The most recommended books about Melbourne

Who picked these books? Meet our 21 experts.

21 authors created a book list connected to Melbourne, and here are their favorite Melbourne books.
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What type of Melbourne book?


Book cover of Dinner with the Schnabels

Nicky Pellegrino Author Of P.S. Come to Italy

From the list on all the feels.

Who am I?

I’ve written fourteen novels about family, friendship, food, and love; stories that I hope transport people so completely and utterly, that they almost forget they are reading and instead find themselves walking in the shoes of the characters. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway. As a reader it’s what I want also – to laugh and cry, and feel the characters are people that I know and feel sorry to leave them behind when I turn the last page. 

Nicky's book list on all the feels

Why did Nicky love this book?

This novel is elegantly written and emotionally authentic, and while it is a light and zippy read, the more you think about it, the more it seems to say. 

It is about a week in the life of Melbourne man Simon Larsen. Things are not going very well for Simon. He was a successful architect but during lockdown his business failed and his beautiful home had to be sold. Now Simon has moved his family to a tiny flat, and he is unemployed, broke, and can hardly get off the sofa. 

While Simon seems hopeless, the family he has married into are formidable, from his beautiful wife Tansy to his terrifying mother-in-law Gloria. I loved the Schnabels but still, I’m not sure I would want to be related.

By Toni Jordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dinner with the Schnabels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I loved every page of this funny, warm, delightful novel!' LIANE MORIARTY

'A smart, funny novel about love, marriage and family.' Weekend Australian

'With sharply observed characters and comic set-pieces to make you laugh out loud, Dinner with the Schnabels is great fun to read and casts a more mature and acerbic eye on modern masculinity.' Sydney Morning Herald, Fiction Pick of the Week

You can marry into them, but can you ever really be one of them?

A novel about marriage, love and family.

Things haven't gone well for Simon Larsen lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and his…

A Spanner in the Works

By Loretta Smith,

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 the list on Australian women in history.

Who am I?

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

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.

By Loretta Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Spanner in the Works as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Canzone di Guerra

By Daša Drndić,

Book cover of Canzone di Guerra

Brian Castro Author Of The Garden Book

From the list on writing that falls between the cracks of genre.

Who am I?

I am an aficionado of lost objects, lost time, afterlives; of writing which never “fitted” its era. Examples would be that of John Aubrey, Herman Melville, Fernando Pessoa, Djuna Barnes, Elizabeth Hardwick, Ralph Ellison… the list goes on. I look for writing that has stood the test of time, not celebrated for the fame and bling of the moment. I look for the futile products of those who possessed genius, but who never earned enough readers until decades or centuries later, once they were released from the prison-house of genre. I look for the posthumous brilliance of language; the phosphoric glow of its offerings and of the buried treasures found therein.

Brian's book list on writing that falls between the cracks of genre

Why did Brian love this book?

I just love the way she is so contemptuous of people telling false “stories”. Her writing falls between every genre imaginable, a collage of well-researched facts and the indelible list of the horrors of war. She makes lists as monuments to dead victims; she names names; she calls out nationalism and racism. Wry and ironic, she has composed a battle-hymn against the barbarity of the Yugoslav wars between 1991 and 2001. To my lasting regret, I missed meeting her in Melbourne not long before she died. 

By Daša Drndić,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tea Radan, the narrator of the novel Canzone di Guerra, reflects on her own past and in doing so, composes a forgotten mosaic of historical events that she wants to first tear apart and then reassemble with all the missing fragments. In front of the readers eyes, a collage of different genres takes place - from (pseudo) autobiography to documentary material and culinary recipes. With them, the author Dasa Drndic skillfully explores different perspectives on the issue of emigration, the unresolved history of the Second World War, while emphasizing the absurdity of politics of differences between neighboring nations. The narrator…

The Unbelieved

By Vikki Petraitis,

Book cover of The Unbelieved

L.A. Larkin Author Of Next Girl Missing

From the list on suspense and mystery about women who fight back.

Who am I?

