Six books for Gen Z readers
Gen Z are voracious content consumers, and yes, many of them really do still love and read print books. Here are some of our best picks for books that feature vital young voices, and foreground the concerns of a generation facing a challenging future.
Homeland Calling by Desert Pea Media & Ellen van Neerven (editor)
Homeland Calling is a collection of poems created from hip-hop song lyrics that channel culture and challenge stereotypes. Written by First Nations youth from communities all around Australia, the powerful words display a maturity beyond their years. Edited by award-winning author and poet Ellen van Neerven, verses in this book are the result of young artists exploring their place in the world, expressing the future they want for themselves and their communities.
Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty
For a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, 15 year-old Dara McAnulty spent the seasons writing vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world. Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays McAnulty’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. His love for nature, his activism and his honesty about autism have all earned him a huge social media following from across the world and many accolades. This beautifully written book is full of keen observations, emotional candour and small moments of family life.
The Coconut Children by Vivian Pham
Vincent Tran has returned after two years in juvie, and his childhood friend Sonny Vuong looks on from a distance at this boy she once knew so intimately, now an intriguing stranger. The two are unexpectedly drawn back together by a series of strange events – a drunk grandma, a secret porn stash – and find that, at sixteen, the future is full of possibilities that stretch beyond the confines of their poverty-stricken pocket of western Sydney. Young Australian author Vivian Pham captures the uncertainties and hopes of adolescence and first love in her debut novel, as well as tackling tougher topics like domestic abuse, class tensions and intergenerational trauma.
This is Not a Drill by Extinction Rebellion
“It’s time. This is our last chance to do anything about climate change. Our last chance to save the world as we know it. Now or never, we need to be radical.” Extinction Rebellion is a mass movement of peaceful people from all walks of life who demand radical action on our global climate crisis. This series of hard-hitting essays is written by a wide range of people, including scientists, psychologists, artists, farmers, firefighters and indigenous activists. Created as a book of action and an education in civil disobedience, This is Not a Drill has pages to rip out and pages to fill in, with instructions on how to rebel and how to organise a roadblock.
Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau
Monk lives in Chinatown with her washed-up painter father. When Santa Coy-possible boyfriend, potential accomplice-enters their lives, an intoxicating hunger consumes their home. So begins a heady descent into art, casino resorts, drugs, vacant swimming pools, religion, pixelated tutorial videos, and senseless violence. In bursts of fizzing, staccato and claustrophobic prose, this modern Australian take on the classic hard-boiled novel bounces you between pulverised English, elastic Cantonese and the new dialect of a digitised world. Tip over into a subterranean noir of the most electronic generation.
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
As a young child in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia wasn’t the wrong gender, they just had too much of the stuff. Jacob wanted it all, but because they were a boy, they were told they could only have the masculine half. Acting feminine labelled them a sissy and brought social isolation. It took Jacob years to discover that being a sissy isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s a source of pride. Following Jacob through bullying and beauty contests, from Duke University to the United Nations to the podiums of the Methodist church and the parlors of the White House, this memoir is a deeply personal story of trauma, healing and self-acceptance, and a hilarious guidebook for wearing tacky clip-on earrings in today’s world.