100 great reads by Australian women in 2017

Each year we compile a list of 50 great reads by Australian women, originally inspired by the Australian Women Writers Challenge. This year, we’ve been so impressed by what’s on offer that we’ve doubled our list…

Here are 100 great reads by Australian women published this year. They are displayed in no particular order and include fiction, biography, poetry, children’s novels, history and more.


1. The Circle and The Equator by Kyra Giorgi
An intriguing story collection that deftly balances the political with the personal as it transports readers around the world.

2. The Starlings by Vivienne Kelly
Set in 1985, this is the story of secrets and defeat, of heroism and love, and of a family falling apart.

3. Closing Down by Sally Abbott
This debut novel is the inaugural winner of The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers and crafts a grim vision of a not-too-distant future world, where climate change and population growth have spun the planet into a precarious situation.

4. Wellmania by Brigid Delaney
An in-depth, entertaining, laugh-out-loud-funny exploration of one of the weirdest trends in our culture – wellness.

5. Ache by Eliza Henry-Jones
A heart-wrenching novel about how a family, and a rural community, recover from a terrible bushfire.

6. My Way by Moana Hope
The stirring memoir of footballer Moana Hope, a high-flying athlete who is grounded by remarkable selflessness.

7. Because of You by Pip Harry
A powerfully sympathetic young adult novel that delves into the complexities of homelessness and privilege.

8. The Metronome by Jennifer Maiden
Maiden’s latest poetry collection addresses political and social issues of the moment – particularly the tension caused by the election of the US president.

9. Beautiful Messy Love by Tess Woods
A warm and uplifting love story that also tackles some hard-hitting issues.

10. From the Wreck by Jane Rawson
Rawson brings together an alien cephalopod and a shipwreck survivor to craft a lyrical and visceral meditation on the cost of survival. It was shortlisted for The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2017.

11. The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil
A delightful and charming contemporary rom-com for teenagers.

12. The Girl in Kellers Way by Megan Goldin
A tense crime novel that digs into the darkness that lies within the suburbs.

13. Breaking the Mould by Angela Pippos
Veteran sports journalist Angela Pippos demonstrates how female athletes are changing the status quo in Australian life.

14. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
The first book in a breathtaking, magical new series for ages 9+.

15. The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
A dreamlike tale about a coffin maker, a mysterious boy and the power of storytelling. For ages 9+.

16. The Green Bell by Paula Keogh
Keogh’s lyrical memoir explores her time in the psychiatric ward at Canberra Hospital during the 1970s.

17. Against Native Title by Eve Vincent
This provocative non-fiction book makes an important contribution to national debates around issues of Aboriginal futures in remote and regional areas.

18. The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky
A beautifully odd children’s novel set in Sydney during WWII for ages 10+.

19. The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
This addictive crime thriller is a fascinating police procedural set in a small town full of secrets.

20. The Last Garden by Eva Hornung
A rich and challenging work of literary fiction that examines human’s capacity for violence.

21. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
An utterly compelling look at the life of trauma cleaner Sandra Pankhurst

22. Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish
An investigation into the female experience of drugs and alcohol that blends in the author’s own experiences.

23. The Shop at Hoopers Bend by Emily Rodda
A lovely and warming children’s novel from the wonderful Emily Rodda – for ages 8+.

24. Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
Set in a small rural community, this is a bittersweet teenage love story with a twist.

25. Stories and True Stories by Helen Garner
These two collected works of Helen Garner’s fiction and non-fiction celebrate the author’s 75th birthday, and 50 years of writing.

26. How to Dress a Dummy by Cassie Lane
A funny and bold feminist memoir about a quintessential Australian woman.

27. Rain Birds by Harriet McKnight
A striking debut novel that explores the relationship between the animal and human world.

28. Our Race for Reconciliation by Anita Heiss
Depicting events around the 2000 Sydney Olympics, this children’s novel shines a spotlight on Indigenous culture.

29. The Ones That Disappeared by Zana Fraillon
In this young adult novel, three children who are the victims of human trafficking escape and go on a grand adventure together.

