The Winter Reading List
Recommendations from the staff of the National Library
11 June 2015
The cold set in early this year, and our hibernation is not complete without an armful of books. I sent the request out across the Library calling for staff recommendations for winter reading—after all, books do lie at the heart of our work here.
The list will eliminate every reason for you to leave the house, unless you’re heading to your local library to pick up books. From classics to contemporary titles, Moomin to Raskolnikov, there have been no restrictions placed on this list. There are some great English translations in the mix too.
It is in no particular order.
For the family:
Tove Jansson’s Finn Family Moomintroll with its creepy Groke, the grim monster who freezes a small radius around him; and for something to get the blood racing and heart pounding, and perfect for reading aloud to the family around the fire while the wind howls under the eaves—John Buchan’s A Book of Escapes and Hurried Journeys (1922).
And for the grown-ups:
Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust (1934)
Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron (1972), translated by G.H. McWilliam
Oliver Sack’s recent autobiography On the Move (2015)
Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man (1975)
James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson (1949)—some have proclaimed this the greatest biography written in English
Joseph O'Neill’s Netherland (2009)
Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (2015)
Joan London’s The Golden Age (2014)
Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman (2001)
Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking (2014)
Robyn Cadwallader’s The Anchoress (2015)
Alessandro Baricco’s Silk (1996)
Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (2013)
Patrick Suskind’s Perfume (1985)
For those anticipating our Summer Blockbuster exhibition, Celestial Empire: Cao Xueqin’s The Story of the Stone: A Chinese Novel in Five Volumes (1973–1986) translated by David Hawkes and John Minford and The Forbidden City (2008) by Geremie R. Barmé.
Maggie Alderson’s Secret Keeping for Beginners (2015)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1984)
For the Jane-ites: Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life (1997)
Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore (2002)
Will Davenport’s The Painter (2003)
The grand-daddy of mockumentaries—Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus (1833)
Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution (2004)
For elegance and economy in a short story: Hilary Mantel’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher (2014)
Jo Baker’s Longbourn (2013)
If you like reading out loud: Clive James’ translation of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy (2013)
If you’re interested in some non-fiction: Iain McCalman’s The Reef: A Passionate History (2013)
Marilynne Robinson’s Lila (2014)
Sonya Hartnett’s Golden Boys (2014)
Inga Simpson’s Nest (2014)—Longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and Stella Prize
Marion Halligan’s The Golden Dress (1988)
Richard Ayoade’s Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey (2014)
And finally, my own recommendation: Crime and Punishment (1866) by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Disclaimer: Please note these recommendations are from staff and not the opinion of the National Library of Australia.