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Monday, 29 May 2017

Twelve Books That Are Perfect For Summer


1 // The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Upon reading the first page of The Essex Serpent, I experienced one of those rare and wonderful moments where you get the book tingles, that feeling you get when you know that the book you're embarking on will be a spectacular one. Sarah Perry’s writing style is the most beautiful I’ve read in a long time and the recent buzz around this book is well deserved. The protagonist, Cora Seaborne,  moves to Essex after the death of her husband. Here she tries to learn more about the mythical Essex Serpent and strikes up an unlikely friendship with the local vicar. 

2 // Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Idaho focuses on the repercussions of a terrible act that takes place one day in August. A family drives to a mountain clearing to collect wood. An extreme incident with an axe causes the family to fly in different directions. From various viewpoints and moments in time we learn more about how the act affected those involved. I'm really looking forward to reading this in the garden this summer. 

3 // The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
An English nurse is brought to a small Irish village to observe a young girl. Eleven years old, Anna O’Donnell says that she has survived without food for months. The nurse observes the girl and her concerns rise as Anna’s health rapidly deteriorates. There’s something captivating about this novel despite the fact that it’s not particularly fast paced. I found myself rooting for the characters, desperate to find out what would become of them. 

4 // Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
If you haven't already read Never Let Me Go, I'd highly recommend it. The English countryside setting seems to make it particularly suited to the summer time, perhaps with a glass of Pimms in hand. Ishiguro's simple writing style and gripping plot made me fly through this book.  The sinister story completely grabs you, making it the perfect summer read.

5 // Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This is one of the novels that I’m most excited to read this year. I've heard nothing but good things about it as of yet so have high hopes for it. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in 18th Century Ghana. Effia is married to an Englishman and lives in a castle. Esi is imprisoned in the same castle and sold as a slave. Part of the book follows Effia’s descendants and the warfare in Ghana. The other follows Esi’s family in America. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Yaa Gyasi uses different generations to explore the narrative. 

6 // The Girls by Emma Cline
Based on the true story of the Manson Family, Evie Boyd is mesmerised by an infamous cult. Drawn to the dangerous and careless attitude of the girls, she becomes more and more enthralled with their way of living. A bildungsroman, The Girls, explores Evie’s desire to break away from the monotony of her own life and slip in to the shoes of the beautiful girls she becomes obsessed with. Each moment she spends with them bringing her closer to terrible deeds of violence.

7 // Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Into the Water is the new psychological thriller from the author of The Girl on the Train. A woman turns up dead at the bottom of a river. The woman leaves behind her daughter who is now in the care of her sister. Jules knows that her sister would never have jumped and fears the darkness surrounding the river. I enjoyed reading The Girl on the Train as more of a fast paced novel last year so I’m looking forward to seeing how I find this one.

8 // Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are forced apart in their departure from Nigeria. Ifemelu heads for America, where she grapples with feeling black for the first time. Obinze lives an undocumented life in the UK. This novel follows the issues the characters face when plunged into these new environments and the ones they encounter when they are reunited in Nigeria. I read this book last summer and it ended up being one of my favourite books of 2016.

9 // Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Ever since seeing this on the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, I’ve been interested in reading it. Stay With Me takes place against a backdrop of political turbulence in 1980s Nigeria. Yejide is under pressure from her husband and mother-in-law to produce a child. She undertakes various tasks in the hopes of conceiving, including pilgrimages and medical consultations. Her in-laws insist upon a new wife and Yejide is torn apart by jealousy and betrayal.

10 // Shelter by Jung Yun
Kyung Cho and his wife, Gillian, are experiencing huge financial difficulties. At the beginning of the novel they try to sell their house. When talking to the realtor, Kyung Cho notices his mother walking into his garden, battered, bruised, and naked. Shelter looks at the clash of cultures and the tensions between family members.

11 // The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I love The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and think the best time to read it has to be in the summer. Huck escapes his father and meets a runaway slave, Jim. The two embark on an adventure together, escaping those after them. Huck wrestles with his conscience, unsure whether he should be helping Jim to escape slavery. This book is wonderful, delving into issues of race and freedom whilst still maintaining light-heartedness and humour.

12 // The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
In the summer of 1976, Mrs Creasy goes missing. The street is alive with rumours about her disappearance. Ten-year-old Grace and her best friend Tilly are determined to investigate the mystery of Mrs Creasy, and uncover a number of secrets in the process. Despite being dubious at first, I’ve heard brilliant things about this book. Rave reviews have labelled it as a both humorous and thought-provoking coming-of-age novel.

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