Summer reading list

Summer reading guide

We've created a collection of book recommendations from STC staff. Sit back, relax and get reading.


The Vivisector
By Patrick White
"Use the summer as an opportunity to discover (or rediscover) one of Patrick White’s masterpieces in advance of A Cheery Soul in 2018. This book had White removed from the list of Nobel Prize contenders in 1970, but he triumphed three years later after publishing The Eye of the Storm." – Kip, Artistic Director

Behold The Dreamers
By Imbolo Mbue
"Set in New York in 2008, this is a beautiful novel about the Jonga family, recent immigrants from Cameroon. The husband gets a job as a driver for a Lehman Brothers executive, which brings them into the orbit of wealthy New Yorkers, until the financial crash changes all their lives." – Helen, Accountant

The Starlings
By Vivienne Kelly
"Part family drama, part coming of age story. Set in Melbourne in the 1980s, with lots of footy (of the AFL variety), plus some Shakespeare along with the tales of King Arthur. It is equal parts funny, sad and a little bit heartbreaking." – Miranda, Corporate Partnerships Manager

By Sandor Marai
"A beautifully written and very moving novel about male friendship, written in the mid-20th century but only translated into English recently. Christopher Hampton, who translated The Father, has written a play based on this novel. Another role for John Bell, perhaps…?" – Rebecca, Director, Partnerships

The Old Man and the Sea
By Ernest Hemingway
"A short, gripping classic that Hemingway considered his best work."  – Rebecca, Development Coordinator

The Mothers
By Brit Bennett
"Moving at what feels like the pace of life itself, this is a beautifully written coming-of-age and exploration of one young woman’s experience of grief and her coming to terms with the world around her." – Lisa, Education Projects Officer

By Ann Patchett
"This book has stuck with me all year, and I might even dip into it again this summer. Sweeping family epic, of several generations, over several decades." – Miranda, Corporate Partnerships Manager


The Nearest Thing to Life
By James Wood
"Although so many of us love to consume stories, we rarely question why or what it is we are doing when we pick up a novel and read it from to start to finish. James Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life is a delicate and thoughtfully explored look at the act of reading and how the novel over time has helped us to understand the shape of our own lives. I would recommend this to anyone to reads. It is a beautifully considered take on reading as a sacred act, both public and private, that brings us closer to ourselves and to the world around us." – Georgie, Donor Program Executive

Dark Emu
By Bruce Pascoe
"Pascoe has synthesised countless primary sources, archeological evidence, official records and historical accounts to create a very readable and very convincing argument for re-imagining pre-colonial Australia. He describes how Aboriginal people successfully and methodically cultivated the land right across the country for thousands of years. And puts forward a rationale for how and why the tag of “hunter-gatherer” was used to help justify the way in which they were dispossessed and denigrated." – Carl, Content Manager

Changing Jobs: The Fair Go In The New Machine Age
By Jim Chalmers and Mike Quigley 
"It's a fascinating book exploring the future of jobs, skills and life in the artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and machine learning revolution." – John, Education Manager

At the Existentialist Café
By Sarah Bakewell
“A vibrant and engaging dive into existential philosophy that reveals the ideas, lives and love affairs of the main players along the way." – Sophie, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
By Yuval Noah Harari
"Some will find Harari's vision of the post Sapien existence more than a little disturbing, which is good. Without such concerns the worse aspects of this possible future will occur without us realising. That said, to think that Homo Sapiens are the final and eternal answer to the question of how to exist is just simplistic. Change is inevitable and not always for the better for everyone. Knowing what is around the corner is only the beginning." – Alex, Insights & Analytics Manager


Balancing Acts – Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre
By Nicholas Hytner
"Great industry insight from the former Artistic Director of Great Britain’s National Theatre" – Jono, Director, Technical and Production

In Order to Live
By Yeonmi Park
"Puts a human face on struggles in North Korea with the ultimately triumphant true story of a young defector. It’s is a timely reminder that behind the megalomaniac and caricatured leader, are millions of people whose lives get forgotten amongst the furore." Joshua, Project Manager, Philanthropy 

