Good Reading’s Top Reviews of 2016

For top-notch stocking stuffers, here’s a compendium of our top reads for 2016. If you can’t decide on a book for your friend or loved one, buy them a gift subscription to Good Reading and let them decide for themselves with our stack of independent monthly book reviews!


The High Mountains of Portugal – Yann Martelhigh-mountains

‘Touching, funny and insightful, The High Mountains of Portugal is a beautiful book – and more accessible than Life of Pi but still full of magic.’ Reviewed by Lauren Cook



Stork Mountain – Miroslav Penkovstork-mountain

‘Penkov gently guides his reader through the contradictions of modern Bulgaria while allowing his characters to tell wonderful stories of the past.’ Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville



9780552574471The Sheperd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett

‘As usual Pratchett has told a story in a way that the rest of us could only dream of doing. The Sheperd’s Crown could not have been a better ending to the series.’ Reviewed by Drew Morcom



A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald – Natasha Lestera-kiss-from-mr-fitzgerald

‘Meticulously researched to reflect the rapidly changing social mores, exquisite fashions and the postwar euphoria of the Roaring Twenties, A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald also examines the hypocrisy evident among men who keep mistresses yet frown upon women who think and act for themselves.’ Reviewed by Maureen Eppen


Children of Earth and Sky – Guy Gavriel Kaychildren-of-earth-and-sky

‘Mirroring the social, cultural, political and religious turmoil of the Renaissance, the novel draws together the stories of small lives that change their world.’ Reviewed by David Johnson



where-the-trees-were.jpgWhere the Trees Were – Inga Simpson

‘Running through the novel like a current in the river on Jayne’s farm in the Lachlan Vally of NSW is a deep understanding and appreciation of nature whether it was the childhood joy of mucking about in the river, camping beside it orriding a bicycle as an adult through Canberra.’ Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville



Breathing Under Water –  Sarah Hardcastle

‘Family and loss lie at the core of Breathing Under Water. It’s a spectacular blend of grief and salvation and truly a beautiful read.’ Reviewed by Emma Stubley



truly-madly-guiltyTruly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

‘These characters are achingly real; their trials and tribulations could so easily be our own.’ Reviewed by Heather Lumney



The One Man – Andrew Grossthe-one-man.jpg

‘It’s enthralling and engaging, moves at a cracking pace and drives on through enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the last page.’ Reviewed by David Johnson



seeing-the-elephantSeeing the Elephant – Portland Jones

‘Shortlisted for the T.A.G Hungerford Award in 2014, Portland Jones’s Seeing the Elephant is a rewarding and poignant read that addresses the themes of war, post-war life, grief, change and friendship.’ Reviewed by Amy Bennett-Simeon




Goodwood – Holly Throsby

‘The richness of the descriptions of small-town Australia are not limited to the landscape, as the characters are fully realised and as quirky and eccentric as one may expect but without a stereotype in sight.’ Reviewed by Maryanne Vagg


xumami_jpg_pagespeed_ic_4e1uoan99dUmami- Laia Jufresa

Umami is not a book to grab for a five minute read. It demands slabs of time, but you will be rewarded. It demands slabs of time, but you will be rewarded with a compassionate, darkly comic portrait of five households going through tough time.’ Reviewed by Clive Hodges


The Whip Hand: Stories- Mihaela Nicolescu & Nadine Brownethe-whip-hand.jpg

‘This excellent collection is a testament to the talent to be found among Australian writers.’ Reviewed by Emma Stubley



Non Fiction

the-lightless-sky.jpgThe Lightless Sky: An Afghan refugee boy’s journey of escape to a new life – Gulwali Passarlay with Nadene Ghouri

‘The author almost dies several times on his journey and has been left with psychological and physical scars. He pleads with his readers to help change the world for the other children alone out there, and for their mthers, who send them away to give them a chance at life.’ Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville



The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson

‘Not only is it filled with fascinating facts about the UK that Bryson turns into great anecdotes, but the author’s skill as a master stylist of humour makes the book a treat for readers who revel in deft use of language.’ Reviewed by Tim Graham


