Connor Parissis shares his favourite reads of 2022 and the books he’s looking forward to in 2023.
Books have always been an integral part of my life, from losing myself in fantasy books since I was eight, to reading certain books reluctantly in high school, to discovering texts new and old during university, all of which I’ve come to adore. These days, as a publicist at Penguin, I’m incredibly privileged that I get to live and breathe books, working with talented writers from Australia and around the globe. I’ll be the first to admit that my reading tastes have evolved over the years, and I’ve come to discover new genres I never thought I would enjoy. Below are just a few of the standout books I’ve read recently that I have thoroughly enjoyed and can’t recommend enough.
Staff picks: Connor's top 9 book recommendations
The Island of Missing Trees Elif Shafak
One of the most captivating novels I’ve read all year - The Island of Missing Trees is a story of love and war, with a splash of magical realism and intriguing historical insight into the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Frankly, it’s a literary masterpiece… best accompanied by a box of tissues.
The Inseparables Simone de Beauvoir
Having read many of De Beauvoir's books, it’s clear after finishing this only recently-printed, autobiographical novel, how it shaped her future works. Written in 1954, and set in the 1920s, the novel follows nine-year-old Sylvie and Adrée in Paris as we watch their loyal friendship unfold until its abrupt end. It’s a heartbreaking novel well worth the seventy-year wait.
Making Australian History Anna Clark
At the time of writing, Anna Clark’s Making Australian History has been longlisted for the 2022 Walkley Book Award, and deservedly so. This is essential, accessible reading for all Australians, as Clark dissects how we’ve come to learn our history and how we continue to tell it, with a central focus on the lack of representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories.
The Swimmers Julie Otsuka
This novel may be short, but the story packs an emotional punch. Written in first-person plural (which was captivating and read like poetry), the book presents itself as a story about a community of swimmers when a crack begins to form at their local pool. However, the book is far more than that – it oozes with philosophical undertones as it explores themes of dementia, loss and sorrow, following one swimmer, Alice, as her memory fades.
Lapvona Ottessa Moshfegh
Moshfegh continues to wow readers with her outlandish plots and clever narratives. While this is unlike any of her previous novels and quite a literary experiment, Lapvona still has a ‘Moshfegh’ essence about it. The medieval setting features a grim and grotesque narrative, with delusional, wicked characters who lay bare the depravity of human nature. This novel is not for the faint-hearted.
Anything But Fine Tobias Madden
It’s not often I find myself returning to young adult novels, but Madden’s debut filled me with so much joy. Almost like an Australian Heartstopper, Madden’s novel is an LGBTQIA+ friends-to-lovers coming-of-age story set in Ballarat. Luca is a teenage ballet dancer who, after breaking his foot, grieves the possibility of a dance career. Lonely and isolated, Luca falls for Jordan and their romance blossoms. Featuring a diverse cast of characters, Anything But Fine is heart-warming and exactly the novel I wish I had when I was a teenager!
A Man and His Pride Luke Rutledge
It’s hard to come by authentic Australian LGBTQIA+ reads for adult audiences, yet in this debut novel, Brisbane-based author Luke Rutledge delivers a deeply moving story about finding your pride and addressing internalised homophobia. Set against the backdrop of the marriage equality postal survey in 2017, it’s refreshing to read a story that feels authentically Brisbane and authentically queer. A Man and His Pride comes out on 31 January 2023.
The Matchmaker Saman Shad
In a romantic comedy where Parramatta meets Pakistan, Saman Shad gives readers insight into Pakistani matchmaking customs in a way that is refreshing in its diversity. Saima is a professional matchmaker whose own love life is in shambles. Kal’s parents beg Saima to set him up with someone without him knowing, only for Saima to realise she is his best match. In a debut with Sydney as its backdrop, and desi romantic comedy being a first for Australian publishing, I’m incredibly excited to see this debut enter the world in February. The Matchmaker will be released on 31 January 2023.
Go as a River Shelley Read
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be one of the first to dive into Shelley Reid’s beautifully written, mesmerising and unforgettable debut, coming out in March 2023. Set between the years of 1940 and 1970 in the tiny town of Iola, Colorado, we follow Victoria Nash who crosses paths with the mysterious Wil Moon. What follows is a tale of love and loss interwoven with an absolutely captivating writing style. You’ll be able to get your hands on this one on 7 March 2023.
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