Great books and sunny days – Cube Group reading list 2015
For many book lovers, there is no better time than summer to lose oneself in a book – whether immersed in the story of a fictional character or disentangling threads in the world around us. Whether you’ll be lucky enough to lounge reading on the beach for days, or even if it’ll be just a little window after the kids are in bed, let’s hope we all get in some book-time this summer. From cracking pageturners to intricate histories to the latest and greatest kid’s books – we’ve got it all right here.
Summer Reading lists
Last year we presented a summer reading ‘list of lists’. We heard good things so won’t reinvent the wheel. Without further ado:
- The Grattan Institute’s annual Prime Minister’s reading list, now in its seventh year, contains books and articles that the Institute believes tackle themes vital to contemporary Australian life and society. This year’s list includes original thinking on the future of our cities, integration of cultures and faiths as well as love and money. Included in the list is ‘Love Poems and Death Threats’ a collection of remarkable poetry from young indigenous poet Samuel Wagan Watson
- The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating great books by Australian women. Each year their ‘12 days of Christmas’ reading list draws together an eclectic mix of essays, short stories and novels by established and new female writers
- The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were inaugurated in 1985 to honour literary achievement by Australian writers and are administered by the Wheeler Centre. The winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature this year was the third volume in Alan Atkinson’s The Europeans in Australia – ‘Nation’. The trilogy as a whole covers one and a quarter centuries and considers Australia’s colonial past in light of contemporary concerns. This third volume is particularly concerned with the idea that it was brain, as much as brawn, which shaped this vast Australian landmass into a nation
- The editors of the New York Times no doubt had a great deal of debate selecting their ten best books of 2015. The list includes books by two very different but both much talked about authors in 2015 – the fourth instalment of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet ‘The Story of a Lost Child’ as well as ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates book takes the form of a letter to his son attempting to make sense of the African-American experience
- For those looking helping select books for their children, Imagination Soup has an extensive list for 6 – 14 year olds helpfully segmented by age and genre
- The State Library’s Summer Read initiative celebrates great Victorian books and sunny days. Borrow any of the ten recommended books by Victorian authors from participating public libraries and you will go into a fabulous prize draw…I wonder what the prizes might be?
- If you, like the Cube Group team, get inspired by the TED talks series, consider these recommendations from members of the TED community
- Australian literary institution Readings Bookshop, has an extensive reading list that covers many categories
- For sports lovers The New Daily has nominated their best sports books of 2015
- And finally, for those looking to try new genres explore this Mashable list
The Cube Group reading list
We asked the Cube Group team to once again nominate the best book they’ve read this year, which yielded an interesting mix:
- There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, but several Cubies think the hype is well merited. Ferrante (a pen-name) is an Italian author whose true identity is unknown, despite her worldwide fame and adoration among the literati. This series is a mesmerising exploration of a lifelong friendship between two Italian girls from Naples. The novels are so engrossing that after the third book you are desperate to move immediately on to the fourth but also feel deeply sad that the series that your immersion will soon draw to an end.
- Girl in a Band is the memoir of Kim Gordon – one of the founding members of Sonic Youth, a key figure in punk and rock, and an inspiration to legions of girls and women in the music scene as a foremother of the riot grrrl movement. Kim talks about the challenges of being a woman in the music scene and also the thrill of being a non-conformist artist. A must read for lovers of post punk and those with an interest in the New York art scene.
- Sonya Hartnett’s Golden Boys is a delicate, menacing tale of family life in suburban Sydney.
- An offensive joke online gone viral can result in a tidal wave of collective outrage, sometimes in the loss of a job. Anyone active online has probably witnessed public shaming, with varying levels of sympathy for the recipient. So You Have Been Publically Shamed looks at the public renaissance of this phenomenon. Powerfully and hilariously, Jon Ronson explores what this ‘democratisation of justice’ says about us and the world we live in.
- Quiet – the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain looks at how Western Culture has become obsessed with personality over character and exalted an ‘extrovert ideal’. Cain notes that many of humankind’s most creative and distinguished leaders were introverts. She urges changes at the workplace, in schools, and in parenting; offers advice to introverts for functioning in an extrovert-dominated culture; and offers advice in communication, work, and relationships between people of differing temperament.
- Who are we as a country and what are we to become? How do we maintain our winning streak? To answer these questions George Megalogenis looks right back to first contact between locals and migrants in 1788 as well as drawing upon newly available economic data and fresh interviews with former leaders. In Australia’s Second Chance he weaves these together with great insight and riveting argument. Among other things, he says that Australia’s success will depend in part on whether we remain welcoming to new arrivals.
- Monash is a new biography by Grantlee Kieza about the significant contribution of Sir John Monash to Australia’s history. What we find so interesting about Monash is how diverse his talents and ability to think strategically appear to have been.
- The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller about an unemployed alcoholic (Rachel) that keeps taking the same train to London everyday to hide her unemployment from her flatmate. She fantasises and idolises about a couple living in one of the houses she passes on the train and gets involved in their lives and dramas when she sees something as she passes on the train one day.
- It could be said that political philosophy is little more than the study of a handful of authors and a couple dozen books. In On Politics: A History of Political Thought From Herodotus to the Present Alan Ryan’s treatment of these authors is both monumental and magisterial. Our Cube reader found that Ryan was excellent on Plato and Aristotle, and having made it only through the first of two volumes is looking forward to grappling with the 18th and 19th century set. Ryan’s focus on ‘the canon’ is of course old fashioned but through his voice these dead white men speak with great freshness and immediacy.
- Disrupt You by Jay Samit. For those interested in innovation and disruption, Jay shares his process for understanding the true value both at the core of businesses and oneself personally. How can this core be disrupted for gain? Great insights, great stories.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less presents us an antidote to the ever-present modern sensation of needing to do, and be, ‘more’. Greg McKeown has an in depth look at what happens when we put our energy in to ONE thing instead of EVERYthing.
- One loved by eight year old boys…. The 65-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffith – blending childhood influences such as Dr Seuss, Mad magazine and Enid Blyton, Griffith seeks to create a zone of nonsense, pure wonder and incongruity that kids adore.
- Going a little younger, one of our new mums hasn’t had much time for adult books but has been particularly enjoying Where is the Green Sheep? a rollicking tale about a missing green sheep and his many friends with diverse talents.
From all of us at Cube, have a wonderful break! We hope our summer reading guide might help you pick something great to get your teeth into over the coming weeks and months. Let us and our readers know about books you would recommend by posting a comment below.