The Best Books We’re Reading Right Now


Maybe you’re looking for a good book to read on the beach this summer.

Maybe you’re trying to escape from the reality that your city is in another lockdown while the rest of the world lives it up, post-Covid. Either way, you’re probably trying to tear your eyes away from that little rectangular time-suck you carry around in your pocket everywhere you go, and these oughta do the trick—the best books the MC staff are reading right now, for your escapist pleasure.

 

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

I’ve been recommending Cannery Row for over a decade now. I’ve read other stuff, but this book is always my go-to recommendation when people ask for a page-turner. This and JAWS. JAWS the book is great. It was never going to win a Pulitzer, and that’s ok. Cannery Row is brilliant, though, and Steinbeck is a magician. He takes you places you’ve never been and makes you feel things you never felt—but you can never figure how he does it. The Grapes of Wrath is incredible too; and East of Eden. So, basically, I’m recommending anything by John Steinbeck and JAWS. – Crombie

Lean, Fall, Stand by Jon McGregor

I’m only halfway through, but I’m loving Jon McGregor’s new book Lean, Fall, Stand. I originally picked this book up because I liked the cover art. I flipped it over and read the blurb’s premise of ‘expedition in Antarctica goes badly’ which sounded like my cuppa tea, so I bought it. The book is written in different sections from the perspective of various characters and their internal thoughts of what’s happening. Without revealing too much, there’s a particular part of the book which details the protagonist’s experience of having a stroke in the middle of the Antarctic blizzard. Harrowing stuff. Like I said, I’m only halfway so can’t give it my official star rating, but loving it so far – Jamie

Shuggie Bain by Dougal Stuart

I’ve read a lot of books this year (thanks Covid, I suppose) but none has stuck with me for months afterwards like Shuggie Bain. They say to ‘write what you know’ and that’s exactly why Dougal Stuart’s novel is so unbelievably good, basing the novel around his own experiences growing up in Glasgow’s incredibly poor public housing estates in the 1980s. I spent the entire book trying to figure out if the ‘bad’ people were actually rotten, or just the products of generations of poverty, abuse, and addiction—I’ll never know the answer, but I do know that I love this book, and with sweet and lonely Shuggie as your guide through the story, you will too. – Monique 

The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes

This should be compulsory reading for any Australian. I read this when I came here in 2002. I recently re-read as I’m finally giving up being a Kiwi and switching my allegiances. It’s deep. You need to re-read pages to fully comprehend everything from describing flora and fauna (from Captain Cook and Joseph Bank’s journals) to an academic description of the human cost of Britain’s colonial venture and how these experiences have shaped modern Australia. Hughes has an amazing mind and came to prominence as an art critic. He was described by the New York Times as ‘the most famous art critic in the world’ and was brutal in his assessment of some artists, once writing that Julian Schnabel’s art is to painting what Sylvester Stallone is to acting. And this is what makes him so good, he can be brash and at the same time so elegant in his prose; as I think you will see should you read The Fatal Shore. – Kieran

F*ck It, I’ll Start Tomorrow by Action Bronson

For all us COVID fatties out there, this book will stop you eating that block of cheese for breakfast. Full of food, travel, humour and nudity, Action tells a very entertaining story of weight loss. I might have lied about the nudity… now pass me that cheese. – Ben

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

This is the book that introduced me to reading for pleasure. When I was a kid I’d get to the last page of My Side of the Mountain and turn back to the start. Yes, it is a kid’s book, but I picked it up recently and it’s still good. It’s the story of a boy who runs away to live in the Catskills. It’s written in diary form and it’s basically a survival manual for living in the wild. Sort of. It’s a beautiful book. – Crombie 

A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey

Incredible book, crazy account of Australia in the early 1900s and through World War I. Good comparison on hardships that generations past had to face and what we’re facing with the Covid in 2021. He has a great perspective on how he had a great life even though from a reader’s perspective it was super tough. – Ollie

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Don’t deny yourself this book. You might know Trevor Noah from The Daily Show. At least that’s where I came to know him but had no idea about his life. I learned things that, though perhaps not surprising, is a freaking crazy tale of growing up in South Africa under the later years of apartheid. Mixed in with some comedy gold it’s a warm and inspirational book in many ways. – Murgo

Life by Keith Richards

Seeing as you can’t do cocaine without the fear of an opioid overdose and you also have now become a vegan, why not live vicariously through the man who has made the ‘Stars most likely to die next’ list more than anyone in the history of the planet: Keith Richards. – Tom

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

You know what’s better than seeing people on your timeline living it up in the south of France in 2021? Reading about it French people doing it back in the 1950s. When Bonjour Tristesse came out in 1954, it stirred up more public outrage than ‘WAP’ on conservative Twitter. People were shocked at the sexual nature of the book, more so because the author was an 18-year-old girl. By today’s standards, it’s practically vanilla, but it’s a great and relatively quick story of summery French hedonism: precocious teenager Cécile and her bachelor dad head to a villa by the sea for summer, and when various characters drop and threaten to upturn their carefree existence, Cécile starts scheming. – Mon

Sign up for the Monster Children Newsletter