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8 Brilliant Australian Bookstagrammers On The Best Books To Read In Lockdown

Ria Lawrence Ria Lawrence

8 Brilliant Australian Bookstagrammers On The Best Books To Read In Lockdown

Catch up on your reading while you can.

It’s terribly sad when you finish a good book and have no one to discuss it with. Sadly in the age of television and streaming, its hard to find people with a like-minded love for reading. Ironically, its Instagram that has provided bookworms like me a platform to share and indulge our passion for books. The hashtag bookstagram has been shared over 60 million times on the social media site which goes to show that lovers of the printed word are alive, well and bursting with creativity. We reached out to eight popular Australian book accounts to ask them their favourite reads to help you and me get through lockdown.

1. Tamsien West of @babblingbooks

On running a book account:

I started Babbling Books on a whim six years ago and I’m so glad that I did. It’s been an incredible ride; I’ve learnt so much about the publishing industry, made life-long friends, travelled all around Australia and the world, and even got a job working at a writer’s festival. It all began with a love of reading and a desire to find ‘kindred spirits’ as Anne of Green Gables would call them. Instagram has changed so much over the years, but it’s still a great place to connect with fellow readers and discover great books.

Top 5 books:

1. Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (Australia): Miles Franklin Award winning literary fiction packed full of emotion and humour. Delves into racism, sexism, land rights and small town politics from a First Nations perspective.

2. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (Canada): Hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy. This reimagining of Pride and Prejudice with a hijabi Muslim protagonist in modern-day Canada.

3. One Hundred Days by Alice Pung (Australia): Intense, unflinching portrait of a mother-daughter relationship. Not for the faint-hearted, as the protagonist is confined to a tiny apartment for a lot of the book,

4. It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood (Australia): Pure escapism into friendship drama and first love by the beach. This YA contemporary focuses on the liminal Summer holidays between the end of high school and receiving exam results.

5. The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V. E. Schwab (USA): For fantasy lovers, this whimsical story covers hundreds of years of history and is sure to whisk you away into Addie’s strange world. A world where a girl makes a deal with a God after dark to live forever, but to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

2. Michaela Okeefe of @crazybooklady_

On running a book account:

My experience running a book account has been really positive. I’ve had my account since January 2016 so I’ve seen a lot change and evolve since those days, including my own reading preferences; I’ve really noticed the change in growth of Australian-based book accounts in the last few years, with a particularly large emergence around the pandemic and an increased amount of time spent at home with less social connection.

Top 5 books:

1. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason: A little bit sad, a lot heart-warming and written in vignettes so easily digestible.

2. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee: The perfect, immersive historical fiction taking you to another time and place.

3. The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre: Translated by Stephanie Smee, sarcastic and witty with some fun crime fiction pacing.

4. The Love of a Bad Man by Laura Elizabeth Woolett: Short stories with a great hook – all written from the perspective of women who loved a famously bad man.

5. The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright: A collection of personal essays around the concept of home, be it a physical place, the body or an idea that are poetic and deeply relatable.

3. Sephora Scott of @antisocial.influencer 

On running a book account:

The highlight has been the wonderful, engaged, intelligent people I’ve met, all of whom understand what it’s like to be that embarrassing person in the bookshop offering recommendations to customers, even though ‘she doesn’t even go here’. The lowlight has been realising I’m just the sidekick to my much prettier and more beloved dog, Gary, who is the real star of my (I mean, our) Instagram account.

Top 5 books:

Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic: The drama was so taut you could feel the book vibrating.

Flames by Robbie Arnott: Flames’ reflection of the full gamut of human emotion is almost tinged with the divine.

Kokomo by Victoria Hannan: Kokomo will be sticking as steadfastly in my head as its titular Beach Boys song. Its characters were real and messy and perfect.

Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters: raw, dynamic, funny and eye-opening; one of the most singular stories I’ve ever read.

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder: Very strange but I loved Broder’s propulsive, witty, no-holds-barred writing.

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4. Jessica Whyborn of @_readwithJess_

On running a book account:

I’ve loved being part of the bookstagram community and connecting with people from across the globe, to discuss all things books! I never have to worry about running out of books to read anymore, with an ever-growing to be read pile, due to all the great reviews and recommendations I receive each day. Over the last year where we have found ourselves in and out of lockdown it’s been a great way to stay connected with others by taking part in ‘buddy reads’ and online book clubs.

Top 5 books:

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: This is by far my favourite book of all time. Owens has created a masterpiece, combining a coming-of-age story with a mystery, and incorporating the natural landscape so heavily into the storyline.

2. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: TJR had me convinced the band in this book actually existed. I loved the unique writing style of this one and how the story is told through multiple perspectives.

3. Below Deck by Sophie Hardcastle: Below Deck is heart-breaking, yet beautifully written. An exploitation of trauma and love, this book stayed with me long after the final page.

4. Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd: This book was fascinating and covers some high profile cases. Dr Shepherd shares all and while there’s some gory parts, what really stands out is his dedication and compassion to his work.

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: Taylor Jenkins Reid Jam packed with glamorous, yet relatable characters and a storyline so engaging I was hooked from the first page.

5. Courtney Dyer of @bookdyer_y

On running a book account:

My experience of running an online book account has been such a joyous experience. At the beginning, I simply had a lot of thoughts about books and needed a place to share them. Now I am a part of a community that makes me feel very loved and accepted. I love having space to talk openly and honestly about the books I am reading. I love engaging in stimulating conversations with fellow readers + friends who I wouldn’t have connected with if it wasn’t for this platform.

Top 5 books:

1. Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Full of dark adventure, rich connections and impossible heists. I’ve read this book four times and have a fancy tattoo to commemorate how much this book means to me. I love it!
2. Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee-Browne: A story that depicts a rich friendship as one friend thrives and the other finds herself at the lowest point in her life. It was incredibly beautiful and had me teary on the train.
3. Sisters by Daisy Johnson: A dark, gothic mystery about two sisters. Something sinister has happened and you’ll be hanging on to find out until the very end. Did I think I would end up sobbing over a gothic mystery? No but I have thought about it every day since.
4. IT by Stephen King: Whether you are a horror lover or not I think IT has something to offer all readers. It is full of rich friendship and is a story of ultimately facing your deepest fears in the hopes coming out the other side. It is so exciting to me every time I read it. All of the suss and weird stuff a side it’ll always be a fave of mine.
5. Normal People by Sally Rooney: Gosh this book just makes me believe it true love.

6. Kristy Biggs from @sometimes_i_read_books

On running a book account: 

My experience of running a book account has been all positive. I’ve loved connecting with other likeminded book lovers, being able to chat about books all the time is fantastic! It’s like a 24/7 book club.

Top 5 books:

1. Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss: It’s an incredible look at Australia’s history, a must read for all Australians.

2. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason: Darkly funny, deeply sad and altogether quite brilliant! A humorous heartbreaking book that is a respectful and real study of mental health

3. Pride and Prejudice: I’m not sure this needs an introduction! I’m a firm all time favourite.

4. The Boy from the Mish: A really sweet queer Indigenous YA novel

5. The Newcomer by Laura Elizabeth Woollett: A gritty, literary crime novel set on the fictional Fairfolk Island.

7. Katie Lewis of @katie.reads.things

On running a book account: 

I’ve always loved to read, but didn’t always know where to find my next favourite book. Having this bookstagram account has allowed me to connect with thousands of other readers from all over the world, and I now have more book recommendations than I can count.

Top 5 books:

1. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton: For its nuanced, flawed and deeply relatable characters, a captivating story and exceptional writing.
2. The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare: One of the most beautifully written stories I’ve read, with a narrator  whose voice will stay with you for a long time.
3. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: I’m a sucker for a good love story, and this one is swoony, funny, witty and charming, and will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy.
4. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley: One of my favourite books from this year, this is a murder mystery laced with traditional Ojibwe culture, full of heart and completely unputdownable.
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows: My ultimate comfort read, this story set in the aftermath of WW2 is quirky yet emotional, and manages to be both heart-warming and heart-breaking, with characters who will come to feel like family.

8. Brooke of @brookes.bookstagram

On running a book account: 
During the Melbourne lockdown in 2020, I was able to increase my reading and build and maintain incredible friendships that have lasted throughout the last 12 months. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in book swaps, coffee and brunch catch ups and be inspired to read new genres, step out of my comfort zone and find a new hobby that I can participate in alone and with others.
Top 5 books: 
1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: Captivating, breath-taking, life changing. The story of Nora, her struggles and the ability to explore every fork in the road in her life was exactly what I needed during lockdown to help shift my perspective.
2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: This book follows two strong, powerful sisters set in France in WWII. I’ve never felt so connected and ugly cried through a book. I had all the feels!
3. The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku: What a story. What a man. What a life. This biography of Eddie Jaku’s life will sit with me for the rest of mine. After being persecuted and imprisoned in Nazi death camps, he was able to survive and immigrate to Australia and shift his entire perspective on life. One to help you appreciate the simplistic things in life.
4. It’s Been a Pleasure Noni Blake by Claire Christian: Noni makes herself a pleasure quest to conquer after experiencing a difficult breakup in her 30’s. This book made me snort so hard with laughter, embarrassingly blush and cry the happiest of tears. Highly recommend for a great belly laugh!
5. The Bluffs by Kyle Perry: This author can do no wrong in my eyes. Set in the remote wilderness of Tassie, this thriller about The Hungry Man will give you spike tingles and chills like you won’t believe. I devoured this book and stayed up until 3am determined to find out all the answers!

SEE ALSO: 10 Great And Enlightening Queer Australian Books To Read During Pride Month

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