Stella Summer Reading
As we approach the end of the year, we asked Stella Prize-listed authors, staff, and founders what they’ve got on their TBR pile for the summer.
Heather Rose, 2017 Stella Prize Winner
Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead is a much anticipated read. I love her work and can tell by the first page that this one is going to be a ride. It’s a modern re-telling of David Copperfield complete with the opioid crisis, deep American poverty, and the impossible odds facing the maverick Demon. Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob is from the research stack. It’s a masterful work of world creation and historical fiction. I’ve saved it for a long uninterrupted read. Also Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr following his extraordinary All The Light We Cannot See and the new Kate Atkinson (I love her work) Shrines of Gaiety. And last, but perhaps most importantly, the new Cormac McCarthy – The Passenger – once I can wrest it from my partner. On the home front Craig Silvey’s Runt, Amy Thunig’s Tell Me Again and Bertie Blackman’s Bohemian Negligence. And if you haven’t read Chris Hammer’s The Tilt, it’s a great summer read.
Evie Wyld, 2021 Stella Prize Winner
The books I have sitting on my To Be Read pile are a mix of old titles, things I can’t believe I haven’t read yet and new things that sound exciting. Top of the list is Limberlost by Robbie Arnott, Shy by Max Porter, A Spell of Good Things by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ and Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez. I’ve been revisiting Shirleys recently and I want to reread The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard and Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson. In terms of non-fiction I’m starting a book called Tree Wisdom by Jacqueline Memory Paterson and I am always rereading bits of Let us Now Praise Famous Men by Walker Evans and James Agee.
Lee Lai, 2022 Stella Prize Shortlistee
This summer (for me, winter in Montreal) I’m particularly excited to read Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin, a campy horror about two trans women attempting to survive a dystopia in which all men have gone feral. Also Our Missing Hearts, Celeste Ng’s latest, because I’ve yet to read something by her that hasn’t deeply marked me. In the graphic novels realm, The Peanut Butter Sisters and Other American Stories by Rumi Hara, and The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel are at the top of the stack.
Jaclyn Booton, Executive Director at Stella
I tend to spend my summer break reading books that aren’t by Australian women and non-binary authors… because once we start the annual Stella Prize cycle, that’s all I read for months! This year’s summer stack currently includes Chelsea Manning’s ReadMe.txt, Andrew Sean Greer’s Less is Lost, and Bernadine Evaristo’s memoir Manifesto: On Never Giving Up. It’s an eclectic mix, I know. I’ve also committed to reading Nino Haratischwili’s The Eighth Life because a reader I respect raves about it regularly. Weighing in at over 900 pages, it’s a Georgian multigenerational family saga taking place on the fringes of the Russian revolution. If that’s not a great beach read, I don’t know what is (not sarcastic)!
Jo Case, Stella Founder
My summer reads are books I’ve been saving up for when I have the headspace to savour them. I’m a longtime fan of Fiona Kelly McGregor’s writing, and am looking forward to reclining by a body of water with Iris, her fat, spiky, rollicking crime novel set in 1930s Sydney, telling the story of Iris Webber (based on a real-life figure), a working-class queer sex worker and thief imprisoned for a murder she may or may not have committed. And for some reason, I often itch to read authors after hearing them profiled on the Longform podcast – there are three books in that category. Strangers to Ourselves is Rachel Aviv’s reported book on six people in different categories of extreme mental distress (including reflections on herself, aged six, hospitalised with anorexia). Easy Beauty, Chloe Cooper Jones’ memoir of inhabiting a disabled body in a society not built to accommodate her, sounds amazing. And I can’t wait to receive my copy of Somewhere Sisters, Erika Hayasaki’s reported book exploring the ethical minefield – even with the best of intentions – of international adoption, through the story of twins, one adopted by an American family, the other adopted by a family in her native Vietnam, reunited aged thirteen.
Eunice Andrada, 2022 Stella Prize Shortlistee
I’m excited to dive into a book haul I got from the incredible Brave New Word Poetry Festival. The list includes Butch Schwarzkopf’s recently launched Pagong Cannot Climb Trees, Safia Elhillo’s Girls That Never Die (which I’ve been looking forward to for years), and Nate Marshall’s Wild Hundreds. So definitely a lot of poetry as a main affair, and some novels on the side. Ever since reading Convenience Store Woman, I’ve been wanting to read all of Sayaka Murata’s work, so the next on my list is Earthlings. Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs annihilated my heart this year, so I’ll also be reading All the Lovers in the Night. Maybe I’ll finally finish the biography Cast a Diva: The Hidden Life of Maria Callas by Lyndsy Spence. I read slowly, so I probably won’t finish this reading list; however, I devour fanfiction so I’ll probably read multiple 200,000 word fanfics in one night. And the fanfics will most probably be in the world of the FX show The Bear.
Keren Murray, Chair of the Stella Board
One of the joys of being Chair of Stella is the fabulous book recommendations that regularly come my way. Consequently, my summer reading list is a compilation of recommendations from our passionate Stella community:
– The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell – recommended by one of my fellow board members. The unpublished manuscript of The Glass House won the 2021 Fogarty Literary Award. I’m looking forward to a tale of family, friendships, and secrets!
– Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain – shortlisted for the Stella Prize in 2017 and a favourite of one of our wonderful Stella staff. In the words of Stella Prize winner Charlotte Wood: ‘Blaine looks at the big questions – mortality, grief, forgiveness – through the lens of one family’s everyday struggle to love each other.’
– Not Now, Not Ever, edited by Julia Gillard – like Stella, Julia Gillard’s celebrated misogyny speech is 10 years old. Both interventions have been transformational. This book is a birthday gift from my husband.
– Homecoming by Elfie Shiosaki – shortlisted for the Stella Prize in 2022, it’s a gem of a book which tells the story of four generations of First Nations women in Western Australia through prose, poetry and extracts from the government archive. It’s a recommendation to myself to set aside some quiet time to re-read it.