I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the summer holidays to begin. They’re just around the corner, so perhaps it’s time to start thinking about which books to read? We have loads of ideas on Bookstoker from light beach reads about Russian oligarchs to non-fiction books about death and poo (!). The blue links are to Bookstoker’s full reviews or snap judgements while the green links are to outside reviews.
For a light beach read try the fabulous Gorsky by Vesna Goldworthy, a modern Great Gatsby story set in contemporary London or the best-selling thriller The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, this summer’s Gone Girl.
If you fancy a dramatic Indian family epic, grab Neel Mukherjee’s Booker Prize short-listed The Lives of Others, and you’ll have hours of entertaining reading.
Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Discreet Hero, is an enjoyable page-turning mystery story written with humour and sensuality, Vargas Llosa’s trademark ingredients.
Or, if you’re looking for something excellent to take you through the entire summer you could dive into the first three of Elena Ferrante’s addictive Neapolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and finish with the fourth and last, The Story of a Lost Child, when it comes out in September. If you’re heading to the south of Italy, these books are a must!
For non-fiction readers, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal is a must-read, a moving meditation on death and modern medicine and surprisingly uplifting despite its grim subject matter.
Dr Henry Marsh’s book on brain surgery, Do No Harm, is another completely fascinating book on a subject I didn’t even know I was interested in.
What am I reading this summer?
I’ve just started Jenny Erpenbeck The End of Days, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015, a story about five possible alternative lives of a girl born in Austria-Hungary at the start of the 20th century. Reviews have been glowing and I’m loving it so far.
I’ve bought Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment which is not part of the Neapolitan Novels, but considered by many to be her best book. It’s the story of a woman and mother of two small children whose husband leaves her.
I will, of course, along with the rest of the world, get my hands on a copy of the much anticipated sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman (to be published on 14th July). The publishing event of the decade, some people say.
One of my reading highlights of last summer was the page-turner The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. For another Sarah Water fix this summer, I’m taking with me The Little Stranger, a ghost story set in rural England involving haunted, crumbling stately homes. Knowing Water’s talent for creating atmosphere, this is a book I’m really looking forward to reading.
The Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, written by gastroenterology student Guilia Enders, is one of this year’s surprise best-sellers. I’m intrigued how a book on this…how shall I put it…rather shitty subject can fascinate so many.
There’s a lot more books to choose from on this blog and don’t forget the new Snap Judgement section for short opinions.
Wishing you a happy, sunny summer!
PS See what the staff at The New Yorker is reading this summer.