My Favourite Book - Australian Big Read

This is one of the 280 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

    This epic high-fantasy novel centers around a modest hobbit who is entrusted with the task of destroying a powerful ring that could enable the dark lord to conquer the world. Accompanied by a diverse group of companions, the hobbit embarks on a perilous journey across Middle-earth, battling evil forces and facing numerous challenges. The narrative, rich in mythology and complex themes of good versus evil, friendship, and heroism, has had a profound influence on the fantasy genre.

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Set in early 19th-century England, this classic novel revolves around the lives of the Bennet family, particularly the five unmarried daughters. The narrative explores themes of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage within the society of the landed gentry. It follows the romantic entanglements of Elizabeth Bennet, the second eldest daughter, who is intelligent, lively, and quick-witted, and her tumultuous relationship with the proud, wealthy, and seemingly aloof Mr. Darcy. Their story unfolds as they navigate societal expectations, personal misunderstandings, and their own pride and prejudice.

  • The Bible by Unknown

    The Bible is the central religious text of Christianity, comprising the Old and New Testaments. It features a diverse collection of writings including historical narratives, poetry, prophecies, and teachings. These texts chronicle the relationship between God and humanity, detail the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and follow the early Christian church. Considered divinely inspired by believers, it serves as a foundational guide for faith and practice, influencing countless aspects of culture and society worldwide.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Set in the racially charged South during the Depression, the novel follows a young girl and her older brother as they navigate their small town's societal norms and prejudices. Their father, a lawyer, is appointed to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, forcing the children to confront the harsh realities of racism and injustice. The story explores themes of morality, innocence, and the loss of innocence through the eyes of the young protagonists.

  • Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

    "Cloudstreet" is a sweeping family saga set in post-World War II Australia, following two families, the Pickles and the Lambs, who come to live together in a large, ramshackle house on Cloud Street over two decades. The story explores their struggles, triumphs, and the ways they are haunted and blessed by a mysterious spiritual presence. The novel is a celebration of endurance, unity, and the many forms of love, set against the backdrop of a changing Australia.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K Rowling

    In the fifth installment of this iconic series, the young wizard Harry Potter returns for his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, only to discover that much of the wizarding world, including the Ministry of Magic, is in denial about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry is also beset by disturbing dreams while the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been stationed at Hogwarts to protect the school, and Harry's budding abilities as a wizard are put to the test. Meanwhile, a secret society, the Order of the Phoenix, is working to fight Voldemort and his followers, and Harry's role in the coming conflict is becoming ever more significant.

  • Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

    Set in a dystopian future, the novel presents a society under the total control of a totalitarian regime, led by the omnipresent Big Brother. The protagonist, a low-ranking member of 'the Party', begins to question the regime and falls in love with a woman, an act of rebellion in a world where independent thought, dissent, and love are prohibited. The novel explores themes of surveillance, censorship, and the manipulation of truth.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    This comedic science fiction novel follows the intergalactic adventures of an unwitting human, Arthur Dent, who is rescued just before Earth's destruction by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for a galactic travel guide. Together, they hitch a ride on a stolen spaceship, encountering a range of bizarre characters, including a depressed robot and a two-headed ex-president of the galaxy. Through a series of satirical and absurd escapades, the book explores themes of existentialism, bureaucracy, and the absurdity of life, all while poking fun at the science fiction genre and offering witty commentary on the human condition.

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

    This thriller novel follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptographer Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The murder leads them to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, revealing a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years. The mystery involves a conspiracy within the Catholic Church and threatens to overturn the foundations of Christianity.

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

    The book is a satirical critique of military bureaucracy and the illogical nature of war, set during World War II. The story follows a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier stationed in Italy, who is trying to maintain his sanity while fulfilling his service requirements so that he can go home. The novel explores the absurdity of war and military life through the experiences of the protagonist, who discovers that a bureaucratic rule, the "Catch-22", makes it impossible for him to escape his dangerous situation. The more he tries to avoid his military assignments, the deeper he gets sucked into the irrational world of military rule.

  • A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

    "A Fortunate Life" is a memoir that chronicles the extraordinary life of a man who overcame immense hardships and adversity to find happiness and contentment. From his humble beginnings in rural Australia to his experiences as a soldier in World War I, the author shares his remarkable journey filled with poverty, loss, and resilience. Despite facing numerous challenges, he remains optimistic and grateful for the opportunities life has presented him, ultimately proving that a fortunate life is not defined by material wealth, but by the strength of the human spirit.

  • Dirt Music by Tim Winton

    The novel explores the entangled lives of a small, tight-knit community in Western Australia, where the past and personal grief weigh heavily on the present. It centers on the illicit romance between Georgie Jutland, a woman feeling trapped in her relationship with a local fisherman, and Lu Fox, a poacher with a troubled history. Their connection sets off a chain of events that disrupts the community and sends Lu on a transformative journey into the remote Australian wilderness. As the narrative unfolds, the characters grapple with their inner demons, the harsh realities of love and survival, and the redemptive power of nature and music.

