What to read this summer: La Trobe alumni share their favourite books

Time travel and LGBQTI lived experiences, memory techniques and true crime clean-ups – La Trobe alumni present their pick of the best books for a summer break.

Taking some time off over summer? Why not put your lifetime La Trobe alumni library membership to use and dive deeply into a new book!

Featuring non-fiction, young adult fiction and a classic novella, the books on our summer reading list traverse a broad range of themes and lived experiences. From untold histories of Indigenous Australians, to what it’s like to clean the homes of hoarders and addicts, you’re bound to find something you’ll love in these recommended reads by La Trobe alumni and library staff.

Eugenia, a Man, by Suzanne Falkiner

Eugenia, a man by Suzanne Falkiner

Law alumna Sam says: “Read this book if you want to know more about one person’s experience of being trans in Australia in the early 20th Century. This was a time where being trans was considered dangerous and unacceptable, and the book focuses on a criminal trial that followed after Eugenia was accused of a terrible crime.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly

The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly

Arts alumnus Ryan says: “This book reinforced the potential connection between memorising large slabs of information and placing clues to that information in a physical or virtual space. I once saw a memory expert explain that when learning pi to 20,000 decimal places, or when learning Icelandic in a week, it helped him to place the information in an imagined landscape that he then navigated to recall the information, element by element.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

La Trobe Library staff member Clare says: “Read this book if you're feeling disillusioned by the current political climate.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green

International relations alumna Ella says: “Read this book before you watch the limited series on Stan. But also read this book if you’re feeling nostalgic for high school and all the trials and tribulations that entails. One of the most beautifully written books about the teenage experience, John Green writes teenagers like no one else, and may help you remember what it was like.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

The trauma cleaner: one woman’s extraordinary life in the business of death, decay & disaster by Sarah Krasnostein

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Ella says: “Read this book if you’re riding the true crime wave and want to experience a different side of things. Sandra Pankhurst's story of being trans in Melbourne in the 1970s, mixed in with her current day job running a trauma cleaning business, is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

The Censor’s Library by Nicole Moore

The Censor’s Library by Nicole Moore

Arts alumna Hayley says: “Read this book if you want an insight into the fascinating (and alarming!) history of literary censorship in Australia.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Dark emu by Bruce Pascoe

Arts alumnus Ryan says: “This book changed my perception of the lifestyles of Indigenous Australians pre and post contact.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

The End of The Homosexual by La Trobe’s own Emeritus Professor, Dennis Altman

The End of The Homosexual by La Trobe’s own Emeritus Professor, Dennis Altman

Arts alumnus David says: “This book helped me learn that my own fight for queer rights and queer liberation is only possible because of the many, many, many others who lived and died doing their bit, so that we can have the rights and freedoms we have today. It also helped me learn that progress isn’t a self-perpetuating machine – it needs people to push for it. It helped me understand that we won’t know how we've succeeded, or what we've won, or how things have changed, because we're right in the middle of it. We will know in years, maybe decades, what we've all done.

“This book also changed my perception on queer spaces and why we need to protect them. As queer people become more assimilated, every space becomes a queer space. However, queer spaces that are by us, for us and about us must be protected in spite of greater and broader acceptance.

“Read this book if you want to know and understand the queer rights movement. And read this book if you’re feeling that awful mixture of hopelessness and restlessness about queer liberation and queer rights. This book documents the progress we've made, but rightly leaves it open to interpretation as to what’s next. Hint: the ‘what’s next’ part is up to us.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard

The boys of my youth by Jo Ann Beard

La Trobe Library staff member Lexy says: “Read this book if you want to slip completely into someone else's world, specifically Jo Ann's Midwestern childhood and adolescence in the 1960s and 70s. This collection also includes Jo Ann's seminal and highly anthologised essay, The fourth state of matter, but my favourite story is Cousins.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

Paul takes the form of a mortal girl by Andrea Lawlor

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor

La Trobe Library staff member Clare says: “Read this book if you want to immerse yourself in 90s queer theory and culture, or just like making zines, listening to punk and post-punk music, and walking around cities. Listen to this playlist prepared by the author (who is non-binary) as you read.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery

Arts alumnus David says: “If you’re more into reading beautiful stories that aren’t political, read this book. Saint-Exupery’s wife was Salvadoran (like me!) and he honoured our homeland by incorporating El Salvador’s volcanoes in his beautiful story.”

Read it now: Borrow it from La Trobe’s Borchardt Library, or find it in libraries worldwide.

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