10 Books to Read Before You Study Abroad in Sydney

Dec 3, 2013 8:49:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Before you study abroad in Sydney, enjoy some of our reading recommendations below. You might want to keep a book aside to take with you on the plane. 

1. IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY (OR DOWN UNDER) BY BILL BRYSON. Popular travel writer Bill Bryson traveled around Australia and wrote this book about his experience. Equal parts funny and informative, In a Sunburned Country is peppered with interesting stories about Australia as Bill explores famous landmarks and encounters some memorable Australians. In Britain, this book is titled Down Under, but is otherwise exactly the same!

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2. THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE BY ANH DO. This is the autobiography of Anh Do, a well-known Australian comedian who arrived in Australia as a Vietnamese refugee at just three years of age. This book details the journey his family took and their subsequent experiences in Sydney. A bestseller in Australia, it has won several awards including Australian Book of the Year in 2011.


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3. THE BROKEN SHORE BY PETER TEMPLE.The Broken Shore is a great contemporary Australian detective novel. It won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger award, which is the most prestigious crime-writing prize in the world! The novel opens with the discovery of the death of a wealthy local benefactor. Policeman Joe Cashin, a former Melbournian homicide detective, is drawn away from managing the local country town’s police station to focus on solving the mystery.

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4. LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI BY MELINA MARCHETTA.
This novel explores life at an Australian private school when you’re an Italian girl on a scholarship in among privileged girls from rich families. Melina Marchetta paints a vivid picture of multicultural Australia and what it means to be ‘Australian’. A coming-of-age story that is funny, easy to relate to and interesting to read. The movie based on the book is also excellent!

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5. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS BY M. L. STEDMAN.
Set in Western Australia after World War 1, The Light Between Oceans explores the lives of lighthouse keeper Tom and his wife Isabel. Alone on the island of Janus, one night they find a newborn baby in a rowboat that has washed ashore. With Isabel unable to have children, they decide to pass the baby off as their own, but this decision has major far-reaching consequences. A bestseller all over the world and a feature on the New York Times bestseller list, a film based on the novel is in the works.

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6. AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND ON A SHOESTRING BY LONELY PLANET.
Keen to travel Australia and New Zealand on the cheap? This book is for you. The advantage of this guide is that you get an overview of not only Australia, but nearby New Zealand as well. Packed with suggestions, maps, facts, tips and even a little history, this travel guide is a good way to get a picture of what attractions are available in both countries.

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7. SEVEN LITTLE AUSTRALIANS BY ETHEL TURNER.
This story is well-known among Australian readers. Set in the beautiful bush just outside Sydney in the 1880s, it follows the lives of the seven Woolcot children: Meg, Pip, Judy, Nell, Bunty, Baby and the General. The children are mischievous and forthright, doing what they can to assert themselves while also gaining favour with their strict father and their ineffectual stepmother. Seven Little Australians is full of love, particularly the love the characters have for each other.

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8. MY PLACE BY SALLY MORGAN.
An autobiography written by Aboriginal Australian artist Sally Morgan, My Place explores Sally’s childhood and slow realization that her family was Aboriginal. In a quest to determine her true identity, Sally convinces her Aboriginal relatives to recount their stories. Although a long read, My Place provides insight into what it was like to be Aboriginal in Australia from 1920 through to the 1980s.

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9. THE THORN BIRDS BY COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH.
Set on a sheep station in the Australian outback, this novel follows the journey of Meggie Cleary and her family as she grows up and learns to assert her independence. Well-known as an epic romance, The Thorn Birds was adapted into a television miniseries that was very popular in the US in the 1980s.

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10. A FORTUNATE LIFE BY ALBERT FACEY. This autobiography was never intended for commercial printing by the author – as a result, Albert Facey’s thoughts and feelings are confrontingly real and honest. Published in 1981 when Albert was 88 years old, A Fortunate Life details the many aspects of Albert’s life, including his experiences in World War One and his return to Australian civilian life.

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Topics: Sydney, Australia