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Reading list for the Garrandarang: Aboriginal Book Club

Garrandarang Aboriginal Book Club: 12 Months, 12 Books, 12 Aboriginal Authors

Wow! When i launched the Aboriginal Book Club i had no idea how great a response it would get- you guys had it all booked out (get it??!! ) within just 4 days! I'm blown away by your support and thank you from the bottom of my heart for signing up!

I am looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you over the next 12 months, as we delve into some deadly Aboriginal literature, written by some amazing authors (some we may even get to meet throughout the year). I have carefully curated our reading list to ensure multiple genres and subject matters are covered, including a couple books written by authors from around our region- gotta show some love to our locals amiright?!

So what will we be reading? Check out our reading list below. Let me know your thoughts on the reading list in the comments!

Each month i will update the blog with the book of the month and any discussion questions- so check back regularly to read along with us and share your thoughts!


Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture of Accident?

Bruce Pascoe (2014)

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for precolonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie.



Anita Heiss (2014)

A story about what it means to be a friend …

Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between.

Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman harbours a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck.

When their circle begins to fracture and the old childhood ways don’t work anymore, is their sense of sistahood enough to keep it intact? How well do these tiddas really know each other?


Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari


WINNER – 2013 Deadly Award for Published Book of the Year

COMMENDED – 2013 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards (Non-fiction category)

The Ngangkari are the traditional healers of the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Lands, encompassing 350,000 square kilometres of the remote western desert. For thousands of years the Ngangkari have nurtured the physical, emotional and social well-being of their people. To increase understanding and encourage collaboration with mainstream health services and the wider community, the Ngangkari have forged a rare partnership with health professionals and practitioners of Western medicine. Experience the world of the Ngangkari as they share their wisdom, natural healing techniques and cultural history through life stories, spectacular photography and artwork.


Defying the Enemy Within

Joe Williams (2018)

Former NRL player, world boxing title holder and proud Wiradjuri First Nations man Joe Williams was always plagued by negative dialogue in his head, and the pressures of elite sport took their toll. Joe eventually turned to drugs and alcohol to silence the dialogue, before attempting to take his own life in 2012. In the aftermath, determined to rebuild , Joe took up professional boxing and got clean.

Defying the Enemy Within is both Joe's story and the steps he took to get well. Williams tells of his struggles with mental illness, later diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder, and the constant dialogue in his head telling him he worthless and should die. In addition to sharing his experiences, Joe shares his wellness plan - the ordinary steps that helped him achieve the extraordinary.


The Swan Book

Alexis Wright (2013)

The Swan Book is the third novel by the Indigenous Australian author Alexis Wright. It met with critical acclaim when it was published, and was short-listed for Australia's premier literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award.

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginal people still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows a girl who is pulled from a tree as a child after having been lost and gang-raped, and how she grows up raised by a European immigrant and seemingly guided by swans. After the death of her guardian, she is betrothed to a boy who grows up to become the first Indigenous President of Australia (Prime Minister has been abandoned in this future), and later marries him, despite retaining a childlike mind even as an adult.


Secret River

Kate Grenville (2005)

The Secret River was inspired by Grenville's desire to understand the history of her ancestor Solomon Wiseman, who settled on the Hawkesbury River at the area now known as Wisemans Ferry. Her inspiration to understand this came from her taking part in the 28 May 2000 Reconciliation Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge during which she realised that she didn't know much about the early interactions between the settlers and the Aboriginal people. Initially intended to be a work of non-fiction about Wiseman, the book eventually became a fictional work based on her research into Wiseman but not specifically about Wiseman himself.


Talking to my Country

Stan Grant (2016)

TALKING TO MY COUNTRY is that rare and special book that talks to every Australian about their country - what it is, and what it could be. It is not just about race, or about indigenous people but all of us, our shared identity. Direct, honest and forthright, Stan is talking to us all. He might not have all the answers but he wants us to keep on asking the question: how can we be better?


Swallow the Air

Tara June Winch (2008)

When May's mother dies suddenly, she and her brother Billy are taken in by Aunty. However, their loss leaves them both searching for their place in a world that doesn't seem to want them. While Billy takes his own destructive path, May sets off to find her father and her Aboriginal identity.


Why Im No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017)

A powerful and provocative argument on the role that race and racism play in modern Britain, by award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge In February 2014, Reni Eddo-Lodge posted an impassioned argument on her blog about her deep-seated frustration with the way discussions of race and racism in Britain were constantly being shut down by those who weren't affected by it.

Her sharp, fiercely intelligent words hit a nerve and the post went viral, spawning a huge number of comments from people desperate to speak up about their own, similar experiences. Galvanised by this response, Eddo-Lodge decided to dive into the source of these feelings; this clear hunger for an open discussion. The result is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today, covering issues from eradicated black history to white privilege, the fallacy of 'meritocracy' to white-washing feminism, and the inextricable link between class and race.


Because I Love Him

Ashlee Donohue (2018)

Because I Love Him is a privileged insight into strong and sacred family ties, and the intricacies of relationships and expectations within urban Aboriginal communities. It is a personal account of love, addiction, motherhood, domestic violence, and the impact on women, children and families.



Kim Scott (2017)

Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.


Blood on the Wattle

Bruce Elder (1988)

Documenting some of the most significant, albeit painful, events in white Australia's past, this work was first published to coincide with the Bicentenary in 1988. This revised and updated edition includes new information on three key events in Aboriginal-European relations which have come to light since publication of the first edition, and gives an overview of the "Stolen Generation" report.


PHEW! And that's all folks! I would love to hear your thoughts on the reading list- feel free to add comments or join in the discussion on social media!

Ash xx


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