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Best 10 Australian Books to add to your 2020 Reading List

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Looking for the best book to read in 2020? Here’s our guide to 10 books you won’t be able to put down this year…

Whether it’s a breezy beach day, or raining buckets, it’s always the perfect weather to get tucked into a good book (especially if you’ve already had your Netflix binge). Sometimes overlooked on an international scale, there’s a whole host of amazing Australian authors with some truly incredible novels to show for it. Some of our choices are ready to find on the bookshelves, and some are there for you to look forward to in the next few months! 

Better yet, if any of these reads tickle your fancy, we recommend purchasing them through Booktopia. Most of the titles on this list are currently available with 25% off, plus they offer efficient home delivery, so you can settle into a good read without leaving your sofa. 

From comedy to mystery, real crime and historical non-fiction, here’s our guide to the 10 best new book releases for 2020.

Too Much Lip, Melissa Lucashenko

The 2019 winner of Australia’s most prestigious literary award, The Miles Franklin, Lucashenko’s sixth novel Too Much Lip is a biting dark comedy set in regional New South Wales. Wise-cracking Kerry Salter takes centre stage as she returns to the hometown she once abandoned. After arriving, a family drama 100-years-old unfurls as sacred land comes under threat from developers. Lucashenko has been a constant advocate for First Nations writing. She describes this novel as “a kind of foray into the harder edges of Aboriginal life in country NSW, with a hillbilly sensibility…but damn funny too”.

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The Weekend, Charlotte Wood

Having won the 2016 Stella Prize, Wood returns with the sharply-observed The Weekend. When the steady life-long friendship between four older women is ruptured by the death of one (Sylvie), reality and its meaning shifts unalterably for her three survivors. Gathering together to clear Sylvie’s house, the tensions in their previously peaceful friendships begin to ring loud. Closer to a character study than a standard narrative, The Weekend composes a stunning yet warm-hearted crescendo of the dissonances and harmonies inherent in human relationships. 

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There Was Still Love, Favel Parrett

A poignant novel from Victorian writer, Favel Parrett, There Was Still Love ponders what it means to make a home, tracing the story of a family from the 20th century upheaval in Prague to 1980’s Melbourne. Her incredibly evocative and contemplative writing transports you across the world and through time but without swamping you in lengthy descriptions or a slow narrative. A sumptuous novel for those who love the timelessness of family bonds and human dramas.

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Bruny, Heather Rose

Bruny is an explosive thriller. A prize-winning novelist, Heather Rose uses this novel to consider an ‘alternate’ reality of growing religious and political extremism. Against this setting, a bridge between mainland Tasmania and the sleepy island of Bruny is bombed in a terrorist attack, forcing Astrid Coleman to return home and confront rifts both within her family, and between the political powers and the home she’s always known. Enveloped in a sense of place, but laden with a global sense of unease, Bruny is a thrilling and hard-punching exploration of the friction between national boundaries and local feeling.

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The Night Dragon, Matthew Condon

A true crime masterpiece, this offering from investigative journalist Matthew Condon explores the real criminal underworld of Australia’s East coast. In 2017, Vincent O’Dempsey was finally sentenced for the murder of Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters. But it had taken 40 years to bring him to justice. He has been linked to some of Australia’s darkest figures and potentially more crimes than can be imagined, including 1973’s Whiskey Au Go-Go firebombings. This non-fiction endeavour draws a darkly fascinating picture of this calculating killer and the life he lived evading capture.

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The Bass Rock, Evie Wyld

The lives of three women, hundreds of years apart, are expertly woven together with the haunting location of Scotland’s imposing Bass Rock in this stunning new novel from Miles Franklin winner, Evie Wyld. In the early 16th Century, Sarah flees for her life, accused of witchcraft. 300 years later, in the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house and a new husband. Six decades later, Viv finds herself cataloguing her dead grandmother’s belongings. As these three women slip into each other’s lives, they realise a sisterhood encased in a novel of darkness, violence and madness.

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4 February 2020

Missing William Tyrrell, Caroline Overington

From award-winning journalist, Caroline Overington, comes this enthralling and eye-opening account of missing child, William Tyrrell. On Friday 12 September 2014, this playful three-year-old boy dressed in a spider-man suit disappears from a quiet street in broad daylight. First thought to be lost in bushland, an intensive search brings no results and an abduction case is opened. No trace of William has ever been found, but now is not the point to give up. But how can a little boy just vanish?

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24 February 2020

Truganini, Cassandra Pybus

Distinguished historian, Cassandra Pybus has examined eye-witness accounts to tell the story of an extraordinary Aboriginal woman, mythologised as the ‘last Tasmanian Aborigine’, Truganini. For nearly seven decades, Truganini lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than we can imagine. Having survived the devastation of the 1820s, when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but extinguished, she spent five years journeying through the island with George Augustus Robinson, a self-styled missionary who was collecting survivors to exile to Flinders Island. Truganini’s story is as inspiring as it is haunting; a journey through the apocalypse.

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3 March 2020

The Dickens Boy, Tom Keneally

When Charles Dickens’ 10th son is unable to apply himself at school, to avoid his father’s embarrassment in London, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, known as Plorn, is sent to Australia, where he finds himself in remote New South Wales to learn how to be a man. He is soon entangled in a complex world of Paakantji, colonists, colonial-born, ex-convicts, and very few women. Against this backdrop, Plorn meets extraordinary people and enjoys wonderful adventures as he works to prove himself. A real romp from Keneally, this is a witty reimagining of historical figures with both humour and compassion.

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30 March 2020

All Our Shimmering Skies, Trent Dalton

Two years after the release of phenomenal bestseller Boy Swallows Universe, Dalton returns with an enchanting tale set in northern Australia, 1942. Against the backdrop of Japanese bombing, motherless Molly Hook turns to the sky for guidance. Setting out with the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot; Molly runs to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon land. All Our Shimmering Skies has an other-worldly feel as it whisks you into the spellbinding story of gifts, curses and secrets.

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16 June 2020

Editor’s Note: Our writers and contributors have independently selected and curated this article, and all opinions are their own. This article does contain affiliate links which allows us to make revenue off some purchases made by our readers.

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