Best Seller in Australia

Australians love reading, and the country’s literary scene has changed dramatically in the last few years. Novels have now become more diverse and experimental. Here are Australia’s top 5 Fiction Books of 2020

The Dictionary of Lost Words

The Dictionary of Lost Words, written by Pip Williams, is a fascinating book about a girl, Esme, who, in 1901, stole the missing word “Bondmaid” from the Oxford English Dictionary. 

Esme realized that some words relating to women’s experiences are sometimes left unrecorded. She collected discarded, misplaced, or neglected terms from the Scriptorium relating to women’s experiences. Esme dedicated her life to the Oxford English dictionary but secretly collected words for her: The Dictionary of Lost Words. 

The story was set at the height of the women’s suffrage movement and the looming “great war.” The Dictionary of Lost Words is a thought-provoking story of language and its power to change the world. 

Honey Bee

Honey Bee, written by Craig Silvey, is a life-affirming and heartbreaking novel that exposes its readers to the dark world of extortion plots, petty thefts, daring rescues, botched bank robberies, and a drag show. This book was recommended by Finn Short from newcastle cabinet makers.

The story revolves around Sam Watson, a resilient but solitary young person who is battling to navigate the world and discover his true self. A loyal son to his troubled mother and disrupted by a domineering step-father. 

The honeybee is a moving novel full of strong characters. It’s about the lives of two people who are forever changed by a chance encounter. 

Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain, written by Douglas Stuart, is a novel that exposes the grim reality of poverty, helplessness, and abuse. It reveals the disheartening relationship between a parent who has a problem with substance abuse and her neglected children. Agnes Bain, their mother, was abandoned. by their womanizing father and turned to uncontrollable drinking. Soon they found themselves in a mining town wasteland. 

Shuggie Bains has an older sister, Catherine, who married at an early age to get away from their mother and moved to South Africa. Shuggie has a brother Alexander “Leek’ Bains, a gifted artist trying his best to teach his younger brother how to act naturally. It’s Shuggie who is holding to hope the longest. Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain exposes the cruelty of poverty and the effects of addiction and abuse.

The Midnight library

The Midnight Library is an intriguing novel written by Matt Haig about all the choices a well-lived life has to go through. 

The novel opens the door into a fascinating library with an infinite number of books found beyond the edge of the Universe. Each book tells the story of another reality. One book is about the life you lived while the other tells of the life you could have lived. 

In the novel, Nora Seed is faced with a dilemma as she goes through the Midnight Library. Will she change her life, undo old break-ups or choose a different career? She has to seek within herself and make the ultimate decision. 

All Our Shimmering Skies

All Our Shimmering Skies is a novel written by Trent Dalton that is set amidst the backdrop of World War 2, where bombs are raining down on an orphaned Molly Hook. She embarks on a quest to find Longcoat Bob, a deep-country sorcerer. She is accompanied by an odd mix of characters, Greta and Yukio. 

It’s a story of gifts falling from the sky, curses we dig from the earth, and buried secrets inside ourselves. This novel is heading towards becoming an Australian Classic.

Books That Shaped Australia

Many people believe that literature has a significant influence on the development of society. It has shaped nations, developed cultures, exposed injustices, and serves as the reflection of society. 

Literature allows us to raise questions, explore our feelings and gives people a deeper understanding of different issues. It tells a story, takes us to other places and diverse perspectives through the author’s eyes. 

Australia has a vast array of literature and books that have shaped the country. These books represent a cross-section of different genres, literature and history. 

For the Term of His Natural Life

A story was written by Markus Clark, “For the Term of His Natural Life” was first published in the Australian Journal in the 1870s. It’s a story of an Australian penal settlement and published as a novel in 1874. The book follows Rufus Dawes’s life, who was taken to the penal colony at Macquarie for being wrongly convicted of a murder he never committed. 

The story exposes the harsh and inhumane treatment of convicts and graphically describing the extreme conditions had to endure. An Australian TV mini-series adaptation of “For the Term of His Natural Life” was shown in 1983. This book has come to symbolise the Australian convict past.


Voss is a fictional chronicle of explorer Ludwig Leichardt expeditions to Australia. Patrick White wrote it, the only Australian awarded the Nobel Laureate in Literature in 1973. The story was set in Australia in the 19th century. The main characters Voss and Laura, had overwhelming and obsessive feelings for each other. 

