100 great reads by Australian women in 2018
Each year we compile a list of great reads by Australian women, originally inspired by the Australian Women Writers Challenge which begun in 2012 and continues to this day. Here are 100 great reads by Australian women published in 2018.
The following books are displayed in no particular order and include fiction, biography, poetry, children’s novels, history and more.
1. The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Another stunning rural crime thriller from Jane Harper. Set against the searing backdrop of outback Queensland, this is the story of two men struggling to come to terms with the mysterious death of their brother.
2. Close to Home by Alice Pung
A warming collection of essays on the themes of home, family, culture and identity. Alice Pung is an Australian treasure, who writes with great thoughtfulness and intelligence.
3. The Wasp and the Orchid by Danielle Clode
In the first half of the twentieth century, Edith Coleman was known as a celebrated expert on Australian nature, but her work is now largely forgotten. Discover her story in this beautifully written biography from Zoologist Danielle Clode.
4. Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough
This rollicking novel sees two unlikely teen girls pair up to fight inequality at their posh Grammar school. This uplifting, queer romance is highly entertaining and bound to be a hit with teens and adults alike.
5. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor Book 2) by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow is back! This magical, page-turning novel will draw you back into the amazing world of Nevermoor, and the fabulous magic that abounds there.
6. The Year Everything Changed: 2001 by Phillipa McGuinness
In 2001, the Western world changed irreparably with the fall of the Twin Towers. Phillipa McGuinness’s life changed too – she went through the unimaginable pain of losing a child. In this memoir, she places that year under a microscope.
7. The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The lives of Inga Karlson, a forgotten novelist from 1930s New York, and Caddie, an academic-turned-bookseller in 1980s Brisbane, connect via the mystery of a scorched manuscript.
8. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
In Liane Moriarty’s latest juicy and addictive novel, nine people attend a wellness retreat and find themselves in a tricky situation.
9. Waiting for Elijah by Kate Wild
Journalist Kate Wild attempts to unravel the case of Elijah Holcombe, a twenty-four-year-old man who was fatally shot by police in rural NSW, and explores the stigma attached to mental health troubles.
10. Blakwork by Alison Whittaker
Alison Whittaker blends memoir, fiction, journalistic writing and various other styles to create poetry that is unique and unapologetic.
11. The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright
In this, the second deeply affecting collection of essays from Fiona Wright, the author meditates on the spaces we live in – our homes, bodies, and suburbs.
12. Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko
Kerry is on the run. When she returns back home to visit her dying Pop, she’s not planning on staying for long, but Bundjalung country has different plans for her. This novel is hilarious, intelligent, feminist, and thought-provoking.
13. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
When four Wall Street high-flyers become trapped in an escape room, they must put all their workplace tensions aside to make it out alive.
14. Bohemia Beach by Justine Ettler
Catherine Bell is a concert pianist who has a marriage on the rocks and a troubled history with alcohol. A tale to keep you on the edge of your seat.
15. No Country Woman by Zoya Patel
Zoya Patel, founding editor of Feminartsy, writes about migration, culture and belonging in this debut collection of essays.
16. What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra
College student Hayden must return to her childhood home in this dark young adult novel that’s simmer with supernatural secrets.
17. Love Makes A Family by Sophie Beer
This vibrantly colourful book from Brisbane-based artist Sophie Beer shows that what makes a family isn’t who’s in it – but the love that holds it together.
18. The Endsister by Penni Russon
The Outhwaites are a large family, who uproot and move from rural Victoria to London, England. But the house they move already has inhabitants – ghostly ones – and there’s something particularly sinister up in the attic.
19. The Book Ninja by Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus
This fun, book-ish, Melbourne-based romcom comes from the founders of the Books on the Rail project.
20. Wintering by Krissy Kneen
Jessica lives in rural Tasmania with her unpredictable partner, Matthew. When he disappears into the wilderness one day, Jessica is contacted by a group of women who believe something unnatural has occurred. A chilling tale from a highly inventive author.
21. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty
This dramatic, compulsively readable novel considers what happens when social media conflict breaks out into real life.
