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Book recommendations for every reader

My brother has just jetted of on holiday in Darwin and before he left he asked for some book recommendations.

He has been an occasional reader since school, but had not picked up a book for a while.

After I offered him some recommendations, he mentioned that he couldn’t be the only person looking for a great read and not knowing where to start.

And so, I have written up the below list of books to appeal to all readers – they’re books that I’ve enjoyed, or that I know have been widely loved. Of course, reading is very subjective, but if you’re just starting out, or stuck in a rut, hopefully these recommendations are a good place to begin.

The interrupted reader

Definition: The reader who loves books but has been too distracted by work/kids/lockdowns to pick one up recently. These readers need a book that will grab them and remind them of what they’ve been missing.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

The ambitious reader

Definition: The reader who wants a little more from their reading experience. They don’t just want to be entertained, they’d prefer to be enlightened and challenged by the books they read. More interested in books that push boundaries of form, they are looking for poetic language and expansive concepts.

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

The Milkman by Anna Burns

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders

Ulysses by James Joyce

To the Lighthouse by Sylvia Plath

The curious reader

Definition: The reader accustomed to picking up the latest must-read, but who has never moved far beyond contemporary fiction. They are interested in the classics, but feel overwhelmed deciding which ones to choose.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Painted Veil by W Somerset Maugham

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The catch-up reader

Definition: The reader who feels they have missed out on all the books they ‘should have’ read – those that are often referenced either in conversation, on tv or in the media. They want to be able to nod along when someone refers to Mr Darcy or Jay Gatsby.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Animal Farm or 1984 by George Orwell

The escapist

Definition: The reader who wants to escape reality for a while and enter a different world, seeing through the eyes of different characters. 

The Ruin and The Scholar by Dervla McTierney

The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Lanny by Max Porter

Circe by Madeline Miller

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante

The realist

Definition: These readers don’t care about fiction – they want to read gritty, confronting, fascinating real life stories.

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill

Educated by Tara Westover

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

Axiotatic by Maria Tumarkin

The comedy-loving reader

Definition: The reader who wants a book that will make them laugh. It can be literary or general fiction, or even non-fiction, but it must be funny enough to force them to stifle a chuckle during their commute on the train.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

The historical fiction buff

Definition: The reader who wants to step back in time through the pages of a book, to experience the sights, smells and tastes of a time before, evoked by a skillful writer. It is history without the textbooks or boring voiceover.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

The White Girl by Tony Birch

The emotional reader

Definition: The reader who loves a book that hollows them out and makes them cry for characters suffering from trauma and neglect. They love a book described as ‘harrowing’, and the relief of feeling wrung out, but ultimately hopeful, after they have finished the last page.

Wimmera by Mark Brandi

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

The Choke by Sofie Laguna

The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

All That I Am by Anna Funder

Infinite Splendors by Sofie Laguna

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