  • 800 Horseman by Col Stringer

    The book is a historical account that pays tribute to the legendary Australian Light Horsemen, who played a crucial role during World War I, particularly in the Middle East campaign. It delves into the remarkable feats of these mounted troops, known for their exceptional horsemanship, courage, and endurance. The narrative celebrates their most famous victory at the Battle of Beersheba and explores the unique bond between the horsemen and their faithful mounts, offering insights into the strategies, challenges, and the enduring legacy of these iconic figures in Australian military history.

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

    This classic novel is a tale of love, revenge and social class set in the Yorkshire moors. It revolves around the intense, complex relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Catherine's father. Despite their deep affection for each other, Catherine marries Edgar Linton, a wealthy neighbor, leading Heathcliff to seek revenge on the two families. The story unfolds over two generations, reflecting the consequences of their choices and the destructive power of obsessive love.

  • Zhaun Falun by Li Hongzhi

    The book in question is a comprehensive guide to a spiritual discipline rooted in Chinese tradition, offering a path to enlightenment through moral rectitude, meditation, and exercises. It outlines a philosophy centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, while also delving into cosmology, human life, and the relationship between the universe and human beings. The text serves as the foundational scripture for practitioners, providing insights into achieving spiritual advancement and understanding the deeper workings of life and the cosmos.

  • Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by J. K Rowling

    In this third installment of the popular fantasy series, the protagonist enters his third year at a magical school, only to find out that a notorious prisoner has escaped from a supposedly inescapable prison and is believed to be after him. As the school year progresses, he learns more about his parents' history, uncovers secrets about his professor, and discovers a magical map. He also learns to summon a powerful defensive spell, confronts the escaped prisoner, and uncovers the truth about his parents' betrayal and death. The book ends with him saving an innocent life and learning a valuable lesson about the complexity of human nature and the importance of true friendship.

  • The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

    The book follows the mischievous antics of two fourth-grade friends who, after hypnotizing their grumpy principal, turn him into Captain Underpants, a superhero of their own comic book creation. The boys navigate through a series of humorous adventures as they control the principal-turned-superhero, who has no actual powers but is convinced of his own heroism. Their escapades are filled with pranks, battles against ridiculous villains, and plenty of toilet humor, all while trying to keep their principal's alter ego a secret and manage the chaos they've unleashed at their elementary school.

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

    The novel follows the life of Jane Eyre, an orphan who is mistreated by her relatives and sent to a charity school. As she grows up, Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with the brooding and mysterious Mr. Rochester. However, she soon learns of a dark secret in his past that threatens their future together. The story is a profound exploration of a woman's self-discovery and her struggle for independence and love in a rigid Victorian society.

  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

    Four siblings are evacuated from London during World War II and sent to live with an old professor in the countryside. In his house, they discover a magical wardrobe that serves as a portal to the land of Narnia, a world filled with mythical creatures and ruled by an evil White Witch. The children are soon caught up in a struggle to free Narnia from the witch's eternal winter, aided by the majestic lion Aslan. The story combines elements of fantasy, adventure, and Christian allegory.

  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

    "The Wind in the Willows" is a charming tale about the adventures of four anthropomorphic animal friends - Mole, Rat, Badger, and the rebellious and extravagant Toad. The story is set in the idyllic English countryside and explores themes of friendship, exploration, and respect for nature. The narrative is marked by Toad's reckless behavior, his obsession with motor cars, and his eventual redemption. The other characters, with their contrasting personalities, bring balance and depth to the story.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

    The novel follows the story of a teenager named Holden Caulfield, who has just been expelled from his prep school. The narrative unfolds over the course of three days, during which Holden experiences various forms of alienation and his mental state continues to unravel. He criticizes the adult world as "phony" and struggles with his own transition into adulthood. The book is a profound exploration of teenage rebellion, alienation, and the loss of innocence.

  • The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett

    Set in the 12th century, the novel is a sweeping epic of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty. It revolves around the construction of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. The story is centered on the lives of three main characters: a master builder, a monk, and a noblewoman, whose destinies are intertwined with the building of the cathedral and the tumultuous events of the time, including war, religious strife, and power struggles.

  • Magician by Raymond E. Feist

    The book is a fantasy epic that follows the journey of a young boy named Pug, who rises from humble beginnings as an orphaned kitchen boy to become a powerful magician in the Kingdom of the Isles. His life takes a dramatic turn when he and his friend Tomas are swept into a conflict against an ancient enemy from another world, threatening not only their homeland but also the very fabric of reality. As Pug masters the arts of magic under the tutelage of the enigmatic magician Kulgan, he must navigate a path fraught with danger, political intrigue, and war. Alongside a diverse cast of characters, Pug's destiny unfolds as he becomes a key player in the struggle to save his world from destruction.

  • Possession by A. S. Byatt

    "Possession" is a novel that interweaves two storylines, one set in contemporary times and the other in the Victorian era. The contemporary plot follows two academics who uncover a secret love affair between two 19th-century poets, while the Victorian storyline presents the clandestine romance itself. As the modern scholars delve deeper into the past, they find themselves falling in love as well, mirroring the historical romance they are researching. The book explores themes of love, passion, and the power of the written word.

  • Dune by Frank Herbert

    Set in a distant future, the novel follows Paul Atreides, whose family assumes control of the desert planet Arrakis. As the only producer of a highly valuable resource, jurisdiction over Arrakis is contested among competing noble families. After Paul and his family are betrayed, the story explores themes of politics, religion, and man’s relationship to nature, as Paul leads a rebellion to restore his family's reign.