My interest in gaslighting began when I watched the movie, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Until then, I hadn’t understood how someone who appears charming and caring can use someone’s love to control, manipulate and undermine them, to such an extent that the victim doubts their own perception of reality. I started to read accounts of victims of gaslighting. I then realized that someone I knew was going through this. Fiction is a powerful means of creating awareness of issues and injustices, and I hope my new series character, Sally Fairburn, will inspire women to seize back their lives. 

L.A.'s book list on suspense and mystery about women who fight back

Why did L.A. love this book?

This is a story about women who are afraid to report rape and a female detective who is determined to change this.

Detective Antigone Pollard arrives at her small Australian hometown and is the victim of an attempted rape. She discovers that her boss and the other men in the town are protecting her assailant, as they have protected wife-beaters and rapists in the past.

I loved Antigone’s determination to change the poisonous town culture and to ensure her assailant is charged. One of the best moments in the story is when the browbeaten women of the town turn on their abusers. 

By Vikki Petraitis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?' Jane's voice took on an indignant pitch. 'Girls lie sometimes.' I nodded. 'And rapists lie all the time.'

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she'd requested a transfer to the quiet town she'd grown up in.

But there are some things you can't run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a…

Daughter of the Murray

By Darry Fraser,

Book cover of Daughter of the Murray

Mary-Anne O'Connor Author Of Sisters of Freedom

From the list on featuring women you want as BFF’s.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a young girl, I have fallen deeply into the pages of novels that feature strong female characters, with Anne of Green Gables and Little Women capturing my imagination early. As an Australian, I’ve also always enjoyed books set here but anywhere where I can walk in a relatable character's shoes is fine by me. The magical experience of being immersed in ‘her’ world, feeling what she feels, relating to her, being frustrated with her, celebrating with her, loving with her…what are books if not gifting us such experiences? Every book I have penned has been based on this ideal, an intimate experience, a close relationship. A BFF.

Mary-Anne's book list on featuring women you want as BFF’s

Why did Mary-Anne love this book?

This book is the perfect read for a rainy day and I quickly fell in love with the main female protagonist, Georgina. Spirited, brave, and a bit foolhardy, she fulfills all the hopes you might have for a heroine in a historical romance, yet she will surprise you too. The river settings in Australia’s southeastern river belt in the 1890s are pure escapism and leave plenty of scope for adventure. Highly recommended.

By Darry Fraser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fast-paced historical romance adventure, set on the mighty Murray River in the 1890s with a flawed but loveable heroine.

1890s, River Murray, Northern Victoria

Georgina Calthorpe is unhappy living with her indifferent foster family the MacHenry's in their crumbling house on the banks of the River Murray.

Unlike the rest of the family, she isn't looking forward to the return of prodigal son Dane. With good reason. Dane MacHenry is furious when on his return he finds his homestead in grave decline. Unaware that his father has been drinking his way through his inheritance, he blames Georgina and Georgina…

Earthly Delights

By Kerry Greenwood,

Book cover of Earthly Delights

Meg Benjamin Author Of The Pumpkin Butter Murder

From the list on when you’re feeling peckish.

Who am I?

I love cooking, almost as much as I love eating. One of the great advantages of writing a series where the heroine is a jam maker is that it gives me a chance to experiment with jams, as well as other dishes Roxy shares with her family and friends. I live in a place where fresh fruit comes tumbling onto the market all summer: raspberries, peaches, apricots, blackberries, and cherries. You’re hardly through with one before the next appears on your plate. Making it into jam is fun, but writing about it is even better. And reading about someone else’s food loves is a special kind of pleasure. Bon appétit!

Meg's book list on when you’re feeling peckish

Why did Meg love this book?

Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman books will make you long for some scrumptious whole-grain bread and a crock of creamery butter.

Not only do you get descriptions of Corinna’s bakery and its products, there are also the delectable meals she prepares for herself and her beloved. And, of course, the mysteries she solves along the way. That’s not to mention Corinna herself, a former lawyer and accountant, now happily baking bread in Melbourne as an unashamedly full-figured woman and resident of a delightfully quirky apartment building.

