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Bury yourself in a book this summer

Dec 17, 2019

Australia Council Arts Practice Director for Literature, Wenona Byrne has your summer reading list sorted.

If you are looking for gifts, a visit to your local bookshop will provide ideas for all your loved ones. A gift of a book shows that you have considered your loved one’s interests; you want to help deepen their interests or broaden their outlook.

Books are portable; they can be read at the beach, on a blow-up flamingo in the pool or to your dog. They are very handy when you need to get out of Christmas washing up duties.

Books are also the perfect respite from visiting relatives. Books are free from pop up ads or push notifications. They are sustainable (particularly if passed on) and represent excellent value for a week or so of relaxation and enlightenment.

Here are my top 20 new Australian releases to consider:

  • The Yield by Tara June Winch (Penguin Random House)
  • The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
  • Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (UQP)
  • The White Girl by Tony Birch (UQP)
  • The Death of Noah Glass, Gail Jones (Text Publishing)

Essays and Poetry

  • The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr (UQP)
  • Night Fishing by Vicki Hastrich (Allen and Unwin)

Aussie Crime 

  • The Rip by Mark Brandi (Hachette Australia)
  • Silver by Chris Hammer (Allen and Unwin)

Great non-fiction:

  • Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume 1 1978–1987 by Helen Garner (Text Publishing)
  • See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill (Black Inc.)


  • Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music by Archie Roach (Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Say Hello by Carly Findlay (Hachette Books)
  • The Girls by Chloe Higgins (Picador Australia)

Children’s Illustrated

  • All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble/Scribe)
  • The Incredible Freedom Machines by Kirli Saunders and Matt Ottley (Scholastic Press)
  • Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan (Allen and Unwin Children’s)

Children’s middle grade 

  • His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda (HarperCollins)
  • Young Dark Emu: A Truer History by Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books)

Young Adult

  • Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard (Fremantle Press)

About Wenona Byrne

Wenona is the Australia Council’s Arts Practice Director for Literature.

Wenona worked in publishing for 11 years including 9 years as Rights Manager with Allen & Unwin. While at A&U Wenona worked closely with Australian authors, placing titles with international publishers in North America, UK, Europe and Asia. Wenona worked on a number of industry and Australia Council initiatives including as a committee member for the Visiting International Publishers Program.

Before joining A&U Wenona worked at Australian Literary Management, a literary agency in Sydney. Wenona holds a Bachelor of Arts (Directing) from AFTRS as well as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney and previously worked as a writer/director in film and television as well as a freelance feature writer.

Other significant achievements include directing the film Saturn’s Return, an adaptation of a story by Christos Tsiolkas starring Joel Edgerton and Damian Walshe-Howling which was nominated for Best Short Film at the Australian Film Institute Awards.

Learn more about the Translation Fund for Literature.