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

    "A Fine Balance" is a poignant narrative set in India during the 1970s, a time of political turmoil and upheaval. The plot revolves around four diverse characters - a widow, a young student, and two tailors - who are brought together by fate. Through their interconnected lives, the book explores themes of caste, poverty, political corruption, and the human spirit's resilience. It offers a profound exploration of the delicate balance that sustains life amidst adversity.

  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

    In this fantasy novel, a timid and unadventurous hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is whisked away on a grand adventure by a wizard and a group of dwarves. Their mission is to reclaim the dwarves' homeland and treasure from a fearsome dragon. Throughout the journey, Bilbo grows in courage and cunning, proving himself a true hero as he encounters trolls, goblins, giant spiders, and other perils. The novel culminates with a great battle involving various races of Middle Earth, after which Bilbo returns home, forever changed by his experiences.

  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

    Set in 1950s India, this epic novel follows the story of four families over a period of 18 months, focusing primarily on the young woman Lata and her mother's quest to find her a suitable husband. The narrative explores the political, social, and personal upheavals in a newly independent India, struggling with its own identity amidst the backdrop of a society grappling with religious tensions, land reforms, and the shaping of a modern democratic state. Lata's journey is an exploration of love, ambition, and the weight of familial duty.

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    This novel is a multi-generational saga that focuses on the Buendía family, who founded the fictional town of Macondo. It explores themes of love, loss, family, and the cyclical nature of history. The story is filled with magical realism, blending the supernatural with the ordinary, as it chronicles the family's experiences, including civil war, marriages, births, and deaths. The book is renowned for its narrative style and its exploration of solitude, fate, and the inevitability of repetition in history.

  • Fighting Mc Kenzie Anzac Chaplain by Col Stringer

    The book tells the story of Daniel "Fighting Mac" McKenzie, a remarkable military chaplain who served with the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) forces during World War I. Known for his unorthodox methods and fierce determination, McKenzie was a spiritual guide who also physically defended and rescued soldiers in the trenches, earning him legendary status among the troops. His story is one of bravery, compassion, and unwavering faith, as he navigated the horrors of war to provide comfort and support to the soldiers fighting on the front lines. Through his actions, McKenzie became a symbol of hope and resilience, embodying the spirit of the ANZACs.

  • Deltora Quest Series by Emily Rodda

    The series is a collection of fantasy novels that follow the journey of a young boy named Lief, who is tasked with finding the seven lost gems of the Belt of Deltora. Accompanied by his companions Barda and Jasmine, he must travel across the land of Deltora, facing numerous challenges and adversaries, in order to restore the belt's magical properties and overthrow the tyrannical rule of the Shadow Lord. Each gem is hidden in a perilous location and guarded by a fearsome guardian, requiring courage, wit, and perseverance to be retrieved. The quest is not only a physical adventure but also a journey of self-discovery for the heroes as they learn the importance of friendship, trust, and bravery.

  • Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden

    The book follows a group of teenagers who return from a camping trip to discover that their country has been invaded and their families taken prisoner. As they grapple with the harsh reality of their situation, they must transform from carefree adolescents into resourceful and determined fighters, struggling to survive and launch a guerrilla war against the occupying forces. The story explores themes of friendship, survival, and the loss of innocence, as the characters are thrust into a brutal conflict that forces them to confront the complexities of adulthood and warfare.

  • Perfume by Patrick Suskind

    Set in 18th-century France, this novel tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man born with an extraordinary sense of smell but no personal scent of his own. He becomes an apprentice to a prominent perfumer and learns to create the world's most intoxicating perfumes. However, his obsession with capturing the perfect scent leads him down a dark path, as he begins to kill young women to extract their scent. The book is a chilling exploration of obsession, identity, and the power of scent.

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

    The book follows the Joad family, Oklahoma farmers displaced from their land during the Great Depression. The family, alongside thousands of other "Okies," travel to California in search of work and a better life. Throughout their journey, they face numerous hardships and injustices, yet maintain their humanity through unity and shared sacrifice. The narrative explores themes of man's inhumanity to man, the dignity of wrath, and the power of family and friendship, offering a stark and moving portrayal of the harsh realities of American migrant laborers during the 1930s.

  • The Ancient Future Trilogy by Traci Harding

    The series blends elements of fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction, following the journey of a young woman who is transported back in time to the age of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. With her knowledge of the future and her emerging psychic abilities, she becomes a pivotal figure in the ancient world, influencing historical events and intertwining her destiny with legendary characters. As she navigates the challenges of her new life, she also uncovers mysteries that link the past, present, and future, revealing a timeless battle between light and darkness. Her adventures across time explore themes of destiny, reincarnation, and the interconnectedness of all things.

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

    This novel is a poignant tale of fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, who navigate through their childhood in Kerala, India, amidst a backdrop of political unrest and societal norms. The story, set in 1969, explores the complexities of their family's history and the tragic events that shape their lives. Their mother's transgression of caste and societal norms by having an affair with an untouchable leads to disastrous consequences, revealing the oppressive nature of the caste system and the destructive power of forbidden love. The novel also delves into themes of postcolonial identity, gender roles, and the lingering effects of trauma.

