100 books like The Swan Book

By Alexis Wright,

Here are 100 books that The Swan Book fans have personally recommended if you like The Swan Book. 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 Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Paul Burman Author Of The Snowing And Greening Of Thomas Passmore

From my list on time-bending that turn reality inside-out.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of three novels, several short stories and quite a few articles about writing and literature. While I’ve haven’t aimed to write for a specific genre—all three of my novels are different in this respect—my plots usually focus on a mystery. I enjoy novels with strong, credible characters, which are based in a recognisable, everyday reality, but where bizarre events can turn the world upside down.

Paul's book list on time-bending that turn reality inside-out

Paul Burman Why did Paul love this book?

This is the first novel I read by Haruki Murakami and it got me hooked on his writing.

Toru Okada is tasked with finding his lost cat but, as he searches, the past stories of other characters constantly intersect and become inescapable detours, which often foster ambiguity and a sense of becoming lost in a charmed world.

We’re left with an impression of a world slipping into the surreal, where reality becomes blurred like Okada’s memory of what his missing cat looks like, and where “Ten minutes is not ten minutes” because time can stretch and shrink. I was frequently surprised and sometimes confounded by this but, because of Murakami’s skill as a writer, felt pleasantly lulled with the same dreamlike acquiescence as his hero into following Okada’s convoluted journey.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INCLUDES A READING GUIDE

Toru Okada's cat has disappeared and this has unsettled his wife, who is herself growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada's vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.


Book cover of The Book of Form and Emptiness

Hoa Pham Author Of The Other Shore

From my list on slippaging between worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I want to write about the magic of the everyday and often this is seen in the slippages between worlds like the worlds of the living and the dead. Ghosts and spirits feature heavily in my work and fascinate me as a reader too. This is not in the realm of fantasy to me, ghosts are real and actual.

Hoa's book list on slippaging between worlds

Hoa Pham Why did Hoa love this book?

This story is about Benny a teenager who can hear objects speaking and his mother, who is a compulsive hoarder.

Benny finds a group of people in a hidden wing of the local library which introduces him to a new world where he is accepted. He meets Aleph a drug user who leaves lines of poetry on paper in the books of the library and Slavoj a homeless drunk man who spouts much philosophy from his wheelchair. Ozeki makes the reality fantastic, the work is grounded in ordinary details.

The book is a beautiful portrait of a mix of characters you ordinarily would ignore and makes magic of the everyday. It's this everyday magic that I also wish to capture in my own fiction.

By Ruth Ozeki,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Book of Form and Emptiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"No one writes like Ruth Ozeki-a triumph." -Matt Haig, New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Library

"Inventive, vivid, and propelled by a sense of wonder." -TIME

"If you've lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your way home." -David Mitchell, Booker Prize-finalist author of Cloud Atlas

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

A boy who hears the voices of objects all around him; a mother drowning in her possessions; and a Book that might hold the secret to saving them both-the brilliantly inventive new novel…


Book cover of Anguli Ma: A Gothic Tale

Hoa Pham Author Of The Other Shore

From my list on slippaging between worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I want to write about the magic of the everyday and often this is seen in the slippages between worlds like the worlds of the living and the dead. Ghosts and spirits feature heavily in my work and fascinate me as a reader too. This is not in the realm of fantasy to me, ghosts are real and actual.

Hoa's book list on slippaging between worlds

Hoa Pham Why did Hoa love this book?

Anguli Ma was a murderer from a Buddhist parable who collected his victims' fingers in a necklace.

The parable goes that he met the Buddha who converted him by emitting calm and mindfulness. Vu’s book transplants this fable into the eighties in the western suburbs of Melbourne, Anguli Ma being a war refugee from the Vietnam/American war. He joins a shared household of other refugees and encounters a monk meditating in a park. The monk brings another world of mindfulness to Anguli Ma.

I like this book because of the clever adaptation of the parable and the Buddhist themes throughout- any one of the refugees could resort to violence like Anguli Ma or find peace through mindfulness—they all suffer from war trauma. It’s also beautifully written with the other world of mindfulness poetry in motion.

By Chi Vu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anguli Ma is the central figure in a traditional Buddhist folktale, a deranged killer who wears his victims’ fingers in a garland around his neck. Chi Vu presents him as a menacing abattoir worker who carries bloody chunks of meat home to his lodgings in plastic bags, in this suburban Gothic tale set in 1980s Melbourne, when the flight of Vietnamese refugees to Australia was at its height.

The gathering fear, the prevailing darkness, the strange contours of the house which has been divided and sub-divided to accommodate its female occupants, the macabre humour and surreal effects, mark Chi Vu’s…


Book cover of The Crystal Messenger

Hoa Pham Author Of The Other Shore

From my list on slippaging between worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I want to write about the magic of the everyday and often this is seen in the slippages between worlds like the worlds of the living and the dead. Ghosts and spirits feature heavily in my work and fascinate me as a reader too. This is not in the realm of fantasy to me, ghosts are real and actual.