By Kerry Greenwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Put on the coffee pot, whip up a batch of muffins (yes, two recipes are included), and enjoy this thoroughly original tale. Strongly recommended for fans of offbeat mysteries." ―Library Journal STARRED review

One day, Corinna Chapman, high profile accountant and banker, walked out on the money market and her dismissive and unpleasant husband James, threw aside her briefcase, and doffed her kitten heels forever. Now she is a baker with her own business, Earthly Delights, in Melbourne, Australia, living in an eccentric building on the Roman model called Insula with a lot of similarly eccentric people.

She and her…

Bad Debts

By Peter Temple,

Book cover of Bad Debts

Natalie Conyer Author Of Present Tense: A Schalk Lourens Mystery

From the list on crime featuring flawed detectives.

Who am I?

I’ve always read and loved crime fiction – so much so I did a doctorate in it. I believe good crime fiction has the capacity to explore particular societies, places, and times in interesting and enjoyable ways. I also like crime fiction’s focus on character, and particularly in crime series which show a character evolving over time. That’s why I chose the theme of ‘flawed detective’ and that’s what I’m trying to do in my Schalk Lourens series, of which Present Tense is the first. I hope you enjoy it, and also the other books I’ve recommended here.

Natalie's book list on crime featuring flawed detectives

Why did Natalie love this book?

Peter Temple wasn’t just a good crime writer; he was a master storyteller. He’s my crime writing hero and I strongly recommend all his books, but as a ‘flawed detective’ it’s hard to go past his series starring Jack Irish and set in Melbourne, Australia. A former attorney, Irish went to pieces after the murder of his wife and now makes a living doing odd jobs like recovering debts. 

In Bad Debts, the first in the series, one of Irish’s clients calls him for help and by the time he answers, the client’s been murdered. Irish is emotionally damaged, an outsider. It’s hard-boiled crime, full of black humour, and featuring a wonderful array of Australian characters.

By Peter Temple,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Put simply, Temple is a master' John Harvey

'Great locations, hard-nosed dialogue and a twisting plot . . . super entertainment' Evening Standard

Jack Irish doesn't spook too easy. He's had guns pointed at him too many times - more often since he started hiring himself out as a debt collector - and he saves his nerves for the racetrack. So when he receives a phone message from an ex-client begging for help, he's inclined to ignore it. It's not an acquaintance…


By Shane Maloney,

Book cover of Stiff

Paul Burman Author Of Night-night, Sleep Tight

From the list on crime mysteries with an extra twist of character.

Who am I?

I'm the author of three novels, several short stories, and quite a few articles about writing and literature. While I haven't aimed to write for a specific genre—all three of my novels are different in this respectmy 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 crime mysteries with an extra twist of character

Why did Paul love this book?

This laugh-out-loud crime mystery has a special place for me because I read it not long after migrating to Australia and, through the lead character, Murray Whelan (a political staffer who spends his time digging himself in and out of holes), I was not only introduced to Australian humour but also to a new way of viewing Melbourne, its politics, establishments, and suburbs. In Stiff, as with Shane Maloney's other books in this series, the city landscape is as much a character as Murray Whelan himself, and this sense of place adds a richness to the story that would be missing if it were merely treated as a backdrop.

By Shane Maloney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don’t you just hate it when someone tries to kill you and you don’t know why?

Single father Murray Whelan thinks the life of a parent and political operative is complicated enough. His ex is staking out the moral high ground for a custody battle, and rumors of an early election are starting to fly in the upper echelons of Australia’s Labor party. When a Turk is found snap-frozen in a local meat plant, Murray cops the job to head off possible fallout for his boss, Charlene Wills, a member of Parliament and the Minister for Industry. But the meat…

Down Under

By Trevor Conomy,

Book cover of Down Under

Clinton Walker Author Of Stranded

From the list on music from Australia.

Who am I?

