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Reading Takes You Places: Week 6 - Australia

Posted: July 13, 2020, 5:00PM

Where do you want to go this summer? This week we're heading Down Under!

This week we are visiting Nigeria for summer reading!

G'Day! Welcome to week 6. On July 16, Brad Fitzmaurice will lead students 9,500 miles "Down Under" (no time travel this time) for an excursion through the Australian Outback in a class called "Jumbucks, Billabongs and Budgie Smugglers: Ballads and Bards of the Australian Bush," focusing on the works of writers like Henry Lawson and A B (Banjo) Patterson. Fitzmaurice's Masters dissertation examined the work of a group of Australian writers in the 1890s and early 1900s. He currently teaches American history at the University of Sydney and is writing a PhD on the history of Wheeling.

Watch this People's University Online live, July 16 at 6:30 pm on YouTube, Facebook, or the OCPL website. The program will also be recorded and available for playback through all three platforms.

Have kids? See our recommended reading for kids below and don't miss our online Summer Reading programs

Featured Australian Literature

Featured Australian Authors:

Henry Lawson
Henry LawsonHenry Lawson (1867–1922) was born in a tent in Grenfell, on the New South Wales goldfields, and had a tough childhood, moving around with his family while his father pursued gold, and helping his mother run the family selection in his father’s absence. Shy and partially deaf, Lawson had only three years of formal education and yet, encouraged by his mother, with whom he moved to Sydney following the end of his parents’ marriage, he began writing poetry and short stories. With his keen, sensitive eye and dry, honest tone, Lawson wrote of the hardships of life in the Australian bush, the plight of the poor in the city, the fight for a republic, the strength and bravery of women, the mateship and larrikinism of men, all ‘for the sake of the truth’. Telling it like it was.

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Selected Stories

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Joe Wilson And His Mates

Ebooks available through Project Gutenberg
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses (1896)
➤ While the Billy Boils  (1896) - short stories
➤ Over the Sliprails (1900) - short stories
➤ On the Track (1900) - short stories
➤ Verses Popular and Humorous (1900)
Joe Wilson and His Mates (1901) - short stories
The Rising of the Court and Other Sketches in Prose and Verse (1910)
Children of the Bush (1902) - short stories, prose, poetry

A. B. (Banjo) Paterson
Banjo Paterson photoThe man who wrote Australia’s most popular song, “Waltzing Matilda”,  grew up on a station near Orange, NSW in the 1860s with racehorses and polo clubs, watching equestrian and stockman competitions, living the Australian bush experience he immortalized in print. But he was no raw-boned bushie; Paterson was a child of privilege and education, with access to the pleasure and leisure classes of the squattocracy and later Sydney society. Paterson— poet, solicitor, journalist, war correspondent and soldier—wrote what he knew.  Though he lived in Sydney for most of his adult life, Paterson retained a lifelong love of the bush, and his genius was to establish the bushman in the national consciousness as a romantic and archetypal figure.

Ebooks available through Project Gutenberg
The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses (1895)
➤ The Old Bush Songs  (1905)
➤ An Outback Marriage: A Story of Australian Life (1906) - novel
➤ Three Elephant Power, and Other Stories (1917) - short stories
➤ Saltbush Bill (1917) - poetry
Rio Grande's Last Race, and Other Verses (1902)

Featured Australian Books:

My Brilliant Career book coverMy Brilliant Career
Author Miles Franklin's 1901 debut novel remains an insightful exploration of class, gender and youthful frustration. Trapped on her parents' outback farm, Sybylla simultaneously loves bush life and hates the physical burdens it imposes. She longs for a more refined lifestyle - to read, to think, to sing - but most of all to do great things. After being whisked away to live on her grandmother's gracious property and falling under the eye of the rich and handsome Harry Beecham, Sybylla soon she finds herself choosing between everything a conventional life offers and her own plans for a 'brilliant career'. Franklin shines an intense light not only into the deep recesses of a bright young mind but on the dark corners of inequality caused by "the rope of class distinction" and as an author is most searingly brilliant when depicting those who poignantly fail to achieve brilliance.

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My Brilliant Career
Other Miles Franklin works

Ebooks available through Project Gutenberg
My Brilliant Career
Some Everyday Folk and Dawn

The Man Who Loved Children book coverThe Man Who Loved Children
Christina Stead's 1940 novel, The Man Who Loved Children,  is an unforgettable portrait of a magnificently dysfunctional family. In a country crippled by the Great Depression, Sam and Henny Pollit have too much—too much contempt for one another, too many children, too much strain under endless obligation. Flush with ego and chilling charisma, Sam torments and manipulates his children in an esoteric world of his own imagining. Henny looks on desperately, all too aware of the madness at the root of her husband’s behavior. And Louie, the damaged, precocious adolescent girl at the center of their clashes, is the “ugly duckling” whose struggle will transfix contemporary readers.

