All The Books We’re Reading These Summer Holidays

All The Books We’re Reading These Summer Holidays
Contributor: Leah Williams
At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

Summer is finally here. That means afternoons in the sun, spending time with family and breathing COVID-free sighs of relief.

It’s been a long year and everyone deserves a nice break, however short it might be. The best way to escape for even a few hours is with a nice, long book. There’s plenty of newly released novels we’re planning on catching up on during our holiday break, and plenty of returning favourites too.

Here’s the reads you’ll find us curled up with this summer.

Tegan Jones, Editor – Gizmodo Australia

The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

three-body problem
Image: Head of Zeus

Aliens, conspiracies and cultural revolution are the backdrop to this epic novel, soon to be adapted into a Netflix Original Series.

1967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China’s Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang’s investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable and unpredictable interaction of its three suns.

This is the Three-Body Problem and it is the key to everything: the key to the scientists’ deaths, the key to a conspiracy that spans light-years and the key to the extinction-level threat humanity now faces.

Paperback: $19.66, Kindle: $7.91

Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present – Chris Gosden

history of magic summer books reading
Image: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This is magic, explored through the lens of history and archeology. It’s fascinating stuff.

An Oxford professor of archaeology explores the unique history of magic–the oldest and most neglected strand of human behavior and its resurgence today Three great strands of belief run through human history: Religion is the relationship with one god or many gods, masters of our lives and destinies. Science distances us from the world, turning us into observers and collectors of knowledge. And magic is direct human participation in the universe: we have influence on the world around us, and the world has influence on us.

Over the last few centuries, magic has developed a bad reputation–thanks to the unsavory tactics of shady practitioners, and to a successful propaganda campaign on the part of religion and science, which denigrated magic as backward, irrational, and primitive. In Magic, however, the Oxford professor of archaeology Chris Gosden restores magic to its essential place in the history of the world–revealing it to be an enduring element of human behavior that plays an important role for individuals and cultures. 

Paperback: $54.00, Kindle: $19.99

Silk Road – Eileen Ormsby

silk road summer reading books
Image: Pan Macmillan Australia

This tale explores the history of Silk Road, the online drugs seller that briefly ruled the Dark Web.

It was the ‘eBay of drugs’, a billion dollar empire. Behind it was the FBI’s Most Wanted Man, a mysterious crime czar dubbed ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’. SILK ROAD lay at the heart of the ‘Dark Web’ – a parallel internet of porn, guns, assassins and drugs. Lots of drugs. With the click of a button LSD, heroin, meth, coke, any illegal drug imaginable, would wing its way by regular post from any dealer to any user in the world. How was this online drug cartel even possible? And who was the mastermind all its low roads led to?

This is the incredible true story of Silk Road’s rise and fall, told with unparalleled insight into the main players.

Paperback: $33.64, Kindle: $16.99

Leah Williams, Writer/Producer – Kotaku, Gizmodo and Lifehacker Australia

The Colorado Kid – Stephen King

colorado kid stephen king books
Image: Hard Case Crime

I’ve gotten really into a Syfy TV show called Haven lately, so I’m going to head back to the source and read the original story the show is (very loosely) based on. It’s inspired by the Australian true crime mystery of the Somerton Man, so I’m intrigued to see how it’s been adapted.

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On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There’s no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it’s more than a year before the man is identified. And that’s just the beginning of the mystery.

Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still…?

Paperback: $14.02 Kindle: $4.99

Crave – Tracy Wolff

crave tracy wolff books
Image: Entangled Publishing, LLC

I love a cheesy vampire romance novel. The cheesier the better. This entry from Tracy Wolff isn’t exactly the classiest of fiction, but it does look like a saucy good time and I’m keen to get stuck in.

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place. Or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods.or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

And then there’s Jaxon Vega. A prince. A vampire. An annoyingly kissable boy who hasn’t felt a thing in over a hundred years. But there’s a darkness to him. A secret craving that threatens to consume him whole.

Which could spell death for us all.

Paperback: $32.68 Kindle: $10.99

Cam Wilson, Writer – Gizmodo and Business Insider Australia

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram – Sarah Frier

books summer reading list

Instagram is a fascinating platform, and this book blows the lid off the entire story.

In this “sequel to The Social Network” (The New York Times), award-winning reporter Sarah Frier reveals the never-before-told story of how Instagram became the most culturally defining app of the decade. “The most enrapturing book about Silicon Valley drama since Hatching Twitter” (Fortune), No Filter “pairs phenomenal in-depth reporting with explosive storytelling that gets to the heart of how Instagram has shaped our lives, whether you use the app or not” (The New York Times).

In 2010, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger released a photo-sharing app called Instagram, with one simple but irresistible feature: it would make anything you captured look more beautiful. 

