Top 50 Australian Books to Read Before You Die

I finally remembered to watch The First Tuesday Book Club on the ABC at the end of last year and enjoyed the episode which covered the top 10 Aussie books to read before you die – as voted by the audience. I’ve been meaning to check the full list and see how I’ve gone so far. 10/50. Pretty appalling. And, it was brought to my attention by Anita Heiss on Twitter that this is the National Year of Reading. She is challenging herself to read a book a week for the year. Her list of 52 books by Aboriginal, Torres Straight and other female Australian writers is further down. Even more appallingly, I’ve only read 2 of them. But apparently, several of these are children’s books, so it may be easier to get through them. Oh, and I’m not making it a challenge to myself to get through all of them this year – but hopefully some of them!

  1. Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
  2. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  3. A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey
  4. The Harp in the South – Ruth Park
  5. The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
  6. Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
  7. The Magic Pudding – Norman Lindsay
  8. The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
  9. The Secret River – Kate Grenville
  10. Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
  11. Seven Little Australians – Ethel Turner
  12. My Brother Jack – George Johnston
  13. My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin
  14. True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
  15. Eucalyptus – Murray Bail
  16. Power Without Glory – Frank Hardy
  17. The Broken Shore – Peter Temple
  18. Monkey Grip – Helen Garner
  19. The Riders – Tim Winton
  20. The Tree of Man – Patrick White
  21. The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes
  22. Unreliable Memoirs – Clive James
  23. The Tall Man – Chloe Hooper
  24. The Man Who Loved Children – Christina Stead
  25. The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
  26. The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney – Henry Handel Richardson
  27. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith – Thomas Keneally
  28. Capricornia – Xavier Herbert
  29. Wake in Fright – Kenneth Cooke
  30. Ransom – David Malouf
  31. The Year of Living Dangerously – C.J. Koch
  32. The First Stone – Helen Garner
  33. Gallipoli – Alan Moorehead
  34. Maestro – Peter Goldsworthy
  35. The Monkey’s Mask – Dorothy Porter
  36. Wanting – Richard Flanagan
  37. Come In Spinner – Dymphna Cusack & Florence James
  38. Grand Days – Frank Moorhouse
  39. 1788 – Watkin Tench
  40. It’s Raining in Mango – Thea Astley
  41. Riders in the Chariot – Patrick White
  42. Carpentaria – Alexis Wright
  43. The Tyranny of Distance – Geoffrey Blainey
  44. That Deadman Dance – Kim Scott
  45. For Love Alone – Christina Stead
  46. An Intruder’s Guide to East Arnhem Land – Andrew McMillan
  47. The Life – Malcolm Knox
  48. The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony – Hal Porter
  49. Here’s Luck – Lennie Lower
  50. Visitants – Randolph Stow

The list by Anita Heiss

1. THE BOUNDARY, by Nicole Watson. 
2. JUST KIDS, by Patti Smith
2. STELLA MAKES GOOD, by Lisa Heidke 
4. SOUTHERLY – A HANDFUL OF SAND: words to the frontline ed by Ali Cobby Eckermann and Lionel Fogarty
5. UBBY’S UNDERDOGS: The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon, by Brenton E McKenna
6. NJUNJUL THE SUN, by Boori Monty Pryor and Meme McDonald
7. VIOLIN LESSONS, by Arnold Zable
8. UNPOLISHED GEM, by Alice Pung
9. THE GRUMPY LIGHTHOUSE, by Terrizita Corpus and Maggie Prewett
10. THE MARK OF THE WARGAL, Lorna Little and Janice Lyndon
11. FLY TRAP, by Boori Monty Pryor and Meme McDonald
12. JUST THE SKIN YOU’RE LIVIN’ IN, by Gayle Kennedy and Ross Carnsew
13. JALI BOY, by Ricky Macourt 
14. THE CHAINSAW FILE, by Bruce Pascoe
15. JINDAH MURRAY WIND DANCER, by Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyung
16. DINGO’S TREE, by Gladys Milroy and Jill Milroy 
17. MAMANG, by Kim Scott, Iris Woods and the Wirlomin Noongar Language & Stories Project
18. NOONGAR MAMBATA BAKITJ,   Kim Scott, Lomas Roberts and the Wirlomin Noongar Language & Stories Project

19. SEA HEARTS, by Margo Lanagan
20. THE FAMILY LAW, by Benjamin Law
21. FALL GIRL, by Toni Jordan
22. LIFE IN SEVEN MISTAKES, by Susan Johnson
23. ANIMAL PEOPLE, Charlotte Woods
24. AFTER THE FALL, Kylie Ladd 
25. GRACE BESIDE ME, Sue McPherson 

26. MY 100 LOVERS, Susan Johnson
27. MARNGROOK: THE LONG AGO STORY OF AUSSIE RULES, By Titta Secombe / Illustrated by Grace Fielding 


29: RUBY MOONLIGHT by Ali Cobby Eckermann 
30. MY HOME IN BROOME, Tamzyne Richardson and Bronwyn Houston.
31. MAZING GRACE, by Dylan Coleman
32. YOU’LL BE SORRY WHEN I’M DEAD, Marieke Hardy
33. ONE LONG THREAD, Belinda Jeffrey
34. THE MARY SMOKE BOYS, Patrick Holland
35. DEADLY READERS series, Magabala Books 
36. HOT LIKE FIRE, Sherrice Thomas
37. From Little Things Big Things Grow / Solid Rock / Black Fella WhiteFella /  My Island Home – published by One Day Hill

38. FANTOME ISLAND, by Kathy Gibson and Jack Bell
39. JUST LIKE THAT AND OTHER POEMS, by Charmaine Papertalk-Green

40. Micky O – Determination. Hard Work. And a Little Bit of Magic. by Michael O’Loughlinwith Jim Main
41. LOOKING FOR BULLIN BULLIN by Brenda Saunders

42. TWO GREEKS, by John Charalambous
43. THE ONLY CONSTANT, by Robyne Young

44. FISHING FOR TIGERS by Emily Macguire

45. COURTING SAMIRA by Amal Awad 
46. INDIGO SOLVES THE PUZZLE, by Wendy Fitzgerald and Sophie Norsa
47. BEIJING TAI TAI, Tania McCartney

48. TWO MATES, by Melanie Prewett / Illustrated by Maggie Prewett
49.  BUBBAY: A CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE, by Josie Wowalla and illustrated by Fern Martins
50. THE SUGARBAG, Written by Nola Turner-Jensen / Illustrated by Dub Leffler 
51. SOLID ROCK, Puli Kunpunka (Sacred Ground), by Shane Howard. Pitjantjatjara translation by Ruby James and Trevor Adamson. Illustrated by kids from Mutitjulu, Kaltukatjara and Imanpa with paintings by Peter Hudson
52. FROM LITTLE THINGS BIG THINGS GROW: the story of an East Timorese Primary School  


2 thoughts on “Top 50 Australian Books to Read Before You Die

  1. Great lists Marg. I read so much non fiction, so many blogs and ‘stuff’ online but I have realised that the good stuff ( where the real jewels are) often gets left till those momenst just before I fall asleep. So 2013 is the year of Fiction – reading it and writing it! I have the Helen Garner books you need and also a great book called ‘So Many Books – So Little Time’ which is a woman’s journey through her list. Happy reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s