Australian Women Authors to add to your Isolation Reading List

With sprawling amounts of time on my hands, I’ve definitely been reading a lot more books. However, I’ve also had time to analyse the kinds of books I’ve been reading, and I was somewhat disappointed with myself when the last 3 books had been written by white, straightAmerican men. Nothing against them, but there is something special about reading books by people like you for people like you. I’ve decided to fill my quarantine reading list with six Australian women who should be on your radar. A lot of these recommendations came to me from QUT Creative Writing students and tutors, one book is even written by a tutor of mine, so the group definitely has good taste. Many of the featured books are published by local publishing houses across Australia, who are desperate for support in such an isolating time.

The Yellow House 

Emily O’Grady 

One of our own, Emily O’Grady is a QUT graduate and winner of the Vogel Novel Prize. Her book, The Yellow House, is a thriller about living in the shadow of a serial killer. I’m looking forward to reading something a bit grittier than what I would normally engage with. 

The Weekend 

Charlotte Wood 

I loved Charlotte’s first book, the Natural Way of Things, more than life itself. I first had to read it for a class in third year, and now it’s one of my favourite novels. The blurb of her new novel, The Weekend, suggests that “The Weekend explores growing old and growing up, and what happens when we’re forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves. Sharply observed and excruciatingly funny, this is a jewel of a book: a celebration of tenderness and friendship.”  I think a bit of laughter is exactly what we need right now, so I’m keen to dive in.  

Eggshell Skull 

Bri Lee 

This is a re-read for me, but one any law student reading this should definitely jump on. Bri is from Brisbane and Eggshell Skull is her memoir detailing her process through the justice system as the complaintant in a sexual assault case from her childhood. It’s a searingvulnerable story and one you shouldn’t miss.  

The Inland Sea 

Madeleine Watts 

This book follows the fictional story about the descendant of John Oxley, who believed in an inland sea that was in central Australia. The book is a fierce and beautiful debut novel about our capacity for harming ourselves, each other and the world around us, and I am glad to have it on my reading list. Would love to read this one with a group of people, so if you’re keen message me at @emreadman to join a little book club! 

Too Much Lip 

Melissa Lucashenko 

This is quite a decorated novel. It is the winner of the Miles Franklin Award. It is a story about land rights, family and a struggle for belonging, set on Bundjalung Country. I’ve heard good things from scores of people, so now I have the time to give it a full read. I’m only a few chapters in and it’s absolutely gripping.  

Cherry Beach  

Laura McPhee-Browne 

I’m not one to pass up sapphic writing. The novel has been called tender and bruising, one that you struggle to pass up after the first chapter. Set in Toronto but written by Melbourne Based writer Laura McPhee-Browne, this will be the next book I’ll be working through in isolation. In fact, it’s sitting right next to me. 

What’s on your reading list? Let me know, and always make sure to support your local artists, writers and creative community. 

Em Readman
Em Readman

Em Readman is a writer from Meanjin who lives in Boorloo. She has been published in Aniko Press, the Suburban Review, Bowen St Press, Baby Teeth Arts, and others. They were an editor of Glass Magazine in 2020 and 2021, and won the 2022 Blue Knot Foundation Award with the Hunter Writer's Centre.

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