When I started this post it did not feel like summer – rain, rain and more rain. Testament to the changeability of the weather in Paris (and my procrastination) we are now experiencing a heatwave…
But whether you are home or away this summer, in sunshine or in rain (I hope it’s the former) I hope you’ll have time to get lost in a good book.
So, here are my summer reads; the first are books that I have read, loved and am excited to recommend. The second section are the books that I am looking forward to reading this summer…
So happy summer, happy reading…and I’d love to hear your thoughts on these picks.
This post contains affiliate links…any money made from these links will be donated to a charity to support women’s literacy.
Summer Reading Recommendations
Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
This book has been hailed as ‘Bridget Jones meets Americanah’ which is high praise indeed. I listened to a great interview with Carty-Williams who talked about the gap in mainstream publishing of black female protagonists. She’s got a point. And her response was Queenie, which is a great read; it’s disarmingly honest but also very funny. Like Bridget Jones, Queenie has a group of superbly drawn female friends. Also, like Bridget, one of them is named Darcy…but in this book, the ‘Darcy’ who saves her is a woman and a friend.
Love is Blind, William Boyd
Oh I do love William Boyd and I was so exciting about this, his latest novel. Not only is it (partly) set in Paris (which is where I am living at the moment) it’s also set at the turn of the 20th century, which is one of my favourite periods to read about.
Did I love this book? Yes, reader, I did! I was completely immersed in Brodie Moncur’s world right from the start. This is absolutely a love story – a sweeping, dramatic love story – and it carried me along so quickly that I was having to ration myself as I didn’t want it to be over.
Boyd is a huge fan of Chekhov…and the man himself makes an appearance, as well as in the epigraph. I loved this ‘meta’ element of the novel – it didn’t take away from the story, just added to my enjoyment of it.
Transcription, Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite novelists writing at the moment. Transcription is a great read; a spy novel, but one in which Atkinson manages to subvert the genre. The theme of identity which ran through A God in Ruins (my favourite of her novels) and Life After Life is also a key here; what makes up a life when identity has been changed right at the beginning? I loved Juliet’s inner voice and her funny, clever and often irreverent running commentary. Atkinson is such a clever and wise writer but also a thrilling one – this is definitely a page turner.
City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love was the publishing phenomenon which made Elizabeth Gilbert famous. And no, I haven’t read it (or seen the film). However when I saw this, her latest book, it sounded up my street – 1940s, New York, showgirls, glamour – I’m in!
This is an absolute romp of a novel with a fabulous cast of characters; the dialogue sparkles and I loved the attention to period detail. It is about sexual awakening and female desire, but it is also a warm and wise treatise on female friendship. I hugely enjoyed this and read it over the course of a weekend – a perfect beach read, but so much more than ‘just’ a holiday book.
In a Summer Season, Elizabeth Taylor
No, not ‘that’ Elizabeth Taylor. I have been reading and hearing about this novelist for ages but had yet to read anything by her; she was English author who wrote the majority of her novels in the 1950s and 60s. I picked this book up in the library and I’m so glad I did! She is an author in the Jane Austen vein; small scale, domestic dramas with a hefty dose of caustic wit. Books that are so effortless that you know that their author is prodigiously talented. Philip Hensher describes her as a ‘one of the hidden treasures of the English novel’ – go and find one of her books. You’ll be rewarded.
My Summer Reading List
The list of books I want to read is long and getting longer! Here are a few of them that I definitely plan on getting though this summer. As I haven’t yet read them, the information below is from the publisher.