22. In the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey
This artfully written novel follows a correspondence between an elderly philanthropist, Royce, and a filmmaker, Vita, who was once his protégé, and explores their tumultuous shared history.
23. Redemption Point by Candice Fox
After being falsely accused of kidnap, former cop Ted Conkaffey is trying to disappear. But the father of Ted’s alleged victim has a plan for revenge, and he’s determined to succeed.
24. Boys Will be Boys by Clementine Ford
In this powerful and groundbreaking follow-up to her bestselling Fight Like A Girl, Clementine Ford writes on toxic masculinity and the strife it causes in society.
25. Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee
A big-hearted and heartbreaking novel about two siblings who discover the world through the pages of a periodical encyclopedia.
26. Flood Damages by Eunice Andrada
Australian Filipina poet Eunice Andrada tackles migration, family, intergenerational trauma and the female body.
27. Teacher by Gabbie Stroud
Former teacher Gabbie Stroud presents a shocking expose of the Australian education system, unpacking the plight of those working within it and the outcomes for the children going through it.
28. After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson
In this tense young adult thriller, Pru Palmer’s father is a doomsday prepper and she and her twin sisters live in readiness for the end of the world. When all power in their small town goes out in a serious global event, Prue has to make some difficult decisions about survival
29. The Children’s House by Alice Nelson
The lives of two very different families converge in New York in the late 1990s. This is a beautiful and hopeful story about the meaning of home.
30. The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
Set in a fading family estate nestled within the Chiltern Hills, this is the story of two summers that took place sixty years apart.
31. Wedderburn by Maryrose Cuskelly
In late 2014, Ian Jamieson took a hunting knife and brutally murdered his three neighbours. Here Maryrose Cuskelly takes a razor-sharp look at this killing, and the events surrounding it.
32. Hoodwinked by Kerry-Anne Walsh
Veteran political commentator Kerry-Anne Walsh investigates how Pauline Hanson was able to gain power and popularity in our political system.
33. Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollett
Laura Elizabeth Woollett draws readers into the terrifying world of Jim Jones’s People’s Temple through the eye of the leader’s imagined right-hand woman, Evelyn (based on real-life People’s Temple inner circle member Carolyn Layton).
34. Nganga by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson
Many words used by Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders have become part of the wider Australian vernacular – dreamtime, Elder, deadly, and many more. This wonderful little book collects these words and phrases, and explains their meanings and origins.
35. Hive by AJ Betts
Hayley lives in The Hive – a regimented society full of unbreakable rules – but she’s about to discover that her home is not necessarily the utopia she thinks it is. A sinister work of science fiction for teens and adults alike.
36. One Good Turn by Mary Leunig
This is Mary Leunig’s first book in nearly 25 years, collating a sampling of her sharp, funny and poignant cartoons in full-colour.
37. The Year of the Farmer by Rosalie Ham
The queen of Outback Gothic transports reader to rural NSW, where a small town is being torn apart by the various rivalries that plague it.
38. A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer
A genre-bending work, this is a story of Scotland, time travel, feminism and identity.
39. Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton
A travel guide unlike any other you’ve seen before, Marcia Langton offers an introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture, and places of interest.
40. Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh & Samantha Fry
This significant picture book exposes the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from the WWI battlelines.
41. Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau
Jamie Marina Lau’s writing is electric. Her debut follows a teenage girl in a highly digitised world and is a highly recommended firecracker of a novel.
42. The Helpline by Katherine Collette
Germaine’s maths skills are unparalleled but she struggles to connect with other people. Forced to take a new job working on a senior citizens helpline, her life takes an unexpected detour in this warmly funny read.
43. The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood
Kerry Greenwood delivers another delicious mystery with baker and sleuth Corinna Chapman, complete with danger and baked goods.
44. Mirka & Georges: A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding & Kendrah Morgan
Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan explore the lives of two of the most beloved figures in the cultural and culinary life of Australia.
45. Stone Girl by Eleni Hale
This harrowing and raw young adult novel ruminates on themes of betrayal, loss and what happens when your life is running off the rails.
46. Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler
Written from the perspective of eleven-year-old Ava, who has Rett syndrome, this is a beautiful, empathetic story suitable for ages 9 through to adults.
47. The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper
In this masterful work, Chloe Hooper attempts to decipher the life of Brendan Sokaluk, the man charged with lighting some of the worst fires of Black Saturday.
48. Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss
This wide-ranging collection of essays brings together the voices of many Indigenous Australian’s telling their stories in their own words, and on their own terms.
49. Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
This is creepy and disturbing young adult thriller blurs the line between reality and fantasy. Ideal for those who want to be scared out of their wits.
50. Trace: Who Killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown
Expanding on the award-winning ABC podcast of the same name, this is the riveting inside story of Brown’s cold-case investigation of the 1980 murder of Melbourne bookseller Maria James.
51. Man Out of Time by Stephanie Bishop
Stephanie Bishop’s third novel shifts time and perspective to explore the complex relationship between Stella and her missing father Leon, touching on the inter-generational effects of mental illness on a family.
52. Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin
This boundary-defying and award-winning book combines narrative reportage and storytelling to examine five axioms as applied to stories from the margins of society.
53. Into the Night by Sarah Bailey
A gritty and enjoyable metropolitan police procedural with a memorable cast of characters.
54. The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Kovacic
This mystery story is inspired by a real unsolved murder. Art dealer Alex Clayton stumbles across a portrait of Molly Dean, an artist’s muse who was brutally slain in the 1930s, and sets out to uncover the truth.
55. The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper
Three young women set off on a hike through the wilderness for the adventure of a lifetime but the experience is marred by a threatening presence. Now in their forties and estranged, they decide to revisit their original hike in an attempt to salvage what they lost.
56. Shell by Kristina Olsson
This big, bold and hauntingly beautiful new novel from Kristina Olsson captures a defining moment in Australia’s history.
57. Between Us by Clare Atkins
An extraordinary work of young adult fiction that eloquently critiques Australia’s current immigration policies.
58. The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan
Set in Ireland, this character-driven police procedural maintains a rip-roaring pace while also grappling with the country’s history and politics.
59. Arcadia by Di Morrissey
A modern mystery born in a timeless Tasmanian forest from one of Australia’s favourite storyteller
60. The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty
A whimsical, spellbinding and wickedly adventurous magical adventure for voracious young readers of 10 and up.
61. Unfettered and Alive by Anne Summers
Anne Summers discusses her remarkable life in this candid and stirring memoir.
62. Lost Lake by Bella Li
In her exhilarating second poetry collection, Bella Li disassembles boundaries and challenges expectations of what a work of literature can be.
63. Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman
A wildly irreverent take on the coming-of-age story that turns a search for belonging into a riotous satire of identity politics.
64. All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell & Allison Colpoys
A radiant and glorious celebration of the many different talents children can have, and perfect for nurturing confidence.
65. Jungle Without Water by Sreedhevi Iyer
This is the debut collection from Sreedhevi Iyer, and it’s a immersive look at shifting boundaries and human displacement of our era.
66. The Witch Who Courted Death by Maria Lewis
Based on the story of Corvossier ‘Casper’ von Klitzing, the world’s most powerful medium, this thrilling tale dives headfirst into the supernaturally secretive world of spells, charms and covens.
67. Shine Mountain by Julie Hunt
A magical tale of courage and perseverance from the inaugural winner of the Readings Children’s Book Prize.
68. Her Mother’s Daughter by Nadia Wheatley
Author Nadia Wheatley grew up in the crossfire between an independent woman and a controlling man. This memoir encapsulates this experience with love and honesty.
69. The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J Murray
This elegant and engrossing novel asks how we value and celebrate art and artists’ lives.
70. Brontide by Sue McPherson
Sue McPherson weaves the perspectives of four very different teenage boys living on the Sunshine Coast together to craft a compelling read for reluctant teens.
71. The Wolf Hour by Sarah Myles
This searing novel sees an Australian family in crisis against the backdrop of war-torn Africa.
