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19 Great Australian Books From 2015

From short stories to thrillers and true stories, 2015 was a pretty great year.

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1. Clade by James Bradley


A beautifully written novel which spans three generations, Clade explores relationships, family, and the urgency of time in a apocalyptic world. Adam is a scientist who has to keep his family together while surviving plagues and the potential demise of the planet. Despite this, the book is hopeful and thought-provoking.

2. A Short History of Richard Kline by Amanda Lohrey


Plagued with discontent since childhood, Richard Kline experiences something as a middle-aged man which changes the way he sees the world. This novel follows him in his quest to find meaning, using everything from meditation to medication. An exploration of human nature and desire, it is an essential read for anyone who is lacking inspiration.

3. A Mother's Story by Rosie Batty

Harper Collins

Rosie Batty has become an outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence, after her abusive ex-husband murdered her 11-year-old son last year. This incredibly moving book tells her story, how she got to a point where she was living in an abusive relationship, and the many ways it affected her. A must-read for every Australian.

4. The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

Harper Collins

Set in England in 1255, 17-year-old Sarah decides to become an Anchoress - a woman who chooses a life of seclusion and prayer. Facing a lifetime living in a cell that measures only seven by nine paces, Sarah realises she may come to regret her choice, especially when she begins to hear the voice of the cell's previous inhabitant whispering to her.


5. In The Quiet by Eliza Henry Jones

Harper Collins

When Cate Carlton dies, she chooses to stay and watch over her husband and three young children. As time passes, the family is torn apart by grief and Cate can do nothing but watch on helplessly. A simple yet compelling debut novel, In The Quiet is just lovely.

6. Cartel by Lili St. Germain

Harper Collins

The first novel in a series, Cartel tells the story of Mariana, the daughter of a Colombian drug lord who is sold into a motorcycle gang to pay off a half-million dollar debt. She does everything she can to survive, but doesn't count on falling in love with the man who now owns her.

7. Shining: The Story of a Lucky Man by Abdi Aden

Harper Collins

This astonishing true story is one you won't be able to put down. Civil war in his home country of Somalia left 15-year-old Abdi an orphan. Over the next two years, he travelled from Africa to Europe, being hunted by death squads and narrowly escaping being killed. He arrived in Melbourne when he was 17, with no money and speaking no English. His incredible journey will open your eyes and fill you with optimism.

8. Women I've Undressed by Orry-Kelly

Random House

Orry-Kelly won three Academy Awards for costume design, and worked with actors from Bette Davis to Marilyn Monroe. But no one knew much about the Australian until his memoir was found in a pillowcase and published this year. Turns out he lived quite a wild life, from his childhood in Kiama, discovering the party scene in Sydney, and moving to New York where he lived with Cary Grant.


9. The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox

Allen & Unwin

John Wonder has three families, all kept secret from each other, each with two kids named Adam and Evie. He spends his life travelling between cities, spending time with each family. His job as an Authenticator, verifying world records and checking facts, is a stark contrast from his life which is a web of lies which he must try to keep from tangling.

10. Goodbye Sweetheart by Marion Halligan

Allen & Unwin

When a seemingly happy family man dies of a heart attack, a community is shocked. But in death, much more is revealed about his character when an unexpected lover comes to the surface, and pornographic images are found on his computer. While his wife mourns, she has to face the idea that she didn't know her husband at all.

11. Medea’s Curse by Anne Buist

Text Publishing

Natalie King is a forensic psychologist who works with victims and perps of violent crimes. When she finds herself being stalked and harrassed with notes and threats, she has to figure out who it is before it's too late. A harrowing and thrilling read, this mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat.

12. Quicksand by Steve Toltz

Simon & Schuster

This hilarious, quick-witted novel follows Liam, a struggling writer and cop who decides to write a book based on his best friend, a criminal entrepreneur with extremely bad luck. It's fun, yet dark at times, and is a must-read for anyone who likes to laugh.


13. Ghost River by Tony Birch


Linking intertwining stories in this beautiful novel, The River will make you nostalgic for your Aussie childhood. Ren and Sonny are two unlikely friends who spend countless hours on the banks of the Yarra, until developers move in to build a freeway, and the boys learn just how powerless 13-year-olds are.

14. Useful by Debra Oswald


After an unsuccessful suicide attempt, Sillivan Moss decides he should make sure all his organs will be donated when he tries again. As he does this, he accidentally gets his life together and makes new friends. A mesmerising novel which will remind you of the fragility of life, Useful was written by the creator of TV show Offspring, which should give you an idea of what this book is like.

15. Relativity by Antonia Hayes


Despite spending many years trying to forget each other, estranged parents are brought back together when their gifted son Ethan falls ill. When Ethan intercepts a letter meant for his parents' eyes only, the three of them are pulled together and forced to test the strength of love and forgiveness.

16. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Allen & Unwin

Two strangers are drugged and wake up in a strange makeshift prison in the middle of nowhere. Along with eight other women, they are forced to wear uniforms, have their heads shaved, and perform hard labour in the heat of summer. They have to work together to figure out how and why they got there, and what to do when the food starts running out.


17. The Mothers by Rod Jones

Text Publishing

Spanning three generations and nearly three-quarters of a century, The Mothers is a book that interweaves the lives and secrets of three Australian women. From Melbourne during World War I to living as a student during the Whitlam government, this story is both raw and satisfying.

18. Down To The River by SJ Finn

Sleepers Publishing

Joni Miller is a journalist in a small country town, bemoaning the lack of anything interesting to write about. But when it is revealed a convicted child molester is living in their midst, the town is thrown into turmoil and Joni is involved more than she ever wanted to be.

19. Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman

Penguin Australia

This collection of short stories is about women of all ages coming to terms with what it's like to be female. Sometimes confronting, often funny, this is a great book to devour over the summer.

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