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
By Charlotte Gordon
"As the first dual biography of the mother/daughter pair, Gordon examines the often-dismissed links between Wollstonecraft and Shelley’s lives and works. Both wrote books about the destructive nature of unchecked power, both imagined new ways of living and thriving in the given circumstance, and both lived lives ahead of their time. The chapters switch between the life of one and the life of the other, and delve into the ways mother inspired daughter, and vice versa." – Jonathan, Executive Assistant

Elon Musk
By Ashlee Vance
"Brilliant, enthralling and illuminating life story of a true entrepreneur" – Jono, Director, Technical and Production

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
By Alyssa Mastromonaco
"Mastromonaco was Obama’s deputy chief of staff, and this book is an entertaining look at her time in politics. An inspiring read for anyone wanting to be a leader." –  Whitney, Production Manager





By Ian McEwan
"Ian McEwan's latest novel is a bold tour de force in my opinion." – Hilary, Head of Scenic Art

A Visit from the Goon Squad
By Jennifer Egan
"A real page turner. The narrative was not linear, but it was intertwined and kept me hooked." – Louise, Season Tickets Manager

The Sellout
By Paul Beatty
"A topical and biting book that tackles issues of race, identity and culture within the US. Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize." – Christine, Graphic Designer

Water Music 
By T.C. Boyle
"His first major novel, a hilarious adventure yarn full of wit and dense exquisite language, rollicking good fun and rough as hessian underwear, I intend to re-read it myself!" – Eric, Senior Head Mechanist

Six Bedrooms
By Tegan Bennett Daylight
"Daylight (a former STC Box Office staffer) writes highly evocative accounts of adolescence and young adulthood in Sydney that are highly personal but also highly relatable. The anthology re-visits one particular character over its course, providing an almost novelistic connection to the stories." – Patrick, Executive Director

All the Light We Cannot See
By Anthony Doerr
"A beautifully written story of the devastation of World War II told from two very different and rarely told perspectives- a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy." – Gabrielle, Marketing Manager, Campaigns

By Geraldine Brooks
"This is an historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War. It tells the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott’s tale, ‘Little Women’. It won the Pulitzer prize in 2006." – Georgia, Donor Hospitality Executive

The First Law (Trilogy)
By Joe Abercrombie
"Wonderful subversion of common fantasy tropes, real characters, great action and the most satisfying end to a trilogy that I've read." – Alex, IT Support

Portable Curiosities
By Julie Koh
"Koh’s stories provide hilarious, lurid, touching and political views of Sydney, shot through with magic and near-futurism. Packed with ideas and arguments, Portable Curiosities is also wildly imaginative and laugh out loud funny." – Patrick, Executive Director

By Ben Lerner
"I loved this “year in the life” of one man in a New York City frequented by super-storms. Different narratives overlap each other and overwhelm you in a way that New York does at the best of times, not least during the heightened craze it finds itself in in the book – the city might soon be under water and everyone is freaking out. This book is bewildering and infuriating, but also hilarious and totally worth the effort." – Georgie, Donor Program Administrator

Dark Fires Shall Burn
By Anna Westbrook
"This story is inspired by the true events of an unsolved murder in 1946, in Camperdown Cemetery. Living in the Inner West, I found it extremely powerful to read a novel that brought the streets of Newtown back to life, as they may have been in the aftermath of World War II." – Kaylee, Customer Service Supervisor

Tender Is The Night
By F Scott Fitzgerald 
"My absolute summer reading favourite and a Christmas holidays must! I can practically feel the salt water and blinding sunshine of the French Riviera in those opening chapters each time I read it." – Katie, Publicist


Non-fiction books

The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence 
By Susie Lindfield
"To me this book reinforces the importance of collective conscience and curiosity. Much like the way theatre challenges and perpetuates ideas of moral authority, Lindfield passionately defends the place of (often confronting) photojournalism for its capacity to unravel imperative social narratives of our time." – Frankie, ​Corporate Partnerships Coordinator 

Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-engineer the Mind
Matthew M. Hurley, Daniel Clement Dennett, Reginald B. Adams
"Eyes may be the window into the soul but humour is a scalpel. Enjoy." – Alex, Insights & Analytics Manager

Country of My Skull
By Antjie Krog
"Primarily about the findings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, post-apartheid. It makes you understand why people do things, and it makes you shake your head in shame. An enlightening, yet hard read." – Nikki, Donor Program Executive

