Pull up a deck chair, roll out the beach towel or settle in on the couch – it’s time to get comfy. We asked our favourite booksellers across the country to share three summer reading picks, from all-time classics to the best new releases. Here’s the cream of the crop from those on the frontline.
Kara Smith, Imprints Booksellers, Adelaide
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Bridging the period of overwhelming cultural change between the Great Depression and World War II, Manhattan Beach traces the lives of characters faced with resisting traditional expectations of family and society. While it’s a departure in style from her usually frenzied humour, Egan’s latest novel is the perfect holiday read for those who enjoy smart historical fiction with a twist of mystery.
The Templars by Dan Jones
Our pick for the season’s best nonfiction is Dan Jones’s compelling account of history’s most powerful – and secretive – military order. Spanning hundreds of years and countless bloody battles, The Templars blends comprehensive research with the narrative tension of a conspiracy thriller to deliver a history lesson readers won’t want to put down.
Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut
Compiled for the first time in a beautiful hardback edition, the classic stories of America’s most iconic genre-bending storyteller will make holiday reading a pleasure for both old fans and new. Featuring ninety-eight stories dating back as far as 1941, this collection hosts five previously unpublished works and many underrated classics organised thematically under topics central to the Vonnegut cannon, including ‘Science’, ‘Women’ and ‘War’.
Fiona Stager, Avid Reader, Brisbane
The Power by Naomi Alderman
This book has a pretty interesting premise; it’s a book within a book and its starting point is a period in contemporary time where women discover that they have ‘the power’, that they can kill people. It’s an interesting device, the writing is very cutting and there’s a certain level of humour about it, but ultimately this is a book about how power corrupts. It’s got some great illustrations through it too. I think anyone would enjoy it – except perhaps your conservative old uncle.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Shamsie is a British-Pakistani writer and this is a powerful retelling of Antigone in contemporary times. It’s about a young woman whose father has died on his way to Guantanamo Bay. She’s got twin siblings much younger than her, and one of them becomes radicalised because of it. You can read it without knowing anything about Antigone, but if you give the Sophocles play a quick Google you’ll gain an extra level to the story. A fast-paced, intense narrative about contemporary life and how people can, and do, get radicalised.
Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman
Claire Coleman identifies as a South Coast Noogar woman, and Terra Nullius is her impressive debut novel. When you first start reading it you think you’re reading historical fiction about Aboriginal communities, white colonisers and the Church, but then there’s a switch of sorts and you realise you’re reading speculative fiction. It’s very clever, Coleman has a very strong voice and from the first page you know you’re in the hands of a great storyteller.
Chris Crouch, Happy Valley, Fitzroy
Home Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
The premise of this book is, "What does the future hold?" It’s by the bestselling author of Sapiens, and in it Harari tackles all the big world problems like war, death and famine, and keeps you riveted throughout. It’s provocative, full of original ideas and will keep you up at night.
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur by Nathan Williams
Part coffee book, part design book, this one is ideal for people that like business, but not old-school business, books. Over 40 entrepreneurs from around the globe are featured, including architects, designers, publishers and retailers, all giving advice, tips and inspiration. It's the perfect book if you're thinking of starting a business and need some insight into the current realities of running one.
Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
My favourite TV show of all time is Seinfeld. Finally, there's a book for us Seinfeld tragics. It’s got all the behind-the-scenes stories, bit players that became famous from the show, and plenty of insight to Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld's partnership. If Seinfeld is more than just another sitcom for you, you'll love this book.
Paul Jones, Ariel Booksellers, Sydney
Moise and the World of Reason by Tennessee Williams
Moise and the World of Reason is a beautiful, sad book from Williams about gay ice skaters. Love on the margins depicted in an unforgettably melodramatic, mad and moving novel.
Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut’s Complete Stories is the literary event of 2017. It showcases decades of wit and imagination from one of the 20th century storytelling greats, who influenced a generation. It includes some previously unpublished work.
Debriefing: Collected Stories by Susan Sontag
Sontag’s Debriefing: Collected Stories brings home the charming, entertaining aspect of the author’s writing, which is not always obvious in her more analytical essays. Sontag’s fiction is no less fierce though, and this is an astonishingly varied collection, perfect for holiday reading.