The AEP team 'More Than Top 5' podcast and book recommendations

December 18, 2023
AEP team member

We asked the AEP team to recommend their top reading and listening for the summer break. We hope you find something on this list to enjoy and wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Happy reading/listening,

The AEP team


The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards - considered one of the most compelling literary creations of the late 20th Century that charts the dramatic changes to the Channel Island of Guernsey as told through the life of Ebenezer Le Page, a cantankerous, opinionated but charming man. A hypnotic read. (recommended by Heath Pardoe)

The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey - A series of nine novels, nine shorter works and a story collection book where humanity has colonised the solar system, but two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. (recommended by Paul Lightfoot)

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus  not a school text, but a story of a female scientist trying to pave her way as a scientist in the 1950s. A great read, and now a great watch on Apple TV+. (recommended by Jodie Chapman and Amanda Anderson)

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku  A memoir written by a holocaust survivor who immigrated to Australia. It is a quick read and serves as a good reminder of all the things we must be thankful. (recommended by Jodie Chapman)

The Parasitic Mind by Prof. Gad Saad – A couple of years old now, but re-asserting itself on the charts, and still very much socio-politically pertinent. (recommended by Rob Smith)

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner - The author tells her story of growing up Korean American. She delves deep into her bond with her mother, who was dying of terminal cancer, over heaping plates of traditional Korean meals. (recommended by Carmen Zheng)

Pachinko a big historical fiction by Min Jin Lee. The story starts in the early 1900s and details the lives of the following four generations of a Korean family. (recommended by Carmen Zheng)

Anything by Chris Hamer, former SBS journo, and Aussie crime/mystery writer. Scrublands has just been released as a television series, and I have my sights set on his latest release, The Seven. (recommended by Katie Liddicoat)

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku  A memoir written by a holocaust survivor who immigrated to Australia. It is a quick read and serves as a good reminder of all the things we must be thankful. (recommended by Jodie Chapman)

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb – A fantasy genre series set in the fictional realm of the Six Duchies; it tells the story of FitzChivalry Farseer (Fitz) an illegitimate son of a prince who is trained as an assassin... The whole series is amazing. I read the last book in about a week.... I couldn't put it down! (recommended by Aaron Capon)

The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W. E. Bowman - A hilarious caricature of a mountain expedition. 

It’s probably considered a ‘classic’ by now, much like Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome). It’s really funny and easy going. Despite the mountain theme, it’s really a book for everyone. (recommended by Jonas Haderlein)

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – Based on the true story of Gregory David Roberts. It is an extraordinary adventure and read. One of my all-time favourite books. At 933 pages, you’ll be sorted for the summer! (recommended by Sam Jackson)

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – also on my all-time favourite book list. American Dirt tells the story of a mother and son on the run from a drug cartel, trying to make their way across the border from Mexico to the United States. Fast-paced adventure and eye-opening account of the poverty and chaos surrounding illegal immigrants. (recommended by Sam Jackson)

Honeybee by Craig Silvey – this is a heart-wrenching but fabulous read by the critically acclaimed WA author. It tells the story of a 14-year-old boy and an elderly man who meet by chance one night on a bridge, both contemplating suicide. It’s a story about hope and redemption and how their lives are changed forever from this chance encounter. (recommended by Sam Jackson)

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey – the original novel by this author. An Aussie version of To Kill A Mockingbird. Set in a rural mining town in the 1960s it’s centred around 13-year-old Charlie Bucktin and 14-year-old Aboriginal boy, Jasper Jones and the disappearance of a local teenage girl. It explores the racial injustice and discrimination that exists in Australian society. (recommended by Sam Jackson)

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – An historical fiction set in Nazi-occupied Saint-Malo (northwest France) during WW2. It centres around a blind French girl and a young German soldier. It’s a story of hope and resistance. The Pulitzer Prize winning novel is now also a series on Netflix. (recommended by Sam Jackson)

Still Life by Sarah Winman – a more recent read of mine; Still Life is another story set amidst the chaos of WW2. Tuscany, 1944 and a young English soldier has a chance encounter with a middle-aged English art historian who has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins of worn-torn Italy. The novel follows their post-war paths and the effect their chance meeting has on their lives. (recommended by Sam Jackson)