30. Beyond The Rock by Janelle McCulloch
This book examines Joan Lindsay’s enigmatic life, and the inspiration behind her famous novel, Picnic At Hanging Rock.

31. Understory by Inga Simpson
A gentle and lyrical nature memoir.

32. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
In this practical, wise and funny book, bestselling author and entrepreneur Sarah Wilson writes about handling anxiety.

33. A Dangerous Language by Sulari Gentill
A historical crime novel featuring espionage, fraught international relations and fisticuffs.

34. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders.

35. Whiteley on Trial by Gabriella Coslovich
A thoroughly entertaining look at arguably Australia’s biggest case of alleged art fraud.

36. Australia Day by Melanie Cheng
An accomplished short story collection that illuminates the reality of modern day Australia. It was shortlisted for The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2017.

37. No Way! Okay, Fine. by Brodie Lancaster
A delightful and insightful memoir of pop culture, feminism and feelings.

38. Buddhism for Breakups by Meshel Laurie
Comedian Meshel Laurie demonstrates how Buddhism can be a roadmap for navigating the fear, loneliness and grief of a broken heart.

39. Beyond Veiled Cliches by Amal Awad
A fascinating overview of the everyday lives of more than 60 Arab women living in Australia and the Middle East.

40. My Life as a Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams
A funny and heartfelt young adult novel about rage, regret and the pitfalls of life in the digital age.

41. The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser
A blackly humourous novel about creativity, intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

42. The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain
Published posthumously, this memoir is a meditation on writing and reading from one of Australia’s best-loved voices.

43. The Beast of Hushing Wood by Gabrielle Wang
A beautiful blend of action, fable and magic realism.

44. Total Propaganda by Helen Razer
This book offers an introduction to communism for Millennials.

45. Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman
A powerful retelling of Australia’s colonial settlement that comments on the lives of indigenous communities today.

46. Soon by Lois Murphy
A strange and tautly-plotted novel that is partly inspired by the true story of Wittenoom – the ill-fated West Australia asbestos town.

47. Pulse Points by Jennifer Down
A collection of stunning stories that convey a depth of feeling for their characters.

48. A Writing Life by Bernadette Brennan
This is the first full-length study of Helen Garner’s 40 years of work.

49. Lovesick by Jean Flynn
A light-hearted romance about getting sick, getting better and gathering the courage to takes a risk.

50. Untidy Towns by Kate O'Donnell
A tender coming-of-age young adult novel about what to do when you don’t know what to do.

51. The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster by Sally Rippin
The first book in a new children’s series that explores friendship and acceptance.

52. No More Boats by Felicity Castagna
A powerful and timely novel set in Australia suburbia.

53. To Know My Crime by Fiona Capp
A nail-biting story of risk, blackmail and the corrosive nature of guilt.

54. The Case Against Fragrance by Kate Grenville
Accessible, personal and well-researched, this is an fascinating investigation into artificial fragrances, from one of Australia’s acclaimed writers.

55. An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen
This inventive novel is a thoughtful and imaginative exploration of gender and sexual politics.

56. The Gulf by Anna Spargo-Ryan
A tender, beautifully written coming-of-age story that will break your heart.

57. The Art of Navigation by Rose Michael
Different narratives from 1987, 1587 and 2087 merge and converge to create a unique work of speculative fiction.

58. A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay
This richly intimate novel intertwines the lives of two women from different generations.

59. All Fall Down by Cassandra Austin
A starkly Australian gothic novel about a divided community.

60. Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid
This engaging children’s novel for ages 9+ chronicles life in the Sudan of the 1960s.

61. Argosy by Bella Li
An innovative poetry collection that draws inspiration from the surrealist collage novels of Max Ernst.

62. Psynode by Marlee Jane Ward
This young adult novel reveals a gritty futuristic vision of Australia.

63. The Things We Promise by J.C. Burke
Based in the early nineties, this young adult novel explores familial bonds and the challenges of growing up.

64. Whimsy & Woe by Rebecca McRitchie & Sonia Kretschmar
An old-fashioned heroic adventure for ages 9+.

65. The Good Girl of Chinatown by Jenevieve Chang
A bold memoir that weaves together multiple narratives across three generations and continents.

