eight cracking reads to sink your teeth into this summer
There's a book for every mood.
A good ol’ whodunnit: The Nancys by RWR McDonald
Eleven-year-old Tippy Chan is living in small-town New Zealand with her uncle Pike and his new boyfriend, Devon, while her mum is away. She loves getting lost in her uncle’s Nancy Drew books, but never expects to become a girl detective herself. That is, until her teacher’s body is found on the side of the road and, along with Pike and Devon, she forms a gang – The Nancys – to get to the bottom of the mystery. Of course, hijinks ensue, including wrongful arrests, close calls with the murderer and a bit of a stickybeak from Tippy’s mum. Funny, surprising and moving, with representation to boot, this is a delightful spin on the murder mystery genre.
The perfect beach read: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
If you love a good rom-com, look no further. With the spirit of a Meg Ryan film, the story of estranged best friends and polar opposites Alex and Poppy will have you hooked. The ex-chums haven’t spoken in two years since their annual holiday turned sour, but they decide to try to make up on another holiday to see if they can set the record straight. Will-they-won’t-they, flashbacks to the past and loads of tension in the present – this novel has all the hallmarks of a gripping yet lighthearted novel that’s the perfect accompaniment to a day on the sand. Have some tissues ready if you’re a softie.
A memorable memoir: The Mother Wound by Amani Haydar
This powerful book isn’t easy reading, but it is essential. In 2015, Sydney lawyer and writer Amani Haydar’s dad murdered her mum, Salwa. Tracing her family’s story while exploring the damaging impacts of masculinity and misogyny, Amani writes with courage and generosity about this act of violence that changed her life forever. Amani’s insights on feminism and intersectionality are especially revealing. This book is both a moving personal testimony and tribute to a lost mother, and a rallying cry for change in the way Australia talks about and deals with violence against women. If you’re into audiobooks, Amani’s narration of this book is excellent, too.
A book to make you look smart: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
Jenny Odell is the kind of gal you’d want to sit down at the pub with – super smart, well-read and interesting, but also approachable and relatable. In this clever, complex book, which Obama named as one of his faves in 2019, the American writer and artist provides a philosophical roadmap for slowing down and existing outside of the constant demands of technology and capitalism. She argues for a new way to think about the world, and new places to put our attention. Jenny’s language can be a little dense at times, but if you zero in on this one, it will change the way you think about everyday life.
A real conversation starter: The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
In the last 18 months, there’s been a lot of chatter about police abolition – but what does that actually mean, and what would it look like in reality? This book is a great place to start learning about alternatives to the traditional policing system, as well as the ways in which it perpetuates inequality and injustice. It’s about the American justice system, but can just as easily be applied to any other part of the world. From homelessness and education to the war on drugs, the book breaks down the problems of policing and explains other options. Lots to think about and discuss here.
Something short and sweet: Nostalgia Has Ruined my Life by Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle
This novella from Kiwi poet and writer Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle is a funny, sad and relatable millennial read. Told in vignettes – each only one or two pages long – it follows an unnamed protagonist as she deals with the absurdity of living, working and dating in the 21st century. It’s cynical and detached, but there’s something oddly addictive about reading this book. Read it as you would a collection of poems, or try to piece together a story – it’s up to you. You’ll find Zarah’s writing compelling and insightful no matter how you choose to approach it.
A poetic read: Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen
Bundjalung poet, writer and researcher Evelyn Araluen’s first collection of poetry and prose is like nothing you’ve read before. Deconstructing the tropes and iconography of Australiana, Dropbear is an innovative and satirical look into the impacts of colonialism, and a call for a decolonial future. Evelyn combines colonial and personal history for a richly rewarding and beautifully written statement of Indigenous strength and reclamation. There’s so much to mull over in this one, and each poem contains a world within itself.
An underrated classic: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This coming-of-age young adult novel, by the same author behind The Hundred and One Dalmatians, came out in the 1940s, but is still a pearler. Told in the form of a journal, it follows the life of bookish teenager Cassandra Mortmain in the 1930s. Cassandra lives in a decaying castle with her writer dad, glamorous stepmum and beloved yet squabbly sister, Rose. The arrival of two Americans changes everything, as Cassandra experiences her first love. A journey back in time that feels fresh and relevant still, this is one to tick off if you haven’t read it before.
Find more of frankie's favourite reads over here.