Escape with a Book: Adelaide’s Top Summer Reads

The end-of-year break is an ideal time to escape the woes and worries of the year past with plenty of rest and relaxation. What better way to slip away from it all, than the escapism and imagination a book provides.

We surveyed our own writers and a set of prominent South Australians from the realms of arts and politics what they’re planning to read while the break is on, and what they recommend for an excellent summertime read.

Jay Weatherill, South Australian Premier, Member for Cheltenham

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Hamish Hamilton, 2016)

Because I don’t read enough fiction, the owner of Imprints bookstore recommended I read Imagine Me Gone, a New York Times bestseller by Adam Haslett. I hasten to add, it has nothing to do with politics!

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, (Riverhead Books, 2014)

I’d recommend The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary’s biography of wartime PM Winston Churchill.

Emma Webb, Director, Vitalstatistix

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole (Random House,2016)

Known and Strange Things, by American-Nigerian writer and photographer Teju Cole, a collection of over fifty essays written over the last eight years; with his incredible insights on race and American culture, among many other things. It is definitely a timely read for the closure of 2016.

What book would you recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

 The New Granta Book of American Short Story by Richard Ford (Grove Press, 2007)

It’s not new, but I think this summer I am going back to read The New Granta Book of American Short Story, again. I’m mildly obsessed with America at the moment and I think it will be a companion to Cole in the lead-up to Trump’s inauguration. Like essays, I love short fiction for reflective summer reading.

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Andy Packer, Artistic Director, Slingsby Theatre

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Hamish Hamilton, 2016)

When I am looking for a new book to read I wander into Imprints and Jason knows exactly what I will like – he usually offers me up three to four books and I know each one of them will be great. Imagine Me Gone is told from multiple perspectives within one family. I am interested in the form and structure of this but also the personal family stories and the way multiple people interpret the same event in different ways.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?​

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow and Company, 2013)

I love almost all of Gaiman’s writing, but this is my favourite of his books – I am a sucker for a coming of age story (it reflects what we do at Slingsby) and adding the magic realism of Gaiman’s imaginative worlds transform this into a compelling and moving story.

Erica Green, Director, Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

On the Origin of Art by MONA (MONA, 2016)
Sappers & Shrapnel  by Lisa Slade (Art Gallery of SA, 2016)
The Samstag Legacy: An Artist’s Bequest by Ross Wolfe (Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Contemporary Art, 2016)

During the year I collect books in response to reading published reviews and visiting exhibitions. By the end of the year there is a teetering stack by my bedside including the excellent exhibition catalogues. On the Origins of Art from MONA and Sappers & Shrapnel which features an essay by Richard Flanagan; and of course I will revisit our own The Samstag Legacy: An Artist’s Bequest, a new take on Adelaide art scene in the 1960s.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?​

Recommended summertime reading –  a (paper) page turner including newspapers and magazines suitable for sitting poolside with a cocktail.

Anthony Elliott, Dean of External Engagement at the University of South Australia, Executive Director of the Hawke EU Centre

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization by Richard Baldwin (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Captures how digital technology opened new paths into the global economy, resulting in the complex interplay of both backlash and more globalisation.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Grant and I: Inside and Outside The Go-Betweens by Robert Forster (Hamish Hamilton, 2016).

The most idiosyncratic poet of his generation, Forster’s memoir is hilariously funny, frequently tender and always powerfully engaging.

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Laura Kroetsch, Director, Adelaide Writers’ Week

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessa Crispin (Melville House, 2017)

I can’t wait to get a copy of Jessa Crispin’s Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto. I’ve been thinking about feminism a lot this year and wondering what the word has come to mean. Jessa Crispin is a terrific writer, and she’s thoughtful and provocative and it’s out here in February.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia by David Hunt (Penguin, 2016)

I had great fun reading it so now recommend David Hunt’s True Girt, the second volume in his unconventional history of Australia. This volume is about the Great South. Think LGBTI bushrangers, drunken officials and Australia’s first coffee roaster, so arguably it’s not for everyone!

Sandy Verschoor, Chief Executive, Adelaide Festival

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

The Shore by Sara Taylor (Penguin, 2015)

The Shore by Sara Taylor has been begging my attention for weeks. I’m looking forward to reading it on the recommendation of a friend who knows my love of great storytelling, and has said this is a beautiful and mesmerising book from a first time author.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

His Bloody Project by Graeme MacRae Burnet (Text Publishing, 2016)

I read this last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt transported to another time and place, with immense characters in dire circumstances. It’s a great read and hard to put down, perfect for summer.

Brian Oldman, Director, South Australian Museum

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

All the Light We Cannot See by (Harper Collins, 2014)

Based in a museum in the Second World War, the curator with his blind daughter protects the precious collection and shows the many ways you can achieve enlightenment in a complex world.

What book would you recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki (Tuttle Publishing, 2003)

A Japanese novel where a cat is the narrator. This allows physical access to a wide range of situations and an objective view of human foibles.

Vincent Ciccarello, Managing Director, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami (Harvill Secker, 2011)

I’ve already dipped into the book at the top of my pile for this summer – Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami. Even with the ubiquity of digital and social media today, it is rare to come into contact with the personal insights of two great artists who, while working in different fields of endeavour, share a common love of and passion for music.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

The Drowner by Robert Drewe (Picador, 1996)

It’s been years since I read it, but I recall Robert Drewe’s The Drowner having a profound impact on me one summer. It’s a remarkable (partly true) tale that really evoked for me so many aspects of summer and Australia – our parched, arid interior, and the place of water in our national psyche.