Paperback: $37.28 Kindle: $16.99

The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes

summer reading list
Image: Vintage Publishing

This book charts the history of Australia down to its brutal, colonising origins.

In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonise Australia.

Documenting the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia, The Fatal Shore is the definitive, masterfully written narrative that has given its true history to Australia.

Paperback: $27.79 Kindle: $14.99


Lauren Rouse, Writer/Producer – Gizmodo, Kotaku and Lifehacker Australia

Dune – Frank Herbert

dune frank herbert
Image: Hodder Paperbacks

With Dune‘s big screen adaptation set for release in 2021, there’s never been a better time to get stuck into Frank Herbert’s epic, world-spanning novel.

Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

Paperback: $20.01, Kindle: $4.99

James Hennessy, Editor – Business Insider Australia

Children of Time – Adrian Tchaikovsky

children of time summer books
Image: Pan MacMillan

Children of Time is a critically acclaimed sci-fi, and the winner of the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award Award for Best Novel. Arthur C. Clarke can’t be wrong, right?

Who will inherit this new Earth? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilisations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

Paperback: $21.74, Kindle: $15.80

I Am The River – TE Grau

i am the river summer reading books
Image: Lethe Press

I Am The River is a violent and cathartic book about the impact of the Vietnam War on American soldiers.

During the last desperate days of the Vietnam War, American soldier Israel Broussard is assigned to a secret CIA PSYOP far behind enemy lines meant to drive terror into the heart of the North Vietnamese and end an unwinnable war. When the mission goes sideways, Broussard is plunged into a nightmare that he soon finds he is unable to escape, dragging a remnant of that night in the Laotian wilderness with him no matter how far he runs.

Five years later, too damaged to return home and holed up in the slums of Bangkok, where he battles sleep, guilt, and a creeping sense of madness, Broussard discovers that he must journey back to the jungles of Laos in an attempt to set things right and reclaim what is left of his life.

Paperback: $22.40, Kindle: $11.00

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control – Stephen Kinzer

summer books reading
Image: Henry Holt & Company Inc

MK-ULTRA has long fascinated conspiracy theorists and world historians alike. This book dives into the story of Sidney Gottlieb, described as the “gentle-hearted torturer” of the CIA.

The visionary chemist Sidney Gottlieb was the CIA’s master magician and gentlehearted torturer -the agency’s ‘poisoner in chief.’ As head of the MK-ULTRA mind control project, he directed brutal experiments at secret prisons on three continents. He made pills, powders, and potions that could kill or maim without a trace – including some intended for Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders. He paid prostitutes to lure clients to CIA-run bordellos, where they were secretly dosed with mind-altering drugs. His experiments spread LSD across the United States, making him a hidden godfather of the 1960s counterculture. For years he was the chief supplier of spy tools used by CIA officers around the world.

Stephen Kinzer, author of groundbreaking books about U.S. clandestine operations, draws on new documentary research and original interviews to bring to life one of the most powerful unknown Americans of the twentieth century. Gottlieb’s reckless experiments on ‘expendable’ human subjects destroyed many lives, yet he considered himself deeply spiritual. He lived in a remote cabin without running water, meditated, and rose before dawn to milk his goats.

Paperback: $39.91, Kindle: $12.34

Melissa Matheson, Head of Editorial – Business Insider, Gizmodo, Kotaku and Lifehacker Australia

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics – Dolly Parton

dolly parton songteller summer books
Image: Hodder & Stoughton

Dolly Parton is an absolute icon, and this book looks like an incredible romp through her long career and everything she’s gotten up to over the last few decades.

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend.

As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton’s personal and business archives.

Paperback: $74.63 Kindle: $24.99

Stephanie Nuzzo, Editor – Lifehacker

I’m Still Here – Austin Channing Brown

summer books
Image: Little, Brown Book Group

Austin’s story is so insightful, and raises essential issues of racial justice and cultural microaggressions in white society.

This book is my story about growing up in a Black girl’s body. It’s about surviving in a world not made for me.

Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialised America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, ‘I had to learn what it means to love Blackness,’ a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert helping organisations practice genuine inclusion.

Paperback: $24.66 Kindle: $15.99

Darkness is Golden – Mary Hoang

darkness is golden summer reading
Image: Pantera Press

Life’s messy. This book will sort you out.

Indigo Project psychologist Mary Hoang will teach you how to face your fears and anxieties and make meaning from loss and pain, to find your true purpose, meaning, and a life that resonates for you. Hidden in the folds of human life are the stories that most of us want to keep in the dark.

The shit storms, our anxieties, the failed relationships, our sadness, our fears of the future, our psychological pain. Darkness is Golden is a commentary on the universal experience of ‘darkness’ that weighs on us all, and how those shadows can hold the answers we seek. It’s an insightful guide on how to embrace the complexity of the mind when navigating emotions and relationships. 

Paperback: $26.25 Kindle: $9.49