SA Style’s Best Books for Summer Reading

The arrival of summer welcomes longer days and brighter light. Fill your time with incredible literature. To help you decide which book to turn to, we’ve curated the best summer reads of the season that will be sure to keep you entertained.

Love and Virtue by Diana Reid

Diana Reid is a young, debut, Australian author that helms from Sydney. After COVID-19 saw the cancellation of global theatre, the screenwriter and producer, wrote her debut novel, the award-winning Love and Virtue.

Love and Virtue follows Michaela and Eve – two bright, bold women who befriend each other while in their first year at a prestigious Sydney residential college where they live in adjacent rooms. While the two girls have similarities, they couldn’t be more different, with one searching for reassurances from others and one assured and popular.

But something happens one night in O-week – a drunken encounter, a foggy memory, that will force them to confront the realities of consent and wrestle with the dynamics of power. Love and Virtue follows young Australian university students as they grapple with the challenges of modern-day feminism, power and sex.

The narrative is extremely authentic. The characters are self-aware and reflective. This novel is best read on the beach with an Aperol Spritz in hand.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation follows an unnamed narrator – a young, thin, tall, blonde and beautiful woman whose appearances acts as an ironic juxtaposition of her awful personality. Her redeeming quality is her intense self-awareness which, consequently, becomes the narrator’s demise as she becomes repulsed by her own consciousness. In an attempt to escape it, the narrator places herself into a chemical hibernation for a year.

“Neuroproxin, Maxiphenphen, Valdignore, Silencior, Seconol, Nembutal, Valium, Librium, Placydil, Noctec, Miltwon,” she recites, running through her plans to self-sedate.

This novel is an exploration of the challenges of living, the disturbances of consciousnesses, the meaning of art and the wonder of life. Ottessa Moshfegh is a literary talent whose work is perfectly consumed while lounging by a pool.

In My Defence, I Have No Defence by Sinead Stubbins

Sinéad has always thought that there was a better version of herself lying just outside her grasp. If only she listened to the right song or won the right awards (or any award), followed the right Instagram accounts, knew about whiskey, drank kombucha or followed a 70-step Korean skincare regime, she would be her ‘best self’.

In My Defence, I Have No Defence surrenders to trying to live up to those impossible standards. This memoir is witty and wickedly relatable. Following a woman’s reckoning with her complete inability to self-improve and a hilarious reprieve for anyone who has ever struggled to be better.

Sinéad Stubbins is a writer and editor and she is hilarious. This book is a collection of stories from Sinéad’s life. It’s best to sit outside for this one because you’ll be laughing out loud while reading this.

Semi-Gloss by Justine Cullen

Semi-Gloss is a collection of autobiographical essays written by fashion magazine editor, Justine Cullen. Coined ‘definitely not the Australian Devil Wears Prada’ Justine takes us on a hilariously candid exploration of her life so far and all the mistakes she has made along the way. 

Written by a woman who seemingly has her life completely together – the glamorous job, the perfect family, the jaw-dropping, enviable wardrobe, this novel chips away at what lies beneath the glossy surface.

For anyone who has collected glossy magazines, this book is a must-read this summer.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

A hilarious exploration of the dark shadow that can follow us, Meg Mason’s novel, Sorrow and Bliss follows Martha as she tries to discover the source of her shadow.

Martha knows something is wrong with her, but she doesn’t know what. Her husband Patrick thinks she is perfectly fine and that everyone has something, the thing is you just need to keep going.

Martha told Patrick before their got married that she didn’t want children and he said he didn’t mind because making her happy was all that mattered…although he hasn’t managed to be able to do that.

By the time Martha discovers what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore because it’s too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted.

You will devour Sorrow and Bliss in a single sitting. Despite the bleak themes, Sorrow and Bliss will be one of the funniest novels you’ll read all year. Enjoy in the sun and treasure each word.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Goldfinch is the The Secret History. This 1993 novel is truly deserving of the accolade modern classic. This cult bestseller is still on the lips of bibliophiles everywhere.

It follows a group of clever eccentric misfits, under the influence of their charismatic classics professor at an elite New England college who discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries.

But when this world sweeps them away beyond the boundaries of normal morality, their lives are profoundly changed…forever.

The perfect balance of plot and character driven, this story will stay in your head rent-free long after you finish the final word. The perfect weekend away novel, you’ll be wishing you started it sooner and hoping it will never end.