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Regular print

Ebooks available through WVDeli
View all Stead books available

Ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla - no waitlists
View all Stead books available

Voss book coverVoss
In 1973, Australian writer Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature." Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is White's best-known book, a sweeping novel about a secret passion between the explorer Voss and the young orphan Laura. As Voss is tested by hardship, mutiny, and betrayal during his crossing of the brutal Australian desert, Laura awaits his return in Sydney, where she endures their months of separation as if her life were a dream and Voss the only reality. Marrying a sensitive rendering of hidden love with a stark adventure narrative, Voss is a novel of extraordinary power and virtuosity from a twentieth-century master.

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Regular print

Monkey Grip book coverMonkey Grip
Helen Garner’s gritty, lyrical first novel divided the critics on its publication in 1977. Today, Monkey Grip is regarded as a masterpiece—the novel that shines a light on a time and a place and a way of living never before presented in Australian literature: communal households, music, friendships, children, love, drugs, and sex.

When Nora falls in love with Javo, she is caught in the web of his addiction; and as he moves between loving her and leaving, between his need for her and promises broken, Nora’s life becomes an intense dance of loving and trying to let go.

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Regular print

Oscar & Lucinda book coverOscar & Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang
Australian author Peter Carey has won the Miles Franklin Award three times and is frequently named as Australia's next contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. As a writer, he has been bold and brave before - from his fabulous short fiction in the '70s through to his remodeling of Australian history.

Carey's third novel,  Oscar and Lucinda, is about a man and a woman who meet onboard a ship bound for Australia, fall in love and don't live happily ever after. Oscar is a compulsive gambler; he'll bet on anything, even his own happiness. Lucinda has inherited a glass factory; she too likes to deal the cards. Both of them, fractured by childhood, are doomed to break into pieces.

In his 400-page epic, True History of the Kelly Gang, Carey creates a marvelous imaginative reconstruction of Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader, and convicted police murderer, Ned Kelly’s life story. True History of the Kelly Gang book cover Based partly on historical documents and on the remarkable writing found in Kelly’s Jerilderie letter, the novel closely follows the known facts of a figure now widely regarded as both a heroic opponent of England’s unjust colonial rule and an early precursor to Australian nationalism. 

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Oscar & Lucinda
True History of the Kelly Gang
Other Peter Carey books 

Ebooks available through WVDeli
View all Carey books available

Featured Children's Books

Pouch! book coverPouch! by David Ezra Stein
The delightful tale of a curious baby kangaroo, David Ezra Stein's gentle story will amuse and comfort readers. When you're new to the world, every hop brings another surprise Joey wants to go exploring, but everything he discovers is almost too exciting. Bees, rabbits, birds . . . other creatures can be scary But Mama is never far away, and who knows? Joey might even make a friend.

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Picture book 
View OCPL Toddler Time online featuring Pouch!

Other books about kangroos:
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Biggest Frog in Australia book coverThe Biggest Frog in Australia, by Susan L. Roth
Once, in the Dreamtime, the biggest frog in Australia woke up thirsty. So thirsty that he drinks up all the water from the oceans, lakes, rivers, billabongs, puddles, and even from the clouds. When he is done, the earth is parched, and the other animals are thirsty. Wise old Wombat suggests that the animals try to make the biggest frog laugh, so the water will spill out of his mouth. But the frog barely hears Kookaburra's best jokes, and yawns at Kangaroo's acrobatics. Koala waddles ridiculously, but still no luck. What will make the frog laugh and bring life back to Australia? Find out in this colorful retelling of a classic Australian folktale.

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Picture Book 
View OCPL Story Time online featuring The Biggest Frog in Australia

Other books about Australian animals:
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Possum Magic book coverPossum Magic, by Mem Fox. 
"Possum Magic" is a rare children's book that a parent can still enjoy on the thousandth reading. Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more.

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Picture book 
View OCPL Summer Reading Special Activity online featuring Possum Magic

Available through Hoopla - no waitlist!

Have you read some great world literature you'd like to share?

Tell us what you've been reading in the comments below!

And don't forget to join our online Summer Reading Challenge, "Reading Takes You Places." Each minute you read between now and August 15th will count as one mile. We'll be keeping track of countries visited in books and miles (in minutes) read through an online platform. Want to participate? Starting June 15, 2020 sign up online at or download the READsquared app at the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Find even more suggested books in the Adult Summer Reading Book List in READSquared. Let us know where you've traveled and how far this summer through books!


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