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8 best books to read on a cold winter’s night in Canberra

Photo by Sara Garrity

As winter is getting closer and the leaves begin to fall, the days and nights in Canberra are getting much colder. Shorter days and colder nights makes it more appealing to spend time in the comfort of your own home. So, without further ado, here are my suggestions for the 8 best books to read on a cold winters day or night, regardless of whether you are an avid reader or not. Why not give it a go?

1. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams (2021)

Seven Days in June is Tia Williams‘ most recent book, which come out in 2021. It tells the story of two black American authors who once knew each other in a relationship lasting seven days 15 years ago. They meet up again, both with successful careers as authors, telling the story of their own experiences in their own way. They navigate their past to see if they will ever have a future, over the span of seven days in June.

I read this book in early 2022, and it quickly became one of my favourite books I have ever read. It is relatively short and could definitely be read in a day, and tells a love story from a black perspective, which is one that is regularly overlooked. This book has everything; the storyline keeps you hooked, the characters are easy to love and their complexities are engaging. From the very beginning you’ll want to know what happens next! Add Seven Days in June to your shopping list.

“And maybe that was what real, adult love was. Being fearless enough to hold each other close no matter how catastrophic the world became. Loving each other with enough ferocity to quell the fears of the past. Just f**king being there.”

Tia Williams, Seven Days in June

2. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (2018)

Anybody with a TikTok account will know the name Hank Green. This is his first fiction book, and believe me, it is absolutely REMARKABLE that someone could think up a storyline like this. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that the main reason I picked up this book was because I knew Hank was the brother of John Green (author of books including The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns) but this book proves that Hank Green is a name in himself.

This story combines important messages about the impact of social media on society and the instantaneous fame that can come from it, as well as the importance of friendship, love and relationships, and figuring out what really matters in the world. Tied up in all of this, a mysterious being from outer space appears in a number of cities all over the world, and no one knows what they are or why they are there. Don’t you just want to know more?

“You can only do so much pretending before you become the things you’re pretending to be.”

Hank Green, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

3. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green (2020)

The two years it took for A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor to come out following the cliff hanger of its prequel, to me felt like 50. It being the sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing had big shoes to fill, and boy did it make them overflow. This book was everything it needed to be and more, answering everything that was unanswered previously, picking up perfectly from where it left off, and ending an already perfect storyline even more perfectly. I think I even liked this book more than the first.

This book continues the messages from the previous one, but has an increasing message of hope within it too. The characters, and the human race altogether, begin to realise that their actions are detrimental to civilisation and quality of life, and alter it in a way that fixes the problems. Despite the fact this book at face value is about aliens, after closing the book after reading the final chapter filled me with a weird sense of hope for the future of humanity. It’s weird and hard to explain, so why don’t you pick this series up and try it out for yourself?

“The most impactful thing you can do with power is almost always to give it away.”

Hank Green, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor

4. Love Stories by Trent Dalton (2021)

Trent Dalton is undoubtably my favourite writer ever. Whether it’s articles or books, if it’s written by Trent Dalton, I will buy it. Honestly at this point, I’d even read his shopping list. Coming out after his two amazingly successful fiction books, Love Stories was written from real life, where Trent sat with a type writer, spare chairs and a board that read “sentimental writer collecting love stories”. In the best way possible, this book is exactly what you would expect it to be.

The love stories in the book are about happy relationships, but also learning to love yourself, the impact of heartbreak, the difficulties of love, and loving the place you live in. Ps. A box of tissues must be nearby when you pick this one up to read!

“‘Love is the privilege of being with someone long enough that you’re gradually refining the truths that you tell each other. You feel safe enough to keep showing more and more of yourself to each other. To me, that’s what love is. It’s not the fireworks and the rainbows and the butterflies. We all keep pieces to ourselves. True love is showing up as yourself.'”

Rosie, in Trent Dalton’s Love Stories

5. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (2018)

Boy Swallows Universe was Trent Dalton’s first fiction book, and it is an absolute masterpiece. The story is loosely based on Trent’s actual upbringing, and knowing this makes the overall experience of reading the book even more wild.

It tells the story of Eli Bell from a young boy to adulthood, as he grows up in the suburbs of Brisbane with his heroin addict parents, useless Dad, and mute brother Gus. For his whole life he dreams of being a journalist, discovering truths and writing about what he sees. The most incredible part of this book is how Trent Dalton writes about Australia, and his clarity in explaining situations in very little words. Most of the characters in the book were Australian through and through, and the way he describes the plainness of living in suburbia in a way that impacts the story so well is incredible. This book changed my life.

“…hugging Dad back feels like the good thing to do and my hope is to grow into a good man, so I do it.”

Trent Dalton, Boy Swallows Universe

6. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (2020)

Florence Given is a British activist and feminist writer from the UK, who shot to fame after releasing this book in 2020. This book covers topics from self-love, hating others, social media, dating, sex, and assumptions in every day life. And just look at the cover, eye-catching! Florence Given is also an illustrator, so the book contains amazing pictures to go with each chapter.

I was drawn to this book initially through it’s appearance, but found myself taking notes, audibly gasping and nodding along with it the whole way through. I don’t think there would be a single woman alive that doesn’t relate to at least some aspects of this book, and it may even help you realise something about yourself. I know it certainly changed my perceptions on a few things.

“Temporary discomfort is an investment in your future self. Accept a small uncomfortable transition now, for a lifetime of growth and self-development.”

Florence Given, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

7. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

I read this book a few years ago now, but I think about it all. the. time! Eleanor Oliphant is one of the greatest characters I have ever come across in a book, and her character development is completely unmatched. Throughout the book, she learns about herself, changing herself for the better, and discovering that life is actually a lot better than she thinks it is, once she starts putting the effort in to see some change.

This book explores the themes of love, discovery, mental ill-health, family and the impact of a bad childhood. It is sweet, uncomfortable in parts, awkward, and hard to read, but all of these puzzle pieces make for a great story. With each chapter the reader learns more about Eleanor, and with every page something new is added to the story.

“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.”

Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

8. The Institute by Stephen King (2019)

This one is a little different to the others, but stick with me here – it’s on this list for a reason. Stephen King really needs no introduction, with 63 novels published and loads of movies of his stories produced too. But this story, to me, is different to the others. With no killer clowns or pets coming back from the dead, The Institute tells a thrilling story about a boy called Luke, and how he escapes a facility of children with telepathic and telekinetic powers.

This story is less gruesome than many of King’s other works, and will have you hooked from the very beginning. In typical King fashion, the storyline contains a lot of strange events from the start, and the progression of the story slowly starts to reveal the truth behind what is going on. More of a thriller than a horror, this book is one of a small amount of thriller and science fiction books that I really loved, and it is one book I would recommend to any kind of reader. If you take any of the books from this list, this one may be the best one.

“He was only twelve, and understood that his experience of the world was limited, but one thing he was quite sure of: when someone said trust me, they were usually lying through their teeth.”

Stephen King, The Institute

Head out now to your local book store or head online to get your hands on one, or all eight of these fantastic books books to read on a cold winter’s night!

Photos by Sara Garrity