autumn reading book reviews
Behold, the WILD team's round-up of the perfect autumn reads.

Looking for a good book or podcast to curl up with on those chilly autumn days, or perhaps some inspiration for your next bookclub pick? We’ve got you covered.


The Paper Palace
I haven’t read a novel in some time that has gripped me as much as The Paper Palace did. Tightly woven and cleverly constructed, Miranda Cowley Heller’s debut plays out over one summer’s day in the life of Elle Bishop. The anchoring story is interwoven with 50 years of Elle’s devastating family history and its long-held secrets, which unspool with gut-wrenching realisation. It’s a novel that cracks open the heart and exposes the consequences of choices made and paths not taken. An occasionally uncomfortable read, with scenes of rape, incest, abuse and trauma, Heller gets to the heart of what it is to be shaped by the people, places and moments, both momentous and seemingly inconsequential, of one’s past. Heller’s sense of place is intoxicating. I could smell the damp rooms of The Paper Palace, feel the pond lapping at my feet; I walked the shaded paths to the beach and tasted the tang of Clamato. A stunning debut novel that is somehow both harrowing and humorous. CH


The Sunny Nihilist: How a Meaningless Life Can Make You Truly Happy
Ever felt burnt out or overwhelmed amid the chaos of today’s society and thought “what’s the point of all this”? Wendy Syfret has. The Sunny Nihilist offers a humorously realistic take on modern life. Described as “a balm for the soul of burnt-out millennials” (and it truly is), the book encourages readers to really consider the ephemerality of life and how this can actually act as an antidote to the pressures imposed on us by work, money, love, spirituality and society. There are plenty of pop-culture references as well as historical theories referenced, and ultimately we are challenged to reframe our mindsets to celebrate an existence of unimportance. Like so many in younger generations, Syfret has learnt to look on the bright side of nihilism. GN

Darkness is Golden
If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, self-love and silencing your inner critic, Darkness is Golden might just light the way to healing. Dr Mary Hoang, founder and head psychologist of The Indigo Project, has struck the perfect balance between personal anecdotes, healing exercises and mindful prompts in this transformative, no-BS guidebook to facing your fears. Scan the QR codes to access meditations, sonic embodiments and soothing audio tracks to listen to as you read. But be prepared to provoke your inner darkness on your journey to find the hidden gold — a new sense of direction, self-acceptance, trust and love. As Hoang puts it, “The messiness of being human is powerful — it connects us to each other because, at the heart of it, we’re all rowing in the same shit-soup at times.” GN

The Panic Years
We have names for many stages of life — adolescence, menopause, the mid-life crisis – but not so for the period of profound change that many women face in their late 20s to early 40s. Journalist and author Nell Frizzell dubs this stage The Panic Years, or The Flux. It’s a period characterised by “the mother of all decisions”: whether or not to have a baby. In this insightful memoir, Frizell grapples with the contradiction modern women face — that of wanting to start a family within seemingly impossible fiscal and biological constraints and all the uncertainty, angst and stress that surrounds the “race” to start a family. It’s a heartfelt read that is as helpful as it is humorous. CH


Egg of the Universe
Combining wellness, mindfulness and a passion for wholefoods, Egg of the Universe is the ultimate guidebook for those of us seeking a more balanced and sustainable lifestyle. The cookbook is an extension of Bryony and Harry Lancaster’s Sydney studio-café and embodies the yogi’s approach to happiness and mindful living. It’s based around seasonal eating and packed with plenty of handy tips, from mindful eating to pantry essentials, fermented goodness, seasonal activities and wellness prompts. Packed cover-to-cover with delicious recipes — think decadent raw treats, superfood broths, slow-cooked meats and gut-health essentials — the yolk of this book is all about listening to and nourishing every inch of your body and soul through a healthy wholefoods diet. Whether you’re a practising yogi, mindfulness guru or just embarking on your wellness journey, Egg of the Universe is the perfect companion for a wholesome, balanced life. GN


Wake Me Up: Morning meditation and motivation
For anyone looking to recalibrate their body clock to become a “morning person” and start the day with a positive, motivated mindset, Wake Me Up is the perfect place to start. This podcast will help you wake up and welcome the day rather than hitting snooze repeatedly and letting the hours slip by. Host Tyler Brown covers all aspects of mindfulness through meditations and affirmations that will help you overcome the slump, find new motivation and drive, let go of your ego, talk positively to yourself and ride the waves of life. And for the days where you just need to slow down and breathe, Brown’s soothing, easy-going meditations will give you the grounding you need. As we emerge from the peak of the pandemic, start each day with gratitude, awareness and a dose of positivity with the Wake Me Up podcast — the perfect pairing to your morning cuppa. GN