Popular books from 2021 (@EasternRegional @booktopia @ReadingsBooks)

Image thanks to: Booktopia

Now is a good time to discover what books captured Australian readers in 2021. as ABC RN Breakfast recently asked some of our country’s most renowned authors what they have been reading. For example, Helen Garner has spent her summer on The Dancer by Evelyn Juers, a biography of Sydney contemporary dancer Philippa Cullen.

Meanwhile, Tony Birch has just re-read The Way It Is Now, Garry Disher’s latest crime novel. “Good crime writers know how to drive a plot; they’re remarkably good at establishing really three-dimensional characters,” Birch said. “We can learn a lot as writers by reading crime fiction.”

Left: The Dancer (Giramondo Publishing, October 2021) by Evelyn Juers. Right: The Way It Is Now (Text Publishing, November 2021) by Garry Disher.

Another way to discover bestselling titles from 2021 is via Booktopia’s FAB – Favourite Australian Books. Among the Top Ten are household names such as Liane Moriarty’s Apple Never Fall and Matthew Reilly’s The One Impossible Labyrinth.

Other leading books include The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni, The Backyard Adventurer: Meaningful and pointless expeditions, self-experiments and the value of other people’s junk by Beau Miles, and Your Head is a Houseboat: A chaotic guide to mental clarity by Campbell Walker (aka Struthless) – just to name a few.

This reviewer would further recommend the 100 bestselling books at Readings in 2021. The majority of the Top Ten titles are by Australian authors, such as Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney (#1), The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (#4), The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey (#5), Devotion by Hannah Kent (#6), and How We Love by Clementine Ford (#8).

Particularly attractive are #9, Old Vintage Melbourne by Chris Macheras, and #10, Adrift in Melbourne by Robyn Annear. The former is a collection of historical photographs that open a window to our past, while the latter features a series of walks that showcase the histories, buildings and characters of our city.

Left: Old Vintage Melbourne (Scribe Publications, October 2021) by Chris Macheras. Right: Adrift in Melbourne (Text Publishing, November 2021) by Robyn Annear.

Finally, Readings also has a list of 50 great reads from First Nations writers and Australian writers of colours in 2021. These include fiction, biography, poetry, children’s novels, history and more, but readers can surely find other masterpieces by culturally diverse Australians.

Our readers are already familiar with many First Nations authors, including but not limited to Bruce Pascoe, the aforementioned Birch, Sally Morgan, Boori Monty Pryor, Claire G. Coleman, Stan Grant, Anita Heiss, Ellen van Neeven, Evelyn Araleun, and Adam Thompson. Others, such as Cathy Freeman and Adam Goodes, have also come forth with wonderful stories.

As for Australian authors of colour, our readers may already enjoy the writings by Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alice Pung, Leanne Hall, Randa-Abdel-Fattah, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, and Lee Lai. Also worthy of our attention are emerging authors such as Jamine Marina Lau, Mehreen Faruqi, Chelsea Watego, Sara El Sayed, Ruhi Lee, Eugen Bacon, and Paige Clark.

Left: Coming of Age in the War on Terror (NewSouth Publishing, February 2021) by Randa-Abdel-Fattah. Right: Muddy People: A Memoir (Black Inc, August 2021) by Sara El Sayed.
Left: Good Indian Daughter (Affirm, May 2021) by Ruhi Lee. Right: She is Haunted (Allen & Unwin, July 2021) by Paige Clark.

So, which title from 2021 caught this reviewer’s eye? That would be She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan, an author “raised on a steady diet of Greek myths, Arthurian legend and Chinese tales of suffering and tragic romance”. A review is surely to come.

She Who Became the Sun (Pan Macmillan, July 2021) by Shelly Parker-Chan

Note: This article was originally published under the title “Popular books from 2021” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, February 1, 2022, P.9.

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