Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

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13 Guaranteed Slump-Buster Books

If you’ve got a lot of bookish friends, you’ve probably heard at least one or two of them complain about being in a “reading slump” at some point. I have a pretty good reading rhythm, and I’m not sure I’d ever use that terminology myself, but I can certainly relate to the feeling of being not in the mood: no books calling to you, nothing that draws you in… Surely we’ve all felt a bit of that of late, with the state of the world. I know I did, but To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was just the ticket and I’ve got a good strong bench of slump-buster books. I can guarantee you these will get you back on that book-lovin’ horse!

13 Guaranteed Slump-Buster Books - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Liane Moriarty is the reigning queen of woman-centred domestic thrillers, and Big Little Lies got her the crown. I turned to it after I finished Ulysses – I was exhausted, and in the mood for a page-turner, and boy did it deliver! This is Moriarty in her prime: three women, all dealing with their own struggles, merging and converging with a dramatic climax that ends in bloodshed. All of Moriarty’s books are compelling and satisfying, but Big Little Lies particularly so. Read my full review of Big Little Lies here.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian - Andy Weir - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

A man stranded alone on Mars, years away from assistance with only a month’s worth of supplies, hardly sounds like a hilarious premise for a novel… and yet The Martian made me laugh harder than any book had in ages. It’s thrilling and compelling enough to draw you in, but Weir deftly steers clear of anything dark or depressing. The narrator, Mark Watney, is determined to survive and his good attitude is infectious. In addition to cheering you up, this one might even teach you a thing or two about science – imagine that! Read my full review of The Martian here.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you’re in the mood for snack-sized stories, instead of a heavy pot roast story, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the book for you. Doyle is a masterclass in economical writing; not a word is wasted, and he manages to say a lot in just a few pages. What’s more, the stories are just as interesting and clever as you’d hope for the world’s most famous fictional detective – but they stop short of being horrifying or terrifying, the way most contemporary detective thrillers are. Read my full review of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes here.

The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Ah, I never tire of recommending this book! The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is one of the most delightful books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It’s basically a European Forrest Gump, but less trite, a sprinkle more snarky, and guaranteed to make you chuckle. Plus, who can’t relate to wanting to jump out the window and go on an adventure? This amazing Swedish novel (translated into English by Rod Bradbury) will bust your slump for sure. Read my full review of The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared here.


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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If reality TV shows about eligible bachelors and glamorous ladies are dragging your attention away from reading, Crazy Rich Asians is just the thing to bring you back. Kevin Kwan is the king of the guilty indulgence. This book is glitzy, it’s silly, it’s funny, it’s touching, and it’s just far enough over-the-top (without toppling over). Even better, if it leaves you wanting more, there are two sequels to sustain you, and a movie adaptation that will knock your socks off. My full review of Crazy Rich Asians is coming soon!

Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner

Everywhere I Look - Helen Garner - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I’m sure if I ever met Helen Garner, she would describe me in some delightfully searing way: an inner-city young woman who worships the ground she walks on is surely the type of cliche she detests. Still, it’s a cliche for a reason. All of her books are worth reading, of course, but if it’s slump-buster books you’re after, you can’t go past her essay collection Everywhere I Look. Most of the essays have been previously published elsewhere, but there’s something especially wonderful about having them all back-to-back on paper. She applies her keen insight and acerbic wit to topics as varied as making a house a home, true crime, heroes, grandchildren, and Russell Crowe movies.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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Greer said that he began writing Less as a “very serious” novel, but he soon figured out that the only way to write about the miseries of an ageing, gay writer (as an ageing, gay writer) was to make it funny. It’s an unparalleled stroke of genius that makes for a compelling, heart-warming read. I can’t over-state it: I really dig this determinedly self-deprecating approach. It lets Greer parody all the priviliged-white-American-abroad tropes, to my great delight. Less will knock your reading slump for six! Read my full review of Less here.

Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered - Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark - Book on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Calling all Murderinos! (Though I doubt there are any who aren’t already familiar with Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered…) Listening to the My Favorite Murder podcast is guaranteed to perk you up, and same goes for the joint memoir of hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. In their trademark transparent and radically straight-forward style, they present this life-story-slash-guide-to-life. They are frank, disarming, and under no pretensions. Just what you need mid-slump! Read my full review of Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered here.


Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

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Have you ever wanted to read your best friend’s diary? C’mon, you know you have! That’s why Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of my sure-fire slump-buster books. Sure, at times, it’s farcical and ridiculous, but it’s also hilarious and charming and iconic and (surprisingly) wise. Scoff if you must, but this is actually the cleverest adaptation of Pride And Prejudice I’ve encountered to date, examining the ways that sex and power operate in our (relatively) contemporary society in a way that is engaging, exciting, and incredibly relatable.

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Appelhans

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I suppose The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is technically a young-adult novel, but I would really resent it being pigeon-holed: this literary send-up would be a wonderful read for book lovers of all ages, guaranteed to delight, entertain, and provoke indiscriminately. It’s a love story, a mystery, and lots and lots of wacky adventures – in fact, it has all of these elements in spades. The humour was wry, and even for all the zaniness, the central message was still one that I can get behind. Read my full review of The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project here.

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such A Fun Age - Kiley Reid - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Such A Fun Age is the debut novel from American author Kiley Reid. It might look like a sweet summer read, but underneath lurks a serious critique of race, class, and good intentions. It’s a searing social commentary disguised as a book for the beach, a truly brilliant marketing ploy that guarantees this book will get into the hands of those who need to read it most. If you’re starting out on your journey of learning about racial injustice but you’re feeling exhausted and struggling to take it all in, this is the book to bust your slump!


Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Big Lies In A Small Town - Diane Chamberlain - Book on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Look, I’m not too proud to admit it: I took one look at Big Lies In A Small Town and thought it was going to be yet another potboiler domestic thriller. What I got instead was something so compelling, and so deftly written, I’ve since recommended it to just about everyone I know. The story centers around a Depression-era mural: the woman commissioned to paint it (who disappeared under mysterious circumstances), and the woman charged with restoring it for installation, nearly eight decades later. The themes Chamberlain explores (race, privilege, and opportunity) are timely and timeless. This is one of the slump-buster books you must pick up when you want a page-turner with substance!

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It takes a very particular writing talent to tease without cruelty, to roll your eyes with a smile on your face and love in your heart – and that’s exactly what David Sedaris has. The best example is his collection of memoir essays, Me Talk Pretty One Day. If you’re feeling a little bit snarky, if you’re in the mood to poke a little fun, if you want to literally laugh out loud, this is the best pick of the slump-buster books for you. Plus, if you’re having trouble focusing on the page, the audiobook is incredible, read by Sedaris himself. My only caution: don’t read it in a public place. People will be very concerned about your random outbursts of mirth! Read my full review of Me Talk Pretty One Day here.


Which books have busted YOU out of a slump? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Future Classic Books

Sally Rooney’s Normal People has been widely touted as a “future classic”, a book that critics and pundits believe is destined for the status of “classic” in some imagined future. I’d heard the term “future classic books” bandied around somewhere before, but couldn’t quite remember where… and then I dug up this fantastic post from Lynne at Fictionophile (an idea that originated at Orangutan Library). So, I thought I’d take a crack at it myself: looking over my shelves, I pulled out a stack of ten that I think will be future classic books.

10 Future Classic Books - Keeping Up With The Penguins

How does a book become a classic?

Back when I was thinking about what makes a book a classic, I came up with a set of criteria that I’ve adapted to apply here.

For starters, books need to stand the test of time in order to become classics. That means fifty, a hundred, or a hundred and fifty years from now, people would still be interested in reading them and able to derive some kind of insight or enjoyment from the experience. Even from a purely pragmatic standpoint, future classic books need to continue to be re-printed and re-published; a book that can’t be bought or accessed anywhere is going to have a tough time becoming a classic.

Future classic books should also probably pass some test of literary merit. This one is tricky because it’s so subjective: my masterpiece might be your bargain bin garbage. Still, I think it’s reasonable to expect that there should be some kind of general consensus from People Who Know(TM) – critics, awards panels, and so forth – as well as general readers that the contender is, y’know, good.

(That said, it’s interesting to consider how many classics were considered popular nonsense at the time of initial publication. Shakespeare was basically 50 Shades Of Grey in his own time…)





Finally, future classic books should make some kind of cultural contribution, and/or have an enduring significance and resonance. This could take any number of forms: Nineteen Eighty-Four takes on new resonance every day because of the scary new parallels we see between Orwell’s vision of a dystopia and our own reality; the premise of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, the duality of the “top bloke” and the monster, is so enduring that it’s become part of our idiomatic language; Pride And Prejudice is continually read and re-read as a subversive, feminist text; Robinson Crusoe has become a historical record of the atrocious colonialism and racism that pervaded social mores, politics, and (inevitably) literature in its time… The list goes on and on.

How do we decide which are future classic books, then?

Well, of course, this is entirely subjective: my judgements are different from Lynne’s, and from just about everyone else’s. In fact, it’s really not all that different from trying to determine what “counts” as a classic in the present day. Everyone has their own ideas and opinions. That’s what makes this so much fun! As I said, I looked over my shelves, and tried to pick out books that were published in the last 20 years and that matched all of the criteria above. Here we go…

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

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Citizen is one of the best-selling books of poetry of my generation, and sales have re-surged in light of the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests this year, putting it smack-bang in the middle of the Venn diagram of popularity and critical acclaim and ongoing resonance. Rankine integrates poetry with other art forms, so that reading this collection is a multi-media experience: art, photography, music, even video. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate this book’s cultural contribution and significance; it is one of the most incredible testaments to the lived experience of race and racism I’ve ever read.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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My Brilliant Friend (and the subsequent books in the Neapolitan quartet) is incredibly complex. It covers everything – burgeoning womanhood, the politics of small communities, the ramifications of war, poverty, domestic violence, sexual violence, literacy, friendship, betrayal, revenge, how women’s lives are shaped by class and status, maternity, familial obligation, social responsibility, intelligence… These themes and motifs are timeless, and reading it, it’s hard to imagine a future where we don’t consider it a classic, on par with Austen and the Brontës. Read my full review of My Brilliant Friend here.


The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

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The Argonauts is a love story, of sorts, a memoir of Nelson’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge, but it’s also an exploration of gender identity, queer theory, and the modern family unit. When it was first published, it was fresh, fierce, and barrier-breaking. Now, it’s become a contemporary classic of the queer literature canon, embedded in our understanding of the heteronormative pressures on relationships and families, and surely a future classic book in its own right.