I am an art school dropout and recovering rock critic who, since 1981, has published a dozen books on Australian music and popular culture, plus worked extensively in television and as a freelance journalist. I'm too old to be called an enfant terrible, but with the way I still seem to be able to court controversy, I must remain some sort of loose cannon! Sydney’s Sun-Herald has called me "our best chronicler of Australian grass-roots culture," and that’s a tag I’m flattered by but which does get at what I’ve always been interested in. I consider myself a historian who finds resonances where most don’t even bother to look, in our own backyard, yesterday, and the fact that so much of my backlist including Inner City Sound, Highway to Hell, Buried Country, Golden Miles, History is Made at Night, and Stranded are still in print, I take as vindication I’m on the right track…

Clinton's book list on music from Australia

Why did Clinton love this book?

Sometimes a book comes completely out of nowhere. Such was the case with Trevor Conomy’s Down Under. Conomy was not an author with a pedigree in music journalism or anything like that, but when Down Under came out, in 2015, it spoke for itself. The life story of a song – Melbourne pub band Men At Work’s “Down Under” – what makes the book compelling is not so much the story of its fluky success, when in 1982 it become a huge hit all round the world, but rather the aftermath: How more than a quarter-century later the song went to court against a copyright infringement claim. That it lost the case was a travesty and a human tragedy, and Conomy’s short, punchy little book reveals why in all its gory detail.

By Trevor Conomy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the biography not of a person but of one of the most loved and controversial songs in the history of Australian music.

Originally released as a B-side in 1980, 'Down Under' made Men at Work the biggest band on the planet. The song became an alternative Australian anthem and its video (recorded on the sand dunes of Cronulla) became an image of Australia recognised the world over.

Even when Men at Work suddenly disappeared, 'Down Under' remained in the national psyche. Nearly three decades later, Spicks and Specks innocently revealed a link between the song and the tune…


By Eugen Bacon,

Book cover of Serengotti

Andrew Hook Author Of Candescent Blooms

From Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Punk Surrealist Reader Traveller

Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Andrew love this book?

Bacon is a writer in love with language. Her prose is fluid, spontaneous, and consistently engaging, and she sparks characterisation in deft, painterly strokes. Serengotti is a literary crime novel, although it’s much more than that.

It examines culture and displacement, what happens when things turn sour, and how to right yourself. It’s a story of truth and consequences, a puzzle enough to puzzle yet not to confuse. Here, Bacon mines her African-Australian heritage and finds a rich seam. The work is infused with details that push the story forward, enhance the text, and create an environment of understanding.

Whilst much of her work is speculative, this is not the case here, but it matters not. Bacon shows us that magic can exist in the every day without embellishment. Serengotti awaits your exploration.

By Eugen Bacon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the one tumultuous day, Ch’anzu loses hir job and finds wife Scarlet in bed with a stranger. As life unexpectedly spirals out of control, Ch’anzu turns to hir charismatic Aunt Maé for comfort and wisdom, and makes the bold move to work on a project in Serengotti, a migrant African outpost in rural Australia.
In a novel haunted by the strangeness and yearnings of a displaced community – both beautiful and fractured – Ch’anzu is forced to confront hir many demons. Back in the city, brother Tex has gone missing. In Serengotti violence and infidelity simmer.
This is a…

Cocaine Blues

By Kerry Greenwood,

Book cover of Cocaine Blues

Nicole Dieker Author Of Ode to Murder

From the list on cozy mysteries for music and math nerds.

Who am I?

I’m the author of The Larkin Day Mysteries, a cozy-comedy-nerdy-mathy-theater-geeky mystery series set in Eastern Iowa. I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for over a decade, and you may have seen my work in Vox, Morning Brew, Dwell, Lifehacker, Popular Science, and/or The Billfold. I live in a small Midwestern town with the Great Love of My Life and we spend our time practicing the piano, playing chess, and cultivating our garden. I spent a few years working in both amateur and professional theater, including a semester teaching Shakespeare at the University of Hyderabad. By the time I was ready to become a full-time freelancer and part-time novelist, I had plenty of experiences to draw from.

Nicole's book list on cozy mysteries for music and math nerds

Why did Nicole love this book?

