It’s officially summer time: The season when book lovers the world over leave the cosy confines of their favourite reading nooks to take to the great outdoors and flaunt the latest caper that’s caught their fancy. So whether you have a beach weekend planned or are looking forward to some much-needed poolside time or, better yet, want to spend lazy afternoons cooling off under the air-con, here are some of our favourite books that we think will make for some great summer company.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
NPR superstar Linda Holmes makes her fiction debut with this breezy romantic novel about grief, the detructive power of secrets and second chances. In ‘Evvie Drake Starts Over’, the titualr Evvie is finally leaving her emotionally abusive husband when her life gets turned upside down and the husband dies. Dean’s career as a star baseball player comes to an abrupt halt when one fine morning he’s just unable to pitch anymore. The two meet through a mutual friend and what follows is a heartwarming tale of redemption and love. It’s especially refreshing to read a romance featuring mature adults rather than the usual crop of YA this genre gets populated with.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
For those who like to be challenged while reading, Pulitzer finalist Susan Choi’s fifth novel is an ambitious literary experiment that looks at a coming of age story from the lens of a post-MeToo world. The novel follows a high school couple who are experiencing love for the first time, but their passionate but mercurial relationship gets interrupted by the attentions of a charismatic drama teacher. Trust us when we say you’ll be talking about this book long after you’re done with it, and not least because of a second act twist that arrives like a sucker punch.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Booker Prize-winning, Jamaican author Marlon James calls his fantasy novel “the African Game of Thrones”. The first book of what is being called the Dark Star trilogy has already been picked up by Michael B Jordan to be adapted for the screen (TV/film we’re yet to know) and it is a tale of mythic proportions. About a mercenary who is on the hunt for a missing child, this fantasy epic explores the exacting limits of power.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
An extremely well-researched and comprehensive look at the gender data gap and how products and facilities have been designed keeping an average man in mind, ‘Invisible Women’ shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. Is it rage inducing? Absolutely. But if you can look past the anger on how unfair this all seems, the book is filled with teachable moments and eye-opening facts that will make you look at the world with a whole new perspective. This should be required reading for men and women everywhere.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Jordan Bellaire and Dan Mora
Digging into Jordan Bellaire and Dan Mora’s reimagining of pop culture phenomenon ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ will take you right back to all those summers spent watching Buffy and her best friends, Xander and Willow, navigate high school and teenage life as they take on bloodthirsty vampires and other demons. While the story itself takes you right back to the beginning, the setting is very much 2019 — so you’ll find plenty of much-needed updates to characters. Return to the Hellmouth once again but like its for the very first time.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
This is a deep dive into oblivion; into the nothingness that follows the despair that trails addiction. Set in the often conflicting lanes of Bombay (as the commercial capital of India was still called in the 70s when the narrative is wound), visions of self-destruction duel with the struggle of survival under the smoke of opium dens. This is a commentary on a city, the human condition — us all.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
While anything written by the late, great Pratchett is something everyone needs to read, it’s the Amazon Prime series that had us reaching past his ‘Discworld’ series and grabbing a hold of the tome (co-written with Neil Gaiman) that sees a devil and an angel in cahoots. To save the world. A mix-up offers some comic relief in this strange and marvelous book.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The renewed interest in this series – which kicked off a long, long time ago, in 1990 — comes with another television promise; Sony and Amazon Prime are working on a version. That said, this 14-part magic-turned-torture-turned-convoluted epic follows the journey of Rand al’Thor in a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type saga of power and madness. Since Jordan died before the saga could be completed, Sanderson — whose work includes the excellent ‘Stormlight Archive’ series – was roped in. Two geniuses of the genre, good versus evil… well, need we say more? A re-visit has been earned.
The Only Story by Julian Barnes
We are all defined by that one episode — that changed us from our core; a love so beautiful or devastating or crazy that it made life swirl and crack under its weight. This is the feeling Barnes explores in the ‘Only Story’ where a man recalls his days of boyhood, a love that was as cliché as it was undefinable; its only legacy was metamorphosis. You’d need a quiet place to process this one.
Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher
Varied in writing style, eloquence and substance, no thought is left untouched by these notes, be it suicide (Virginia Woolf’s heartfelt last words to her husband) or ambition (Elvis Presley’s plea to then President Nixon, to depute him as Federal Agent at large).
In the Woods by Tana French
This is the book that led me down the Tana French rabbit hole and I wasn’t even mad about it. About two Irish detectives investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl, this thriller is gripping and exciting to read. Her writing is also rich and layered in a way that a crime novel usually isn’t. Read and then become obsessed with the genius that is French.
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
It’s always special when an author can make you fall in love with her characters even when they’re flawed. Here, two people enter into a romantic arrangement where love is apparently off the table. Well, guess who’s going to fall in love? It’s predictable, but written beautifully and will make you blush, swoon and want to be in love right now.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This one has been on many summer reading lists, and once you read it you’ll understand why. An on and off Irish couple hobble from their school years to college, neither speaking their minds at the right time with frustrating consequences. It had me crying at how complex but also plain stupid humans are and how being yourself is sometimes an impossible task.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Sometimes you come across a book that will shake you to you core and challenge the way you thing. This is one of those. In this sci-fi book, women suddenly develop the ability to release jolts of electricity from their fingers. On the surface, it seems like this has led to the patriarchy ending, but Alderman doesn’t give us that sweet satisfaction. Read it to have your mind blown.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Even if you’ve watched the excellent movie of the same name, it’s worth reading the book for Han’s simple, heartfelt writing and the bits of romance that had to be left out of the film. A teen girl enters into a pretend relationship after her letters to her great loves get mailed out. It’s a light, sweet read for everyone.