Kobo and G Adventures continue our monthly series of destination-based reading lists with a literary journey to Australia, home to some of the most unusual landscapes and animals our planet has to offer. The people and places of this massive island have inspired some remarkable stories, so put the kettle on, curl up with your Kobo, and order up your next great read.
Five Bells by Gail Jones is an unusual story told over the course of a single Saturday. Four strangers each come to Sydney’s Circular Quay, the transit hub on the harbour that hosts two of the world’s most iconic views – those of the famous opera house and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Each of the characters is experiencing his or her own emotional turmoil as they visit this location for the first time in their respective lives. What transpires between and within them is beautifully told, but the real value here stems from how the author depicts this specific location – a setting that many Australians feel has been evacuated of its wonder in favour of tourist prices and over-exposure. The author seeks to show us the difference between what we think we know about a famous place and the moment we actually encounter it for the first time. It’s a great read that will inspire those who’ve yet to visit this most iconic of iconic sites.
Another story on the list is True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. A rare winner of both the Booker Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, this is a fictional autobiography Ned Kelly, a notorious folk hero/outlaw from 19th century Australia. Kelly writes his family’s “true” history for his daughter (who never actually existed) in a personal vernacular, with no commas throughout the entire book. It will be a challenging read for many, while others will drink it up for the incredible story it is, set in rural southeastern Australia. Another serious dose of travel inspiration here.
Finally, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is a title that will be familiar to most readers over a certain age. Originally published in 1977, this book was a huge deal and even became a TV series for a time in 1983. Don’t judge it unfairly though; there’s a reason it was an international bestseller. The book weaves the romantic and tragic tale of the Cleary family in the mid-20th century Australian Outback. With several characters generating very human stories, it’s a great read for anyone even slightly curious about the vast expanse that forms the rural spine of this country.
These are of course, just three of the 25 books on this month’s list, which can be found it its diverse entirety right here. There are some history books on the list as well as some beautiful non-fiction pieces, too, yet what they all have in common is their ability to call you to Australia in ways that will make you want to see it firsthand, as you should. So read on and enjoy your next great adventure. The time is always right for it.