Voss embarked on a treacherous voyage across the continent and faced overwhelming hardships, betrayal and mutiny. Laura is waiting in Sydney as Voss’ attachment to Laura increases. He then disappears without a trace in the merciless desert. 

My Brilliant Career

My Brilliant Career is a book written by Miles Franklin in 1901. Franklin is an Australian feminist and writer and was committed to developing a unique form of Australian literature

My Brilliant Career tells Sybylla Melvyn’s story as she was developing into womanhood in New South Wales. Sybylla is a strong-minded young girl growing up in Australia in the early 20th century. Sybylla wanted to maintain her independence, so she rejected marriage to a wealthy young man. After publishing this novel, Franklin also wrote a sequel entitled: “My Career Goes Bung, ” published after a few decades later in 1946. 

The Harp in the South

The Harp in the South is a novel written by Ruth Park, which was first published in 1948. The book has always been a favourite of Australians for the past half a century. 

The novel is a nostalgic and moving portrayal of the Darcy’s who lived in a Plymouth Street in Sydney’s slums. Their father Hughie is an alcoholic, while their daughters Roie and Dolour are exposed to the realities of prostitution, gangs, nuns and racial tensions in their community. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock was written by Joan Lindsay and was first published in 1967. It tells the story of young ladies from Appleyard College who decided to have a picnic at Hanging rocks on Valentine’s day. The girls vanished, significantly affecting the school and the local community. 

The unresolved ending has attracted much interpretation and analysis. The novel was adapted into a movie of the same name directed by Peter Weir.

How many books were read in Australia?

A trend has been emerging in the past few years. The book industry in Australia has undergone a radical change due to the new developments in internet technology and e-books’ growing popularity. 

Survey Results on Australian Book Readers

A survey of Australian Book Readers by the Australian Research Council and Macquarie University in 2016 and the results are revealing. When they asked the respondents about the frequency of leisure activities, 95.7% said browsing the internet, 92% said watching TV, and 65.5% said they read books, which means reading books is the third-highest leisure activity of 8 listed in the survey. 

People read books for many reasons: relaxation, escape, learning, and writing enjoyment. When the survey respondents were asked, they answered similarly: entertainment, health, and learning. The survey revealed that younger readers, 30 yrs. Old and below, read more for enjoyment. On the other hand, older readers who are over 60 yrs. Old prefer reading for learning. 

This survey also found important data for book purchases in Australia. It was mentioned that data before the survey shows that 43% of Australians bought books. Of those who bought books, 64% said they purchased the books for their reading, 22% purchased it for their children, and 14% as a gift. 

According to the survey, 71% of respondents purchased their books from a bricks-and-mortar store like independent local shops, bargain bookstores, department stores, second-hand outlets. These also include major book chains such as Collins Booksellers, Dymocks, and QBD. The remaining 29% bought it in online stores such as Amazon, Apple, and others. It is good to note that many readers bought books from second-hand outlets, which means no financial returns for the writers. 

How many books were read in Australia?

The same survey by the Australia Council and Macquarie University showed that 92% of Australians had read books in the past year. 

 51% of those readers have read between one to ten books, and 41% read more than ten books over the same period. 

The survey results showed that Australians, in general love to read books. The number of books bought in Australia in 2018 is a testament to this reading culture. 

In the first eight months of 2020, the value of adult fiction sales had increased by 12% compared to the previous year. Children and educational sales also went up by 7% based on data from Nielsen BookScan. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in lockdown books became a vital entertainment source and escape. 

The best way to gauge the number of books read in Australia is to check the number of bestseller books sold. The bestsellers list from December 29, 2019, to August 29, 2020: 

  1. “Bluey: Big Backyard (Puffin),” which sold 156,880 copies; 
  2. “Bluey: Time to Play (Puffin),” which sold 116,050 copies; 
  3. “The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, Wiley),” which sold 90,270 copies; 
  4. “Bluey: The Beach (Puffin),” which sold 83,350 copies; and 
  5. “Boy Swallows Universe (Trent Dalton, Fourth Estate),” which sold 81,720 copies.

Rounding up the other bestseller books are Bluey: The Creek (Puffin), which sold 80,260 copies; Bluey: Bob Bilby (Puffin), with 79,010 copies; Phosphorescence (Julia Baird, HarperCollins), with 78,430; Bluey: Fruit Bat (Puffin), with 72,510 copies; and Bluey: Easter Fun! (Puffin, with) 68,160 copies.