100 books like The Singing Line

By Alice Thomson,

Here are 100 books that The Singing Line fans have personally recommended if you like The Singing Line. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Fatal Shore

Ken Banks Author Of The Pursuit of Purpose: Part Memoir, Part Study - A Book About Finding Your Way in the World

From my list on living unusual, adventurous or alternative lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I was not only curious but obsessively driven to find some sort of purpose in life. I was also incredibly sensitive, and always felt I was put on the earth for a reason. My search took me across the world, taking many turns as I grabbed at every opportunity. Thanks to a motorbike accident in Nigeria, scattered pieces of my past suddenly began to fall into place. Finding our own purpose is exploration in its purest form, and I’ve long been fascinated by other curious minds – those that either struggle to find it, and those that find it and live it, or those that turn their back on convention. 

Ken's book list on living unusual, adventurous or alternative lives

Ken Banks Why did Ken love this book?

I thought I’d finish my list with something a little different. Everyone else in the books I’ve chosen made some kind of personal decision to take their life in a different direction, but the people in this last book didn’t. The Fatal Shore is about the earliest convicts, banished to Australia to start new lives in unfamiliar, hostile territory. The first chapter alone is fascinating, documenting peoples from a ‘civilised’ part of the world struggling for survival while aboriginal ‘savages’ thrived. It’s more than just a story of survival in a new world, but also a fantastic example of where we went wrong, turning our backs and our noses up to indigenous knowledge in the assumption that we know best. This book is a brilliant example of where Western civilisation went wrong, and how dangerous assumptions can be. 

By Robert Hughes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Fatal Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An award-winning epic on the birth of Australia

In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonise Australia.

Documenting the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia, The Fatal Shore is the definitive, masterfully written narrative that has given its true history to Australia.

'A unique phantasmagoria of crime and punishment, which combines the shadowy terrors of Goya with the tumescent life of Dickens' Times


Book cover of The Commonwealth of Thieves

Peter Grose Author Of Ten Rogues: The unlikely story of convict schemers, a stolen brig and an escape from Van Diemen's Land to Chile

From my list on the history of Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve now written four books, of which three are Australian history. My first two books were World War 2 military history. My publishers persist in calling each book a best-seller, and who am I to disagree? I live in France and my third book A Good Place To Hide is about a French community that rescued Jews from the Nazis. My fourth book Ten Rogues took me back to Australian history, telling the story of a bunch of ten convicts who in 1834 nicked a brig and sailed it from Tasmania to Chile without a map or a compass.

Peter's book list on the history of Australia

Peter Grose Why did Peter love this book?

Tom is an old mate, and a magician with words. He is also a prodigious researcher. Books: yes. The bibliography in The Commonwealth of Thieves runs to seven tight-packed pages, divided between primary sources (three pages) and secondary sources. The bibliography is underpinned by no fewer than 27 pages of notes. The Australian history I was taught at school was hogwash. Tom has set it straight in this brilliantly researched and off-the-wall history of our early days.

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Commonwealth of Thieves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this spirited history of the remarkable first four years of the convict settlement of Australia, Thomas Keneally offers us a human view of a fascinating piece of history. Combining the authority of a renowned historian with a brilliant narrative flair, Keneally gives us an inside view of this unprecedented experiment from the perspective of the new colony’s governor, Arthur Phillips. Using personal journals and documents, Keneally re-creates the hellish overseas voyage and the challenges Phillips faced upon arrival: unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, bewildered and hostile natives, food shortages, and disease. He also offers captivating portrayals of Aborigines and of…


Book cover of Behind Bamboo: Hell on the Burma Railway

Peter Grose Author Of Ten Rogues: The unlikely story of convict schemers, a stolen brig and an escape from Van Diemen's Land to Chile

From my list on the history of Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve now written four books, of which three are Australian history. My first two books were World War 2 military history. My publishers persist in calling each book a best-seller, and who am I to disagree? I live in France and my third book A Good Place To Hide is about a French community that rescued Jews from the Nazis. My fourth book Ten Rogues took me back to Australian history, telling the story of a bunch of ten convicts who in 1834 nicked a brig and sailed it from Tasmania to Chile without a map or a compass.

