The best books about Sydney Australia 📚

Browse the best books on Sydney Australia as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Harp in the South

The Harp in the South

By Ruth Park

Why this book?

To me, this is the original Cloudstreet—a true-to-life, bittersweet tale of the impoverished Darcy family and their tribulations in a slum in Surrey Hills, Sydney, following the depression. Ruth Park might be a Kiwi (New Zealander), but we won’t hold that against her, although some might be unable to see past the attitudes and occasional slurs that were prevalent at the time. This is the second book in Park’s heartwarming, gritty and realistic series about Australian persistence and courage in the face of misfortune but it was written and published first. While parts of this Australia of yesteryear…

From the list:

The best books for understanding the Australian spirit

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Book cover of Seven Little Australians

Seven Little Australians

By Ethel Turner

Why this book?

First published in 1894, this is definitely a nostalgic choice; however, there’s a good reason why it became the first Australian novel to be continuously in print for 100 years in 1994. Esther Turner’s classic novel is Australia’s answer to Little Women, and if you don’t fall in love with the seven boisterous Woolcot children and end up in tears over the tragic events at Yarrahappini, I’m afraid you’re even harder-hearted than Captain Woolcot himself!

From the list:

The best books for understanding the Australian spirit

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Book cover of Ivory's Story

Ivory's Story

By Eugen Bacon

Why this book?

Ivory Tembo is a wonderfully dynamic character, brought to life with sensitivity and fascinating insight. The story is set in modern-day Sydney where a killer stalks the night, with Ivory Tembo the officer investigating the brutal murders. Extraordinary character development unfolds in just a few pages, from Ivory’s fractured youth growing up in foster care, to an emotionally vulnerable young woman, to her present-day tough, determined persona that serves her well as a detective. Forced to delve into her heritage, she is supported by a vibrant cast who bring folktale to life. With the help of a medicine woman, the…
From the list:

The best SFF books with complex heroines

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Book cover of Lotus

Lotus

By Jennifer Hartmann

Why this book?

This story consumed me and I could not put the book down. I would wake up in the middle of the night to read more of it. As an avid reader, I have books that I liked, books that I loved, and then I have a list of books that are riveting and that speak to my soul. Those are the books I reread and think about often. This book was saved under that last list. Watching Oliver interact with everyone after the ordeal he went through was soul-shattering. Seeing Sydney be a source of comfort, patience and a well…

From the list:

The best romance novels that stay with you long after you finish them

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Book cover of The Dying Trade

The Dying Trade

By Peter Corris

Why this book?

Corris and his protagonist, the hard-scrabble private detective Cliff Hardy, are quintessentially Australian. The Dying Trade introduces Cliff (smoker, drinker, ex-boxer) and sets the standard for all the books that follow in this series. It’s dry and laconic, with a wonderful sense of place (a very gritty 1980s Sydney). There’s a definite nod to the greats— Chandler and Hammett in this series; you know Cliff Hardy probably shouldn’t take this job, it’s odds-on he’ll cop a beating along the way, possible he’ll find love and lose it again. I enjoy the author’s economy with words and the moral complexity of…
From the list:

The best crime books set in Australia

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Book cover of Garden Spells

Garden Spells

By Sarah Addison Allen

Why this book?

Sarah Addison Allen writes beautiful descriptions. Many of her books are set in the south, transporting to humid air, chirping cicadas, and food expressing love—Garden Spells is a wonderful example of southern literature with a twist of magic. Similar to two of my favorite movies, Simply Irresistible (food that makes people feel things) and Practical Magic (two sisters who use magic to deal with a difficult situation), this story is even more emotionally complex. Claire and Sydney give the reader insight into the downfalls of selflessness and how everyone has a unique gift to be embraced, not shunned due…

From the list:

The best realistic fiction with a dollop of magic

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