Verity by Colleen Hoover - A very intense psychological thriller, that tells the story of struggling writer Lown Ashleigh who accepts a job offer of a lifetime; to complete the books of injured author Verity Crawford. As Lowen becomes more entangled in the author’s life, horrifying truths are revealed, page after page. (recommended by Amanda Anderson)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - Tells the heartbreaking story of Kya, abandoned at the age of 7, to fend for herself in the marshlands of North Carolina. Against all odds, the burgeoning naturalist ekes out a living in relative harmony until she finds herself framed for the death of her former boyfriend. (recommended by Amanda Anderson)

Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth (Melbourne author) - A thriller about three sisters growing up in foster care. When a body is found under the house they grew up in, they find themselves in the spotlight as key witnesses. Or are they prime suspects? (recommended by Amanda Anderson)

The Quite Tenant by Clemence Michallon - another psychological thriller about a serial killer, narrated by those closest to him: his 13-year-old daughter, his girlfriend and the one victim he spared. (recommended by Amanda Anderson)

Time’s Echo by Jeremy Eichler - A book about how music acts as a witness to history and a medium of cultural memory in the post-Holocaust world. (recommended by Chris Tailby)


The Rest is History with Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook (recommended by Paul Lightfoot and Sam Jackson)

Sticky Notes: The Classical Music podcast with Joshua Weilerstein – A deep dive into classical music. Demystifying composition and meaning of some well-known and not so well-known classical pieces. It is a podcast for those who are just getting interested in classical music as well as the long-time listener and aficionado. (recommended by Chris Tailby)

I’ve Got This: owning my epilepsy with Rosie Muller (recommended by Katie Liddicoat)

Christian O'Connell's Stuff of Legends. The acclaimed radio host says his favourite part of interviewing people is uncovering the real stories from their lives that they might not have shared before. And so, a podcast was born. He has invited some of the world’s funniest and best storytellers to share three treasured objects from their lives. And tell the stories behind them. (recommended by Amanda Anderson)

No Stupid Questions – hosted by research psychologist Angela Duckworth and Mike Maughan from Qualtrics. Each week they have a candid and in-depth discussion around a seemingly random question sent by a listener, e.g. is GPS changing our brain? (recommended by Carmen Zheng)

Ologies with Alie Ward – Alie interviews different scientists about (literally) anything on earth, chatting about their field of expertise. Oh, I LOVED the episode on cheloniology, aka the study of sea turtles. (recommended by Carmen Zheng)

You’re Wrong About – This is led by a couple of journalists and each week they reconsider an event/person/concept that has been miscast in the public eye (some example episodes are Stockholm Syndrome, Columbine, Kitty Genovese and “Bystander Apathy”, and Marie Antoinette). (recommended by Jodie Chapman)

Smartless – This is a celebrity interview podcast led by Wil Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes. The comedic dialogue between the hosts is fun and they get some pretty big-name guests. (recommended by Jodie Chapman and Sam Jackson)

Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster – James Acaster is one of my favourite comedians. This is another celebrity interview podcast, but guests visit a fantasy restaurant and choose their favourite starter, main, side, dessert, and drink. Again, it’s good for a laugh. (recommended by Jodie Chapman)

A Duck in a Tree - an ambient music podcast. (recommended by Heath Pardoe)

NPR News Now – I listen in the mornings for a quick update on what’s going on in the USA. (recommended by Heath Pardoe)

The Rewatchables – a film podcast from the Ringer Podcast Network. Bill Simmons brings in a panel of people from the Ringer universe to discuss movies they can’t seem to stop watching. Great for movie enthusiasts. (recommended by Sam Jackson)

Call Jonathan Pie - spoof, political satire. Political journalist, Jonathan Pie gets a radio phone-in show and as his personal and professional worlds collide, we see why he’s so incredibly angry about absolutely everything (BBC, UK). (recommended by Victoria Whatmore) 

In Our Time (UK, Radio 4 podcasts)- Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas, people and events that have shaped our world. In Our Time has five streams: Culture, History, Philosophy, Religion and Science. An archive of all the episodes can be found on the BBC website - great long-form listening with lots of follow up resources and further reading. (recommended by Victoria Whatmore)

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