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year Of Rest And Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If the measure of future classic books was simply “ones you keep thinking about long, long after you’ve read them”, My Year Of Rest And Relaxation would get the gong. Not simply because the unnamed protagonist’s goal (to sleep, in drugged-out bliss) for a entire year is very relatable, but because… ah, heck, I don’t even know. Moshfegh’s writing is incredibly engaging, just on the surface level, but it has hidden depths that you can plunge re-read after re-read. I’m not sure I’ve even reached them all yet, but I’m looking forward to plunging in again!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I had to put an Ishiguro on this list of future classic books, but I had a devil of a time picking which one! My personal favourite (so far) is An Artist Of The Floating World, but that’s one of his shorter and less-well-known/lauded titles, so in the end I settled on Never Let Me Go. There’s not much I can say about this one without “spoiling” it, which is probably much the same feeling that people had upon the initial release of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde (and look how that turned out). I guess I’ll settle for saying simply that it’s eerie, unsettling, and clearly a work of Nobel-Prize-winning genius.

In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

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A blurb that promises a book “revolutionises” a genre, especially one as saturated as memoir, seems quite literally unbelievable. But I’m here to tell you the truth: Carmen Maria Machado did it with In The Dream House. It is an intimate, horrifying, beautiful, multi-dimensional account of her formative – and abusive – love affair with a partner she calls only “the woman in the Dream House”. Machado mines the depths of pop culture and literature and art and critical theory in search of representation. I am truly in awe of her, and if this book doesn’t end up a future classic, I’ll eat my hat.


Atonement by Ian McEwan

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In Ian McEwan’s best-known work, Atonement, one young girl’s mistake has spiraling ramifications. Lives are ruined, including her own, and she has to contend with how to (you guessed it) atone for her role in the whole mess. It has already been immortalised in film, but I think the book itself is destined for the classics shelf. It certainly passes the literary merit test (it won a stack of awards in the years following its release), and its interrogation of the timeless themes of sex, family, and power continues to resonate with readers.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Americanah addresses a story as old as time (literally, we’re talking some Penelope and Odysseus type of shit here): a couple torn apart by time and circumstance, who come back together. Ifemelu immigrates from Nigeria to the United States to attend university, but her bond with her high-school classmate, Obinze, never quite breaks. Of course, it also addresses the immigrant experience and the power dynamics of race, gender, and class (those old chestnuts). The only thing that could top Americanah becoming one of the future classic books is one of Adichie’s other books taking the gong instead…

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

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Say what you will about Jonathan Franzen (I could say a thing or two myself), but The Corrections is readable as all heck and it achieved incredible cut-through despite its incredibly unfortunate release date (1 September 2001). It captured A Moment in American life, an oddly prescient take on the anxiety and existentialism that emerged post-9/11. The story itself centers on a family – two aging parents, and their three adult children – and their lives coming up to their “one last Christmas” together. Despite being deeply rooted in American life and culture, there’s something ineffably universal about this story (plus, I reckon it’s got one of the best closing lines of any novel, ever).

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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The Secret History is the definitive campus novel, surely – I can’t think of any other that even comes close! It was Donna Tartt’s first novel, though she’s maybe now better known for her later Pulitzer Prize-winning offering, The Goldfinch (which I think is too long, too dense, and too singular to become one of the future classic books). This one is an “inverted detective story”, exploring the close-knit relationship of six classics students that lead to a murder. Just the right blend of mystery, suspense, and literary chops!


Now, before you come for me: the sad fact is that in this search I came across a lot of books that I think should be future classic books, but I doubt they will be. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is top of that list (yes, I’ll never miss an opportunity to plug it). And, on the other side of it, there are plenty of other books that probably will be future classics, but didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. Yes, Harry Potter is the obvious choice, but the Philosopher’s Stone was published before my 20-year cut-off and J.K. Rowling has recently proved herself to be… well, a bit Umbridge-y. And there are plenty of worthy contenders with whose work I’m just not familiar enough to make the call (I can hear you shouting MURAKAMI, calm down, I’m getting to him!).

Which do you reckon are the future classic books? Let me know in the comments below!

What Do We Think Of The Dymocks Top 101 Books For 2020?

It’s really comforting to know that, even in these uncertain times, there are certain things that a book lover can rely on, like the release of the Dymocks Top 101. Every year, thousands of Australian readers vote on their most beloved books, and those fine booksellers publish the results. I love leafing through this list each year, and seeing where the trends and loyalties have shifted – much more fun than plain-old same-old lists of best selling books and professional critic round-ups. This is bookish democracy at its finest! Plus, this year, there was a world first: a tie for first place! Here’s my take on the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020…

Dymocks Top 101 Books 2020 - Text Overlaid on Image of Bookstore - Keeping Up With The Penguins

1. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Book Thief - Books Face Up On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Two former number ones, both alike in dignity… turns out, Australia just couldn’t decide between them! It was a dead heat for the number one spot, so Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Book Thief tied for first. Eleanor Oliphant got the gong in the 2019 list, and The Book Thief has been lingering around the top 10 ever since it was first released thirteen years ago. Impressive, on both fronts! Zusak maybe has a slight edge, given that his recent follow-up, Bridge Of Clay, also made the list (number 47). Read my full review of The Book Thief here.

3. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

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And here’s one that would come as no surprise to anyone at all. You couldn’t swing a bookmark in Australia these past twelve months without hitting a copy of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe. Billed as equally heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a coming of age story that appeals to readers right across the spectrum. It’s got a bit of everything: romance, crime, adventure, humour, and family ties.

4. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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Here’s another former number one (but fourth place is still very respectable!): All The Light We Cannot See. It’s the Pulitzer Prize-winning WWII historical fiction that won hearts and minds across the world. In it, a German orphan and a blind French girl are destined to cross paths as they both try to play the best of the hand they’ve been dealt. Oh, and there’s a precious jewel and a Nazi treasure hunter… Read my full review of All The Light We Cannot See here.

5. The Dry by Jane Harper

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Jane Harper is one of the most formidable crime writing talents to come out of Australia in the past decade. Her debut, The Dry, came in at number five, and her two follow ups – The Lost Man and Force Of Nature – also made the list, at 11 and 92 respectively. This is the book that introduced Aaron Falk, hard-boiled Australian Federal Police investigator. He reluctantly returns to his hometown to mourn the passing of a childhood friend, and (of course) finds himself drawn into a mystery, in the midst of the worst drought of the century… A feature film, starring Eric Bana, is slated for release later this year (corona-willing).

6. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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Okay, maybe it’s cheating to put an entire series in, but at least it frees up a few extra slots for other great reads in the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020. I think we can safely say that Harry Potter is officially a classic now – and not one of those contemporary classics that we’ll all forget about eventually, but a classic-classic that we’ll be reading and enjoying for generations to come. I actually kind of look forward to the day that we see these books shelved alongside Dickens and Austen…

9. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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It’s almost a cliche, by this point, for anyone who has ever stepped foot in the White House to write a memoir (especially if they intend to return). Michelle Obama, however, managed to break the mold. Becoming is no whistle-blowing take-down of the upper echelons, nor is it a simpering testament to the magic of democracy. It’s a refreshing and compelling account of the experiences that shaped America’s first black First Lady. I almost held off picking up this one (it’s the contrarian nature in me), but the consistent, long-term hype wore me down.

13. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Look, I can’t deny that I’m overjoyed to see Dark Emu on the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020… but I also can’t deny that I’m disappointed to see that it didn’t rank higher. In my view, Pascoe’s account of the true Indigenous agricultural history of this nation should be required reading for all Australians and all who come here. It was voted as the inaugural Parliamentary Book Club read, where constituents chose it as the book they most wanted their elected representatives to read, and shot back to the top of the best-seller list over Christmas as book lovers came out in droves to buy it for their loved ones.

14. The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do

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Here’s another one I’m really happy to see made the cut (again): The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do. In fact, it seems to climb higher and higher in the Dymocks Top 101 list each year. This is a disarmingly honest account of one of Australia’s most beloved comedians and artists, and his family’s journey to reach our shores from Vietnam. It’s one of my favourites to recommend to anyone who expresses an opinion about “boat people” (ugh). Read my full review of The Happiest Refugee here.

15. The Rosie Trilogy by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie books have really captured the hearts and minds of a lot of Australians. It all started with The Rosie Project, where a neurodivergent man finds love with the titular Rosie. She’s nothing like he would have expected he’d find alluring – in fact, she’s a bit of a wreck, but those crazy kids make it work. I give Simsion props for kicking the rom-com cliches to the curb; not only did he invert the much-maligned Grease storyline, he didn’t settle for the “and then they lived happily ever after” ending either. The subsequent novels, The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Result, follow Don and Rosie as they travel around the world, settle into wedded bliss, and raise a child. Read my full review of The Rosie Project here.

17. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Ever since the HBO adaptation, The Handmaid’s Tale hasn’t just surged in popularity; it’s become emblematic of the struggle to resist conservative governments around the world. Women have shown up wearing red Handmaid robes to protest the passage of legislation that would limit their right to access to health-care. But it’s not just the show: people are returning to the book again and again, and I think it’s safe to say we could now hold it on par with other dystopian classics like Nineteen Eighty Four. Plus, there was the sequel released last year, The Testaments, which came in on the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020 at number 32. Read my full review of The Handmaid’s Tale here.

26. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I used to roll my eyes whenever I saw Pride And Prejudice in a best-of books list. I mean, what a cliche, right? Well, I’m a convert now – it’s a cliche for a reason, people! I had no fewer than half a dozen aborted attempts to read this classic of English literature, but I got there in the end and I’m SO glad I persisted. For the skeptics out there, let me reassure you that it’s not all gowns and marriage prospects and fluffing about. There’s serious social and political commentary here, and dashing men making foolish decisions and having the women in their lives dress them down for it. Oh, and there’s tea. Can’t have too much tea. Read my full review of Pride And Prejudice here.

28. A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R.R. Martin

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I called it last year, folks: the A Song Of Ice And Fire series is going to be hanging around in the Dymocks Top 101 books for a long, long time, thanks to the unparalleled popularity of the HBO series (that finally concluded last year). Fantasy, particularly High Fantasy(TM), is not usually my thing – I get too lost and confused with all the made up place names and people names and languages and whatnot, even if there’s a helpful guide in the front. But, having watched the adaptation, I actually found A Game Of Thrones, the first book in the series, quite easy to follow. I even (gasp) enjoyed it. Read my full review of A Game Of Thrones here.

31. Educated by Tara Westover

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Tara Westover’s story is so incredible that her memoir, Educated, basically sells itself. She was born to a survivalist family, so isolated from society that there was no one around to ensure that she received any kind of proper schooling. She didn’t step foot into a classroom until she was seventeen years old. In this book, she recounts how she pursued her love of learning – all the way to Cambridge University, where she earned a PhD! – and reckoned with the “real” world, so different from that in which she was raised.

34. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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I’m actually kind of shocked that Big Little Lies didn’t rank higher in the Dymocks Top 101 books for this year, but given the strength of the contenders, coming in the mid-thirties is still very respectable. That goes double when you take into account that this book was published six(!) years ago, and one of Liane Moriarty’s other best sellers, The Husband’s Secret, also made the cut (at number 89). I worried for a long time that I was going to be the last person left alive who hadn’t read this perennially popular domestic thriller, but I finally got around to it this year (and just in time to avoid spoilers from the TV show adaptation!). Read my full review of Big Little Lies here, and my full review of The Husband’s Secret here.

36. Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

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Australia has seen a whole slew of brilliant life-writing from women in the #MeToo era, bravely disclosing the details of various assaults and harassment that they have suffered in silence over many years. Eggshell Skull is one of the best, because Bri Lee offers a particularly interesting and unique perspective on the experiences of women who come forward. She trained as a lawyer, and worked as a judge’s associate on a regional court circuit for a year. That meant that she saw the system from the “inside”, how the trial and prosecution of people charged with sexual assaults actually works (or doesn’t), and the “outside”, as she herself comes forth as a victim. Hopefully, the inclusion of books such as hers on the Dymocks Top 101 represents a major shift in cultural attitudes towards believing women and paving the way for past injustices to be addressed.

38. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

This book is the little-engine-that-could of international best-sellers. On the face of it, A Little Life doesn’t have many points in its favour. It’s long (SUPER long, could-use-it-as-a-doorstop long). It’s depressing (most editions have a cover that features a close up of a man crying hysterically). Hanya Yanagihara is a woman of colour, a group embarrassingly under-represented in the upper echelons of publishing. And yet, here we are, five years after the release of this juggernaut, still singing its praises! That’s what you love to see…

39. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck - Mark Manson - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It would seem that no matter how few fucks you give, you could always give fewer. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck is well on its way to becoming a classic of the self-help genre – it spawned at least a dozen knock-offs, and sparked a trend in obscenity in book titles (which I, for one, wholeheartedly support). Of course, Manson has gone on to write a follow up, which also did well, but it’s the original that Dymocks booklovers voted into the Top 101 books for 2020.

40. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People - Sally Rooney - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I think, in a few decades or so, we’ll look back at Normal People as one of the defining Millennial(TM) novels. From what I’ve read, I don’t think Rooney would be particularly pleased to hear it described that way, but them’s the breaks – you can’t just go and be the voice of a generation and then let it get up your nose. This story of an extraordinarily complex emotional entanglement between two young adults has resonated with a lot of folks, and a BBC adaptation is coming later this month. Read my full review of Normal People here.

42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - Book Laid Face Up On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Here’s another trend-setter: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn can surely be credited with the renewed interest in dark psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators. We’re positively drowning in them, now! I think this one was particularly popular because it came right on the cusp of the moment where we saw a serious shift, a new wave of critical attention to the power differential between men and women. Plus, it brought suspense and intrigue and violence into the hetero marriage, a normally-comfortable setting. Or, maybe this is all overreach – maybe it’s just a really pacy page-turner. Either way!

43. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee - Book laid on a wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you’re surprised to see this modern classic in the Dymocks Top 101 books of 2020, you shouldn’t be. To Kill A Mockingbird has been in every Dymocks Top 101 that I can remember. I think the key is its wide appeal – everyone, from young teens to old crones, can enjoy it – and its timeless message regarding social justice. We’re probably a little more sensitive now to some of the harmful tropes employed by Lee to get her message across (the “white saviour” being the most prominent), but I don’t think that diminishes the comfort and inspiration we can take from her only (true) novel. Read my full review of To Kill A Mockingbird here.

48. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

It’s a shame that Scandinavian writers get so much attention for their crime noir thrillers when they’re pumping out heart-warming up-lifting books like A Man Called Ove. Fredrik Backman was a humble Swedish blogger who burst onto the literary scene, and into our hearts, when this book was translated into English back in 2013. It’s the story of a crotchety old man (called Ove, naturally) who’s fed up with just about everything, a condition only exacerbated by the arrival of his noisy, nosy new neighbours. Backman has been making us cry – happy tears, and sad ones – for years now, and will likely go on doing so for years yet. Read my full review of A Man Called Ove here.

49. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Gone Girl might have jockeyed ahead in the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020, but The Girl On The Train is holding on strong! This domestic thriller follows the interweaving lives of three very different women: Rachel (the alcoholic with the history of fertility issues), Anna (the new wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, and stay-at-home mum to the infant Rachel might’ve had), and Megan (who lives a few doors down from Anna). Rachel sees no harm in peering into Anna and Megan’s lives from the window of her train as she passes every day, but then she witnesses something that might be a clue to what could be a crime… Read my full review of The Girl On The Train here.

50. The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road To The Deep North - Richard Flanagan - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I don’t mean to be rude, but I am truly baffled by the continuing popularity of The Narrow Road To The Deep North. (Maybe I’m just bitter because it beat out my favourite to win the Booker Prize, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, back in 2014.) Sure, I can appreciate Flanagan’s skill in depicting the harsh realities of war, specifically life for prisoners working on the Burma railway, but the whole “love story” was just so overwrought and unnecessary… But, clearly, I’ve been outvoted, Aussie book lovers are still enchanted by it. Read my full review of The Narrow Road To The Deep North here.

53. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Every time I talk on the internet about The Fault In Our Stars, I live in fear of enraged teens hunting me down with buckets full of rotting tomatoes. But I can’t lie: it’s just not good. Reading it, I felt like John Green just made a list of every single thing that might pull on our heartstrings (star cross’d lovers, teen cancer, disappointing role models) and ticked them off one by one. That said, I’d still recommend that everyone reads it; there’s going to be a whole bunch of future doctors and nurses that came to their profession because they read this book, and we want to have something to talk to them about while they’re caring for us in our old age, don’t we? Read my full review of The Fault In Our Stars here.

54. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I know I’m a big ol’ skeptic, and when I read The Alchemist I was a little snarky about it, but even I can’t begrudge Aussie book lovers for turning to an allegorical tale of faith and destiny in trying times. Plus, this is an easy read, not too tough to digest, and it might give you a little glimmer of hope when the news has filled you full of existential dread. It’s your standard hero’s journey, complete with buried treasure and a saccharine ending that tells us, once again, that sometimes even our biggest dreams lead us right back home. Read my full review of The Alchemist here.


56. Mythos by Stephen Fry

Mythos - Stephen Fry - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I’ve got to admit, I’ve always felt particularly stupid (for many reasons, but one in particular is relevant here) for how little I know about the Greeks and Greek mythology. That’s why I feel particularly lucky – as do a lot of Dymocks readers, it would seem – that Stephen Fry put together this marvelously accessible re-telling of a selection of myths in Mythos. It’s funny, it’s readable, and it’ll at least give you some frame of reference next time someone starts talking Ovid at a party (also, you might want to start going to better parties).

61. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko - Min Jin Lee - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The days of the sweeping multi-generational epic are certainly not over! There are several featured in the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020, but my personal pick is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Over the course of three books, it charts the complex and fascinating history of Korea’s relationship with Japan, through the story of one Korean family who (eventually) migrates to Japan, and then across the world to America. It deconstructs their experiences of racism and power and, as the title would suggest, the symbolic power of the pachinko machines.

63. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Non-fiction doesn’t tend to feature as prominently in the Dymocks lists, but the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020 had some strong contenders, including this one: Sapiens. It is a detailed survey of the history of human evolution, from the Stone Age right up to the 21st century. Setting aside some searing criticisms from academics in the field (what would those boffins know?), this book has been extremely popular, and it has introduced a slew of readers to the field of evolutionary biology, an area in which they might not otherwise have had any interest at all. A fascinating read, if nothing else!

65. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Ah, Jane Eyre – an oldie, but a goodie! Alongside other classics, like Pride And Prejudice, this seems to be a book that never goes out of style. Naturally, a lot of the more troubling elements have been roundly criticised of late (Mr Rochester is the very definition of a problematic fave – hello, Creole wife locked in the attic and gross exploitation of young female employees!), but that doesn’t negate the nostalgic attachment many readers feel for what is perhaps the coziest and most comforting of the Brontë books. Read my full review of Jane Eyre here.

67. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

We are truly living in the golden age of young adult literature! No longer is it solely the domain of patronising and/or sentimental guff. In fact, it’s probably where some of the most exciting, diverse, and challenging writing is being done – case in point, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Despite being quite specific to the situation of racial injustice in policing in the United States (don’t get me wrong, we’ve got our own problems here, too!), it’s found a wide readership in Australia. I think that’s because, at its heart, it’s about the symbiotic relationship between fear and oppression, and the bravery it takes to smash down barriers.


72. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

You know, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy was always a great comfort read (which is why we see it in the Dymocks Top 101 books pretty much every year), but perhaps it’s got a new resonance this year because it’s chock-full of advice on how to survive the end of the world. Step one: DON’T PANIC! Step two: check on the dolphins. Step three: always pack a towel. If you’re not lucky enough to have befriended a nearby alien with a getaway-spaceship handy, at least you can make the most of the rest of Adams’ oddly prescient advice. Read my full review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy here.

74. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea - Erin Morgenstern - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Erin Morgenstern burst onto the scene back in 2011 with her incredibly-popular debut novel, The Night Circus… and then she disappeared for years. Finally, she’s back, with The Starless Sea and fans have been frothing at the mouth for it (so no surprise to see it made the cut for the Dymocks Top 101). It’s dreamy, light-fantasy story, with underground cities and libraries and keys and honey and bees… oh my! Read my full review of The Starless Sea (for Primer) here.

78. The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

The Land Before Avocado - Richard Glover - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I’d long suspected that the misty-eyed nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” in Australia was a complete crock. Thankfully, Richard Glover has confirmed by theory in The Land Before Avocado – and its popularity proves to me that I’m not alone! He deconstructs all of the myths around the “simpler times” and the “lazy, hazy days”, and reminds us of what it was actually like growing up in the Australia of his childhood in his typically hilarious style. Would you REALLY want to return to the days where you couldn’t get smashed avo on toast at the local cafe? I didn’t think so!

88. The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Look, if I had it my way, The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared would be in the top 10 of every Dymocks list from now until the end of time. It is my ultimate cheer-up read, my go-to gift for loved ones who need a laugh. Just these past couple of weeks, I’ve thrust it into many, many hands. It’s a delightful romp across the world, following a centenarian who – as the title suggests – jumps out the window of his nursing home to avoid a tedious birthday party, and goes on an adventure. I cannot fathom what kind of humourless nincompoop wouldn’t get a few decent belly laughs out of this charming tale. Read my full review of The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared here.

90. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House - Ann Patchett - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Personally, I wavered on reading Ann Patchett for years, mostly because I simply could not figure out where to start. Many trusted readers recommended I try Commonwealth to begin, while others said Bel Canto is her best, while still others insisted I read State Of Wonder. The release of The Dutch House last year seems to have changed all that, though – it’s unequivocally, democratically(!), now the most popular of all her books among Australian readers. So, that settled that!