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K Rowling

    In this fourth installment of a popular fantasy series, a young wizard finds himself unexpectedly entered into a dangerous tournament between rival schools of magic. He must compete in a series of challenging tasks, including a deadly dragon chase and a terrifying underwater rescue mission. Meanwhile, he's dealing with regular teen issues like crushes, jealousy, and school dances. But as he unravels the mystery behind his selection for the tournament, he uncovers a dark plot that puts his life in danger and hints at the return of a powerful dark wizard.

  • The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

    This novel follows the life of a young English boy named Peekay who grows up in South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s. Despite facing bullying, racial segregation, and the hardships of World War II, Peekay remains resilient and determined to follow his dream of becoming a world-class boxer. Along his journey, he encounters various mentors who teach him about survival, love, and the power of one person to make a significant difference in the world.

  • The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

    The novel follows the story of a depressed and overweight man who moves with his two daughters to his ancestral home in Newfoundland, Canada, after his unfaithful wife dies in a car accident. There, he begins to rebuild his life, working as a reporter for the local newspaper, The Shipping News, and learning about the harsh realities of the fishing industry. As he delves into his family's history, he begins to find a sense of belonging and a new love. The story explores themes of family, identity, and the power of place.

  • Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

    Set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during World War II, this novel explores the lives of the island's inhabitants as they experience the war's harsh realities. The narrative primarily focuses on the love story between a local woman and an Italian captain, who is part of the occupying forces. As the war progresses, the characters are forced to confront their beliefs, their relationships, and their identities, all while grappling with the devastating impacts of the conflict.

  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

    The Poisonwood Bible is a novel that follows the experiences of a missionary family in the Belgian Congo during the 1960s. The story is told from the perspective of the wife and four daughters of the Baptist minister who drags his family into the politically volatile Congo on a mission to save souls. The novel explores themes of cultural arrogance, religious zeal, and the clash of Western and African values, as well as the personal growth and self-discovery of the women in the family as they grapple with the harsh realities of their new life and the fallout from their father's single-minded vision.

  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

    The book follows the life of a young orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to live with an elderly brother and sister who originally wanted to adopt a boy to help them with their farm in Prince Edward Island. Despite the initial disappointment, the girl's charm, vivacity, and imagination soon win over her new guardians. The story details her adventures and mishaps in her new home, her struggles and triumphs at school, and her gradual maturing into a smart, independent young woman.

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

    Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, this novel follows the life of a young Southern belle, who is known for her beauty and charm. Her life takes a turn when she is forced to make drastic changes to survive the war and its aftermath. The story revolves around her struggle to maintain her family's plantation and her complicated love life, especially her unrequited love for a married man, and her tumultuous relationship with a roguish blockade runner.

  • Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

    The novel is a historical romance that blends adventure, love, and time travel. It follows the story of a World War II combat nurse who is mysteriously swept back in time to 18th-century Scotland. There, she encounters clan rivalries, the harsh realities of life in the past, and a gallant Scottish warrior with whom she falls deeply in love. As she becomes entangled in the intrigues and dangers of a world that is not her own, she must navigate her dual existence and decide where her heart truly belongs.

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen

    This classic novel revolves around the life of Anne Elliot, a woman of 27 who is unmarried and living with her vain, snobbish, and foolish family who are on the brink of financial ruin. Seven years prior, she had been persuaded to reject a marriage proposal from the man she loved, a poor but ambitious naval officer named Frederick Wentworth. When he returns from the war a wealthy and successful captain, old feelings are rekindled. The story follows Anne's journey towards self-realization and second chances at love amidst the complexities of her social class.

  • Ice Station by Matthew Reilly

    In this high-octane thriller, an elite team of American Marines is dispatched to a remote Antarctic research station after a distress signal indicates the discovery of an unknown entity buried deep in the ice. Upon arrival, the team finds themselves embroiled in a deadly battle with foreign commandos who are also intent on securing the mysterious find. As the soldiers navigate treacherous ice caverns and confront the harsh elements, they uncover a secret that could change the course of history, all while fighting to survive against overwhelming odds and prevent the artifact from falling into the wrong hands.

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    A young woman marries a wealthy widower and moves into his large English country house. She quickly realizes that the memory of her husband's first wife, Rebecca, haunts every corner of the estate. The housekeeper's obsessive devotion to Rebecca and the mysterious circumstances of her death continue to overshadow the second wife's attempts to make a happy life with her husband. As secrets about Rebecca's life and death are revealed, the new wife must grapple with her own identity and place within the household.

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel

    A young Indian boy named Pi Patel survives a shipwreck and finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Over the course of 227 days, Pi uses his knowledge of animal behavior and survival skills to coexist with the tiger, ultimately leading to an unusual and deeply spiritual journey. The story explores themes of faith, survival, and the interpretation of reality.

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    A young, impoverished former student in Saint Petersburg, Russia, formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker to redistribute her wealth among the needy. However, after carrying out the act, he is consumed by guilt and paranoia, leading to a psychological battle within himself. As he grapples with his actions, he also navigates complex relationships with a variety of characters, including a virtuous prostitute, his sister, and a relentless detective. The narrative explores themes of morality, redemption, and the psychological impacts of crime.

