Summer Holidays is my favourite time of the year, because it is when I can truly relax, sit down and catch up on reading! In Australia, we are always spoilt for choice with our summer reading, because it coincides with the end-of-year publishing bonanza – when many great titles are launched in time for the festive gifting season. Here are some holiday-reading goodies to look forward to:
Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay
Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas follows writer and comedian Adam Kay through six festive seasons on hospital wards, during his time as a junior doctor in the NHS. Adam’s brilliant storytelling highlights the humour and heartbreak in the human dramas that occur daily in a busy city hospital – and his background as a doctor gives a particularly insightful perspective. And it being the silly season, readers will learn more than they’ll ever need to know about the inappropriate uses of various orifices…. Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a very impressive sequel to This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, which spent a whopping 52 weeks at No.1.
Calypso by David Sedaris
Calypso is the latest of David Sedaris’ distinctive diary-essays – his tenth collection. Need I say more? This time, the action revolves around Sea Section, David and his husband’s cottage on the North Carolina coast, where the Sedaris clan gathers for Thanksgivings and summer vacations. Here, enforced communal living plus idiosyncratic relatives equals anecdotes that become family lore; but this time, the weird and funny stories are darker and bleaker, as they explore middle-age, mortality, and grief. David Sedaris always impresses with how skilfully he evolves a story from seemingly meaningless minutiae into deeply personal and moving reflections. Read Calypso before he arrives in Australia for his speaking tour in early 2020.
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for the New Yorker, who honed her craft on the internet; she often writes about how the rise of the internet has influenced and induced our collective anxieties. For many readers, she is The Guide to how to live and survive in this hyper-connected, technology-facilitated culture. Trick Mirror is her debut collection of nine interlinked essays, on identity, feminism, politics and the internet. Drawing on wide-ranging topics including her own coming of age, celebrity culture and the wedding industry, and armed with beautiful crystalline language, Jia Tolentino works her way towards explaining what she thinks and how she feels about life, the world, and herself.
Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly
Tall Tales and Wee Stories is a collection of Billy Connolly’s best and most popular work, including stories, comedy routines (such as Jojoba Shampoo and Incontinence Pants), and drawings. In over 50 years of performing, he never prepared scripts, preferring to craft his tales live in front of an audience; now that he has retired from live standup comedy, Billy Connolly has finally written his stories down. Whether he’s riffing on the mundanities of life, or talking about the bigger issues of sex, politics or religion, Billy Connolly always brings an endearing sense of the absurd to the most outrageous or profane topics – and thus gets away with saying anything he damn well pleases.
Dead at First Sight by Peter James
“You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you” – photos of a handsome motivational speaker have been used to scam unsuspecting women across multiple online dating sites. The woman who discovered this con then apparently committed suicide. Meanwhile, two retirees came away from the airport disappointed, after their online girlfriends failed to arrive from overseas. Both men have sent their girlfriends large sums of money prior to the trip; neither women arrived because they did not exist. These people are all victims of a global dating scam, whose masterminds won’t hesitate to murder anyone trying to expose them. The race is on for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace to catch the scammers and stop the killings. Inspired by recent news headlines, Dead at First Sight is both a fast-paced thriller and a cautionary tale.
Me by Elton John
Hot on the heels of the movie Rocketman comes Elton John’s first autobiography – the real stories in his own words. Elton’s life may have followed the classic rockstar trajectory – unhappy childhood, successes and excesses, culminating in redemption and inner peace – but its telling has been elevated by Elton’s exuberant, candid voice. He’s not afraid to laugh at himself, and has fun admitting to his own bad behaviour, “I’m perfectly aware how ridiculous my life is, and perfectly aware what an arsehole I look like when I lose my temper over nothing”. That Elton is his own best storyteller is the delightful surprise of this book. Full of salacious, hilarious stories and crammed with famous names, Me by Elton John is the perfect holiday read.