Peter's book list on the history of Australia

Peter Grose Why did Peter love this book?

I was five years old when this book first appeared (in 1946) but I must have been about 12 when I first read it, and the memory has stayed with me ever since. Rohan Rivett was a fine Australian journalist. He was captured by the Japanese when Singapore fell in February 1942, and stayed as a prisoner-of-war for the duration. It has stuck in my memory ever since, a simple and modest account of the horrors faced by Allied prisoners held by the Japanese.

By Rohan Rivett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Behind Bamboo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The definitive first-hand account of life as an Australian POW during World War II, particularly on the notorious Burma railway, the setting for Richard Flanagan's Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Rohan Rivett was a journalist in Singapore when it fell to the Japanese in 1942.  He escaped south—across the treacherous Bangka Strait—to Indonesia, but was soon captured and became just one of thousands of POWs struggling for existence in a Japanese camp.  The struggle was to last for more than three years. Behind Bamboo is unflinching in its honesty and haunting in its realism.  It is…


Book cover of Cooper's Creek: Tragedy and Adventure in the Australian Outback

Joshua Piven Author Of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Apocalypse

From my list on non-traditional stories about survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked if my Worst-Case Scenario books are serious or humorous. And my answer is always the same: “Yes!” While inspired by pop culture and the survival situations we see again and again in movies and on TV, the information in my books is real. I spend a lot of time seeking out experts to interview—the people who actually have done this stuff—and then distilling their survival wisdom into the form you see in the books. As humans, we want to be prepared for life’s twists and turns. Even if it’s, you know, when the aliens arrive. I’ve been a survival writer and humorist for 25 years and I ain’t stopping now! 

Joshua's book list on non-traditional stories about survival

Joshua Piven Why did Joshua love this book?

Two decades ago, I was preparing for my first book promotion trip to Australia and New Zealand. I asked my (Aussie) publisher to recommend two books to learn more about Australia and its history.

The first was In A Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson, which I had heard of. The second was Cooper’s Creek, which I hadn’t. It’s a stunning, scary, edge-of-your-seat short history about an expedition in 1860 that set out from Melbourne into the vast, empty, broiling interior of the country, with the mission to find a route to the lush northern coast. Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned.

The book is taken from first-hand accounts by the explorers, and is novel-like in its dramatic twists and turns. 

By Alan Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cooper's Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1860, an expedition set out from Melbourne, Australia, into the interior of the country, with the mission to find a route to the northern coast. Headed by Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills, the party of adventurers, scientists, and camels set out into the outback hoping to find enough water and to keep adequate food stores for their trek into the bush. Almost one year later, Burke, Wills, and two others from their party, Gray and King, reached the northern shore but on their journey back, they were stranded at Cooper’s Creek where all but King perished. Cooper’s…


Book cover of Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

From my list on by women about outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

Marianne C. Bohr Why did Marianne love this book?

I read Tracks when I was in a travel book club 35 years ago and the author’s adventure has stuck with me.

It’s the story of a young woman who crosses the Australian desert from Alice Springs to Hamelin Pool on Australia’s western coast. She undertakes the journey with her dog, and four camels and as happens on such quests, Davidson encounters myriad setbacks: extreme heat, no water, wild animals, and poisonous snakes.

The author does a great job of describing the beauty and harshness of the infinite desert and her surprise at the generosity of those she met. As a young woman, Tracks inspired me to undertake my own adventures and I continue them today in my sixties. Hiking across England with my dog is on the calendar for next year.

