Tony McNamara: TOP TEN BOOKS


Tony McNamara courtesy of Patrick McMullan

With one eye on the licentiousness of the Stuarts, and another eye on a feminist retelling of a largely forgotten queen’s reign, The Favourite has become an Oscar favorite, thanks to the bawdy depiction of ego and revenge as Abigail, a chambermaid, competes with Lady Sarah Churchill, an aristocrat, to win Queen Anne’s patronage—and more. Tony McNamara, who co-wrote the screenplay with Deborah Davis, found acclaim in his native Australia as the writer of the medical drama, Doctor Doctor, but launched his career as a writer for the stage with a string of plays, including The Cafe Latte Kid, written while he worked tables as a waiter, and for which he won an Australian Academy Award after adapting it for the screen as The Rage in Placid Lake. Always a big reader, he was working as a stockbroker in London when he figured out that he was in the wrong field. He told Australia’s The Age, “I was seeing all these plays and I thought, `Gee, that’d be a good job – those guys don’t get up early.”’

Below are Tony McNamara’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


The White Album

Joan Didion
Such a brilliant stylist. I read this book every couple of years because it’s so evocative of time, people, and a place. 
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Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I love Russian novels. So I had to pick one. And a short one is always good.
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Martin Amis
John Self is a great character—a pornographer, drug addict, narcissist, and somehow deeply compelling. The writing is fast, funny and furious. 
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The Man Who Loved Children

Christina Stead
Great Australian author Stead wrote this brilliant novel about the Pollits family, and set it in the USA at the behest of her agent. Jonathon Franzen said it best when he said it “makes Revolutionary Road look like Everybody Loves Raymond. 
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Something Happened

Joseph Heller
I read this when I was 21 and was knocked out by the darkness of the satire and the incredible comic rhythms created. Bob Slocum is scared of everything. A book about being destroyed by your own fears, and the inability to confront them.
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The Fat Man in History

Peter Carey
A fellow Australian. Before he won all those Bookers he wrote these fantastic, slightly surreal short stories. 
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A Thousand Mornings

Mary Oliver
My wife used to read Oliver’s poems about nature all the time, and finally moved to the country and out of the city, largely because of them. Rest in Peace.
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The First Bad Man

Miranda July
July’s just an amazing and unique contemporary voice. A true original artist. 
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The Kitchen Diaries

Nigel Slater
The best cooking writer around. My daughter and I resolved to cook every recipe for the year, but managed just two delicious weeks before going back to just reading it. 
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The Big Short

Michael Lewis
I worked very, very briefly in the money market, and continue to be fascinated by the amoral shuffling of money that has real consequences in ordinary people’s lives, and very little consequences to the people doing it. Michael Lewis is brilliant at making things accessible. 
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