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ANZSOG Summer Reading list 2022

8 December 2022

News and media


ANZSOG Summer Reading list 2022

With Christmas and New Year soon upon us, we hope you will get the chance to take some time off over summer and absorb yourself in a good book or two. For some reading inspiration, the ANZSOG team has put together a list of books that will help you expand your horizons and get new perspectives on the world.

After the last two years, we’ve not included anything on COVID or US politics, but we’ve compiled a list of books – in no particular order – covering the work of government, the histories of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, technology and sport, that make for stimulating holiday reading and thoughtful Christmas gifts. There’s also a few memoirs and novels in there to keep things interesting.

Happy reading from the ANZSOG team!



The Metaverse by Matthew Ball

If you’ve been hearing the term ‘Metaverse’ a lot recently, but don’t know anything about it, this book will give you an introduction to what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meant when he said in June 2021 that “the overarching goal” of Facebook is to “bring the metaverse to life”. As pioneering theorist and venture capitalist Matthew Ball explains, the Metaverse is the successor to the mobile internet that has defined the last two decades. The metaverse is a persistent, 3D, virtual world-a network of interconnected experiences and devices, tools and infrastructure, far beyond mere virtual reality. And it is poised to revolutionise every industry and function, from finance and healthcare to payments, consumer products and even sex work. This book cuts through the marketing hype to give a reasoned analysis of how we might be using the Metaverse over the next decade.

Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby

Gadsby’s stand-up special Nanette was a global success that redefined what comedy could do with its ability to create both tension and laughter in a single moment. This path to worldwide fame was hard-fought and anything but linear, and this book traces Gadsby’s growth as a queer person from Tasmania – where homosexuality was illegal until 1997 – to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, to her struggle with late-in-life diagnoses of autism and ADHD, and finally to the backbone of Nanette – the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral significance of truth-telling. Equal parts harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby’s tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.

Tell Me Again – A Memoir by Amy Thunig

In this remarkable memoir, academic Amy Thunig narrates her journey through childhood and adolescence, growing up with parents who struggled with addiction and incarceration. She reveals the importance of extended family and community networks when your immediate loved ones are dealing with endemic poverty and intergenerational trauma. In recounting her experiences, she shows how the stories we tell about ourselves can help to shape and sustain us. Dr Thunig is a Gomeroi/Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi yinarr (woman) and mother who resides on the unceded lands of the Awabakal peoples, and is a media commentator and panellist, and a lecturer at the Macquarie School of Education.

Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan

Nick Cave has been making innovative music for four decades, and Faith, Hope and Carnage draws from over forty hours of intimate conversations with journalist Sean O’Hagan, to outline what really drives his life and creativity. The book examines questions of faith, art, music, freedom, grief and love. It draws candidly on Cave’s life, from his early childhood to the present day, his loves, his work ethic and his dramatic transformation in recent years. From a place of considered reflection, Faith, Hope and Carnage offers ladders of hope and inspiration from a true creative visionary.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks (fiction)

A discarded painting in a roadside clean-up, forgotten bones in a research archive, and Lexington, the greatest racehorse in US history. From these strands of fact, Australian novelist Geraldine Brooks weaves a sweeping story of spirit, obsession and injustice across American history. In Kentucky in 1850 an enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South, even as the nation reels towards war. An itinerant young artist who makes his name from paintings of the horse takes up arms for the Union and reconnects with the stallion and his groom on a perilous night far from the glamour of any racetrack. Brooks demonstrates her ability to bring different periods of history to life and create a magnificent story.

This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir. By Alison Jones

Alison Jones is a professor at Te Puna Wānanga, the School of Māori and Indigenous Education at the University of Auckland, and in this memoir she explores what it means to be Pākehā (white) in Aotearoa New Zealand. She says that “I have written this book for Pākehā – and other New Zealanders – curious about their sense of identity and about the ambivalences we Pākehā often experience in our relationships with Māori. As both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand work through questions of identity and the relationships between colonisers and First Nations, this frank and humane account of a life spent traversing Pākehā and Māori worlds offers important insights into our shared lives.

Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott

Using the extraordinary story of a gifted African-American child growing up in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn and her extended family, this book explores the daily reality of poverty and the many ways that governments fail to help the vulnerable. Over eight years we watch Dasani Coates grow up poor and marginalised in one of the wealthiest cities on the planet. She leads her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental drug addiction, violence, housing instability, segregated schools, and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system. The stories of the family’s interactions with government bureaucracies and not-for-profit agencies set up to help them often make for uncomfortable reading, as they ignore the family’s own resilience and in many cases throw further obstacles in their way.

Telling Tennant’s Story  by Dean Ashenden

The tale of a town, and through it a nation. Returning after fifty years to the frontier town where he lived as a boy, Dean Ashenden finds Tennant Creek transformed, but its silence about the past still mostly intact. Provoked by a half-hidden account, Ashenden sets out to understand how the story of ‘relations between two racial groups within a single field of life’ has been told and not told, in this town and across the nation. In a riveting combination of memoir, reportage and political and intellectual history, Ashenden traces the strange career of the great Australian silence – from its beginnings in the first encounters of black and white, through the work of the early anthropologists, the historians and the courts in landmark cases about land rights and the Stolen Generations, to still-continuing controversy.

