Sunday 6 October 2013

Top 50 (Australian) Books to Read Before you Die

In preparation for AusReading month in November I will be posting lists of books & awards to help those of you on the other side of the world with your book selections.

The above link will take you to the master post. You can add links back to your own blog posts about your experiences during AusReading Month.

There aren't many Australian book lists that don't have Tim Winton's Cloudstreet sitting at the #1 position. This particular poll was no different!

To celebrate The National Year of Reading in 2012, the First Tuesday Book Club gave all Australians a chance to vote for their favourite Australian book.

They counted the votes and compiled a list of the " 50 Aussie books you must read before you die."

I've highlighted the books I've read from this list in red. Sadly I've only reviewed one of them on this blog. I'll try to add a few more as Friday Flashbacks between now and then.

The Top 50 books were -

Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey
The Harp in the South – Ruth Park
The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
The Magic Pudding – Norman Lindsay
The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
The Secret River – Kate Grenville (reviewed)
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
Seven Little Australians – Ethel Turner
My Brother Jack – George Johnston
My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin
True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
Eucalyptus – Murray Bail
Power Without Glory – Frank Hardy
The Broken Shore – Peter Temple
Monkey Grip – Helen Garner
The Riders – Tim Winton
The Tree of Man – Patrick White
The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes
Unreliable Memoirs – Clive James
The Tall Man – Chloe Hooper
The Man Who Loved Children – Christina Stead
The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney – Henry Handel Richardson
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith – Thomas Keneally
Capricornia – Xavier Herbert
Wake in Fright – Kenneth Cooke
Ransom – David Malouf
The Year of Living Dangerously – C.J. Koch
The First Stone – Helen Garner
Gallipoli – Alan Moorehead
Maestro – Peter Goldsworthy
The Monkey’s Mask – Dorothy Porter
Wanting – Richard Flanagan
Come In Spinner – Dymphna Cusack & Florence James
Grand Days – Frank Moorhouse (brief review)
1788 – Watkin Tench
It’s Raining in Mango – Thea Astley
Riders in the Chariot – Patrick White
Carpentaria – Alexis Wright
The Tyranny of Distance – Geoffrey Blainey
That Deadman Dance – Kim Scott
For Love Alone – Christina Stead
An Intruder’s Guide to East Arnhem Land – Andrew McMillan
The Life – Malcolm Knox
The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony – Hal Porter
Here’s Luck – Lennie Lower
Visitants – Randolph Stow

The First Tuesday Book Club has now changed it's name to The Book Club. They review contemporary and classic books as well as International and Australian titles. Click on the link above to see their reviews.


  1. Oh dear, I was hoping I'd have read at least one of them - but no. Still, now I have a place to start!

  2. These lists always make me feel quite inadequate as an Australian as well as as a reader! I really have a lot of work to do... ;-)

    1. I was surprised by how few I had read too Vicki. Although I have read other books by another half dozen of these authors, which is a start I guess!

  3. I've only read two of the books on the list (The Book Thief and The True History of the Kelly Gang), but then again I'm not Australian so many of these titles and authors are new to me....of course, I probably wouldn't do very well on a list of top Canadian books either.

    I'm surprised The Thorn Birds isn't on the list.

    1. Ha ha! My Canadian list would look good as long as it was full of Margaret Atwoods and Alice Munro's!
      Thorn Birds was too long ago to probably get onto many local lists these days It was popular at the time but hasn't had longevity.

  4. Anonymous7/10/13

    Wonderful list and you have saved me so much time searching for books! I don't think I've ever read an Australian writer ( mea culpa), not even Nobel Prize winner P. White. Tip for Canadian list: just finished Ru by K. Thuy, escaped from Vietnam as a child and is now a renown Canadian writer! It was breathtaking!

    1. Thanks I'll look out for that one :-)

  5. I've just finished Ransom by David Malouf and that was brilliant. I didn't realise Marcus Zusak was Australian - I guess I can't avoid reading that any longer. Thanks for sharing this list!

  6. Anonymous8/10/13

    What a great list! I will definitely be referring back to this one. I also had no idea that Markus Zusak is Australian - that gives me one book read out of the entire list. :) I have a copy of The Secret River sitting on my shelf -- must get to it soon. No Margo Lanagan? I love her writing.


    1. Yes Ellie and Lisa, Marcus was born in Sydney (but his parents were born in Germany and Austria).
      When I checked his details though, I didn't realise he was so young! Born in 1975!!
      I haven't read Ransom yet, but I've read & loved several of Malouf's earlier books, Ellie.
      The Secret River is my favourite Grenville. She used to live in my suburb of Sydney. She would pop into the bookshop where I work on a regular basis :-)

  7. This is wonderful! I'm going to have to go through this list in more detail and dive in!


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