We love a good page-turner all year round but like everyone we get through more during the summer months. I spend the whole year working my way through my Kindle wishlist so I can advise Chaz on the best books to devour in her school holidays and she throws the odd recommendation my way too, we’re always swapping tips with friends and love a good catch-up about the best reads.
As summer hols or at least some lazy weekends in the garden approach, it’s prime reading time so we decided to share a few of our faves from the last few years. Please share yours in the comments so we can extend the never-ending to read list!
1. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
One of my favourite books from the past few years, this is a 700-odd page tome best saved for lazy holidays. I actually read it during a snowy week-long holiday to Scotland last February and it was just the thing to curl up with in front of the fire with a glass of red. I hadn’t read any Donna Tartt when I started this (I have since) but I would recommend it to anyone. One of those books that make you feel like you’re living in the world of the characters, I missed when I’d finished it and I still hope to bump into Boris somewhere one day.
2. The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins
Post-Gone Girl Chaz and I have searched for the next big thriller and this is a real contender. It all starts fairly innocently with a woman enjoying a train tipple noseying at a good looking couple in a house on her commuter route (so far, so identifiable) but it turns into something much darker. I heard there’s a movie version in the pipeline so read it first!
3. The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker
Another of the thrillers we’ve loved of late, this has flown slightly more under the radar but is well worth a read if you like your suspense. The main character is a writer trying to pen that difficult second novel who discovers a mystery in the small town to which he’s retreated for inspiration. Lots of twists and turns.
4. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Not your typical beach bum pulp fiction, this was one of those classics I’d meant to read for ages and finally got round to earlier this year after reading an article online about the real life kidnapping case it was based on. It was more readable and witty than I expected and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Definitely worth a look.
5. The Beach, Alex Garland
An oldie but a classic, when this came out I was about 18 and everyone was reading it before it came out as a smash summer movie in 2000 starring Leo (’90s swoon) and Tilda (grown-up swoon). Despite their valiant efforts I much preferred the book – if you’ve never read it it’s the perfect summery read that exposes the dark side of the travelling thing you may or may not have explored yourself during uni breaks or gap yaaahs.
6. Straight White Male, John Niven
I discovered John Niven just last year, racing through about three of his novels in quick succession. I loved this tale of drunk, philandering Irish writer Kennedy Marr (cool name) who shuns responsibility in favour of hedonistic pursuits in LA. When he’s whacked with a giant tax bill he’s forced to up sticks and take a job at a uni in the sleepy English countryside, leading him accidentally back into the lives of his ex wife and teenage daughter. V funny and despite all his faults you find yourself rooting for the guy as his staggers through his midlife crisis.
7. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Maria Semple
This is an easy beach read which made me laugh out loud multiple times after Chaz recommended it. Events leading up to the disappearance of the once high flying architect Bernadette unravel via letters, emails, instant messages, doctors’ notes and phone transcripts. It’s a light-hearted and modern tale of a woman on the edge and her relationships with her devoted Microsoft boss husband and loyal teenage daughter. If basically everyone annoys you then you will more than empathise with Bernardette’s plight.
8. Wonderland Avenue, Danny Sugerman
I read this years ago when a guy my friend (and then housemate) Nat was seeing took it upon himself to educate us two drunks with a steady stream of recommended books and albums. As patronised as we were, I loved this book – always had a soft spot for addiction memoirs since the James Frey boom. This is one of my faves. It’s the autobiographical tale of a teenage Doors fan who somehow joined their entourage and became their eventual manager, a journey that became a slippery slope of drink and drugs.
9. The Slap
My current read, this Australian novel is an interesting insight into family life and morality which kicks off when a five year old is slapped by a friend of his parents at a BBQ. The impact and implications for all involved unfolds from various perspectives. When I was looking for an image I discovered it was made into an NBC mini-series starring Melissa George (anyone who’s been in Home and Away AND Friends gets my vote), Thandie Newton, Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman and Zachary Quinto. Anyone know how I can watch this??
10. Women, Charles Bukowski
Another tale of a low life boozing womaniser (what can I say, I love ’em), Bukowski’s Henry Chinaski is semi-autobiographical. He’s a writer who, at the age of 50, plays on his relative fame to use and abuse women as they do the same to him. It’s pretty vivid stuff so not for the faint-hearted but if you like that kind of thing it’s one you won’t want to put down. I read it years ago on a train commute and never wanted to get off at my stop.
Over to you. What should we be putting on our summer reading list?