All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracy Lien (fiction)

A deeply moving and unflinching debut following a young Vietnamese-Australian woman who returns home to her family in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta in the wake of her brother’s shocking murder, determined to discover what happened. This book is a dramatic exploration of the intricate bonds and obligations of friendship, family, and community, that looks at the legacies of family trauma and the effects of social discrimination, while also working as a mystery thriller. This story of grief and loss looks at contemporary Australia from a different viewpoint and, in Lien’s words ‘wants to help readers rethink Cabramatta and its place in Australian culture’.

Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories that make us by Rachel Aviv

In Strangers to Ourselves, New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv raises fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Aviv writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. She follows an Indian woman, celebrated as a saint, who lives in healing temples in Kerala; an incarcerated mother vying for her children’s forgiveness after recovering from psychosis; a man who devotes his life to seeking revenge upon his psychoanalysts; and an affluent young woman who, after a decade of defining herself through her diagnosis, decides to go off her meds because she doesn’t know who she is without them. This book looks at how we define mental illness and explores Aviv’s view that “our illnesses are not just contained in our skull but are also made and sustained by our relationships and communities”.

My Father and Other Animals: How I Took on the Family Farm – by Sam Vincent

Sam Vincent is a twenty-something writer in the inner suburbs, scrabbling to make ends meet, when he gets a call from his mother- his father has stuck his hand into a woodchipper. Sam returns to the family farm near Yass in New South Wales to help out, and his life takes a new and unexpected direction as he begins an apprenticeship in farming. Whether castrating calves or buying a bull – or knocking in a hundred fence posts by hand when his dad hides the post-driver – Sam’s farming apprenticeship is an education in grit and shit. But there are victories:- nurturing a fig orchard to bloom; learning to read the land; joining forces with Indigenous elders to protect a special site. This book, by former ANZSOG staff member and Walkley Award winning journalist Sam Vincent, tells a story of belonging, humility, and regeneration – of land, family and culture and about the links between fathers and sons.

Different, not less by Chloé Hayden

Growing up, Chloé Hayden felt like she’d crash-landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense. Eye contact? Small talk? And why are you people so touch-oriented? She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept, and was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD. This is a moving, at times funny story of how it feels to be neurodivergent as well as a practical guide, with advice for living with meltdowns and shutdowns, tips for finding supportive communities and much more. A great resource for anyone who is neurodivergent or supporting people who are, Different, Not Less will inspire you to create a more inclusive world where everyone feels like they belong.

The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s Forgotten Atomic Tests in Australia by Elizabeth Tynan

The 1953 British nuclear tests on Aṉangu country in South Australia’s prohibited Woomera Range Complex have been overshadowed by those at Maralinga , as has the harm caused to the local communities exposed to the nuclear fallout. The Secrets of Emu Field draws on government documents, private papers, media reports, and the findings of the 1984-85 Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia. As much as this book is the story of the early Cold War and the legacy of colonial imperialism in Australia, it is also a story of public administration failings and the reckless determination of governments and scientists alike to proceed with the Totem tests despite incomplete knowledge of the effects of nuclear weapons.

Expected Goals by Rory Smith

For World Cup watchers who want to understand more about why modern soccer is played the way it is, this book looks at the growth of data analysis and its impact on the Beautiful Game. Football has always measured success by what you win, but only in the last twenty years have clubs started to think about how you win. The rise of big data has now suffused almost every aspect of how football is played, coached, scouted and consumed, replacing the prejudices and accepted wisdom of the past. This is the story of modern football’s great data revolution and the group of curious, entrepreneurial personalities who zealously believed in its potential to transform the game.

The Idea of Australia: A search for the soul of the nation by Julianne Schultz

Professor Julianne Schultz is a former editor of the Griffith Review and Chair of the Conversation. In this warm reflection of her own she gives her perspectives on the broader national culture, history and identity. An insightful account, with much to say of the country’s past, present and future. She sees the idea of Australia as a contest between those who are imaginative, hopeful, altruistic and ambitious, and those who are defensive and inward-looking. She believes we need to acknowledge and better understand our past to make sense of our present and build a positive and inclusive future, and suggests what Australia could be: smart, compassionate, engaged, fair and informed.

Power, for All by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro

Power is one of the most misunderstood—and therefore vilified—concepts in our society and this book takes a new look at what power is and how to use and share it. Many assume power is predetermined by personality or wealth, or even write it off as “dirty” and want nothing to do with it. But by staying away from power, you give it up to someone else who may not have your best interest in mind. Battilana and Casciaro offer a vision of power as the ability to influence someone else’s behaviour. This influence is derived from having access to valued resources, and once you understand what those are, you can take action to improve life for yourself and others. The book shows how those with less power can challenge established structures to make them more balanced. The authors teach you how to power-map your workplace to find who can create real, sustained change.