The Course of Love
By Alain de Botton
"I don’t get much time for reading anything other than plays but recently managed to cross this off my extra curricular reading list. It’s quick, nourishing and perfect for dipping in and out of" – Polly, Literary Manager 

Kick: The True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth
By Paula Byrne
"The tragic tale of the vivacious, clever – and forgotten – Kennedy sister, who charmed the English aristocracy and was all but erased from her family history." – Katie, Publicist


Theatre and the Arts books

The Floor of Heaven: My life in Theatre
By Richard Wherrett
"I have just picked up a copy from Gould’s in Newtown and am only a few chapters in but loving learning about the life of our founding Artistic Director." – Jono, Director, Technical and Production

Year of the King: An Actor's Diary and Sketchbook
By Antony Sher
"This book takes the reader on a journey as the author discovers and develops the character that is Richard III. The difficulties and pressures involved in realising such a giant presence onto the stage. Sher's performance had taken Richard to a new level of creativity some say on par or even better than Olivier's benchmark performance." – Ashley, Driver/Buyer

The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera
By Joe Volpe
"Joe started at the Metropolitan Opera as an apprentice carpenter. He went on to become the General Manager. This is a must read for anyone in our industry."  – Jono, Director, Technical and Production


Memoir/Gender Theory books

The Argonauts
By Maggie Nelson
"Maggie Nelson is part of a wave of American female writers - alongside Chris Kraus, Eileen Myles and others - writing with astounding beauty and intelligence about gender, sexuality, love, loss, family and art. In a conservative world, The Argonauts pushes things forward. It is beautiful." – Bradley, Customer Service Supervisor


Philosophy books

The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe
By Michael Frayn
"As theatre-lovers, who could not relish the eloquence, rhythm and imagination of Frayn? This book had me in a state of cerebral bliss from the outset. 'Everything is relative. Even permanence. We are struck by the permanence of the sand in comparison to the transience and insubstantiality of the footprints we have left in it.' A master writer. And a must-read." – Frankie, ​Corporate Partnerships Coordinator 


Collections books

The Moth
Edited & with an introduction by Catherine Burns, preface by Adam Gopnik, foreword by George Dawes Green.
"I’m currently reading and loving The Moth's collection of 50 true stories first heard through one of their storytelling platforms in the U.S. Funny, honest & poignant."  – Julia, Project Director, STC50 


Cook books

Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook
By John Susman, Stephen Hodges, Anthony Huckstep, Sarah Swan
"Summer often means extra helpings of seafood. This is an incredibly well-researched and well-considered cookbook about the fish and creatures that our local fishing industry catches. Highly informative, distinctly local, delicious and unfussy recipes. Every fish-eating Australian home should have a copy." – Carl, Content Manager


Art & Design books

The Elements of Typographic Style
By Robert Bringhurst
"The greatest English-language book published on type, ever." – Hon, Lead Graphic Designer



The Happy Reader
A quarterly magazine by Penguin Books
"This Penguin Books quarterly publication is a must for any fan of classic literature. Each issue has two halves: a long-form interview with a notable book fanatic and an in-depth look at one Penguin Classics title. The magazine itself is a beautiful object, and one I'll be popping into my beach bag this summer." – Elyssa, Digital Marketing Manager

The Australian Dream
By Stan Grant, for Quarterly Essay
"A very insightful and thoroughly enlightening read on the changing face of Indigenous identity in Australia today." – Francisca, Director of Finance and Administration. 

"A diverse collection of new writing spanning fiction, non-fiction, poetry and memoir. I would also recommend Kill Your Darlings for an Australian slant." – Sophie, Digital Marketing Coordinator

The Lighting Designer: What is 'Good Lighting'?
By Nigel Levings, Platform Paper 49
"On my own reading list" – Jono, Director, Technical and Production



Broadway Needs Producers, Not Just Investors
By Harold Prince
"Harold Prince is one of the best known and respected directors and producers in the world. This is an extract from a speech he made" – Jono, Director, Technical and Production

Trent Parke
Photography collection
"Minutes to Midnight and Dream/Life & Beyond are what put Parke on the map, but his colour work (The Christmas Tree Bucket and Coming Soon) is what hits me the hardest." – Hon, Lead Graphic Designer

