It’s time-does-not-exist-season in a time-does-not-exist-year, so to do us all a favor, a few reminders:
If you are reading this in an email, it is because you have signed up for Five Great Reads: an everyday, summer collection of written interest, service and joy from Guardian Australia.
If you are reading this outside your inbox and would like it in an email tomorrow, you can plonk your address in the box right here:
If you’re writing this, it’s because you’re Alyx Gorman, the lifestyle editor and weirdo who loves to work when most people are on vacation (it’s just so nicely quiet).
Alas, on the Covid front, things are not quiet today as New South Wales scales its contact tracking back to facilitate a moaning system. But there is hope, with a leading British immunologist calling Omicron “not the same disease we saw a year ago”, saying the virus “appears to be less serious”. You can follow today’s Covid-19 news on our live blog. Also in Britain, a looting squirrel – Stripe – has come to a sticky end after biting at least a dozen people.
Back in Australia, large parts of the country are preparing for a heat wave on New Year’s Eve with dangerous fire conditions in southern Australia and parts of Victoria. Now for the readings.
1. Big cats in the bush
Australians have been fascinated by fabulous cat fantasies about wild tigers and Lithgow lions for two centuries. In the only story about conspiracies that will not make you sad today, Donna Lu finds out why.
Remarkable quote: “It enchants the bush, it makes it mysterious, magical,” says folklorist and historian David Waldron.
Is the truth out there? Yes.
Is it that there are big cats in the bush? Yes, but they are probably not panthers. As you will also learn in this story, feral cats can be absolute entities. How big? You will have to read to find out.
2. The best Australian films this year
Our critic Luke Buckmaster names his top 10 releases.
Just tell me what the best is … I will not. But I want to tell you about number eight, The Witch of Kings Cross, which Buckmaster says has “pedagogically hallucinogenic vibes” and calls “an Australian history lesson thrown into a cauldron”.
3. Small food for small parties
We present you with 22 recipes, from canapés and finger food to smart cold cuts that will make a little New Year’s Eve feel like a big party.
This is more of a list than a reading … Yes, but it’s delicious!
How long will it take me? To cook? Author Rafqa Touma has helpfully grouped the dishes in order of effort. Some are a snack.
4. England licks their wounds
After yesterday’s “terrible” Ashes defeat, Jonathan Liew asks: Will England ever be good at Test cricket again?
Read it if … You want to see things from the other team’s perspective.
Remarkable quote: “So when the victorious Australians celebrated wildly on MCG’s outfield, it was possible to wonder if they exaggerated things a bit. Was there any real satisfaction to be gained by sending an opponent so easily? Didn’t it all feel a little hollow? A little comfortable? A little embarrassing? ”
5. Odie licks his owner’s heart
For years, Ranjana Srivastava resisted her children’s prayers for a dog. Until the day she cried. A year later, the puppy has shown the family new ways to give and receive love.
Moments for puppies: “I underestimated the extra dimension of love and responsibility that a dog would learn … On a hot day, my daughter interrupted her outing to check if Odie had enough water. When Odie was sick, her teenage brother made fresh broth and gave him patiently it. “
Do not read it if … You would rather not get your children a dog.