Cultural and creative life

Our librarians’ top picks for holiday reading

From well-known authors to talented newcomers, here are some great titles to get stuck into this summer.

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Need inspiration for books to pack in your suitcase? We asked our expert City of Sydney librarians for their holiday book and audiobook suggestions. Read their reviews below, with all titles available to borrow from our library.

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, browse our reading lists in the online catalogue. You can also find out what other members are reading, watching or listening to on our most borrowed lists including titles for adults, young adults and kids.

If you're keen to borrow and you’re not already a City of Sydney library member, join now. Membership is free if you live in NSW.

Librarian holiday reading book recommendations 2020
Librarian holiday reading book recommendations 2020

Adult fiction and non-fiction picks

The Godmothers by Monica McInerney (book and eaudiobook)

Enjoy this warm, hopeful novel about moving and growing outside of our comfort zones, friendship, the family we are born into and the families we choose. The ultimate beachside comfort read from one of Australia’s great fiction writers.

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird (book, ebook and eaudiobook)

Join the globally renowned author, award-winning journalist and TV host for this intelligent exploration of the enduring presence of awe and wonder in the world. The book takes an in-depth look at the things that give us comfort, make us strong and continue to sustain us in dark times.

Beach Read by Emily Henry (book)

What happens when a romance novelist and a literary writer, both stuck in a rut, decide to switch genres? This fun summer read about polar opposites turns everything we know about romance novels and crime thrillers upside down. Both will finish writing a book and no one will fall in love. Or will they?

Troy by Stephen Fry (book)

Enjoy this retelling of Homer’s Iliad, breathtakingly brought to life for our modern age by the English comedian, actor, writer and presenter. You will find heroism and hatred, love and loss, revenge and regret, desire and despair.

A Room Made Full of Leaves by Kate Grenville (book and eaudiobook)

What if the colonial letters and journals of Elizabeth Macarthur, wife of a notorious wool baron in early Sydney, were a mask hiding her true experiences and emotions? What if the expectations upon a gentlewoman prevented her from writing her truth to anyone but herself? The new novel is a stunning sleight of hand by one of Australia’s most original writers.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason (book)

Fans of Normal People by Sally Rooney will enjoy this adult coming of age novel about the complexities of relationships. The story is told with incredible wit and humour, while at the same time being sensitive and heartfelt.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata (book)

This is a compellingly weird and experimental novel from the author of Convenience Store Woman. The writer once again explores what it means to live within (and outside of) the constraints of societal norms.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (book and eaudiobook)

This is an offbeat love story about the differences in each of us that make us unique by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author. It offers an authentic and satisfying look at the stumbles, missteps and second chances in everyday life.

Weather by Jenny Offill (book)

A witty look at the details of everyday life, work and family, even when it feels like the world is ending. Written by a master observer who artfully captures the attempts we all take to make meaning in our lives. This is a reflective but easy read for the end of the year.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (book)

This heartfelt fantasy novel about tolerance and acceptance is a quirky and enchanting read for adults and older teens. It’s told in a modern fairy tale tradition reminiscent of the wit and whimsy of Douglas Adams and the Umbrella Academy.

Published 16 December 2019, updated 16 December 2020

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