Hoa's book list on slippaging between worlds

Hoa Pham Why did Hoa love this book?

The Crystal Messenger is a delicate melancholy tale about a girl who observes from her window the comings and goings of her family and the community around her.

Her sister is the local beauty who is wooed by many but cannot find the poet that she truly loves and she is courted by a dwarf who is a member of the communist party. The prose of this novella is like candy floss, it can melt on your tongue and I aspire to use language this way.

By Pham Thi Hoai, Ton-That Quynh Du (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This award winning book has been described as the 'renaissance of Vietnamese literature'. Written by a young woman in her twenties at the end of an era when Vietnam closed itself off from the world, it is widely regarded as one of the most important works of fiction ever to come out of that country. Ostensibly, The Crystal Messenger is a magical and moving story of two sisters' journeys to emotional and sexual maturity. But it is also a powerful allegory about the fate of North and South Vietnam, the struggle with reunification after the war, and the effect of…


Book cover of Remembering Babylon

Katherine Johnson Author Of Paris Savages

From my list on "new" histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Human Zoos, the subject of Paris Savages, for my PhD. Tens of thousands of performers were transported to Europe and America for exhibition, reaching a peak in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, the stories of this time are largely Eurocentric. I sought to shine a light evocatively into this largely forgotten part of history, and to see it through fresh eyes. Paris Savages is an epic and very human tale that saw me reflect on teenage memories of exploring Fraser island. I also travelled to Europe to follow in the footsteps of the three Aboriginal performers the story is based on: Bonny, Jurano, and Dorondera.

Katherine's book list on "new" histories

Katherine Johnson Why did Katherine love this book?

The book provided instructive reading when I was researching my book. In particular, I was interested in Malouf’s way of approaching the story of colonisation in Australia through an ‘in-between’ character, Gemmy, modelled on a real-life ship’s boy cast ashore in northern Australia in the early nineteenth century. The boy is raised by Aboriginal people. He loses his mother tongue and, when confronted with white settlers, is treated as a ‘savage,' a theme the book explores through a range of points of view. Who are the true savages in the story was a question I was interested to pose in my own book

By David Malouf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1996, this is a comprehensive and authoritative sourcebook packed with all the practical information parents need at every stage of their child's life, from before birth to age five years. Over 350 colour photographs and illustrations.


Book cover of The Songlines

James Aldred Author Of The Man Who Climbs Trees: The Lofty Adventures of a Wildlife Cameraman

From my list on trees and the landscape around us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always wanted to travel and have always been obsessed with exploring the natural world with my camera. Over the past 30 years I’ve been lucky to film in 120+ countries and meet thousands of inspiring people in the most unlikely of places. Experience has taught me that there are certain core positive traits that unify us all and help bind us to the natural world within which we live. The books I’ve chosen remind me of how complicated, beautiful, and precious; and how full of wonder and mystery our planet is. They have helped inspire me to pack my bags and get out there to explore it for myself. 

James' book list on trees and the landscape around us

James Aldred Why did James love this book?

Chatwin’s classic is a must read for anyone interested in the concept of the human relationship with landscape and spirituality.

A deeply thoughtful book that made me think very hard about my own place in the world, about how I connect to and interact with nature, and where my life’s journey may be leading me. By focusing on the quality of journey the destination will take care of itself.

By Bruce Chatwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This Moleskine-bound edition is sold together with a blank Moleskine notebook, for recording your own thoughts and adventures. Perfect for the travel writers of the future.

The Songlines is Bruce Chatwin's magical account of his journey across the length and breadth of Australia, following the invisible and ancient pathways that are said to criss-cross the land. Chatwin recorded his travels in his favourite notebook, which he would usually buy in bulk in a particular stationery shop in Paris. But when the manufacturer went out of business, he was told "Le vrai moleskine n'est plus". A decade after its publication, on…


Book cover of The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia

Judith Brett Author Of From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting

From my list on politics in Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a political historian who writes for my fellow citizens and I have chosen books by writers who do the same. Books which are written with passion and purpose: to shift political understanding, to speak truth to power, to help people understand their country and the world, and to inspire a commitment to improving them.

Judith's book list on politics in Australia

Judith Brett Why did Judith love this book?

A confronting history of the British invasion of Australia, documenting the massacres but also the resistance of indigenous people across the continent as they defended their tribal lands well into the twentieth century. No longer could anyone imagine that Australia had been settled peacefully. The book had a profound impact on Australians’  understanding of their history, but also on the continuing political struggle for indigenous rights.