If you’re reading this list, you probably already know who Phryne Fisher is—but you might not have taken the time to read the novels that inspired the cult classic television series and its crowdfunded feature film.

Kerry Greenwood’s books, believe it or not, are even nerdier than the TV show. If you don’t have a working knowledge of publishing houses, orchestra halls, and circus tents—not to mention anatomy, theology, mathematics, and the fundamentals of good home cooking—you’ll want to read these books with a search engine by your side.

You’ll also want to get yourself a box of Clever Chocolates, so you can reward yourself the same way Phryne rewards her adopted daughters Jane and Ruth every time they correctly solve a puzzle. 

By Kerry Greenwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bored socialite Phryne Fisher leaves the tedium of the London season for adventure in Australia!

Tea-dances in West End hotels, weekends in the country with guns and dogs... Phryne Fisher - she of the grey-green eyes and diamante garters - is rapidly tiring of the boredom of chit-chatting with retired colonels and foxtrotting with weak-chinned wonders. Instead, Phryne decides it might be amusing to try her hand at being a lady detective - on the other side of the world!

As soon as she books into the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne, Phryne is embroiled in mystery: poisoned wives, drug smuggling…

Anguli Ma

By Chi Vu,

Book cover of Anguli Ma: A Gothic Tale

Hoa Pham Author Of The Other Shore

From the list on slippaging between worlds.

Who am I?

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

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…


By Christos Tsiolkas,

Book cover of Barracuda

Michael Burge Author Of Tank Water

From the list on Australian books about conquering homophobia.

Who am I?

A century of prejudice is laid bare in these books, but within their pages are countless subtle and overt ways that gay Australian men have given homophobes the big middle finger. We may not always have thrived, but through resistance, migration, verbal agility, notoriety, and sheer resilience, collectively we have conquered. I stand on enormous shoulders at a time when queer writing is proliferating on an inevitable tide of equality that has risen across my lifetime in this country. My selections encompass first nations and migrant stories, some of the pioneers of our gay literature, and ‘outside’ voices bravely looking in to discern us with dignity.

Michael's book list on Australian books about conquering homophobia

Why did Michael love this book?

Danny Kelly is a living, breathing gay Greek protagonist, and the choices this driven young competitive swimmer faces about loving relationshipswhile he’s in the pursuit of athletic prowessare written with a resounding ring of truth. Tsiolkas’ visceral sex scenes, underpinned by gripping descriptions of the desires behind the mechanics, speak to much more than the act itself. They go to the heart of identity in a novel with so many layers of self-definition: the migrant, the working class hero, the quintessential male, the stereotypical gay, the success story, and the abject failure. That Danny escapes his ambition alive is a miracle, and it has everything to do with digging deep and staring down expectations.

By Christos Tsiolkas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the international bestselling and Booker Prize nominated author of The Slap comes a blazingly brilliant new novel.

Longlisted for the 2014 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

You lose everything. In front of everyone. Where do you go from here?

Daniel Kelly, a talented young swimmer, has one chance to escape his working-class upbringing. His astonishing ability in the pool should drive him to fame and fortune, as well as his revenge on the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has…


By Don Walker,

Book cover of Shots

Lo Carmen Author Of Lovers Dreamers Fighters

From the list on being in love with music.

Who am I?

I’m a singer/songwriter and I grew up in a rock’n’roll household. My family has always traded great books about music between us, memoirs, biographies, scientific studies, deep dives into subcultures, industry exposes – I love them all and find a good music book impossible to resist. I always get excited when I find books written by other obsessive music-loving kindred spirits––if I can feel the love I’m right in there with them. I especially love the behind-the-scenes stories and insights into the work and fascinations that helped forge an artist’s career.

Lo's book list on being in love with music

Why did Lo love this book?

Written by the revered god-daddy of Australian songcraft, Shots is a beat peek behind the curtain of what it is to be a young band on the road and on the rise, all lens flare vignettes; dry, brutal, and perfect, as cool as The Don himself. His uncanny way with words lets us bear witness to the country hall dances, Kings Cross streets, and back of the van like a poetic spy cam.

