Whether it’s paperbacks packed into suitcases to take on holiday, or the latest novel by your favourite author, read in the park or your garden to make the most of the sun, summer is the best time to catch up on your reading list. Here’s five books on my list to read this summer that you should add to your own.
The No Show – Beth O’Leary
“Three women. Three dates. One missing man…
8.52 a.m. Siobhan’s been looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast with Joseph on Valentine’s Day surely means something… so where is he?
2.43 p.m. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her grown-up life is finally falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up?
6.30 p.m. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at a colleague’s engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here…
Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.”
The first book on my summer reading list was actually the very first book I read once I had finished my final uni exams this summer and was featured in my post about the best books I have read so far this year. As I mentioned in that post, I found the challenge of having three protagonists a little lacklustre and hindered the development of each characters’ stories, but Beth O’Leary’s brilliant writing style and clever weaving of unexpected twists into the novel makes this a worthy summer read.
Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud-because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own-including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.”
As I write this I have just finished Malibu Rising, the third Taylor Jenkins Reid novel I have read, and easily my favourite so far. Malibu Rising is about four close-knit siblings living on the beaches of 1980s Malibu, who are looking towards shaping their own futures while struggling to make peace with their past. I especially enjoyed Part 1 which alternated between the siblings present and their parents’ past. Jenkins Reid cleverly situates the book in the timeline of her other novels with subtle references to the protagonists of her other novels and even mentions a couple of real life celebrities to further add glamour and depth. The ‘secrets’ its blurb promises are slightly overstated, and I would have liked to find out what the future had in store for the characters, as it felt like the development led to little, but it was still a great read.
Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
“For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.
Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.”
I have had Where The Crawdads Sing on my shelf for far, far too long (probably about two years, eek!), so now that the film adaptation has been released in cinemas, I have a real motivation to give it a read. It’s one of bookstagram’s favourite novels, I have heard so many good reviews and it sounds really gripping, while quite different to what I’d usually read, so I’m excited to read it.
Small Pleasures – Clare Chambers
“1957, the suburbs of South East London. Jean Swinney is a journalist on a local paper, trapped in a life of duty and disappointment from which there is no likelihood of escape.
When a young woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud.
As the investigation turns her quiet life inside out, Jean is suddenly given an unexpected chance at friendship, love and – possibly – happiness.
But there will, inevitably, be a price to pay.”
I’m a couple of chapters into my latest read Small Pleasures, and I can’t wait to find out how it shapes up. Its 1950s London setting has hints and reverberations of wartime, and the Chambers hasn’t given very much away yet about her protagonist, journalist Jean Swinney – she seems a little like an Eleanor Oliphant from a more distant time, so I can’t wait to get to know her.
Small Island – Andrea Levy
“It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?”
In April I went to see the play adaptation of Small Island at the National Theatre and was absolutely wowed – it is 3 hours and 10 minutes of breath-taking performance and a very interesting commentary on post-war Britain, the effects of its deteriorating empire and evolving race and gender relations. Despite the length of the play, I believe some of the main characters are developed in greater depth in the novel, so I’m looking forward to reading it.
What are you planning to read this summer?