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    This classic novel follows the lives of the four March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy - as they navigate the challenges and joys of adolescence and adulthood in 19th century New England. As they grow, they grapple with issues of poverty, gender roles, love, and personal identity, each in her own unique way. The story is a testament to the power of family, sisterhood, and female resilience in a time of societal constraints.

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    A young orphan boy, living with his cruel older sister and her kind blacksmith husband, has an encounter with an escaped convict that changes his life. Later, he becomes the protégé of a wealthy but reclusive woman and falls in love with her adopted daughter. He then learns that an anonymous benefactor has left him a fortune, leading him to believe that his benefactor is the reclusive woman and that she intends for him to marry her adopted daughter. He moves to London to become a gentleman, but his great expectations are ultimately shattered when he learns the true identity of his benefactor and the reality of his love interest.

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Set in the summer of 1922, the novel follows the life of a young and mysterious millionaire, his extravagant lifestyle in Long Island, and his obsessive love for a beautiful former debutante. As the story unfolds, the millionaire's dark secrets and the corrupt reality of the American dream during the Jazz Age are revealed. The narrative is a critique of the hedonistic excess and moral decay of the era, ultimately leading to tragic consequences.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

    This book is the first in a series that follows the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, after their parents die in a mysterious fire. The children are sent to live with their distant relative, Count Olaf, who is cruel and only interested in their large inheritance. The children must use their unique skills and intellect to outsmart Olaf's evil plans and find a way to escape his clutches.

  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    This novel follows the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, who fall passionately in love in their youth. However, Fermina eventually marries a wealthy doctor, leaving Florentino heartbroken. Despite this, Florentino remains devoted to Fermina for over fifty years, patiently waiting for her husband's death to have another chance at her love. The story is set against the backdrop of a cholera epidemic, serving as a metaphor for the transformative power of love and the destructive power of obsession.

  • Rage by Steve Gerlach

    "Rage" is a chilling psychological thriller that delves into the darkest corners of the human psyche. The narrative follows the life of a man who, after experiencing a traumatic event, finds himself on a relentless quest for vengeance. His journey is marked by a transformation from an everyday individual into a person consumed by anger and a desire for retribution. As he descends further into his own personal hell, the lines between justice and revenge blur, leading to a gripping and harrowing exploration of the consequences of unbridled rage and the impact it has on one's soul and the world around them.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

    This novel follows the story of a young girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantastical world full of peculiar creatures and bizarre experiences. As she navigates through this strange land, she encounters a series of nonsensical events, including a tea party with a Mad Hatter, a pool of tears, and a trial over stolen tarts. The book is renowned for its playful use of language, logic, and its exploration of the boundaries of reality.

  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

    This novel reimagines the Arthurian legends from the perspectives of the women involved. It centers around Morgaine, Arthur's half-sister, who is a priestess of Avalon, and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's queen. The story explores their roles in the political and spiritual conflicts that arise as Christianity begins to replace the old pagan ways. It delves into themes of love, loyalty, and power, while offering a fresh take on a classic tale.

  • Cafe Scheherazade by Arnold Zable

    "Cafe Scheherazade" is a poignant narrative that weaves together the stories of Jewish Holocaust survivors who have found a haven in a Melbourne cafe, where they share their harrowing experiences and the tales of their pasts. The cafe becomes a place of solace and storytelling, where memories of love, loss, and endurance amidst the horrors of war are exchanged. Through the recounting of personal histories, the novel explores themes of displacement, the importance of community, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity.

  • The Bone People by Keri Hulme

    "The Bone People" is a complex, emotional novel that explores the lives of three characters - a reclusive artist, a young mute boy, and his adoptive father - in New Zealand. The narrative delves into themes such as Maori culture, love, violence, and isolation while showcasing the struggle of these individuals as they try to form a family unit despite their personal traumas and societal pressures. The book's unique blend of prose and poetry, along with its blend of English and Maori language, adds to its depth and richness.

  • Jessica by Bryce Courtenay

    The novel is a gripping tale of a young Australian woman's resilience and determination in the face of overwhelming adversity. Born into a life of hardship in the bush, Jessica is a tomboy who is more at home with horses and fencing than in the kitchen. When her dreams and rights are trampled by her family's betrayal and a corrupt legal system, she must fight to clear her name and seek justice. Set against the backdrop of World War I and the harsh Australian outback, her story is one of love, loss, and the unyielding spirit of a woman who refuses to be broken by the world.

  • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets by J. K Rowling

    In this second installment of a magical series, a young wizard returns to his school of witchcraft and wizardry for his second year, only to find that a mysterious entity is petrifying his classmates. With the help of his friends, he uncovers the dark history of the school, including a secret chamber hidden within the castle. Inside this chamber lurks a creature controlled by a memory from the past, and the young wizard must face it to save his school.

  • The Fortunes Of Richard Mahony by Henry Handel Richardson

    "The Fortunes of Richard Mahony" is a trilogy that chronicles the life of an Irish-born man who emigrates to Australia during the gold rush of the 1850s. The narrative follows his journey, detailing his struggles with mental health, the challenges of marriage, and the difficulties of raising a family in a foreign land. The story provides a deep insight into the complexities of human nature, the societal norms of the time, and the challenges faced by immigrants.