By Don Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This remarkable memoir begins with Don Walker's early life in rural Australia and goes up to the late ’80s. In mesmerising prose, Walker evokes childhood and youth, wild times in the ’70s, life on the road and in Kings Cross, music-making and much more. Shots is a stunningly original book, a set of word pictures – shots – that conjure up the lowlife and backroads of Australia.

‘Singular, strong and beguiling’ —The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Better than good. Most of the time it is brilliant.’ —Australian Book Review

‘The book shines with its descriptive sense of place. Shots carries the…

Explore Australia

By Celia Pollock, Sue Donovan,

Book cover of Explore Australia: The Complete Touring Companion

Bradt Guides

From the list on inspired us to go travelling.

Who are Bradt Guides?

Founded in 1974, Bradt Guides is now the largest independently-owned guidebook publisher in both the US and UK. We have over 200 titles in print, with a particular focus on lesser-known places overlooked by other travel publishers. We also publish a series of Slow Travel guides to UK regions and a list of travel narratives. There are 15 people in the Bradt team, based (when Covid allows) in an office above a coffee shop in Chesham, Bucks. The following books are very different but all connected to travel in fun ways. The books were selected by Simon Willmore, Claire Strange, Iona Brokenshire, Deborah Gerrard, and Hugh Brune. 

Bradt's book list on inspired us to go travelling

Why did Bradt love this book?

Back in the early ‘90s in Melbourne, I talked my way into a temporary job typesetting Explore Australia, a mammoth full-colour guidebook. I ended up staying several years, undertaking desk-based research, managing the photo library, and editing text and maps. I spent my days poring over cartographic proofs, sifting through glorious photos of rust-red mountain ranges, cobalt-blue skies, and dense tropical rainforest abutting white-sand beaches. I spoke to those manning the tourist information offices around the country: at Coral Bay, where the Ningaloo Reef is just a metre from the beach, at Healesville, when the cackle of a kookaburra interrupted my call, and at Cossack, a gold-rush-era ghost town with a population of one man and one dog. Some years later I sold my home, bought a 4x4, and set off to see all those places that I had visited vicariously…

By Celia Pollock, Sue Donovan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pollock, Celia, Donovan, Sue

Gap Year in Ghost Town

By Michael Pryor,

Book cover of Gap Year in Ghost Town

Alexandria Blaelock Author Of Christmas Travesties

From Alexandria's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Knowledge collector Reader K-drama watcher Dog owner (sorry not sorry)

Alexandria's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Alexandria love this book?

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I love ghost stories, though not the really scary ones.

The one takes place in Melbourne (where I and the author live), and includes many of our eccentricities – laugh out loud for locals! I love reading books set places I know, especially when I get to feel smug because I know some obscure fact mentioned in the book.

This story is Young Adult, and features an interesting premise. Anton Marin is taking a gap year to test out the family business of dispatching ghosts to their eternal rest. He falls in admiring hate with Rani Cross, who comes from an English company with a different method of dispatch.

Pryor’s released a sequel, and it is absolutely sitting in my to-be-read pile!

By Michael Pryor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gap Year in Ghost Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Ruddy Gore

By Kerry Greenwood,

Book cover of Ruddy Gore

Katherine Kovacic Author Of The Shifting Landscape

From the list on Australian crime fiction.

Who am I?

I’m an Australian crime writer and I love reading crime with a real sense of place and/or time. Growing up in Australia, most of the time I read international authors, so finding fabulous books by local authors was a thrill every time, and that excitement has never left me. This list crosses the genre from cosy to hard-boiled crime, which hopefully means something for everyone. If nothing here grabs you, there’s a lot more fantastic Australian crime fiction to discover (did you know Australian author Charlotte Jay won the first ever Edgar Award in 1954?) and I can passion-talk about it anytime!

Katherine's book list on Australian crime fiction

Why did Katherine love this book?