Helen Garner’s savage self-scrutiny
By James Wood for The New Yorker
"A brilliant profile of Helen Garner and her nuanced, ferociously truthful writing. An excellent introduction to one of Australia's greatest contemporary authors. Read it and then read everything she has written." – Sophie, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Blue Milk (blog)
"In the lead up to The Testament of Mary, it is worth taking a look at this blog on feminism and motherhood, by economist, writer and media commentator, Andie Fox . New posts are a bit sporadic, but always thoughtful, and there is a great back catalogue of posts and links to other reading to delve into." – Miranda, Corporate Partnerships Executive



The Female Gaze
By Jill Soloway at Toronto Film Festival
"The creator of Transparent examines how to make art, particularly film and TV, with a female perspective. It’s a critique, an explanation and a manifesto." – Carl, Content Manager

The Journey from Syria Parts One to Six 
Produced and Directed by Michael Cassel for The New Yorker 
"When you find yourself pining for perspective or moral grounding, watch this. An honest and deeply humbling depiction of one of the first mass refugee migrations out of Syria toward Europe. Elegantly told and impeccably produced. It could be any of us." – Frankie, ​Corporate Partnerships Coordinator

Friendly - the web series
"Melbourne actors Ash Flanders and Peter Paltos have created one of the funniest things that I have seen all year." – Sophie, Digital Marketing Coordinator



My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
"I love this podcast where Karen and Georgia share their favourite true crime stories. The stories are fascinating and despite the macabre subject matter the podcast is fun and funny."  – Sarah, Application and Database Manager

Sisters Grimm on queer theatre
Audio Stage podcast
"This irregular Melbourne-based podcast deep dives into various subjects around the performing arts, particularly theatre and dance. Here, Ash Flanders and Declan Greene from Sisters Grimm (STC’s Calpurnia Descending) discuss what “queer" is and what it isn’t." – Carl, Content Manager

Making Oprah
WBEZ Chicago podcast
"Fun listening for a long car trip. A surprisingly insightful look at the pressures of making creative work in a commercial environment." – Rebecca, Director Partnerships

The Dollop with Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds
"This podcast is hilarious!  I love its exploration of some of the more quirky stories from American (and sometimes Australian) history."  – Sarah, Application and Database Manager

Rum, Rebels & Ratbags
"Hosted by David Hunt (author of Girt) and Dom Knight (ABC Radio), this is a fascinating and entertaining dive into Australia’s sordid history, with tales often omitted from the history books." – Alexia, Marketing Coordinator

The Seven Ages of Woman
RN Earshot
“This series was wonderful and enlightening. I didn’t want to get out of the car when I heard part of it, so had to listen to the podcast!” – Lisa, Education Projects Officer

Building Brutal: the beautiful beasts of brutalism
RN Life Matters
"I love stumbling upon old brutalist structures on my journeys around Sydney. This episode has a list of some of the more iconic ones but, if you keep your eyes open, you'll be sure to spot more hidden treasures." – Hon, Lead Graphic Designer

99% Invisible
Recent standout episode: 235 - Ten Letters to the President
"Engaging explorations of overlooked topics, places, people and things." – Alex, IT Support

My Dad Wrote a Porno
"A podcast in which Jamie Morton and his friends read the dirty book his dad wrote. Do not listen to this while eating, I was laughing so much I nearly choked." – Georgie, Donor Program Administrator

Revisionist History
"Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Outliers, David and Goliath) in his distinctively contrarian approach, casts his attention back into our past and reevaluates what we thought we'd learnt and how we got it wrong. It's extremely engaging, incredibly interesting and covers topics as diverse as the acceptance of women into the Royal Academy, cafeteria meals in American universities and even some sport theory." – Sophie, Digital Marketing Coordinator

A podcast from The Guardian
"Initially created by The Guardian Australia but now extending into the UK edition as well, this podcast looks at race, culture, gender and identity."  – Miranda, Corporate Partnerships Executive



Our online magazine is a treasure trove of interesting articles about our productions, creatives, cast and anything else we think will enrich your theatre experience. New articles are published regularly. Simply follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date


Have you come across something thought-provoking? Share it with us at or tag us @sydneytheatreco on your social media channel of choice.