2020 Baker’s Dozen

Twelve books I read in 2020 plus one I wrote.

Wild Fearless Chests
Mandy Beaumont

Why I liked it: This short-story collection left me gasping for air with its raw, uncompromising and exquisite writing.

A good gift for… Your friend who’s had a shit of a year and needs to be reconnected with their strength and resilience.

No Small Shame
Christine Bell  

Why I liked it: A carefully-researched and captivating story of one woman’s heartbreak, sacrifice and courage, all told in the shadow of the Great War.

A good gift for… Your friend who takes their historical fiction seriously.

Paul Dalgarno

Why I liked it: A darkly funny and engaging examination of modern, messy relationships and the joys and anxieties they engender.

A good gift for… Your friend who’s endlessly fascinated in the relationships of other people. 

Rural Dreams 
Margaret Hickey

Why I liked it: Loosely interwoven stories with deftly-drawn characters that offer real insights into the lives of those living on the land.

A good gift for… Your city friend who recently moved to rural Australia OR your friend who fled to the city at an early age, but whose heart still belongs to the country.

Drowning in the Shallows  
Dan Kaufman 

Why I liked it: Honest, sometimes uncomfortable but always funny. It’s hard not to like a book where the most significant relationship is between a man and his homicidal cat.

A good gift for… Your female friend who’s struggling to understand the male mind; and your single male friend who’s having trouble getting over his ex.

Where The Truth Lies
Karina  Kilmore          

Why I liked it: A fascinating look at the inner workings of the newsroom of a major paper, peppered with great characters and dark secrets.           

A good gift for… Your friend who likes their crime served with sass and smarts.

Too Much Lip
Melissa Lucashenko   

Why I liked it: This book made me laugh and cry, while showing me how there are people in this country who are still dealing with the very real and often violent repercussions of colonisation.      

A good gift for… Your friend who wants to face (or needs to be reminded about) the real legacy of Australia’s settlement.

The Mother Fault      
Kate Mildenhall         

Why I liked it: Crisp and vivid writing with a gripping story set in an all-too-possible near-future.        

A good gift for… Your friend in the throes of motherhood who needs to be reminded she can do anything she puts her mind to.

The Secret Library of Hummingbird House
Julianne Negri

Why I liked it: Utterly charming and full of love for language, libraries and yarn.  

A good gift for… Those kids you know (aged 10+) whose lives are split between two homes. Also, their parents.

Thuy On         

Why I liked it: A deeply personal and meticulously crafted collection of poems. Thuy On is a true wordsmith.

A good gift for… Lovers of words; also, your deeply romantic friend who is trying to find The One via an iPhone app.  

Stone Sky Gold Mountain
Mirandi Riwoe

Why I liked it: A visceral deep-dive into the experience of Chinese immigrants during Australia’s Gold Rush. Utterly heartbreaking.   

A good gift for… Your intimidatingly well-read friend who belongs to four book groups.

The Adversary
Ronnie Scott

Why I liked it: Delightful and quirky, this novel is the embodiment of summer. It also gave me a deep appreciation of high-quality towels.

A good gift for… Your inner-city male friend looking for Mr Right at the local pool.


The Spill
Imbi Neeme

Why I liked it: I wrote it!

A good gift for… the friend who has a complex relationship with their siblings or parents.

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