Summer Reads: Author Yumiko Kadota shares her top picks



Like many Fashion Journal readers, I love a good book. I love buying them and stacking them on my bedside table and around my fireplace, but obviously, I gain the most joy from actually reading them.

This year’s been a weird one, and often my brain has felt too scrambled and frazzled to focus on any one book for longer than a hot minute, so I’m very much enjoying trips to the beach this summer, primarily because you get a few hours or days of precious, uninterrupted reading time.

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With my reading glasses and sunscreen at the ready, I’m on the lookout for book recommendations, but not just any old books. I want the best of the best, the crème de la crème, which is why I’ve been asking those in the know for their must-reads this summer.

This week, author Yumiko Kadota reveals her favourite beach-worthy books. Yumiko’s soon-to-be-released memoir, Emotional Female, is about her journey to becoming a surgeon, before experiencing the dark side of the medical world and ultimately burning out. It’s already receiving rave reviews, so make sure you grab yourself a copy (you can pre-order it here). As for her suggestions, she’s helpfully organised them into genre, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Enjoy.

Crime fiction

The Nancys by RWR McDonald

I don’t normally read crime fiction, but I must admit I only picked this book up because I thought the cover (by the talented Alissa Dinallo) was super cute. I decided to give the book a go, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it! Inspired by Nancy Drew, a young girl Tippy, her uncle Pike and his hilarious boyfriend Devon form the ‘Nancys’ as they embark on solving a murder mystery. The characters are very believable with a lot of attention to detail. I was genuinely sad when I finished this book, but I’m excited to see that a sequel is coming out this year; look out for it mid-2021!

Get it here.

Feminist fiction

Breasts & Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Japanese female writers are having a golden moment. I couldn’t compile this list without Mieko Kawakami’s first novel to be translated into English – Breasts & Eggs. It explores the relationship of women with their bodies and is divided into two parts. Part One is about the protagonist Natsuko’s sister wanting to have a breast augmentation. Part Two is set eight years later when Natsuko is thinking about artificial insemination. The book gripped me straight away with exquisite descriptions of Tokyo. It was interesting to read the different perspectives of the women in the book and how they felt about bodily autonomy, the role of the female body and the ethics of assisted reproduction. At times some of Natsuko’s friends were incredibly harsh about her desire to become a mother without a partner, demonstrating just how rough it can be for single women in contemporary Japan.

Get it here.

Australian memoir

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

The best Australian memoir I’ve read is Magda Szubanski’s. I was enthralled by her brilliant writing from start to finish. She writes generously, sharing some very personal hurdles such as her struggles with sexuality. I was also very moved by her trip to post-war Poland, where she goes to try and understand how her father had lived. It’s a very raw and vulnerable side to Szubanski and the writing is powerful. If I may be cheeky and add another memoir recommendation, the most moving one I’ve read in recent years is The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory by Corey White.

Get it here.

International memoir

Educated by Tara Westover

This memoir was absolutely fascinating! Westover grew up in a Mormon community and was not allowed to attend mainstream school. Trigger warning: there are some horrific descriptions of domestic violence, so if this is a trigger for you please do take care when reading the book, or avoid altogether. It was absolutely astonishing how Westover managed to escape and pursue a world-class tertiary education. The writing was gripping, and the story was incredibly moving.

Get it here.

New age

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The thought of a self-help book might make you cringe, but if there’s one new age book I encourage everyone to read, it is The Power of Now. It’s like having a conversation with a caring older sibling who is there to give you some advice and encouragement, especially when things are going to shit. It references a vast range of religious texts, but not at all in a preachy way. I myself am not religious, but I appreciated the universal teachings that we can all glean from different religions.

Get it here.

Queer fiction

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

If you read for the writing rather than the plot, I highly recommend Vuong’s writing. You can tell that his background is in poetry because his prose is dazzling and lyrical. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a gay Vietnamese boy in America to his mother, writing about his first love, tackling his issues with masculinity and sexuality. He also questions his place in the world, thinking about race and class. The book is fairly unstructured and formless, so this is one of those books where you just have to savour the words for themselves because the writing is truly exquisite.

Get it here.


Yumiko’s memoir ‘Emotional Female’ will be available from March 2 2021.

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