Rosie Waterland has some thoughts on what you should read this summer.

Looking for a new page-turner to get you through those long, hot nights? Rosie Waterland has some suggestions for you:

1. Flesh Wounds – Richard Glover

Richard Glover, renowned columnist, ABC radio host and all-round brilliant writer, published his memoir at the same time as me. Since then, we have been in an epic ‘troubled childhood memoir’ battle to the death, which has included covering each other’s books with our own in stores and taunting one another on social media.

But, because it’s Christmas, I will once and ONCE ONLY, admit that his book is far superior to mine. His ability to balance the horror and humour that comes with childhood trauma is out of this world. I am jealous of his skill, and hope to write like him one day.

2. Last Woman Hanged – Caroline Overington

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. A fascinating and in-depth look into the life and (many trials) of Louisa Collins, the last woman ever hanged in NSW in 1889. Caroline Overington is a brilliant Australian writer, and her unmatched skills in investigative journalism give this book the feel of a longform crime article, so those terrified of historical non-fiction needn’t be intimidated – this baby is a page-turner. Think Serial, but set in Old Sydney Town. Those familiar with the city will love the vivid descriptions of familiar locations as they were in the 1800s, and those who love a good crime story will be hooked on Louisa’s demise. I still can’t decide whether or not she was guilty. Hurry up and read this so I can debate with someone about it!

3. The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion – Megan Daum

This book took the wind out of me. Megan Daum writes with such brutal honesty that it often takes you a second to breathe in what she’s dared to put on the page (and then find yourself realising that you’ve often thought the same thing, but have just been too chicken shit to ever say so). A book of personal essays from everything about cooking to her mother’s death, Daum is hilarious, confronting, talented and unflinchingly honest. But most of all, she is so damn readable. I often find books of personal essays struggle to keep my attention; the lack of narrative means I can easily put them down. I could not put this book down. It is a page-turner, and any woman who reads it will see herself in one or more of the brilliant stories.


4. Living Mistakes – Kate Inglis

My mother was adopted, and this book was written by her birth mother (my birth grandmother) in 1984. It tells the heartbreaking stories of women who gave up their children for adoption during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. By the time my grandmother interviewed them for this book, the mothers had spent many years thinking about the lives they could have had. What’s most interesting though, is that although many women were tragically forced or coerced into giving up their children against their will, there are many who made the choice willingly, and still wrestled with the ramifications of that choice many years later. This book is hard to find, but can be picked up on eBay or Amazon. Even if your family hasn’t been affected by adoption, the stories in this collection will move you.

5. Science For Her!- Megan Amram

Megan Amram is not as famous as she should be. A TV writer who started on Parks and Recreation and now contributes to Silicon Valley, Science for Her! is her first book, and it’s an ironic piece of brilliance that actually made me laugh out loud (like actually laugh out loud, not just ‘LOL’). Not a traditional book by any means, the whole thing is a kind of satirical take-down of women’s magazines, set out like a science text book. Amram answers questions like ‘Why can’t women drive?’ and ‘What religion is right for your body type?’ Basically, imagine if a kick-arse feminist comedian decided to write a satirical textbook tackling every ridiculous article women have ever been forced to take seriously. Every teenage girl should own this for a lesson in feminism, irony and comedic genius.


6. Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson

If you, or anybody you know, suffers from any kind of mental illness, you need to read this book. Jenny Lawson first came to public attention as The Blogess – a writer with a blog that, thanks to her brutal and hilarious honesty, became one of the most popular scribes in the online world. Lawson subsequently landed a book deal, and her first memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, quickly hit number one on the New York Times Best Seller list (crossing fingers for my own book to follow in those footsteps…). Furiously Happy is her follow-up, and tackles Lawson’s battles with anxiety, depression and OCD. It sounds heavy (and it can be), but Lawson has a way of writing that is relaxed and unpretentious. It often feels like you’re just reading emails from a friend. Once you read this, you’ll want to buy her first book and you’ll become addicted to her blog.

7. Sick in the Head – Judd Apatow

This put me into comedy nerd heaven. Judd Apatow (best known for producing films like Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and the TV show GIRLS), has been obsessed with comedy his entire life. As a teen, he began interviewing his favourite comedians, in an attempt to learn how they do what they do. Once his own career as a super comedy producer took off, Apatow continued to have in-depth chats with comedians he admired and respected, and those interviews make up this book. From Jerry Seinfeld to Amy Schumer, this is an incredible look into the world of not just comedy, but the entire creative process behind making a person laugh. I’ve read it twice since buying it.


8. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

Okay, so I was that annoying person this year who couldn’t stop talking about this book. I recommended it to everybody. Like, EVERYBODY. Jon Ronson has a brilliant knack for dressing up in-depth investigative journalism as (often hilarious) entertainment. You walk away from his books feeling well-informed, but not exhausted. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Ronson’s attempt to delve into the recent phenomenon that is ‘public shaming’, usually fuelled by social media. He interviews people who, over the last few years, have found an embarrassing personal transgression snowball into global mass-hysteria and hatred against them. Remember the woman who tweeted that awful joke about Africans getting AIDS before boarding a flight? By the time she landed, she was the most hated person on the planet, had lost her job and needed to go into hiding. Ronson interviews her, among many others (mostly examples that you’d remember), and explores what happens to the real people behind epic public shaming.

9. Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari is probably best known for his work as a writer and actor on Parks and Recreation (“Treat Yo Self!”), and has blown people away this year with his own Netflix comedy series Master Of None. His stand-up is not as widely followed in Australia, but let me tell you: It is brilliant. Ansari has an epic talent for describing the exact torment that every 20-30 something is going through on their quest for love. In Modern Romance, Ansari puts his brilliant stand-up material about relationships onto the page, but also enlists the help of actual scientists to try and figure out love in the modern world. This isn’t just a comedian writing a bunch of jokes (although with Ansari, that would be brilliant anyway), this is actually an incredibly insightful look at love and romance in today’s society. And you will pee-laugh at some point, I promise.


10. The Anti Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland

Oh, um, how did this book get on the list? I’m pretty sure some hilarious, effortlessly brilliant woman wrote it and I’ve heard it’s quite good. *cough PERFECT CHRISTMAS PRESENT PLEASE BUY cough*. If you haven’t heard that I’d written a book, you’re most likely assuming that it’s one long Bachelor recap, but I promise it’s not! I would feel like too much of an insufferable wanker if I published a memoir at 28 and hadn’t lived any kind of interesting life. I will say this: My mum was a sex worker, both my parents were mentally ill addicts, my sisters and I had to navigate the foster system from an early age, and for some reason, I’ve way too many poo-related mishaps in my life. Including one as an adult. This memoir covers all of that. Enjoy!

If books are your bag, be sure to check out Mamamia’s newest podcast- I Know What You’ll Read This Summer:


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