  • My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

    In this humorous and heartwarming memoir, a young boy named Gerald Durrell recounts his unconventional upbringing on the idyllic Greek island of Corfu. Surrounded by a colorful cast of eccentric family members and a menagerie of unique animals, Gerald's adventures and misadventures bring joy and laughter to readers as he navigates the wonders of nature and the challenges of growing up. With vivid descriptions and witty anecdotes, this book is a delightful tribute to the beauty of the natural world and the bonds of family.

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    Set in the backdrop of the Napoleonic era, the novel presents a panorama of Russian society and its descent into the chaos of war. It follows the interconnected lives of five aristocratic families, their struggles, romances, and personal journeys through the tumultuous period of history. The narrative explores themes of love, war, and the meaning of life, as it weaves together historical events with the personal stories of its characters.

  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

    This book is a biographical account of three generations of women in China, spanning the years 1909 to 1991. The narrative follows the lives of the author's grandmother, a warlord's concubine; her mother, a high-ranking official in the Communist Party; and the author herself, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution before moving to the West. The book presents a vivid portrayal of the political and social changes in China during the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of these three women.

  • Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

    The book is a memoir of a Chinese peasant boy who, chosen at a young age by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to become a ballet dancer, undergoes a grueling training at Beijing Dance Academy. Through sheer determination and resilience, he excels and earns a rare opportunity to study in America. His experiences abroad open his eyes to the stark contrasts between the communist regime of China and the freedoms of the West. The story follows his emotional and ideological struggle as he eventually defects, leaving behind his family and homeland to pursue his passion for dance and a life of artistic and personal freedom.

  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

    A 12-year-old genius and criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short, for a large ransom of gold with the help of his bodyguard, Butler, to restore his family's fortune. In the process, he discovers an underground world of armed and dangerous fairies. The fairies fight back with magic, cunning, and technological weapons leading to a high-stakes battle of wits.

  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini

    In a fantastical realm where dragons and their riders are the stuff of legends, a young farm boy stumbles upon a mysterious stone that hatches into a dragon, binding their fates together. Thrust into an ancient legacy of dragon riders, the boy and his dragon must navigate a perilous world of dark magic, tyrannical rulers, and hidden allies. As he learns to harness his newfound powers and the wisdom of the dragon, the boy embarks on an epic quest to overthrow a corrupt empire and fulfill his destiny as the last hope for freedom in his war-torn land.

  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

    The novel follows the life of a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from prison and flees to India. Settling in the bustling city of Mumbai, he assumes a new identity and immerses himself in the local culture, forming a close bond with the people in a slum. As he navigates his new environment, he becomes entangled in various criminal activities, including running a free health clinic, working for the Bombay mafia, and fighting in Afghanistan. Throughout his journey, he grapples with love, forgiveness, and his quest for redemption, all while exploring themes of good and evil, friendship, and the complexities of the human spirit.

  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

    This novel is a historical fiction that provides a rich exploration of life in Japan before World War II, through the eyes of a young girl sold into the geisha lifestyle. The protagonist is trained in the arts of entertaining wealthy and powerful men, navigating a world of jealousy, love, and social politics. Her journey is one of resilience and survival as she strives to find personal happiness in a society that views her as a commodity.

  • The Riders by Tim Winton

    The novel follows the turbulent journey of an Australian man who travels to Ireland with his young daughter to reunite with his wife, only to discover upon arrival that she has mysteriously disappeared. As he searches across Europe for his missing wife, grappling with the uncertainty of her fate and the challenge of caring for his daughter alone, he is forced to confront his own shortcomings and the reality of his crumbling marriage. The narrative is a haunting exploration of hope, despair, and the complexities of love and identity, set against a backdrop of richly depicted landscapes that mirror the protagonist's inner turmoil.

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    Set in 19th-century Russia, this novel revolves around the life of Anna Karenina, a high-society woman who, dissatisfied with her loveless marriage, embarks on a passionate affair with a charming officer named Count Vronsky. This scandalous affair leads to her social downfall, while parallel to this, the novel also explores the rural life and struggles of Levin, a landowner who seeks the meaning of life and true happiness. The book explores themes such as love, marriage, fidelity, societal norms, and the human quest for happiness.

  • Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

    This memoir is a profound and heart-wrenching account of the author's impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland, during the 1930s and 1940s. The story is filled with tales of survival in the face of extreme poverty, an alcoholic father, a struggling mother, and the deaths of three siblings. Despite the harsh circumstances, the narrative is infused with a sense of humor and hope, demonstrating the resilience of the human spirit.

  • The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine

    This philosophical work challenges institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible, advocating for reason and free thought over blind faith and doctrine. The author criticizes religious institutions for their manipulation of individuals' beliefs for personal gain and power, and he promotes deism, arguing that the existence of a creator can be inferred from the beauty and complexity of the natural world. He also underscores the importance of human rights, liberty, and equality, which he believes are inherently compromised by organized religion.

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    A young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago dreams of finding a worldly treasure and sets off on a journey across the Egyptian desert in search of it. Along the way, he encounters a series of characters who impart wisdom and help guide his spiritual journey. The novel explores themes of destiny, personal legend, and the interconnectedness of all things in the universe. The boy learns that true wealth comes not from material possessions, but from self-discovery and attaining one's "Personal Legend".

