Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 29, 2010

A list of Australian classic reads – Reading Matters

Via Reading Matters today, there’s a list of Susan Wyndham’s Australian Classic Reads at the Sydney Morning Herald.  I’ve copied the list here, as sorted by Kim.

I’ve read nearly all of these and while (of course) I don’t agree with all of Wyndham’s choices (where’s My Brother Jack by George Johnson??) I’d love to see Australians read more of their literary heritage.  Like Wyndham, I recommend Australian Classics by Jane Gleeson-White as an excellent guide.  (Her Classics is a useful resource for wider reading too).

Links are to the ones I’ve reviewed or blog posts about the authors, and to Kim’s reviews as well.



  • The Tyranny of Distance by Geoffrey Blainey (1966)
  • *The Australian Ugliness by Robin Boyd (1960)
  • *A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey (1981)
  • *The First Stone by Helen Garner (1995)
  • *The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)
  • *The Lucky Country by Donald Horne (1964)
  • *The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes (1987)
  • Damned Whores and God’s Police by Anne Summers (1975)

*Have read it, if not reviewed, prior to starting this blog.  If I read it after 1997 when I began keeping a reading journal, I may one day do a belated review.
#Started it (long ago), read the obligatory first 50 pages but didn’t care to finish it.

Source A list of Australian classic reads – Reading Matters. Thanks Kim!


  1. What a timely post! I just finished The Man Who Loved Children today. I think I read your review earlier, but enjoyed re-reading it today. And I’m very glad I skipped Jarrell’s introduction!


    • Hi Laura, what did you think of The Man Who Loved Children? I shall visit your blog to see…


      • Lisa, I liked it although it took me a while to get into it. I’m still mulling it over in my head but I expect to write a review in the next day or so.


  2. Wow, you’re quick off the mark today Lisa. I saw that list this morning too, and idly wondered if we can turn it into a sort of Aussie version of the BBC list. After all we readers must tote up those we’ve read mustn’t we? I think I must be the only Aussie reader left who hasn’t read The Slap.


    • Ah, Louise, the joy of being on holidays and loafing in bed with the net-book on my knee!
      Are you going to read The Slap when you get to it, or have you decided not to?


      • Holidays are indeed wonderful aren’t they? I’ve been doing a bit of loafing today too. My mother fed us much too large a lunch and I’ve been incapable of doing anything much since. I do want to read The Slap, although am a bit hesitant now. It’s always hard with a book that’s been so hyped and so talked about, if you do read it somewhat down the track it’s hard to approach it with any sort of balanced perspective. If I didn’t have 18 weeks of reading planned for my 2 week January holiday I’d think about trying to squeeze it in then.


    • I love the idea of a local list of books we should read – not as a prescriptive thing but as a guide to Australian culture. Of course, your ANZlitLovers Books You Must Read is a good start.


      • Yes, the trouble is that the ANZLL list has got so long now that it’s a bit unwieldy. I hadn’t planned to add links to it, but now I think I need to so that people can click through and see what the book’s about from the bookseller’s description if there’s no review. As you can see, I’ve only just made a start at that. If I had time I’d search all over the net to find reviews, but that will have to wait for later.


  3. I usually agree with your reviews, but how you could not finish Monkey Grip I do not understand.



  4. Woops, I need to up my reading ‘game’. I’ve only read a tad over half of them. I just wish there were more hours in my day.


    • Don’t forget, Karen, the real purpose of these lists is to make us buy books. I spend some of my idle moments in the summer holidays sorting out which books I’ve read from 1001 Books, Balzac’s Comedie Humaine, Read the Nobels, Read the Bookers, Read the Miles Franklin, Read all the ones suggested by Whispering Gums, Reading Matters, Kevin from Canada, A Common Reader, Mookse and the Gripes, and on and on and on…


  5. This list is quite timely. I’m looking to compile a list of Aussie books to read.


    • Synchronicity, Kinna! I’ve just ordered a stack of African books to read based on your list!
      Don’t forget to have a look at our ANZLL Books You Must Read if ever you run out of ideas for Aussie titles. There are links to ones I’ve reviewed, and I am gradually adding links for each title to the Book Depository so that you can see summaries and reader reviews as well.


  6. Really useful for a UK reader, thank you. I love Tim Winton’s ‘The Riders’. It was the only adult novel I discussed in my Ph D.


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