Summer holiday reading
When Theo was first born, I had no time to read. Or at least, I had time, but no mental capacity. It was really weird, not reading anything for a couple of months, when I’m usually such a voracious reader. So, I’m happy to be back to books. I have two on the go at any one time – one on the Kindle, which I read when I’m feeding him, and a hardback or paperback, which I read before bed or during his naps. I’ve read some stellar books so far this summer, so thought I’d share them here in case you’re looking for something good to read, too!
I should say: I’ve included a full disclaimer at the bottom of this post, but basically, I work in publishing (when not on maternity leave), and people sometimes ask me what they should read next. So I thought I’d share what I’m reading this season. I’ve left little reviews for the things I’ve already read, and I’ll update this post throughout the summer as things move on to the ‘read’ list.
What’s on your list to read this summer? Let me know on the comments or on Twitter – I’ll add it to my always growing ‘to-read’ list!
My 2015 summer reading:
The Secret Place – Tana French *
A cold case murder investigation gets a new lease of life when an anonymous note is left on the bulletin board in the boarding school the murder took place in. I love books set in boarding schools. I was obsessed with them when I was a kid, and apparently I still am. Creepy setting and really made me remember how intense life feels when you are a teenager, even if you aren’t actually living on top of one another…
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
The coming-of-age story (and the coming-to-be) story of a man born as a woman, and how his family’s past led to his present. This book felt like four separate books, as it deals with the main character’s grandparents life in Turkey, then his parents upbringing in the US, then his school life, then his present. All four books were witty and enjoyable, but I think I had expected it to be very short, and it wasn’t, so it felt like I was reading it forever at one point!
Somewhere Only We Know – Erin Lawless ^
Boy meets girl. Girl is about to be deported. Boy and girl fall in love as they go through the list of ‘things to do in London before I leave’. I loved Erin’s last book, and I loved this one. I can’t say I didn’t see the story coming, but does that matter when you love the characters? The equivalent of a really enjoyable chick flick to watch under a duvet on a Sunday evening.
The Bees – Laline Paull
Accept, obey and serve. The inner working of a bee hive, told from the perspective of sanitation worker Flora 717. It’s kind of hard to explain the plot of this because it sounds mental, but essentially it portrays the hive as a religious regime, with fertility police and terrifying priestesses at every turn, suppressing the other bees and killing anyone that dares to defy their orders. Completely and utterly absorbing.
The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
In a very quiet house, life for Frances and her mother is about to be transformed by the arrival of two lodgers. Mr and Mrs Barber move in with Frances and her mother, who need a bit of extra money to make ends meet. Frances and Mrs Barber form a romantic attachment, and things very quickly start to go horribly wrong… You know when you actually want to stop reading because you’re dreading what’s going to happen and you keep wanting to shake the characters a little bit to tell them they’re doing the wrong thing? That. Really good book.
The Bone Tree – Greg Iles *
This is a follow-up to last year’s Natchez Burning. Crazy racists, a conspiracy covered up from years ago, and the group of individuals trying to unravel it all. For such a big book, Greg Iles keeps the tension very high and makes you feel that you’re speeding through. Definitely don’t think it can be read without having read Natchez Burning first, though, so start there if you’re interested.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon *
When Mrs Creasy from The Avenue goes missing, Grace and Tilly, two ten-year-olds, set about finding out what happened to her. I LOVED this book. It was so intriguing and with so many different levels to the plot, despite being told in a very simple fashion, from a 10 year-old’s point of view. Knowing the end, I now want to go back and reread it – not something I can say about many books!
All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
I’m not crying, there’s just something in my eye. Shut up. Loved this book.
A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson *
I loved Life After Life, and was very much looking forward to reading the follow-up. It took me a little while to get into this. The time shifts back and forth, and I found it a bit jarring at times when I first started. But I remember it took a while to get into Life After Life as well, so I stuck with it. And in the end I was so sucked in, as always with her writing. A very, very clever twist at the end. Fab book.
Capital – John Lancaster
I had this on my ‘to-read’ list for so long and just kept putting it off. For some reason I thought it was non-fiction, so it kept going to the bottom of my list. But it’s definitely fiction – the story of the inhabitants of a fictional street in Clapham. It’s absolutely great. Funny, dark, and page turning.
Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner *
A woman has gone missing, and the more the police look into her disappearance, the more things about her life come to light. So gripping, I read this in about two days. Told from different characters’ perspectives, I really enjoyed the lead police character, Manon’s story. The usual ‘hard working but not-completely-with-it female cop’ that you get in pretty much every book or TV show, but a very relateable character, nonetheless.
The Blue – Lucy Clarke *
Ahhhh, I love Lucy’s writing so much! It is unputdownable because the chapters are short and each has something you want to find out more about and you find yourself thinking ‘Oh, one more chapter, one more chapter’ constantly! Plus her books are always set somewhere incredible. I loved this book.
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
The first book in my Busman’s Holiday bookclub (we all work in publishing). It was like a cross between O, Brother Where Art Though and The Rosie Project. Utterly charmed, which isn’t something you can generally say about books whose central characters are hit men…
* I make this disclaimer pretty much every time I write about books, but thought I should spell it out again. In my non-maternity-leave day job, I work for a very large publishing company. So, I get some books for free from work. And I get some books for free from ex-colleagues who now work at other publishing companies. It’s pretty awesome. I also buy books. Because… believe it or not, I really love books! I mark anything I get for free with a star. Since I’m on maternity leave, sometimes there are books we publish that, even though I technically probably could get them for free if I asked nicely, I want to read RIGHT NOW and have therefore purchased. I put a little ^ after those because I feel I should disclose an affiliation, even if I’m just buying these books because I am a reader like any other.
Also, the links in this post will earn my about 2p if you purchase the book after clicking through from this site. So buy lots, okay? I have decided to switch from Amazon to Waterstones for my book round up posts, because although Amazon is super convenient, actually the new Waterstones website is pretty awesome, and I love their stores. It’s actually physically impossible for me to go into one without buying a book, so I thought I should start supporting them online, too.