By Robyn Davidson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Tracks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revised, reissued fortieth anniversary edition of this prize-winning, bestselling account of one woman's solo journey across 1,700 miles of Australian Outback 'I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there's no going back.' So begins Robyn Davidson's perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company. Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous…


Book cover of A Spanner in the Works

Samantha Battams Author Of The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner

From my list on Australian women in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Samantha Battams is an Associate Professor and has been a university lecturer, researcher, policy professional, community development worker, advocate, health service administrator, and management consultant. Samantha resides in Adelaide, South Australia, is widely travelled, and has lived and worked in Switzerland in global health. She has published academic articles and book chapters in the fields of public health and global health, social policy, and sociology. She has a passion for history and writing and has written a self-published family history and three non-fiction books.

Samantha's book list on Australian women in history

Samantha Battams Why did Samantha love this book?

I really enjoyed reading this tale about Australia’s first female-owned and all-female garage in Melbourne in the 1920s. I was given the book twice, once as a gift and once as I presented with the author, so knew that I just HAD to read it. I was astounded to find that the subject of my book (with Les Parsons) The Red Devil - pioneer aviator Harry Butler – had a garage (Butler and Nicholson) which had sponsored Alice Anderson’s (garage owner’s) adventurous trip from Melbourne to Alice Springs after his death.

Book cover of Salt Creek

Alison Booth Author Of The Philosopher's Daughters

From my list on historical women at the Australian frontier.

Why am I passionate about this?

What makes me passionate about this topic is the racism I’ve witnessed, the books I’ve read, and my deep love of landscape. Australia is a nation built on immigration but it’s also a land with an ancient Indigenous culture, and this is reflected in the books on my list. Born in Melbourne, I grew up in Sydney, and then lived for some years in the UK. I hold a PhD from the London School of Economics and I’m a professor at the Australian National University. I do hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.

Alison's book list on historical women at the Australian frontier

Alison Booth Why did Alison love this book?

I love this novel for its beautiful imagery, its character development, and its deeply sensitive portrayal of the clash of civilisations that was to prove so devastating to the countryside as well as to its original inhabitants. Salt Creek tells the story of the European settlers’ incursion in the mid-1850s into a remote coastal region of South Australia, and it focuses on one particular family’s struggles with establishing themselves in a land that already belonged to others. 

By Lucy Treloar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Salt Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A part of me will always live at Salt Creek though it is on the far side of the world...'The comfortable and respectable life Hester Finch now leads in Chichester, England, could not be further from the hardship her family endured on leaving Adelaide for Salt Creek in 1855. Yet she finds her thoughts drawn back to that remote, beautiful and inhospitable outcrop of South Australia and the connections she and her siblings forged there, far from the city society in which they had been raised: encounters with the few travellers passing along the nearby stock route and the local…


Book cover of Nest

Sarah R. Pye Author Of Saving Sun Bears: One man's quest to save a species

From my list on improving your connection with nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

My parents took my brother and me out of school on April Fool’s Day 1979 (when I was 13). We spent the next eight years sailing from the UK to the Americas. Our ‘boat-schooling’ was informed by the world around us: trying to plot our position with sextant taught me mathematics; squinting at a scooped bucket of seaweed taught me about biodiversity; hunkering down in horrendous storms made me realise my insignificance; and finding a way to communicate in local markets took away my fear of difference. April 1st is my most significant anniversary. I'm indebted to my courageous parents for helping me understand I'm a small part of of an incredible planet.

Sarah's book list on improving your connection with nature

Sarah R. Pye Why did Sarah love this book?

In my living room, I have a shelf of discarded birds’ nests, and my sofa is a beachy aqua colour. It’s no wonder then, that I was initially drawn to this book’s cover. The story itself was a pleasant surprise. I can best describe this novel as a nature meditation because, when I started reading, Inga Simpson’s prose seemed to slow time. I became less interested in achieving my daily tasks and paid minute attention to the birds and trees outside my window. Although a story of loss and heartache is weaved through this Nest, it is less important than the gaps between the plot. I am convinced this delightful novel about an art teacher and her garden added a year or two to my life! 

