Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Books To Read When Your Brain is Fried

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Carissa Lee

Staff Writer

Carissa Lee is an Aboriginal Australian researcher at the University of Melbourne, a freelance writer, actor, and happy bibliophile based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter: @rissless.

This is a guest post from Carissa Lee. A proud Slytherin, Carissaspends her days researching for her Master’s Thesis at the University of Melbourne, with the ambition to publish a non-fiction work on Aesthetics in Indigenous Intracultural Theatre. Carissaalso works as a freelance writer, researcher, actor and model. She is a stone-cold bibliophile with a soft spot for maudlin novels, classic literature, and rich autobiographies about rock stars and alternative thinkers. She resides in Melbourne with her partner, surrounded by inspiring cultural leaders and kick-arse academics who tell her she swears too much. Follow her on Twitter @rissless.


In the midst of working on my Masters thesis, I’ve been bunked down in some pretty hefty research, and sometimes feeling a little overwhelmed about the content I’m tackling. So I’ve found it’s helpful to have a buffer-book to read between study sessions, before bed, or when you’re just taking a massive much-needed break from intense material.

heat and lightHeat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven— An up-and-coming young Indigenous Aussie writer from Brisbane. Ellen writes three separate stories of the tumultuous journey with families and the importance of identity. I particularly found this to be a great read because I find reading someone else’s journey to self-discovery leads me to be more reflective about where I’m at and what I need to do differently. Sensual, earthy in imagery, and a lovely smooth read.


On WritingOn Writing by Stephen King— (Particularly for writers.) If you’re getting bunked down in having to read a lot of dry/serious/depressing stuff for work or you’re knee-deep in trudgy brain content, getting into a writing headspace can be a little tricky. King provides not only some great tips for getting into a more creative state of mind, but he has some surprisingly funny stories to tell, which will have you feeling a little less morose about the world.


yes pleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler— Poehler’s book, although mostly autobiographical, is also great for tips on how to feel a little better about things. For those of you who follow Amy’s Smart Girls, you’ll have a bit of an idea what to expect; a safe, nurturing, but realistic environment to just breathe for a second. Amy’s a sneaky one, and manages to weave through wonderful anecdotal pieces that make you love her more (if possible), and also helps you realise that life isn’t all that important, and we really do have all the time in the world to get our shit together (and who can’t hear that enough?).

lucky manLucky Man by Michael J Fox — Ok, I know what you’re thinking… “but I love Michael J and he’s sick. This is going to rip my heart out.” You’ll be relieved to know that it’s actually a really sweet book. Michael J. Fox has a great (although sometimes wicked) sense of humour. There are wonderful stories about how he met his wife by being a smartass, the funny moments in his early acting career (great for Back to the Future and Family Ties fans), and the bittersweet journey of his time with Parkinson’s Disease. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how he can turn some potentially sad content into a warm and funny life-so-far story.

hogfatherHogfather by Terry Pratchett — To be perfectly honest, reading just about anything by Terry Pratchett will probably bring a bit of a chuckle into your day, but for me, Hogfather is a favourite. Whether it’s Christmas time or not, Hogfather is a lovely stand-alone read, an easy fantasy for those of you not usually magically-inclined in your reading choices. It’s the story of the hooded figure of Death saving Christmas. He makes an adorably awkward Santa, I must say. There’s a kickass lead lady who battles bogeymen, and your favourite character might end up being Death, because he’s surprisingly witty.

I hope this is helpful. Please be kind with your poor brain, sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re meant to be reading, as opposed to what we love to.