Looking for some good books to read? Check out our reviews by EL editors and readers.
Books for adults
Boy Swallows Universe | Trent Dalton
Maybe you could accuse me of being biased – after all, the story is set in Brisbane, where I’ve spent many years of my life. Even so, I reckon this debut work by acclaimed journalist Trent Dalton is the best Australian novel in years. (And, if you discount the brilliant books of Tim Winton, maybe the best in many more years than that!)
“I just wanted to give the world a story,” said Dalton about his motivation for writing Boy Swallows Universe, “to turn all the crazy and sad and tragic and beautiful things I’ve seen into a crazy, sad, tragic and beautiful story.”
That pretty much sums it up.
So, what’s it about? Hard to say in only a few words, but it follows 12-yearold Eli Bell and his mute brother August as they tackle the challenges of a poor and violent upbringing in a rough suburb of 1980s Brisbane. It spins from gritty realism to mysticism in an almost disorientating fashion, yet manages to remain an absorbing – and sometimes confronting – pageturner. Here’s hoping it’s the first of many!
– Shamus Sillar, EL Group Editor
Vampire Academy | Richelle Mead
If you have an older teenager (or, in my case, an adult) who is obsessed with vampires and the occult, they will love this series of six books. Released just after Twilight, Richelle Mead’s books focus on two best friends, Rose (a “guardian” in training) and Lissa (a royal vampire) and the struggle with evil vampires, the Strigoi.
While trying to save the vampire world, they also navigate regular high school dramas: boys, discipline, bullies and peer pressure.
– Kel Flanders, EL Editor
Mystery At Red Marsh Lake | Nathanael Reed
A young boy named Caleb spends summer with his father, who is determined to find a mythical creature called the mahkneejosh. At first, Caleb writes off his father as delusional but soon discovers there is a lot more than a mahkneejosh lurking in the waters of Red Marsh Lake. In the span of one summer, Caleb gets wrapped up with the likes of a murderous criminal, a magic shaman and even the creature his father searches relentlessly to find. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I found the ending a little disappointing. – Nikita Keys (age 13)
My Edutainment Book, Petra Haddeman Bullee
This is the coolest book! Whenever I’m bored, I just open it up and then pick an activity. The short stories written by kids are awesome too! My favourite partis the questionnaires you can do with your family and friends. – Holly (age 8)
Dreams from my father | Barack Obama
Having listened to Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, I thought it’d be interesting to hear her husband’s story and what drove him into politics. I love the fact that the book is read by the author himself, just as Michelle read hers.
The former US President unapologetically describes his childhood – raised single-handed by his strong-willed mother and loving grandparents. Obama’s candour about race, ethnicity and culture during his growing-up years and adulthood give you a deep insight into the brilliant young man he was and what shaped him to be the person he is today. Hearing about the challenges he faced in his early political years and what propelled him to keep going even when the odds were against him is truly inspiring. It’s great audio for the daily commute to work – and hard to stop listening to! – Anna Tserlingas, EL Head of Circulation
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.