Looking for your next summer read? The inspiration you’ve been waiting for has arrived! The librarians of the National Library have put together their top picks for summer holiday reading. All featured in our collections, and many contributed to the National Library of Australia through legal deposit, these Australian titles will surely appeal to all tastes and interests.

Page-turner fiction

Let’s start with Lisa Q.’s recommended summer page-turner Thursdays at Orange Blossom House by Sophie Green. Green takes us to North Queensland to bring together three Aussie women at different stages of their lives to find connection. From the very beginning, the writing is emotive and vivid. Lisa says this book leaves you feeling nourished and warm – well, there’s no better feeling than that!

Pink book with floral imagery and text reading 'Thursdays at Orange Blossom House' and 'Sophie Green' being held up in front of a book display. Annotations surrounding the book read 'warm feelings', 'emotive and vivid writing', 'set in tropical Queensland' and 'friendship and family'
Thursdays at Orange Blossom House by Sophie Green

Speaking of great fiction, Megan draws our attention to Matthew Reilly’s The Tournament. This novel presents an interesting twist of history. Described by Library Journal as “the king of action thriller” Reilly takes to the throne creating a harrowing adventure of murder and intrigue during Elizabeth I’s life before she was crowned.

Ella’s recommendation is the winner of the 2023 PM’s Literary Awards, Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au. This is the story of a mother and daughter who meet in Tokyo to travel around the city together. It is deceptively simple and atmospheric, sure to stay with you long after reading.

Our last fiction pick is the emotional journey that is The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard, in which Australian sisters Ted and Grace seek to navigate secrets, love and family in post-war England. Lisa E. describes Hazzard’s writing as “simple, but oh so beautifully crafted and evocative and all those OH MY words”.

Real stories

Fran brings to the table Time of my Life, the autobiography of music expert, Double-J presenter, and delightful television personality, Myf Warhurst. It’s a wonderful memoir about growing up in a small country town during the 1970s and discovering music, which ultimately shaped the soundtrack of Warhurst’s life and career.   

Everybody has a love story, that’s what Love Stories by Trent Dalton tells us. Dalton decided to sit on the streets of Brisbane with the typewriter, inherited from an old friend, to jot down the love stories of strangers. It’s utterly heart-warming with each story as unique and relatable as the next, bringing new perspectives on matters of the heart and how it shapes our lives.

Hardback book with patterned red cover with text reading 'Love Stories' and 'Trent Dalton' sitting on display on a shelf. Around the book are annotated reading 'new perspectives', 'heart-warming and relatable', 'real stories' and 'short stories'.
Love Stories by Trent Dalton

Sink your teeth into some Australian political history with Matthew’s favourite, The Brilliant Boy: Doc Evatt and the Great Australian Dissent by Gideon Haigh. This is a fascinating and accessible account of the life of Australian judge and politician, H.V. ‘Doc’ Evatt. The book paints a vivid picture of the circumstances surrounding the tragic drowning of Maxie Chester in 1937. Evatt’s powerful dissent in the ensuing High Court case was a major landmark in the development of negligence law in Australia.

Summer living

If you’re looking to spend your summer days in the garden, Alex has just the thing for you! Lucy Chamberlain’s Step-by-Step Veg Patch gives you straightforward advice for novice gardeners, with suggested plantings for each season and in-depth plant care guides. Covering everything from growing veggies and fruit, to developing and cultivating your growing space, it’s exactly what it says on the tin: “foolproof growing for gardeners with little space” and more.  

After mastering the gardening life, why not continue your wholesome, slow-living summer with Simone’s favourite, The Simple Life by Rhonda Hetzel. Formerly a Women’s Weekly columnist and simple living blogger, Hetzel explores the pleasures and rewards of getting back to basics. It’s a short-and-sweet book of wisdom appreciating the meaning of home and finding happiness within it.

Book with blue and white cover with a chicken on it and text reading 'The Simple Life' and 'Rhonda Hetzel' being held up in front of a wooden background. Annotations around the book read 'short and sweet', 'wholesome', 'meaning of home and finding happiness' and 'back to basics'.
The Simple Life by Rhonda Hetzel

Need to cool down? Discover some of the country’s best pools, beaches and waterholes in Places We Swim by Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon. What better way to get your summer started than to explore Australia’s most beautiful swimming spots, accompanied by stunning photographs.

Kids corner

But let’s not forget summer reading with the kids. Lisa E. cannot speak highly enough of When Grandma Burnt Her Bra by Samantha Tidy, illustrated by Aśka. What on Earth do dinosaurs have to do with Grandmas burning their bras? This picture book engages children with gender equality through an allegory of rampaging dinosaurs. It’s approachable with a powerful message. The illustrations are vibrant and fun, plus there’s a cool twist at the end.

Children's book with an illustration of a dinosaur, cavemen and a grandma and text reading 'When Grandma Burnt Her Bra' and 'Samantha Tidy & Aska' on the cover sitting on display on a shelf. Annotations around the book read 'approachable but powerful', 'vibrant illustrations', 'gender equality through an allegory of rampaging dinosaurs' and 'humorous and fun'.
When Grandma Burnt Her Bra by Samantha Tidy

Speaking of rampaging creatures, Monsters: An Anthology of Short Comics for Children, recommended by Brendan, is a book of 11 short monster comics, written by Karen Beilharz, but each illustrated by a different comic artist. Perfect for parents trying to overcome their children’s fear of monsters and for combating bullying. 

Keen to kick some reading goals in 2024? Draw inspiration from our regularly refreshed display in the main reading room or check out how to access eBooks through the Library.