belle, beauty and the beast, reading, books, book list, summer reading

10 books to read this summer

If you are feeling a bit Stefan Zweig meets Virginia Woolf…

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy is a short but feverishly dense novel about a young woman called Sofia, who takes her overbearing mother to a clinic in southern Spain in search of a cure for her mystery illness. Steamy and suffocating.

If you fell for My Name is Lucy Barton

You’ll love Anything is Possible, Elizabeth Strout’s new short stories. Successful writer Lucy returns home to Amgash, Illinois, to see family and friends. It’s Little House on the Prairie, 21st century-style, with extra sprinkles of abuse and misery.

If you want to look smug…

Even thumbing the pages of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah ‘Sapiens’ Harari’s clever clogs, super-readable tract about the evolution of AI and what it means for the future of humanity, will put you leagues above the lounge lizard [reading Lee Child] by the pool next to you.

If you’re a sucker for the hot ‘n’ dusty Indian sprawler…

Try The Ministry of Utmost Unhappiness. Arundhati Roy’s evocative follow-up, 20 years on, to The God of Small Things, a sensurround fest of see, feel, touch and smell, from Old Delhi to Kashmir and beyond.

If you love to hate Rachel Cusk

You’ll lap up The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne, a sassy literary chiller about young smug marrieds who move into the house of their dreams in Hackney. Or should that be nightmares? As observant about middle class London life as it is spooky.

If you feel like something a bit other…

The critics have raved about Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders’s first full length novel about President Lincoln mourning the death of his 11-year-old son, Willie, in a cemetery full of ghosts. Not on the face of it the summer’s hottest pick, but actually, it is beyond brilliant.

Loving/hating/screaming at/but still loving The Handmaid’s Tale on C4?

Then buck up and read the original – Margaret Atwood’s 1985 classic about a near-future American society overthrown by a religious cult theocracy, in which the minority of still-fertile women, the handmaids, have to conceive and bear children against their will.

But if you read it recently…

You’ll be wowed by The Power by Naomi Alderman, a dystopian, or possibly utopian depending on your point of view, novel about a world in which girls can electrocute and kill boys using their fingertips… Pow! Zap!! Just imagine!

Never gotten over The Catcher in The Rye?

Sally Rooney has been called a Salinger for the Snapchat generation: the 26-year-old’s Conversations with Friends is a fast-paced tale set in Dublin, about the complex relationships between a bisexual performance poet called Frances, her ex-lover Bobbi and an older married couple.

Or just want to read something completely brilliant…

Among the new breed of sad loner hero/heroine books is the outstandingly good Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a debut by Gail Honeyman. Oddball Eleanor is awkward, pedantic, obsessive, habit-ridden and hurting. Then she falls in love.

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