By Inga Simpson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'[a] truly rich novel' SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Once an artist and teacher, Jen now spends her time watching the birds around her house and tending her lush sub-tropical garden near the small town where she grew up. The only person she sees regularly is Henry, who comes after school for drawing lessons.

When a girl in Henry's class goes missing, Jen is pulled back into the depths of her own past. When she was Henry's age she lost her father and her best friend Michael - both within a week. The whole town talked about it then, and now, nearly…


Book cover of Miss Muriel Matters

Samantha Battams Author Of The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner

From my list on Australian women in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Samantha Battams is an Associate Professor and has been a university lecturer, researcher, policy professional, community development worker, advocate, health service administrator, and management consultant. Samantha resides in Adelaide, South Australia, is widely travelled, and has lived and worked in Switzerland in global health. She has published academic articles and book chapters in the fields of public health and global health, social policy, and sociology. She has a passion for history and writing and has written a self-published family history and three non-fiction books.

Samantha's book list on Australian women in history

Samantha Battams Why did Samantha love this book?

The entertaining story of actress and elocutionist come UK suffragist from my hometown of Adelaide, where women were first granted suffrage in 1894. Muriel Matters was a fierce ‘lady’ who chained herself to the UK House of Commons ‘Ladies’ Gallery’ and really made a name for herself as an expat, whilst helping other women along the way.

By Robert Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Muriel Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Australian actress who became one of London's most famous suffragists.


Discover the most inspiring woman you've never heard of ...

In 1909, a young Australian actress made headlines around the world when she took to the sky over London in an airship emblazoned with the slogan 'Votes for Women' and dropped leaflets over the city. Muriel Matters was dubbed 'that daring Australian girl', and the American media declared it to be the world's first aerial protest.

Just months earlier, Muriel had become the first woman to make a speech in the British House of Commons, after chaining herself to…


Book cover of Requiem For a Wren

Annie Murray Author Of Meet Me Under the Clock

From my list on hidden corners of life during World War Two.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing novels for many years now about the social history of Birmingham and the West Midlands and often find myself writing about World War Two. It’s the history of most families in this country. But I also grew up—unusually for my generationwith parents who were active adults in the war, my father in the army in North Africa and Italy, my mother in a factory that had gone over to munitions in Coventry. So the war felt very present as they talked about it a lot. Only later I grew to understand what it means to people and explored the history for myself.

Annie's book list on hidden corners of life during World War Two

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

I read this story in my teens and as a result, spent years wanting to join the navy. (That did wear off!) Having read it again recently, it seems a much darker story than I had remembered. But the mystery at its heart won’t let you go. Nevil Shute was a great storyteller and like many writers of his generation had many experiences to draw on. The story is quite slow-moving, but poignantheartbreaking in fact. Gradually, he unfolds the mystery of Jessie Proctor, an Englishwoman working for a family in Australia. It begins with Jessie’s suicide and we uncover the events that have haunted this young, ex-servicewoman’s life. As Shute says, "a war can go on killing people for a long time after it’s all over."  

By Nevil Shute,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Requiem For a Wren as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mysterious death of a young woman on an Australian farm reveals a bittersweet story of doomed wartime romance amidst a family crisis.

Alan Duncan returns to his family home in Australia after the war and several years of study in England. But his homecoming is marred by the mysterious suicide of his parents' quiet and reliable parlour-maid. A search through her belongings in search of clues leads to heartbreaking revelations about the woman's identity, the death of Alan's brother Bill and, above all, the disappearance of his brother's fiancee, Janet.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Australia, presidential biography, and Sydney Australia?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Australia, presidential biography, and Sydney Australia.

Australia Explore 303 books about Australia
Presidential Biography Explore 18 books about presidential biography
Sydney Australia Explore 49 books about Sydney Australia