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Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs Art Gallery of South Australia

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books, 2014)

I can’t wait to read Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. My partner is reading it now and it basically reframes the whole way that white Australia has been thinking about Aboriginal land management practices and reveals Aboriginal Australians as the first bread makers in human history!

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin, 2015) 

I could not put down Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. This seriously gripping tale about a group of incarcerated women that makes you check your own moral compass.

Duncan Welgemoed, chef columnist for The Adelaide Review, Africola Head Chef

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Headline Publishing, 2005)
The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Harcourt Brace, 1993)

I’m really looking forward to reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman (again) and The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Penguin, 2003)

One of my favourite books which I pick up weekly and peruse.

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Dave Graney, Columnist for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Gunslinger by Ed Dorn (Duke University, 1989)

A book of poems by Ed Dorn. Hopefully his collection called Gunslinger as I have been dropping hints about the place for months now.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Dig: Australian Rock and Pop Music, 1960-85 by David Nichols (Puncture, 2016)

A decade of researching and writing. There has been nothing as expansive as this before. I loved it.

Dave Brookes, Wine Critic for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Simon & Schuster, 1926)
A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway (Random House, 1929)

I’m revisiting Hemingway at the moment and have armed myself with a selection to read over the Christmas break. I’ve just finished The Old Man and the Sea and A Moveable Feast and have Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms on the bedside table. No words wasted and just beautiful writing.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari (Penguin, 2011)

One hundred thousand years ago there were at least six different species of humans inhabiting the earth, today there is only one: homo-sapiens. What happened to the others and what may happen to us? A blend of history and science connecting past developments with contemporary concerns. An engaging look at early human history that is hard to put down.

Shirley Stott Despoja, Columnist for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

I am going to read Mozart: The Man Revealed, by John Suchet,  UK’s Classic FM presenter, famous for his books on Beethoven, and brother of David Suchet, aka Hercule Poirot.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Because I write for Third Agers, I think it’s right for me to recommend they pick up playwright Alan Bennett’s rich diaries – but carefully. It’s 700 pages or so, heavy to hold, perfect for dipping into. It’s called Keeping on Keeping On. We should all do that.

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Stephen Forbes, Columnist for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh (University of Chicago, 2016)
Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar (Pan Macmillan, 2015)

If I can face it I’ll read Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (but his Ibis trilogy may be easier to look forward to) and I want to get to Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

Annie Proulx’s Barkskins is her 2016 novel exploring our relationship with forests through generations immersed in the colonisation and deforestation of North America up until the twentieth century.  Over 700 pages and not her finest writing but still an easy summer read.

Paul Wood, Food Critic for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Around the World in 80 Dinners by Janne Apelgren and Joanna Savill (Melbourne University, 2016)

Over the last few years my food adventures have taken me from Noma in Copenhagen to Narisawa in Tokyo and Eleven Madison Park in New York, but I can’t wait to read this gastronauts guide to the globe to discover some of the less known edible experiences, and how to get a reservation at the more exclusive ones. The book includes our very own Orana and Africola, so I’m sure the authors know what they are talking about.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London by Kate Knapp (HarperCollins, 2016)

For those of you with young children, make sure you pick up the newest Ruby Red Shoes storybook, this time she goes to visit London. The first two books set at home and in Paris are such beautiful little adventures by Australian Author and Illustrator Kate Knapp. My six year old absolutely loves these!

Walter Marsh, Contributor for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Dig: Australian Rock and Pop Music, 1960-85 by David Nichols (Puncture, 2016)

Perhaps it’s something to do with growing up in a time before online streaming placed all music ever made at our fingertips, but there’s a unique thrill in reading about bands you’ve never heard of and may never be able to track down. I’ve got a good feeling this history of Oz music by the world’s leading authority on The Go-Betweens is the ticket.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

The Island Will Sink by Briohny Doyle (Lifted Brow, 2016)

Set in a faintly recognisable future where our society and economy are completely re-geared to deal with the realities of environmental upheaval, Briohny Doyle’s immersive, satirical debut novel is the perfect counterpoint to another sweltering summer of bushfires, record-breaking heatwaves and utter inaction on climate change.

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Jessica Paterson, Science Writer for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books, 2015)

A story about the secrets, lies and love of a marriage spanning 24 years – this book was President Obama’s favourite of 2015!

What book would you recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight (Little, Brown and Company, 2015)

I’m not one for self-help books but this one is brilliantly insightful – good for anyone whose New Year resolution is to care less about what other people think!

Camellia Aebischer, Food Writer for The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Seeds of Change: Five Plants that Transformed Mankind by Henry Hobhouse (Counterpoint, 2005)

It’s fascinating to learn the history of foods and questions ones definition of cuisine and authenticity.

What book would recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan (St Martin’s Press, 2006)

You’ll be guaranteed to laugh out loud if you’re gen Y.

David Knight, Editor, The Adelaide Review

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard (Profile Books, 2015)

Aside from HBO’s Rome and some sword and sandal epics, regrettably my knowledge of Ancient Rome hasn’t progressed much since devouring the comic strip tales of Asterix and Obelix as a child. I will correct this oversight this summer thanks to Mary Beard.

What book would you recommend readers pick up for a summertime read?

James’ Jamaican epic floored me last summer. My favourite novel of the last few years.

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