93. The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian - Andy Weir - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Whenever someone tells me that they “don’t read sci-fi” (especially if they wrinkle their nose as they say it), The Martian is the book that I put in their hands. It’s THAT good. Set in a not-too-distant future, it imagines the story of an astronaut left stranded alone on Mars, hundreds of thousands of kilometers away from help or even a simple “hello”. It sounds depressing as all heck, but the narrator, Mark Watney, is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read in fiction. This one manages to be a science lesson, a page turner, and great fun, all at once! Read my full review of The Martian here.

95. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Who could resist a delightfully satirical romantic comedy that sees Singapore’s most eligible bachelor married off to a fashion icon in the high-stakes “wedding of the year”? What I like most about Crazy Rich Asians is that, even though much has (rightfully) been made of its success in diversity and representation in a sadly whitewashed contemporary genre, it’s delightful and endearing and entertaining in its own right. This book is not a “diversity pick” or a box to check, it’s just a sparkling, witty, glorious read.

99. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

The Trauma Cleaner - Sarah Krasnostein - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Often, a true story is so incredible, you wouldn’t believe it if it were fiction. That’s what I think every time I see The Trauma Cleaner. Crime-scene and trauma clean-up is a fascinating and bizarre job in and of itself, but the life journey of the trauma cleaner in question, Sandra Pankhurst, takes this book to a whole new level. I don’t think I can say it better than the blurb: “Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife…” I mean, come on! If that doesn’t pique your interest, seek help.

100. Your Own Kind Of Girl by Clare Bowditch

Your Own Kind Of Girl - Clare Bowditch - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I first encountered Clare Bowditch in her recurring guest role on the beloved and much-missed Aussie TV show, Offspring. I figured she had some kind of musical background, given that her character was a singer and often performed. It turns out, there was a whoooole lot more that I didn’t know, and she revealed it all in Your Own Kind Of Girl. This is the kind of memoir that will have your jaw drop, purely for the incredible bravery it takes to be THAT honest about your life, your anxieties, and the monsters that hide under your bed. My hat goes off to Clare Bowditch for sharing her story, and I’m glad to see it here in the Dymocks Top 101 books for 2020 – hopefully, that means it’s reached scores of other girls of their own kind, too.

101. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Well, this Dymocks Top 101 list sure did save the biggest surprise for last! But, if I’m honest, I’m not sure what’s more surprising. Is it that Little Women wasn’t ranked higher, given the success of the most recent film adaptation? Or is it that Little Women ranked at all, given that SO many people (very, very wrongly) look down on this “sentimental” classic? Whatever the case, I’m happy to see it made the cut. I stand by my conviction that Little Women is actually a deeply subversive and feminist book, and that Louisa May Alcott doesn’t get NEARLY enough adulation, and it would seem that at least a handful of other Aussie book lovers are willing to back me up on it. Read my full review of Little Women here.

General Comments on the Dymocks Top 101 Books for 2020

Last year, Kate Maynor from Dymocks predicted a surge in the popularity of “uplit”, books that leave you feeling uplifted and energised. I think we’ve seen that play out here, with the inclusion of Eleanor Oliphant, Becoming, A Man Called Ove, and so on. I think it makes sense now, more than ever, that people are looking to “escape” the dreariness of the “real” world by diving into books that make them smile (and I’m especially glad that we might finally shake this elitist nonsense about looking down on “escapist” books once and for all!).

Notable exclusions: I’m really surprised that we didn’t see any Andre Aciman in this year’s list (Call Me By Your Name, or his recently-released sequel Find Me). I am freaking OVERJOYED, however, that we finally kicked The Great Gatsby off its stupid perch. And I would have loved to see one of my personal favourites from last year, The Weekend by Charlotte Wood, make the cut. Ah well, there’s always next year!

All told, 37 of this year’s 101 books were written by Aussie authors – not bad, but I think we could do better! Reading local is the best way to keep our literary scene thriving, especially with the headwinds authors and publishers and booksellers are going to face over the next few months (even years). 64 of the books were written by women, which is an (awesome!) uptick on last year, and much better reflects the contribution that women are making to literature and the arts.



Check out what I thought of last year’s Dymocks Top 101 books here!

My To-Be-Read List: What’s Next on Keeping Up With The Penguins

This week, I polished off the last of my original reading list for Keeping Up With The Penguins with a review of Ulysses. That, of course, begs the question: what’s next? I’ve accumulated some 250+ additional books since I started this project, and I’ve cobbled them together into a list of sorts, BUT this time around, I plan on giving myself a little more flexibility. Rather than sticking rigidly to a list, I’m just going to go wherever the bookish winds blow me. Never fear: you’ll still get your weekly review here on Keeping Up With The Penguins, plus extra reviews of hot new releases for Keeper Upperers (have you subscribed yet? You should, the perks are awesome – just whack in your email address!). Here’s a sneak peek of what’s coming up soon…

My To Be Read List - What's Up Next On Keeping Up With The Penguins - Text Overlaid on Image of Notebooks and Pen - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I feel like I might be the last person – definitely the last Australian woman – alive who hasn’t read Big Little Lies yet. I reviewed Liane Moriarty’s earlier novel, The Husband’s Secret, last year, and I’m curious to see what this one is like. It’s the book that shot Moriarty into the stratosphere of bookish stardom, and it had a wildly successful HBO adaptation with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I think it’ll make for a great palette cleanser, a good gripping page-turner to get things rolling…

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Less - Andrew Sean Greer - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I wasn’t actually planning to pick this one up, until I heard David Marr interview Andrew Sean Greer at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Greer was so disarming, and so charming, and spoke so eloquently about how he came to write Less that I went out and bought it immediately. He said that he worked out the only way to write about one’s own miseries was to make them funny, and so he did. A funny book about an ageing gay man travelling the world to escape his ex-lover’s wedding? Yes, please!