By Henry Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Other Side of the Frontier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The publication of ""The Other Side of the Frontier"" in 1981 profoundly changed the way in which we understand the history of relations between indigenous Australians and European settlers. It has since become a classic of Australian history. Drawing from documentary and oral evidence, the book describes in meticulous and compelling detail the ways in which Aborigines responded to the arrival of Europeans. Henry Reynolds' argument that the Aborigines resisted fiercely was highly original when it was first published and is no less challenging today.


Book cover of The White Girl

Katherine Johnson Author Of Paris Savages

From my list on "new" histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Human Zoos, the subject of Paris Savages, for my PhD. Tens of thousands of performers were transported to Europe and America for exhibition, reaching a peak in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, the stories of this time are largely Eurocentric. I sought to shine a light evocatively into this largely forgotten part of history, and to see it through fresh eyes. Paris Savages is an epic and very human tale that saw me reflect on teenage memories of exploring Fraser island. I also travelled to Europe to follow in the footsteps of the three Aboriginal performers the story is based on: Bonny, Jurano, and Dorondera.

Katherine's book list on "new" histories

Katherine Johnson Why did Katherine love this book?

I had the privilege of interviewing Tony Birch at Perth Festival 2020, just before COVID struck with force. I was deeply moved by The White Girl and felt so much for the characters, especially the matriarch, Odette, and her love for her granddaughter. Seeing the world through Odette’s eyes was a powerful way of exposing how prejudice, policing laws and the removal of children impacted Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. Tony spoke beautifully in our interview about the strength of the Aboriginal women in his family and how those experiences inspired the award-winning novel.

By Tony Birch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A profound allegory of good and evil, and a deep exploration of human interaction, black and white, alternately beautiful and tender, cruel and unsettling."-Guardian

Australia's leading indigenous storyteller makes his American debut with this immersive and deeply resonant novel, set in the 1960s, that explores the lengths we'll go to save the people we love-an unforgettable story of one native Australian family and the racist government that threatens to separate them.

Odette Brown has lived her entire life on the fringes of Deane, a small Australian country town. Dark secrets simmer beneath the surface of Deane-secrets that could explain why…


Book cover of The Boy from the Mish

Tobias Madden Author Of Anything But Fine

From my list on growing up gay in Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone who grew up in Australia without any gay literary characters to relate to, I’m incredibly passionate about queer stories set in our beautiful country. We now have a wealth of brilliant books by LGBTQ+ authors, and I hope that by sharing my recommendations, our stories find even more of the readers they’re meant to find. I’ve focused on books featuring gay male protagonists, as that’s how I identify, and they’re the type of queer stories I relate to the most. Some of the books are fiction, others are memoir, some are written for teens and others are for adults, but all of them share an incredible level of authenticity.

Tobias' book list on growing up gay in Australia

Tobias Madden Why did Tobias love this book?

This is a heartwarming contemporary story about a gay Aboriginal teen exploring his sexuality and falling in love for the first time, set against the vivid backdrop of a fictional, rural Indigenous community. It’s evocative and heady and compelling. It’s one of those stories that makes you want to reach into the book and hug all the characters and tell them everything is going to be okay. Such an important story from a brilliant new voice in Australian YA.

By Gary Lonesborough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy from the Mish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED: 2022 CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers

'I don't paint so much anymore,' I say, looking to my feet.

'Oh. Well, I got a boy who needs to do some art. You can help him out,' Aunty Pam says, like I have no say in the matter, like she didn't hear what I just said about not painting so much anymore. 'Jackson, this is Tomas. He's living with me for a little while.'

It's a hot summer, and life's going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It's almost Christmas, school's out, and he's hanging…


Book cover of Art in the Time of Colony

William Gallois Author Of Qayrawān: The Amuletic City

From my list on Islamic art and it's hidden beauty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scholar who has spent most of his working life looking at the history of North Africa. This passion was formerly directed toward looking at the conditions that Europeans imposed on local populations, but in recent times, I have moved solely to consider forgotten cultures made by indigenous Muslim and Jewish populations. Making this move has been the best, riskiest, and most rewarding choice I’ve ever made in my career, and I am now a cheerleader for the incredible forms of art made by ordinary people in these societies.

William's book list on Islamic art and it's hidden beauty

William Gallois Why did William love this book?

This was the book that convinced me that it is worthwhile exploring the past so as to rediscover and rethink works of art made by indigenous people living under imperial conditions.

I love its movement around the world, the close readings of works that no other scholars had ever considered, and the moral urgency that underpins every one of its lines.

By Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art in the Time of Colony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is often assumed that the verbal and visual languages of Indigenous people had little influence upon the classification of scientific, legal, and artistic objects in the metropolises and museums of nineteenth-century colonial powers. However colonized locals did more than merely collect material for interested colonizers. In developing the concept of anachronism for the analysis of colonial material this book writes the complex biographies for five key objects that exemplify, embody, and refract the tensions of nineteenth-century history. Through an analysis of particular language notations and drawings hidden in colonial documents and a reexamination of cross-cultural communication, the book writes…


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