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Essential 2020

summer reads

These are the Antidote 2020 must-reads from the Opera House team

Rebecca Munro

If there’s one thing we’re all looking to do this summer it’s escape. And though we might not be able to escape over international waters, we can pop in for a quick dip, curl up into our towels and venture into a new book. 

These are a handful of essential beach reads for the upcoming sizzling summer, courtesy of the fine minds that are graced the Opera House stage at this year’s Antidote. If you missed the festival, don't forget that most of the talks are available to watch back on demand.

Such a Fun Age

The sole fiction book on our list, Kiley Reid’s refreshing take on race, class and identity examines the fallout when babysitter Emira is accused of kidnapping her 3 year old charge Briar on a late night trip to the supermarket. This witty, piercing and timely social commentary is one of the most talked-about books of 2020, exploring the messy dynamics of privilege alongside astute musings on motherhood, friendship, love and the stickiness of transactional relationships. 

Read this book if: You’re ready to cancel all social engagements and Netflix commitments as you won’t be able to put this book down. 

See Kiley speak at: Such a Fun Age: Race, Class and Privilege now available on demand.

The book cover of Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

This almost unbelievable story of the long-vanished Simulmatics Corporation has been unearthed from the archives by Jill Lepore, distinguished Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer in this remarkable, skillfully argued saga. If Then examines a piece of little-known American corporate history that reveals a huge amount about the data-obsessed world we live with today.

Read this book if: You love Mad Men or Bad Blood, and want to learn about the long-dead forefathers of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. 

See Jill speak at: The End of America? now available on demand.

Book cover for If Then by Jill Lepore

Humankind: A Hopeful History

A year like 2020 might have you wondering if the world is simply full of bad people, but Rutger Bregman views things through a more hopeful lens. Humankind explores the radical idea that people are inherently good, drawing on a range of thought-provoking historical examples from Hurricane Katrina to the Blitz to reveal humanity’s innate goodness. 

Read this book if: You’re looking for an uplifting and entertaining read at the end of a difficult year. 

See Rutger speak at: Reasons to be Cheerful now available on demand.

The book cover for Humankind by Rutger Bregman

How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference

Lost for words when faced with a climate change denier IRL? Social researcher Rebecca Huntley offers a toolkit for understanding our emotional responses to climate change and tips on having meaningful conversations across dividing lines. This book is about understanding why people who aren’t like you feel the way they do and learning to talk to them effectively.

Read this book if: You’re ready to win over your drunk uncle in a lively climate change debate over the festive dinner table.  

See Rebecca speak at: Resetting the World now available on demand. 

The book cover for How to Talk About Climate Change by Rebecca Huntley

Glimpses of Utopia, Real Ideas for a Fairer World

In a time of doomscrolling, Glimpses of Utopia is a practical call for optimism. The creativity, resilience and compassion of humans everywhere will enable us to confront our challenges by harnessing technology and imagination. Filled with actionable ideas, this timely read from curator and councillor Jess Scully outlines how we can reshape our world to be fair and sustainable. 

Read this book if: You’re ready to take action to make the world better. 

See Jess speak at: Reasons to be Cheerful now available on demand. 

The book cover for Glimpses of Utopia by Jess Scully

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