The entire Miss Fisher series is a delight but Ruddy Gore is a stand-out. In this book, the reader sees the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher at her absolute best. In 1920s Melbourne, the lady detective is investigating the strange on-stage death of an actor during a performance of  Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Ruddigore.’ I like this book because it is here readers are introduced to Phryne’s only long-term lover, the charming and handsome Lin Chung. Phryne is a gutsy heroine and the 1920s setting and fashions are marvellous. A dashing tale to keep readers on the edge of their seats!  

By Kerry Greenwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the bestselling Phryne Fisher Series comes Ruddy Gore, the next historical mystery featuring the unstoppable, elegant amateur sleuth. Can Miss Fisher use her theater ties to take care of a phantasm haunting a Gilbert and Sullivan show?

"The appeal of this story is the glimpse it provides into the 1920s theater world and the opportunity it affords to observe Phryne and Lin Chung's romance from its inception."―Booklist

Perfect for Fans of Rhys Bowen and Jacqueline Winspear Inspired the Netflix show Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Movie Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears Currently Streaming on Acorn…

All They Need

By Sarah Mayberry,

Book cover of All They Need

Clyve Rose Author Of The King's Mistress

From the list on historical romance reads with lessons in love.

Who am I?

I’ve been a romance author for two decades now, and a romance reader for decades before that. It’s my favourite genre to read, critique, and write, closely followed by paranormal reads and mysteries. I’ve had the good fortune to win several awards for my romance novels, including a Gold Medal and an Irwin. My limited-release novellas have also been long-listed for ‘Best Romance’ and ‘Best Historical Romance’ many times. I’m a compulsive researcher too! I spend hours poring over old maps and out-of-print glossaries. I also visit graveyards quite a lot to learn names and life spans, and the how so many stories end.

Clyve's book list on historical romance reads with lessons in love

Why did Clyve love this book?

This contemporary romance touched me deeply. The heroine is coming back from an abusive marriage. We find her leaning heavily on her family as she re-established herself personally and financially, having left the high life of the city – and the mess of her divorce – behind.

The domestic abuse issues are mostly handled off-page. The protagonist’s internal dialogue resonated with me a lot. Same goes for her hero, who’s going through a rough time with his family as well. I liked how insecure they both were in parts – and how leaps of faith were made on either side.

Mostly, this novel reminded me that learning to trust intimately again takes time and patience. It helped me reflect on my own situation and to be kinder to myself.

By Sarah Mayberry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After all Melanie Porter has been through recently, it's time to put her dreams first. And she starts by opening a vacation retreat outside of Melbourne. As she considers her next step, the unexpected happens. One of her guests—a friend—the very attractive Flynn Randall makes it clear he's in pursuit.

Mel is definitely tempted. Who wouldn't be?

But Flynn comes with strings that could derail her plans. First, he's part of the world she eagerly left behind. Second, he's ready for a commitment, while she's still embracing life on her own.

A resolution seems impossible until Flynn proves that she's…

This Devastating Fever

By Sophie Cunningham,

Book cover of This Devastating Fever

Alison Booth Author Of Bellevue

From Alison's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor and writer Environmentalist Closet historian Reader Hiker

Alison's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Alison love this book?

This is a book that I loved for its ambition, cleverness, great writing, and its occasional humour.

The novel tells the story of the life of Virginia Woolf’s husband, Leonard, and at the same time relates the story of a woman called Alice during the COVID pandemic who is writing a story of the life of Leonard Woolf. The title comes from Leonard Woolf’s description of sexual love – this devastating fever – but the novel is far more than this, including major events such as the COVID epidemic, Spanish influenza, life prior to World War 1, and the threat of climate change.

This breadth of vision is lightened by the ‘front’ story that includes amusing exchanges between Alice and her agent. 

By Sophie Cunningham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sometimes you need to go deep into the past, to make sense of the present.

Alice had not expected to spend the first twenty years of the twenty-first century writing about Leonard Woolf. When she stood on Morell Bridge watching fireworks explode from the rooftops of Melbourne at the start of a new millennium, she had only two thoughts. One was: the fireworks are better in Sydney. The other was: was the world's technology about to crash down around her? The world's technology did not crash. But there were worse disasters to come: Environmental collapse. The return of fascism. Wars.…