AusReading Month Is Coming

coat of arms

Well, I still haven’t finished a book to write about, but I’ve been busy making plans and lists of books to read in the near future. November is going to be a busy reading month (at least in theory). Brona is once again hosting a month-long event focused on Australian literature. Last year, I barely managed to read one book, The Spare Room by Helen Garner. This year, I want to do a little better. Since I am on a strict, STRICT book-buying ban, I am picking from the books I already own (shocking, I know) and the library. Here’s what’s tempting me:

  • Richard Flanagan, Gould’s Book of Fish
    Acclaimed as a masterpiece around the world, this is at once a marvelously imagined epic of 19th-century Australia and a contemporary fable, a tale of horror, and a celebration of love.
  • Alice Pung, Her Father’s Daughter (nonfiction)
    Alice is constantly confronted by her father’s extraordinary fear for her safety—but why? As she digs into her father’s story, Alice embarks on a journey of painful discovery. Set in Melbourne, China, and Cambodia, this book captures a father–daughter relationship in an astonishingly powerful way.
  • Nevil Shute, On the Beach
    After a nuclear World War III has destroyed most of the globe, the few remaining survivors in southern Australia await the radioactive cloud that is heading their way, bringing certain death. Nevil Shute’s most powerful novel was a bestseller for decades after its 1957 publication. (It comes highly recommended by Nancy.)
  • Tim Winton, Dirt Music
    Set in the dramatic landscape of Western Australia, Dirt Music tells the story of a broken man who has made his life a “project of forgetting.” Not until he meets Georgie Jutland, the wife of White Point’s most prosperous fisherman, does he begin to dream again. Ambitious and perfectly calibrated, Dirt Music resonates with suspense, emotion, and timeless truths.
  • Kate Grenville, The Secret River
    When William Thornhill is caught steeling, he and his family are sent to New South Wales. There, they hear a rumor that “unclaimed land” offers an opportunity to start afresh. No one has told the Thornhills that aboriginal people are already living on the land they have taken. Soon William, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.

The following books would be ILL requests, which I’ll only do if I know for sure that I’ll have time to read them:

  • Murray Bail, Eucalyptus
    A modern fairy tale, and an unforgettable love story, that bristles with spiky truths and unexpected wisdom about art, feminine beauty, landscape, and language. It affirms the seductive power of storytelling itself.
  • Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
    Only the prodigious imagination of Peter Carey could implicate Oscar and Lucinda in a narrative of love and commerce, religion and colonialism, that culminates in a half-mad expedition to transport a glass church across the 19th-century Outback.
  • Joan Lindsey, Picnic at Hanging Rock
    A beguiling landmark of Australian literature, it stands with Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca as a masterpiece of haunting intrigue.
  • Ceridwen Dovey, Only the Animals
    In this short-story collection, the souls of 10 animals, caught up in human conflicts over the last century, tell their astonishing stories of life and death, having seen humans at their brutal, violent worst and their creative, imaginative best.

Have you read any of these books? Which one has caught your fancy?



  1. Hi TJ: I like your list. I told Brona I would read one Aussie novel for Nov and she helped me pick The Secret River, which she said was quite good. I admit I’m a big Tim Winton fan and have read about 4 or 5 of his books. I did like Dirt Music (and you certainly could go for that) but perhaps I would recommend his novel Breath more. It’s about surfing! I loved it. cheers.

    • I think I will read The Secret River as well in November. My library has both Dirt Music and Eyrie, so I will probably start with one of those, as Tim Winton is new to me. But I’ll make a note of Breath. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. You’ve certainly picked some fabulous Aussie books to try.
    I have to confess that I found Gould’s Book of Fish difficult and didn’t finish it, but I LOVED Dirt Music (even with its OTT movie-style ending!) and The Secret River.
    On the Beach & Alice Pung’s books are on my TBR list.

    I read Eucalyptus for my book club many years ago and found it to be very dull, but some of the club adored it. Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of my favourite Australian books form my teen years – it stands up well to an adult reread too (the movie is dated, but very atmospheric).

    I read Only the Animals over the new year period with great enjoyment. Short stories are perfect for the summer holidays with lots of coming and going. And these were clever, funny, poignant….

    Oscar & Lucinda was read a long time ago and I’m not sure I really enjoyed it, except one of the images from the end of the book is in my mind still. It was also set around the Bellinger River on the mid North coast of NSW – an area I spent a lot of time during my youth as my grandparents lived there. So I enjoyed ‘seeing’ the area as it was in earlier times.

    Thanks for joining in AusReadingMonth – you’ll have a great time with any of your possibilities 🙂

    • Thanks, Brona, I’m looking forward to reading from this list. All the library books have come in already, and now I don’t know where to start. 🙂 But chances are good that I’ll manage to read more than one this time around.
      I’m happy to hear that you liked Only the Animals. That books has been calling me ever since I first read about it.

  3. The only one I’ve read is the Nevil Shute, a long time ago, but I really enjoyed it. Must say your whole list looks very appealing. I think my pick would be Picnic at Hanging Rock – I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, having loved the film. Enjoy! 🙂

    • I was hooked when I saw it compared to Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I didn’t know there was a movie. Maybe I can do an AusMovie Night, and watch this one and Oscar and Lucinda. Something to think about…

  4. I’m afraid I haven’t read any of these books, but Tim Winton’s novels come very highly recommended from quite a few readers and bloggers. I’ve heard wonderful things about On the Beach, too – it sounds like the sort of story you would enjoy. 🙂

    • I’m so glad you say that about Tim Winton. I was hesitant to put him on the list when I saw some of the negative reviews on Amazon. Well, it’s a library book, so it’s coming home with me. Even if I don’t get to read it, it can enjoy a change of scenery. 😉

  5. I am not familiar with any of these – but I do love Australia so I will look forward to seeing which you get to. I am going to have to find Picnic at Hanging Rock.

  6. My to-read list just increased by a bunch reading about all these books.
    Of the first 5 books (that you own), Gould’s Book of Fish really sounds good to me. And The Secret River. Well, they all do, but those are the 2 that stand out for me right now.
    I’ve actually read 2 of the possible library books (which is a shocker). I loved Oscar and Lucinda, but Eucalyptus didn’t do much for me. Maybe I just didn’t get it. If you love reading about different species of eucalyptus trees, though, then definitely read it.

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