The weather has become a humid mess of beautiful sunshine and torrential rain which can only mean one thing. The great British summer is here!
The summer is probably the one time of year that most of us will pick up a book. The old excuse of “ I’d love to read more but I don’t have the time” is taken away and replaced with Holiday plans. Many of my friends will ask me at this time of year to recommend them something to read and this year I thought I’d beat them to the punch and do a full list.
My first recommendations are for people who want something fairly quick and easy to read. Perhaps you’re taking a city break and only want something for the flight, or maybe you only managed to snag a week off and you don’t think you’ll have time to finish a large novel. These books are all the right length to read during that time.
My Grandmother sends her regards and apologies – Read this Book! I reviewed this recently and it’s brilliant. A young girl starts to realise that the make believe world her Granny told her about has roots in the real world and the people in her life are far more interesting than they seem!
Catcher in the Rye – This is a classic for a reason. A teenage boy narrates his two day experience in New York during a nervous breakdown. His commentary on society is deeply funny and his experiences and the memories that he shares are emotive and yet strangely uncomfortable. Holden Caulfield is probably my favourite unreliable narrator ever.
The Unnoticables – It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer on crack! Tar monsters, gun toting guardian angels and blood orgies. Again this book was one I’ve reviewed before. It’s a good fun read that introduces one of my favourite characters. A down on his luck, unheroic punk who tries to do the right thing time and time again and repeatedly fails. His narrative matched with the craziness of the plot makes this a really fun read.
We were liars – What a twist! If you like a book that will keep you guessing till the end then this is the one for you. A teenage girl with amnesia returns to the family’s house on an island to try and piece together the events of a previous summer. What transpires is a brilliant tale of family struggle and power plays gone wrong.
The Little Paris Bookshop – Love, Books and Wine! This is the longest of the books on this list. I read it last summer and absolutely fell in love. On a barge on the river Seine a bookseller uses his book shop as a pharmacy, recommending people the book that will most help them with the problems that they are facing. When his own life is turned upside down he floats down the river with only his cat and a struggling author for company looking for the answers to a question that has plagued him for years. This is great fun.
This next group of books are for those of you lucky enough to have wangled a slightly longer holiday this year. These books could be classed as epics due to the length but trust me when I say, they are well worth the investment.
American Gods – Leprechauns and Cat Gods and Genies oh my! This book introduced me to one of my all time favourite authors, Neil Gaiman. In a world where what we worship gains power, the old gods, Odin, Eostre, Djin and Isis, are clinging on to the last traces of faith. The new Gods, Technology, Media and TV are forcing them out as they now have the true power. A man fresh out of prison is recruited by the one eyed Mr Wednesday to be his general manservant. Their journey across America is a fantastic look into how we place our faith and a world hidden from normal eyes.
The Redemption of Althalus – There’s a character called Gotsi Big Belly, you know you want to read it! In my mind this book is written by one of the greatest fantasy writers to ever have graced our fair planet, David Eddings. It’s a stand-alone fantasy novel that will hook you in minutes. One of the world’s greatest thieves is hired to steal a book from the house at the end of the world. He ends up trapped in a room with a talking cat who turns out to be Gods sister. This is a fantasy romp on a scale of Lord of the rings but with Edding’s classic humour and characters.
All the Light we cannot see – Nazi’s, diamonds and the Clare de Lune. I read this as part of a doomed book group. The one plus point to the whole adventure was that this book is fantastic. There is no surprise to me what so ever that this won the Pulitzer prize. It tells the story of two children before and during the second world war, A blind girl who uses models of the cities she lives in to help her get around and a boy from Germany who’s knowledge of radios and physics puts him into the Nazi parties ambitions very quickly. Over the course of the book their stories become interwoven through the hunt of a rare diamond. I love this book. It’s told from different points of view but the language used makes each character jump from the page.
The Brothers Sisters – Cowboys with Toothbrushes! Patrick Dewitt is a genius. Both this book and his more recent work, Under Major Domo Minor, are revelations in a literacy world that has a habit to churn out unoriginal works. In this story two brothers go hunting for a man who has found a way to locate gold in rivers easily. The Two Brothers journey is a remarkable one and the people they meet mixed with the adventures they have along the way are great fun to read. The main protagonist is wonderfully relatable and his quest for respect and love makes you want to wrap him up in a big hug! Definitely worth a read if you’re a wild west fan.
The end of Mr Y – What’s happening here?! This book is the shortest on the long list. However, I believe it took me the longest time to read. It mixes concepts like Schrodinger’s Cat with bizarre travels into other people’s subconscious and time travel. Yeah, I’m still confused about it. That being said, it is still one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in a long time. The ideals of philosophy and scientific thought experiments are interlaced with thrilling adventures, sex, violence and mouse penises. You did read that correctly. It’s a bizarre novel but one that’s absolutely worth a read.
So there you have it. If you do decide to read one of these then let me know. If you’ve already made up your mind then tell me, what’s your book choice for this summer?