If, like me, you are simply giddy with the prospect of seeing The Australian Shakespeare Company perform Romeo and Juliet in the Royal Botanic Gardens this summer, surrendering yourself to Les Miserables at the historical Astor Theatre or taking in Hitchcock with your pals and a good picnic at the Moonlight Cinema, then you too may wish to embrace nostalgia as your summer reading theme!
Is there anything better than lazing away the summer days by plonking yourself under the shade of a big Gum and letting your mind be carried away by tales of days gone by?
So for all the retro junkies out there, here is my list of the most decadent, tormented and all consuming nostalgic reads to dive into these summer holidays...and if you must throw on a frock or a suit and sip on a G&T to really get into the spirit, then so be it!
#1 'On the Road' - Jack Kerouac
Delve into the underground with Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty as they road trip across 1950's America, discovering all it's beatnik wonder; sex, drugs and jazz clubs. 2 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' - D.H Lawrence
The story of Lady Constance Chatterly's sexual awakening and rebellion against the conformities of auld English propriety. Thankfully the ban placed on the novel in the 1960's due to its apparent obscenity has been lifted and you are free to digest this naughty read guilt free.
#3 'To Kill a Mockingbird' - Harper Lee
So much more than the presenting tale of two young children growing up in the Deep South of the 1930's. The story follows their lawyer father Atticus as he defends a black man charged with the rape of a white girl in a town steeped in prejudice at a time when such heroism was rare and ultimately inspirational.
#4 'The Bell Jar' - Sylvia Plath
The only novel written by Plath (who is more well known for her peotry) is truly atmospheric as it takes a glimpse into the life of Esther Greenwood; a young woman set on becoming a fashion writer but constantly restrained by the limits placed on women in the workplace of the 1950's. Plath's heroine endures mental illness and troubled relationships, is complicated and endearing, the story haunting and heartbreaking. 5 'The Catcher in the Rye' - J.D Sallinger
A coming of age tale set in 1950's New York which is narrated in the first person by teenager Caulfield Holden who writes from his (mental) hospital bed. The story looks at the forming of identity and the challenges of adolescence through a 'stream of consciousness' style of writing that intrigues until the end.
#6 'In Cold Blood' - Truman Capote
The horrific yet beautifully authored account of the killing of a Kansas farmer and his family in 1959 by a pair of young men who by Capote's pen seem completely without conscience or morality. A chilling retelling of the event and equally a journalistic study of the impacts of such a crime on the whole community.
#7 'The Great Gatsby' - F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you are planning on seeing the new Di Caprio film, you best be quick and first read this fine piece of fiction. Set against the backdrop of post war America and the roaring 20's, Fitzgerald details a life of excess led by Jay Gatsby and his quest to reignite a relationship with his first love.
#8 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' - John Berendt
The murder of Danny Hansford by his lover in 1980's Savannah, Georgia is central to this story however it is the plethora of colourful characters (drag queens and eccentrics among them) who steal the show in this work of non-fiction. A tale of murderous intrigue and decadence with overtones of voodoo this a must read.
#9 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' - Joan Lindsay
One for the locals, this novel details the mysterious disappearance of a group of school girls picnicking in Victoria on Valentine's Day, 1900. The books end offers no resolve and leaves you contemplating your own explanations as to their strange vanishing.
#10 'Monkey Grip' - Helen Garner
A tale of urban bohemia in 1970's Australia where Nora shares her home with free loving artists and her heart with junkie, Javo. The story however looks closer at the ever evolving notion of family and the possibilities of alternative living.