66. And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic
A gripping, character driven crime novel that follows brittle private detective Caleb Zelic.

67. The Lost Pages by Marija Peričić
An imagined memoir of Franz Kafka’s literary executor, Max Brod.

68. The Lucky One by Caroline Overington
A psychological thriller with a castle and recently discovered corpses.

69. Dark Matters by Susan Hawthorne
A poetic and terrifying novel that digs into shame and silence.

70. Caroline Chisholm by Sarah Goldman
A spirited biography of a fascinating woman who was instrumental in shaping modern Australia.

71. The Lone Child by Anna George
An atmospheric and gripping domestic drama about motherhood.

72. Accidental Heroes by Lian Tanner
A richly imagined fantasy adventure tale for ages 9+.

73. In The Dark Spaces by Cally Black
An electrifying young adult genre-smashing hostage drama.

74. The Undercurrent by Paula Weston
An action-packed, near-futuristic thriller for teenagers.

75. Please Explain by Anna Broinowski
A compelling, no-holds-barred deep dive into the world and created persona of Pauline Hanson.

76. Fighting Hislam by Susan Carland
An insider’s story of the fight against sexism by 23 Muslim women.

77. The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett
A masterly biography of Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second prime minister.

78. Things That Helped by Jessica Friedmann
An essay collection that navigates the author’s journey through postpartum depression after the birth of her son.

79. Every Lie I’ve Ever Told by Rosie Waterland
A second irrepressible and blackly comedic memoir from Rosie Waterland.

80. Bird Country by Claire Aman
A collection of stories that are steeped in the rural Australian landscape and the Australian psyche.

81. Pip and Houdini by J.C. Jones
A warm-hearted adventure about a feisty girl and her escape-artist dog for ages 9+.

82. The Choke by Sofie Laguna
A haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power, guns and violence.

83. Half Wild by Pip Smith
This historical novel is based on the life of Eugenia Falleni, a transgender man who was put on trial for murder in 1920 Sydney.

84. Rubik by Elizabeth Tan
A novel-in-stories that slips outside the borders of realism.

85. Live Lead Learn by Gail Kelly
An inspiring memoir from one of the world’s most prominent business people.

86. Adult Fantasy by Briohny Doyle
In this wry memoir, Briohny Doyle asks what it means to be an adult in a rapidly-changing world.

87. Still Lucky by Rebecca Huntley
Social researcher Rebecca Huntley offers a broad-ranging, wise and compelling snapshot of Australian society, and what people are really thinking.

88. Siren by Rachel Matthews
This important and timely novel follows one woman’s experience of sexual violence and the silencing of those who feel compelled to speak out.

89. Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
An edgy, suspenseful and clever crime novel from an award-winning author.

90. Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
A moving novel about friendship, ambition and family life – and how to rebuild when the worst has happened.

91. No Limits by Ellie Marney
A sizzling hot and danger-packed young adult romance novel.

92. Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams
This exploration anaesthesia is part memoir, part science writing and part cultural essay.

93. Take Three Girls by Fiona Wood, Cath Crowley & Simmone Howell
A funny and incisive young adult novel about an unlikely friendship, growing up and feminism.

94. The Way Back by Kylie Ladd
A haunting and assured novel that looks at the case of a disappeared child who unexpectedly returns.

95. After by Nikki Gemmell
Gemmell investigates the aftermath of her elderly mother’s decision to end her own life.

96. Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Harper’s second highly-addictive literary crime thriller to feature Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk.

97. Tracker by Alexis Wright
An expansive and boundary-pushing memoir of charismatic Aboriginal leader, Leigh Bruce ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth.

98. Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian
The 2016 winner of the Text Prize – this raw, messy and vulnerable young adult novel tackles some big themes with plenty of heart.

99. Baby Lost by Hannah Robert
A peerless and intensely personal memoir about the author’s experience of losing her baby at eight months pregnant.

100. Jean Harley was Here by Heather Taylor Johnson
A poignant, bittersweet and charming novel that explores the aftermath of a terrible accident by following those left behind. It was shortlisted for The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction in 2017.

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