Since we’ve all spent nearly the entire year stuck indoors because of You Know What, it feels as though winter has gone on forever. Although I love putting on my pjs and snuggling under my doona with a good book, I long to wake up to a hot summer day. A hot day where wearing anything too heavy feels like torture and snuggling under the doona is akin to stepping into an oven set to full blast. I long to feel the heat of the bitumen sizzle through my plastic thongs and the sweat slide down my back. In order to pass the time, I plan to delve into books: the old favourites and the new releases. What books will get you in the mood for an Australian summer? Well…
Troppo by Madeline Dickie
It’s safe to say that the cover gives away the beach setting, but instead of setting the novel on the shores of Australia, this book takes place in Indonesia! A great summer read to “dive” into. Although this novel is not a straightforward chilling summer book – the clash between the Australian and Indonesian cultures is abrupt and brutal – it still has its moments of relaxation. Just looking at the cover makes me long to dive into the ocean on a hot summer day.
The Valley by Steve Hawke
Hawke delves into the rough Australian outback to tell the story of Dancer and his family. This story is great for anyone who loves a non-linear and generational novel. Hawke’s description of the land is both seductive and terrifying. He captures both the beauty and the brutality of the Kimberley high country. An unforgettable read bound in one of my favourite Australian book covers.
My Big Birkett by Lisa Shanahan
To this day, this book is still one of my favourite YA Australian novels. Set in a small town, main character Gemma faces an onslaught of issues: her odd parents, her sister who is about to marry into a strict family, the boy she likes who doesn’t know she exists, and for some reason Raven De Head won’t leave her alone. After all these years, I can still remember passages of Gemma walking with her best mate across her school’s burnt grass. Those passages that capture the barren and rough landscape still make me reach for a cool drink. An underappreciated Aussie read that catches both the fun and difficult moments of growing up. You will laugh and cry, and you will understand the need to chuck a birkett!
Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard
There is something about a book being set not too far from your home that just gets me so excited. Although I didn’t grow up in Geraldton, I understand the desire as a teenager to escape your surroundings. This novel captures the Aussie spirit that we are renowned for: chugging an Emu Export while sticking our thong clad feet up on the coffee table. While this novel deals with issues of homophobia and coming to terms with sexuality, it balances the heavy topics with occasional humour. The Aussie slang is laid in thick and makes for a true Aussie read.
Winter by John Marsden
At the age of sixteen, Winter returns to her family home to face ghosts from her past. This book is a quick read, and perfect for those who are not interested in descriptive/lyrical language. The plot is quick paced, and although the hot summer landscape is not strongly described, quick lines on overgrown plant issues and long tracks in the wilderness captures the outdoor feel I long to immerse myself in! A good read for those who want to enjoy a short Aussie book while we wait for summer to appear.
The Yield by Tara June Winch
This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time. As I was browsing my bookshelves to write this article, I looked over at my TBR pile and pulled it out. After reading the first page, I knew it would work perfectly. The language is beautiful and rich with description. Although I cannot comment if the Australian heat is captured within its pages, I cannot wait to sit down on a warm evening this summer and delve into the story.
Assembling this list has made me long to re-read (and read for the first time!) the books listed above. The hot Aussie days where the seatbelt brands my skin and I can smell the sticky sunblock coating my skin might not happen for a while, but, in the meantime, I can sit down with a good book and remember those summer days.