9781925355369Everywhere I Look – Helen Garner

‘There’s not a hint of pretension or detectable effort in these essays, and they are a showcase for a writer at the peak of her formidable powers.’ Reviewed by Tim Graham



9781250066114.jpgHow Not to Die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease – Michael Greger, MD, with Gene Stone

‘This highly readable book will enrage you – when you discover the extent to which vested interests haveworked to conceal the route to dietary redemption from illness – but it will also excite you with the possibilities for a healthier future.’ Reviewed by Tim Graham



Surrender: A journal for my daughter –  Joshua Yeldham

‘The pages leap from mountain climbing and filmmaking in Venezuela to painting and struggling to survive in a Cental Australian desert, but the transitions are always smooth and effortless.’ Reviewed by Gordon Finlayson



Talking to My Country – Stan Grant

‘It’s a must read that will hopefully put us all on the path to healing and reconciliation –  or at the very least provide us with a better understanding of the experiences of Indigenous Australians.’ Reviewed by Rowena Morcom


wasted.jpgWasted: A story of alcohol, grief and a death in Brisbane – Elspeth Muir

‘There is no lapse in urgency in Wasted; this conversation is a crucial one to have. If you’re young, or have young people in your care, please read this book.’ Reviewed by Angus Dalton




Dying: A memoir – Cory Taylor

‘A successful screenwriter, Taylor uses her powerfully observant eye throughout the boo, bringing a cinematic quality to her recollections of a nomadic childhood and a similarly roving adulthood.’ Reviewed by Heather Lunney


A Bird on My Shoulder – Lucy Palmera-bird-on-my-shoulder.jpg

‘She is unflinching in her descriptions of his treatments and in the way she and her beloved Julian faced the inevitable.’ Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville



every-falling-star.jpgEvery Falling Star: The true story of how I survived and escaped North Korea – Sungju Lee with Susan Elizabeth McClelland

Every Falling Star encourages the reader to leave the comfort of their home and examine the cruelty that exists beyond their- possibly narrow and limited- sphere of experience.’ Reviewed by Emma Stubley


 hamilton-hume.jpgHamilton Hume: Our greatest explorer – Robert Macklin

‘This book, which is anything but a dry history, brings the first 80 years of this settlement alive with its personal stories of love, hate, bravery, interspersed among the fascinating historical facts that I never learned.’ Reviewed by Merle Morcom


Younger Readers

rich-and-rare.jpgRich and Rare: A collection of Australian stories, poetry and artwork – Edited by Paul Collins

‘The strange and intruiging cover by Shaun Tan will pique your curiosity,and with well-known Australian contributers including Hazel Edwards, Kirsty Murray, Scot Gardner, Phillip Gwynne, Sofie Laguna and Gabrielle Wang, Rich and Rare belongs in every home, school and library collection.’ Reviewed by Robyn Donoghue


the-bone-sparrow.jpgThe Bone Sparrow – Zana Fraillon

‘This is an exquisite heart-rendingly honest portrayal of life in refugee detention camp.’ Reviewed by Wendy Noble




another-night-in-mullet-town.jpgAnother Night in Mullet Town – Steven Herrick

‘He has taught me how to enjoy a verse novel and how to appreciate the wonderful images that he paints with just a few well-chosen words.’ Reviewed by Merle Morcom



adelaide-s-secret-world.jpgAdelaide’s Secret World – Elise Hurst

‘This is one of the most beautiful picture books I have ever seen, Elise Hurst writes writes with such feeling that I get goosebumps when I read her words.’ Reviewed by Merle Morcom



two-troll-tales-from-norway.jpgTwo Troll Tales from Norway – Retold by Margrete Lamond, Illustrated by Ingrid Kallick

‘But I can say that this book, with its magical and sumptuous illustrations, is one of the best and most exciting I have read from this publisher.’ Reviewed by Merle Morcom



xwhere-is-bear-_jpg_pagespeed_ic_nfyF_xyM69.jpgWhere is Bear? – Jonathan Bentley

‘This is another lovely book to read at bedtime. The illustrations are so appealing and the storyline is so clever.’ Reviewed by Merle Morcom


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