Sanditon by Jane Austen

Sanditon - Jane Austen - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With the Penguins

Sanditon is Jane Austen’s final novel, incomplete at the time of her death. The fine folks at Oxford World Classics were kind enough to send me a copy of their new edition for review last year. I read and reviewed it for Keeper Upperers (*cough*subscribe!*cough*), but I still have SO MUCH MORE to say about it! And about Austen in general… So, I’m going to read this one again, and bring you a more comprehensive review later in the year. Maybe for Austen in August, whaddaya reckon?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Here’s a peek behind the book blogging curtain for you: I’ve actually already read The Handmaid’s Tale. Hehe! I hadn’t when I started this project, but when it came time to review The Testaments over on Primer, I thought I’d best read the original first, to make sure I had a handle on what was going on. I squeezed it in around my other reading commitments, and filed away my notes so that I could bring you a full review once my original reading list was done. So, keep your eyes peeled, it’s coming soon!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguin

I told just about every person I know this past year that The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is my new ultimate cheer-up read. A whole bunch of them responded “Oh, if you like that, you simply MUST read A Man Called Ove“. Opinion seems to be divided on some of Backman’s other novels, but as best I can tell this one is basically universally adored. If it’s anything like The One Hundred Year Old Man, I’m going to join the chorus. I’m saving it for a moment when I need a book that feels like a hug! (Pssst: does anyone know how to actually pronounce “Ove”?)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage - Tayari Jones - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

This is another one that I feel like EVERYONE has read except for me! An American Marriage has been highly recommended by everyone from Oprah to Barack Obama. It also won the Women’s Prize for Fiction last year. If that’s not enough, I just cannot resist the gorgeous cover art! Inside, there’s a story of a young black couple, cruelly separated early in their marriage when Roy, the husband, is falsely accused of sexual assault and incarcerated for several years. I feel like this one is going to be a heavier read, but a vital one.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Call Me By Your Name - Andre Aciman - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Because I alphebatise by bookshelves by author surname, Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name has been in the #1 spot for a long, long time. I’ve not seen the film, but I’ve heard it’s fantastic, and the book it’s based on even better. As I understand, it’s about a young man’s infatuation with an older house guest, and the love affair that blooms. It sounds to me like it’s already a contemporary classic of queer literature, so I’m really looking forward to giving it a go. Plus, there’s a sequel!

Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body And Other Parties - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

I’m hoping to branch out in a bunch of different ways with my next to-be-read list, and this is one of them: collections of short stories. There weren’t enough of them on my original reading list, so now’s my chance to get into more! Her Body And Other Parties is one of the most popular ones that has been released in recent years, by American author Carmen Maria Machado. I’m particularly curious about the SVU-themed story that I heard her talk about in an interview; after surgery on her wisdom teeth (or something like that), she streamed seasons of Law & Order SVU as she recovered and, in her pain-killer-and-fever-induced fugue state, it inspired a weird story based on episode summaries. I’m here for it!

And, it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, there’ll be HEAPS more! As well as branching out with formats (plays, poetry), I’m really excited to read more women, more POC, more writers with disability, more LGBTIQ+ writers… it’s going to be awesome! Are there any books you’re particularly eager for me to read and review? Drop your recommendations in the comments below!

Book Reviews By Category

American

The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
The Age Of Innocence – Edith Wharton
All The King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Anita Loos
The Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Australian

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
Dyschronia – Jennifer Mills
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin
The Narrow Road To The Deep North – Richard Flanagan
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
Tracker – Alexis Wright
True History Of The Kelly Gang – Peter Carey

Books In Translation

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata
A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
She Came To Stay – Simone de Beauvoir
The Story Of A New Name – Elena Ferrante – Coming Soon!

Children’s

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame

Classic

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Emma – Jane Austen
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
The Life And Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman – Laurence Sterne
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Sanditon – Jane Austen
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

Fantasy

The Colour Of Magic – Terry Pratchett
A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

Horror

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Memoir & Autobiography

American Sniper – Chris Kyle
Finding Nevo – Nevo Zisin
The Happiest Refugee – Anh Do
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered – Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
The White Mouse – Nancy Wake
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Yes Please – Amy Poehler

Mystery & Thriller

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins
The Lake House – Kate Morton
The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan

Non-Fiction

The Brain That Changes Itself – Norman Doidge
A Brief History Of Time – Stephen Hawking
Religion For Atheists – Alain de Botton
A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

Poetry

The Divine Comedy – Dante

Russian

Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Science Fiction

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Under The Dome – Stephen King
The Martian – Andy Weir

Short Stories

Her Body And Other Bodies – Carmen Maria Machado

True Crime

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
The Arsonist – Chloe Hooper

Young Adult

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
Divergent – Veronica Roth
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
Girl Online – Zoe Sugg
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
If I Stay – Gayle Forman
The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project – Lenore Appelhans
The Maze Runner – James Dashner
Paper Towns – John Green
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

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