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot

    Set in the fictitious English town of Middlemarch during the early 19th century, the novel explores the complex web of relationships in a close-knit society. It follows the lives of several characters, primarily Dorothea Brooke, a young woman of idealistic fervor, and Tertius Lydgate, an ambitious young doctor, who both grapple with societal expectations, personal desires, and moral dilemmas. Their stories intertwine with a rich tapestry of other townsfolk, reflecting themes of love, marriage, ambition, and reform, making a profound commentary on the human condition.

  • Emma by Jane Austen

    The novel revolves around Emma, a well-meaning but disaster-prone matchmaker, who ignores her own romantic feelings while setting out to find a suitor for her friend Harriet. Her efforts cause more problems than solutions as she leaves a trail of mishaps behind her. As her plans go awry, Emma realizes that she herself may be the one in love. The book is a classic exploration of social manners, love, and marriage in 19th-century England.

  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

    The novel tells the story of Saleem Sinai, who was born at the exact moment when India gained its independence. As a result, he shares a mystical connection with other children born at the same time, all of whom possess unique, magical abilities. As Saleem grows up, his life mirrors the political and cultural changes happening in his country, from the partition of India and Pakistan, to the Bangladesh War of Independence. The story is a blend of historical fiction and magical realism, exploring themes of identity, fate, and the power of storytelling.

  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

    "The English Patient" is a story of four diverse individuals brought together at an Italian villa during the final days of World War II. The narrative revolves around a severely burned man who can't remember his name or past, a young Canadian nurse who tends to him, a Sikh British Army sapper, and a Canadian thief. As they navigate their own traumas and losses, the past of the mysterious patient slowly unravels, revealing a tale of love, identity, and betrayal.

  • Matilda by Roald Dahl

    The book follows the story of Matilda, an exceptionally intelligent young girl who is neglected and mistreated by her parents. She finds solace and companionship in the local library, where she develops a love of books and a remarkable talent for telekinesis. Matilda eventually uses these abilities to defend her friends from their tyrannical headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, and help her kind-hearted teacher, Miss Honey, reclaim her life.

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

    The book is a philosophical novel that explores the protagonist's journey across the United States on a motorcycle with his son, during which he delves into questions about life, philosophy, and the nature of "Quality". The narrative is interspersed with flashbacks to the protagonist's life before the journey, including his time as a university professor and his struggle with mental illness. The book aims to reconcile the dichotomy between classical and romantic understandings of the world, ultimately arguing for a holistic approach that integrates both perspectives.

  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    This novel follows the story of a young man and his friend as they embark on a series of cross-country road trips across America during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The protagonist, driven by a desire for freedom and a quest for identity, encounters a series of eccentric characters and experiences the highs and lows of the Beat Generation. The narrative is a testament to the restlessness of youth and the allure of adventure, underscored by themes of jazz, poetry, and drug use.

  • The BFG by Roald Dahl

    The book tells the story of a young orphan girl who befriends a benevolent giant, known as the Big Friendly Giant (BFG). Together, they embark on a mission to stop the other evil, man-eating giants from terrorizing the human world. With the help of the Queen of England and her armed forces, they manage to capture the evil giants and bring peace. The BFG and the girl then live happily in England, with the BFG delivering good dreams to children and the girl living in a new home at the palace.

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

    "Animal Farm" is a satirical fable set on a farm where the animals revolt, overthrow their human farmer, and take over the running of the farm for themselves. The story is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalin, and the tale is told by the animals that inhabit the farm, primarily pigs who become the ruling class. Despite their initial attempts at creating an equal society, corruption and power ultimately lead to a regime as oppressive as the one they overthrew.

  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

    "Birdsong" is a historical novel that explores the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman. The narrative alternates between Stephen's passionate love affair with a married woman in pre-war France and his experiences in the trenches of the Western Front. The novel also includes a subplot set in the 1970s, where Stephen's granddaughter tries to unravel the mystery of her grandfather's past. The book is a poignant exploration of love, war, and the endurance of the human spirit.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    The book is a tale of two childhood friends, one of whom believes he is God's instrument. The story is set in a New England town during the 1950s and 1960s and follows the lives of the two boys, one small and with a strange voice, who has visions of his own death and believes he is an instrument of God, and the other, the narrator, who struggles with faith. The novel explores themes of faith, fate, and the power of friendship against a backdrop of historical and political events, including the Vietnam War.

  • Boyz Rule by Phil Kettle

    "Boyz Rule" is a children's book series that delves into the adventures and misadventures of a group of boys as they navigate the trials and tribulations of childhood. The stories are filled with humor and the spirit of camaraderie, focusing on themes like friendship, sportsmanship, and the various challenges that come with growing up. Each book in the series typically centers around a specific activity or event, from sports competitions to school projects, and showcases the boys working together, often learning valuable life lessons along the way.

  • Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly

    In this high-octane thriller, the protagonist, an elite intelligence operative known by his codename, navigates a world brimming with danger and betrayal. After being falsely accused of a horrendous crime, he becomes the target of a global bounty hunt, forcing him to evade capture by bounty hunters and international special forces alike. As he fights to clear his name and uncover the true culprits behind the conspiracy, he must also contend with a series of high-stakes missions that take him across the world. The narrative is a relentless race against time, packed with explosive action and intricate plot twists that keep the reader on the edge of their seat from start to finish.

