What to read this summer

Bookshop owner, journalist and YourLifeChoices friend Corrie Perkin selects some of the best books of 2018 in key categories. These could be great gifts this Christmas or you just might want to add them to your summer reading list.

The Shepherd’s Hut, Tim Winton
This tale about traumatised teenager Jaxie Clackton and mysterious former priest Fintan MacGillis has drawn high praise, and for good reason. Michael McGirr described it in The Age as “a landmark book in Winton’s career – austere, beautiful and compelling. It has a subtle moral clarity that stands out even in a career that has relentlessly searched for the gold hidden in human rubble.”

Bridge of Clay, Markus Zusak
Markus Zusak’s first novel since The Book Thief in 2005 is a superb multigenerational family drama that will win many hearts. The story of the five Dunbar brothers – left to themselves after their mother died and their father fled – travels through time, experiences and tragedy.

Preservation, Jock Serong
Based on the true story of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, this new novel from Victorian writer Jock Serong follows the mystery surrounding the ship’s three survivors, and the investigation led by Lieutenant Joshua Grayling into their ordeal. Fourteen others died before the survivors were found. Horrible luck or the work of a ruthless killer?

Love is Blind, William Boyd
William Boyd’s new story features Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish piano tuner who escapes his dull surroundings, takes a job in Paris and falls in love with the Russian mistress of a famous concert pianist. 

Transcription, Kate Atkinson
We first meet Juliet Armstrong when she is 18 and a new recruit for MI5 during World War II. Julia is quickly pulled into the secretive and dangerous world of espionage. After the war, she settles for a radio producer’s job at the BBC. But the past and its characters are hard to forget – and even harder to ignore.

Two Old Men Dying, Tom Keneally
One of Australia’s greatest writers returns with what has been described as “his boldest and most personal novel”. Keneally takes his readers back and forth in time – to Learned Man, a hero of 42,000 years ago, and to Shelby, an acclaimed documentary-maker who wants to secure Learned Man’s place in history.

Tracker, Alexis Wright
The skill with which Alexis Wright tells the true story of Aboriginal activist Tracker Tilmouth earned her this year’s Stella Prize. It also brought to readers’ attention the story of an extraordinary man. 

Less, Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a failed writer trying to escape his problems by traveling to literary events around the world has won readers’ hearts and critics’ praise. Join Arthur on the eve of his 50th birthday as he takes stock of his life after a wedding invitation arrives from his ex-boyfriend who is engaged to someone else.

Churchill: Walking With Destiny, Andrew Roberts
Andrew Roberts is the first Winston Churchill biographer to be granted access by the Queen to the private diaries of her father, George VI. Combined with his detailed research, plus extraordinary access to the war Cabinet diaries, Roberts delivers an outstanding tome on the life of one of the 20th century’s most significant characters.

Kerry O’Brien, A Memoir
Kerry O’Brien is one of Australia’s most respected journalists. The winner of six Walkley Awards, O’Brien has worked in newspapers and television for more than 50 years. This is his life story, told with a true storyteller’s gift and journalist’s perceptive insights.

Becoming, Michelle Obama
The story of America’s first African-American First Lady starts on the south side of Chicago. It follows her early years as a lawyer, including when she juggled career with motherhood, through to the assent of husband Barack’s political star and their years at the White House.

Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, Michael Caine
The title steals a line from Caine’s 1969 comedy caper The Italian Job where a truck is blown up when only the doors were meant to be blown off. This journey through the British actor’s 85 years reveals a wit and wisdom to cherish.

Battles That Changed History, Tony Robinson
Military history buffs will love this fascinating overview of 90 of the world’s biggest battles and the role they played in shaping the course of history.

Mutiny on the Bounty, Peter FitzSimons
Peter FitzSimons is back. This time the subject is the HMS Bounty, her officer-in-charge Captain William Bligh, and the crew who backed Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian’s mutiny in April 1789. Immerse yourself in a riveting story told in typical FitzSimons style.

You Daughters of Freedom, Clare Wright
The focus of 2014 Stella Prize winner Clare Wright is the victory of Australia’s suffrage campaigners to win the vote for white women in 1902, and the campaign’s impact on other countries fighting for the same rights. Women’s suffrage remains one of young Australia’s finest moments and Wright does its participants proud.

The Western Front Diaries of Charles Bean
Australia’s official World War I correspondent, Charles Bean, saw more of the Australian Imperial Force’s actions and battles on the Western Front than anyone. For the first time, his extensive Western Front diaries are in print and accompanied by more than 500 photographs, sketches and maps.

Written in History: Letters That Changed The World, Simon Sebag Montefiore
Montefiore has chosen letters he believes altered, in some way, the course of global events, from ancient times to the present. From love letters to declarations of war, the letter writers include a wide of range of well-known figures such as Oscar Wilde, Stalin, Balzac and Queen Elizabeth.

Corrie Perkin is the owner of My Bookshop in Hawksburn in Melbourne.

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