Christmas gift guide: Must-read books for summer

Woman  reading a book on the beach in free time summer holiday
Woman reading a book on the beach in free time summer holiday

MiNDFOOD looked at what Sydney booksellers Meredith Drake of BIG W, Jon Page, of Pages and Pages and Grant Fehon, of The Best Little Book Shop in Town recommend as five of the best summer reads. 

Perfect for the Christmas stocking: 

For the reluctant reader: Boy swallows universe by Trent Dalton

Grant Fehon, owner of The Best Little Book Shop in Town, rates Boy Swallows Universe as his “favourite book of the year”. “It’s very different. It’s fiction but it’s based on the author’s life growing up in Brisbane in the 1980s. It’s one of those books that everyone is talking about,” Fehon said. SMH Spectrum reviewer John Collee also described it as “the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade”. Fehon says it’s a beautifully written work of contemporary literature that almost turns into a thriller at the end. Boy Swallows Universe, by Trent Dalton. (HarperCollins, RRP: $32.99)

For your Instagram-obsessed niece: Challenge Accepted! By Celeste Barber

International comedy sensation, Celeste Barber was an actor, writer and comedian first, a social media sensation second. Barber has a whopping 5.1 million followers on Instagram which she has amassed thanks to her #celestechallengeaccepted pics that parody Instagram culture. Challenge Accepted! is part memoir, part schtick, part manual on motherhood and body image. It also includes some pithy social commentary and advice on how to live your best life. Yaaas, Celeste. Challenge Accepted! By Celeste Barber, (Harper Collins, RRP: $32.99) 

For your Bali-bound brother-in-law: The Lost Man, by Jane Harper

Meredith Drake, of Big W, told ABC 702’s Bookseller’s Forum 2018 this year that The Lost Man by Jane Harper was the best bit of crime fiction she’d read this year. This is Harper’s third novel and it’s set in the unrelenting harshness of outback Queensland. Longlisted for the 2019 Indie Book Awards for Fiction, it’s a thriller, a story of suspense so compelling that you won’t be able to put it down until the mystery about the stockman and his grave is finally revealed, says Drake. The Lost Man, Jane Harper (Macmillan Australia, RRP: $32.99).

For your well-read father in law: Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver

Jon Page told Richard Glover, host of the ABC 702’s Booksellers’ Forum 2018 that the story was the ‘literary novel of our times’. The contemporary work of fiction set in Vineland, New Jersey in 2016, follows the lives of Willa and her family as their very existence starts to unravel. This story intersects with that of Thatcher Greenwood’s, a school teacher who moved to the township when it was established in 1871. By contrasting the two stories, Jon Page told 702, the novel shows us parallels between both. Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver. (HarperCollins RRP: $22.49) 

For your kidult cousin: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

Jon Page, from Pages and Pages, told Richard Glover’s Booksellers’ Forum this was the best young adult fiction novel he’d read since The Hunger Games. Big call. Huge call. The book is set in the future and action-packed and perfect for those who are into the whole apocalyptic thing. Page says the sequel Thunderhead is equally compelling and ‘unputdownable’. Scythe, by Neal Shusterman. (Simon & Schuster, RRP: $11.99) 


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