brilliant cake. I love all of the Mothball books but this original one holds a special place in my heart. It is my go-to book for all presents for new children in my extended family, and has pride of place in my picture book collection. – Kate, Buyer/Inventory Manager
by Max Barry
It doesn’t get much more Australian than a book set in Broken Hill, and for once it isn’t just a story of farmer’s wives, cattle dogs and utes. Lexicon
is about the magic of words, and a group of people with the ability to wrap their laughing gear around poetry so powerful, unexpected forces are unleashed. Part fantasy, part sci-fi, and completely fascinating, Lexicon
uses the great Australian outback to tell a very clever and twisted modern tale. If you like speculative fiction with a side of red dust to grind between your teeth, this is your book. – Rhys, Digital Manager
Talking to my Country
by Stan Grant
Writing with passion and purpose, Stan shows us the challenges he faced growing up identified as indigenous. Raw and honest, this book is important to further push the idea of a unified Australia. I would love to have come away from reading this with the answers to our nation's identity crisis, but that's just wishful thinking for someone intimidated by the challenges Stan highlights. When talking about redefining a major element of a nation's identity, it's hard to think of where to even begin. But as a start, Stan Grant has put his heart and the heart of his country out there for everyone to see. – Mark, Senior Graphic Designer
by Alison Evans
A post-high school novel about an aimless Melbourne girl with a knack for time-travel that suddenly goes terribly wrong, IDA
is at once an intense sci-fi thriller and a contemporary YA with real heart. The vibrant cast of characters make IDA
a compelling read. – Sarah, Inventory Assistant
April Fool's Day
by Bryce Courtenay
I love autobiographies or anything based on a true story. This book ripped my heart out and I'm not entirely sure I could read it again now that I'm a mum. It's a sad but beautiful memoir to a lost child, and it makes you want to go and squeeze the little munchkins tightly. I've still got my hardback copy I picked up about 20 years ago. – Samantha, Events Assistant
The Harp in the South
by Ruth Park
The Harp in the South
is a wonderful Australian family saga with a cast of colourful characters and a sense of place that stays with you long after you’ve finished the last page. Definitely one of my favourite Australian stories! – Sharyn, Senior Category Manager
by Jane Harper
This debut novel is a classic Australian crime novel set in rural Australia during the worst drought for decades. I loved the way it is written in flashback style between past and present, of 20 years between the two incidents that have occurred. You can easily switch between the stories as the description of each setting feels so real. It has strong characters and Harper’s writing style makes you become strongly drawn to each of them that you can feel their presence set in this small community town. It’s beautifully written and an absolute thrilling read. – Zrinka, Buying Data Coordinator
by Malcolm Knox
Inspired by the life of Australian surf legend Michael Peterson, The Life
is the story of DK, a former surfer champ whose glory days are far behind him. It’s an unflinching account of a man once at the top of his game, who gives in to his demons and ends up washed up and living in retirement with his mother. An elegant and beautifully written meditation on family, the highs and lows of chasing your dreams, the price of fame, and the beauty of riding a wave. – Sue, PR Manager
The Locksmith’s Daughter
by Karen Brooks
The Locksmith’s Daughter
is just the type of book I can read over and over (and I have!). I think this is the perfect book for people who are really interested in historical fiction and can appreciate the facts as well as the fiction. What I liked most about the book was not even the love story (which for me is rare), but the fact that real events and real characters get entwined in this world of fiction that could may or may not have actually happened – you never know! I cannot recommend this book enough. – Nicole, Marketing Coordinator
Tomorrow, When the War Began
by John Marsden
I’ve picked this book because I loved it as much as an adult as I did as a teenager. The setting is so uniquely Australian, the characters actually act like teenagers and the action is non-stop but realistic. I have read this series at least ten times, and will probably read it at least another ten times in my lifetime. – Alexandra, Category Manager
The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
This book was hilarious and so addictive. I read it in just a couple of days while everything else was put on hold... you know those sorts of books! It’s a quirky love story that made me laugh out loud, but don't be fooled: this is not your traditional romance. Highly recommended. – Paige, Loyalty & Marketing Manager
The Secret River
by Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville’s The Secret River
is a book that stayed with me. It is such an important read for Australians and an easy recommendation. William Thornhill is sent from London to New South Wales for the crime of stealing a load of wood. After serving time, he becomes an emancipated convict and settles on a patch of land off the Hawkesbury River. He has grand dreams of how he will use ‘his land’ to create a home for his young family; however, the land, though seemingly vacant to Thornhill, has fed and housed an indigenous community for centuries. William’s need for his own land becomes his obsession and while he struggles to keep his family alive, he also struggles internally with the effects of European settlement on the traditional land owners. A moving story about belonging, identity and love. – Imogen, Category Manager
Songs of a War Boy
by Deng Thiak Adut
I was lucky enough to listen to Deng speak at the Dymocks Conference in 2016, and his heartbreaking and moving story about triumph over phenomenal adversary brought me to tears. His memoir is the unflinching tale of his life in Sudan as a child soldier, before he was rescued and smuggled out of the country by his brother. With the support of the UN, Deng came to Australia as a refugee and grabbed the opportunity to make a new life with both hands. This book is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit, and I know I’m not alone in hoping to see Deng named the 2017 Australian of the Year.
What's your favourite Australian story? Leave us a comment and let us know!