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    A group of six classics students at a small, elite Vermont college, led by a charismatic professor, become entranced by the study of Greek culture and decide to recreate a Dionysian ritual, which ends in a tragic accident. The group, bound by their shared secret, begins to unravel as paranoia and guilt take hold. The novel explores themes of beauty and terror, the allure of the esoteric, and the destructive consequences of obsession.

  • Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

    The novel is a coming-of-age story that follows the life of a high school girl of Italian-Australian descent, living in Sydney. Throughout her final year at a prestigious Catholic school, she navigates the complexities of her family's immigrant history, her identity, and the social pressures of adolescence. As she deals with her own personal crises, including meeting her estranged father and grappling with an unexpected tragedy, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, challenging the expectations of her family and society to ultimately find her place in the world.

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

    This novel follows a group of rabbits as they flee their warren due to a foreseen catastrophe. The rabbits, led by Hazel and his psychic brother Fiver, face numerous challenges and adventures as they search for a new home. They encounter predators, hostile rabbit communities, and human threats. The book explores themes of leadership, survival, and freedom, all set within the natural world and its inherent dangers.

  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

    "The Thorn Birds" is a sweeping family saga that spans three generations of the Cleary family, set against the backdrop of the Australian outback. It focuses on the forbidden love between the beautiful Meggie Cleary and the family's priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart. The novel explores themes of love, religion, and ambition, as Meggie and Ralph struggle with their feelings for each other and the choices they must make.

  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    This novel unfolds in a dystopian United States where society's most productive citizens, including inventors, scientists and industrialists, refuse to be exploited by increasing social and economic demands. As a response, they withdraw their talents, leading to the collapse of the economy. The story presents the author's philosophy of objectivism, which values reason, individualism, and capitalism, and rejects collectivism and altruism. The narrative primarily follows Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive, and John Galt, a philosophical leader and inventor, as they navigate this societal breakdown.

  • Winnie the Pooh by A. A Milne

    This classic children's tale follows the charming adventures of a lovable, honey-loving bear named Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. With his companions, including the timid Piglet, the gloomy Eeyore, the energetic Tigger, and the wise Owl, Pooh navigates through various situations and dilemmas, often with humorous and heartwarming results. The book is a celebration of friendship, imagination, and the simple joys of life.

  • Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone by J. K Rowling

    The story follows a young boy, Harry Potter, who learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents' mysterious deaths, the dark wizard who wants to kill him, and the magical stone that holds immense power.

  • The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

    In this enchanting children's novel, a group of young siblings discovers an incredible tree in an enchanted forest near their new countryside home. This isn't just any tree; it's home to a variety of fantastical creatures and has magical lands that appear at its top, each with its own unique adventures and challenges. The children befriend the tree's quirky inhabitants and embark on a series of whimsical escapades, exploring lands filled with delights, dangers, and mysteries. Through their adventures, they learn the value of friendship, courage, and the boundless nature of imagination.

  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

    The novel is a nostalgic story about the narrator's involvement with the Flyte family, British aristocrats living in a grand mansion called Brideshead. The story explores themes of faith, love, and the decline of the British aristocracy, primarily through the narrator's relationships with the family's Catholic faith and his complicated friendship with the family's son and his love for the daughter. The novel is set in the backdrop of the time period between the two World Wars.

  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    This classic novel follows the journey of a seaman who travels up the Congo River into the African interior to meet a mysterious ivory trader. Throughout his journey, he encounters the harsh realities of imperialism, the brutal treatment of native Africans, and the depths of human cruelty and madness. The protagonist's journey into the 'heart of darkness' serves as both a physical exploration of the African continent and a metaphorical exploration into the depths of human nature.

  • High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

    This novel revolves around the life of a record store owner in his mid-thirties who is obsessed with pop culture, particularly music. He has just been dumped by his long-term girlfriend and begins to question his life choices. As he revisits his top five breakups, he decides to get in touch with the exes to find out what went wrong in each relationship. Throughout this process, he learns a lot about himself, his fears, and his shortcomings while trying to make sense of his life.

  • Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

    The book is a thrilling children's horror novel that follows a young protagonist who encounters a series of eerie and supernatural events. When the character stumbles upon something strange, such as a mysterious object or a creepy new neighbor, they soon realize that their ordinary life is about to take a terrifying turn. Each chapter builds suspense, leading to chilling discoveries and encounters with monsters, ghosts, or other paranormal phenomena. The story is designed to both spook and entertain, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with its blend of humor, twists, and frights, typical of the series it belongs to.

About this list

Australian Big Read, 103 Books

In a unique initiative by ABC Television in Australia, a nationwide poll was conducted to discover the country's favorite books. Launched in September, the campaign encouraged Australians to nominate and vote for their most cherished literary works. The process attracted participation from tens of thousands of individuals, reflecting a wide spectrum of literary preferences across the nation. The results, revealed during a special program titled "My Favourite Book," showcased a diverse range of titles, including works by both international and Australian authors, highlighting the varied literary tastes among Australians. The endeavor not only celebrated beloved literary classics but also emphasized the importance of literature in Australian culture.

Added 2 months ago.

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