72. You Daughters Of Freedom by Clare Wright
The award-winning historian shares the story of the fight for the right to vote for women through the lives of five of Australia’s pioneering suffragettes.
73. Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee
This groundbreaking work examines how Australian society and its legal system are failing women and victims of sexual assault.
74. The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen
Lucky the Galah wryly narrates this story of a key moment in Australia’s past – when the Parkes radio telescope brought pictures of the US moon landing to the world.
75. His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda
One of Australia’s best-loved storytellers presents a new children’s novel about a prophecy, a long-buried secret – and five people who will remember this night as long as they live.
76. Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic
A hilarious and heartfelt memoir about growing up between war-torn Yugoslavia and suburban Australia, complete with warlords and beauty queens.
77. Trick of the Light by Laura Elvery
In this accomplished story collection, Laura Elvery reveals the fears and fantasies of everyday people searching for meaning.
78. Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby
Set in the 90s in a small town a couple of hours south of Sydney, this is a quiet and satisfying mystery from the much-loved musician.
79. Small Wrongs by Kate Rossmanith
An intellectual and thoughtful consideration of remorse, and whether we can ever truly know it when we see it.
80. A Trillion Tiny Awakenings by Candy Royalle
An uncompromising collection from the late spoken word poet Candy Royalle.
81. The Art of Persuasion by Susan Midalia
Susan Midalia cleverly brings modern day politic tactics and the plot devices of 18th century comedy to explore our moral right to persuade others of our opinion.
82. Wide Big World by Maxine Beneba Clarke & Isobel Knowles
A brilliant picture book about our diverse and wonderful world from author Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrator Isobel Knowles.
83. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
Told by multiple voices across time, this is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss.
84. I Am Out With Lanterns by Emily Gale
A group of interconnected young people narrate this young adult novel that weaves together themes of family connection and dysfunction, bullying, love and crushes, and identity.
85. Blue Collar Frayed by Jennifer Rayner
Drawing on extensive research and dozens of interviews, this work examines the role and importance of blue-collar jobs in enhancing Australia’s future economy.
86. The Relic of the Blue Dragon (Children of the Dragon Book 1) by Rebecca Lim
Dragons, ancient vases, kung fu and crime syndicates come to life in this page-turning fantasy set in Melbourne.
87. Staying by Jessie Cole
This tender and heartbreaking memoir digs into family, loss and trauma.
88. The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra
A taut and revenge-soaked crime novel about the consequences of bad behaviour.
89. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
A fictionalised account of the incredible true story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist.
90. Tricky’s Bad Day by Alison Lester
A delightful picture book about the joy that can be found through an outside adventure.
91. Songwoman by Ilka Tampke
This gripping novel follows one woman’s quest to defend her culture in Iron-Age Wales during the turmoil of Roman invasion.
92. The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell
A moving and heart-warming tale of love and community, despite everything.
93. Serving our Country by Joan Beaumont & Allison Cadzow
The first comprehensive history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s participation in the Australian defence forces.
94. Ice Wolves (Elementals Book 1) by Amie Kaufman
The first book in a breathtaking middle fiction fantasy adventure from YA superstar Amie Kaufman.
95. The Darkest Web by Eileen Ormsby
Investigative journalist Eileen Ormsby shines a light on the darkest corners of the internet: a place of hitmen for hire, illegal drugs, and markets that will sell anything a person is willing to pay for.
96. Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills
An electrifying story about an oracle, a small town, and the end of the world as we know it.
97. The Book of Ordinary People by Claire Varley
This multi-layered novel follows the separate stories of five ordinary people whose lives occasionally intersect as they go about their everyday business.
98. Neverland by Margot McGovern
A clever and powerful work of young adult fiction about mental illness, myth and navigating tricky feelings and families.
99. Live and Let Fry by Sue Williams
This funny crime read is set in the tiny Australian town of Rusty Bore and stars an intrepid takeaway shop owner as its unofficially-official investigator.
100. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales
Award-winning journalist Leigh Sales examines what happens when ordinary people are caught up in terrible situations, from terrorism and natural disaster, to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.