The world feels as though it’s on fire. Like many of you I’ve been feeling rage and sadness and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Like many of you I want to work on that, I want to dig into my privilege and ask myself uncomfortable questions. A summer reading list of escapist reads seems somehow frivolous right now. But I also acknowledge that we can all ask ourselves those questions and still feel the need to escape. This is a blog about books and writing and sometimes books and writing help us in ways we (ironically) can’t always put into words.
Books I will be reading this summer:
The Glass House by Eve Chase – I love Eve’s writing and absolutely inhaled The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde, so I’m very excited about this story of a baby abandoned on a doorstep and a body found in the grounds of a remote manor house.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley – I was a huge fan of Lucy’s historical novels and was a little bit disappointed when she started to write thrillers but I had nothing to worry about. The Hunting Party was amazing and I already know this who-dunnit at a wedding will be fabulous.
Girl Woman Other by Bernadine Evaristo – I’ve been saving the winner of last year’s Booker Prize for when my own edits were handed in. Nicola Sturgeon described it as “Beautifully interwoven stories of identity, race, womanhood, and the realities of modern Britain”
The Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys – Rachel Rhys is the pen name of crime author Tamar Cohen and this is her third historical mystery. It’s set in the Cuba in the 1950s and already feels like a good substitute for the holiday many of us won’t have this summer.
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor – I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages. Set in 1917 and the modern day, it revolves around the story of the two girls who photographed fairies in the bottom of their garden, a story I’ve been slightly obsessed with for years!
The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle – My friend Kerry writes the most amazing historical novels about times and places you don’t often think of. This one is set in early 16th century Rome and tells the story of the woman who fell in love with Raphael.
Sweet Talkin’ Lover by Tracey Livesay – When Caila Harris is sent to shut down a unprofitable factory, she doesn’t count on getting caught up with the local mayor. This looks like a great, fun, enemies to lovers story!
The M Word by Dr Philippa Kaye – We don’t talk about women’s health enough. We definitely don’t talk about the menopause enough. I’m turning 46 on Saturday and I’ve seen the changes in my body, my cycle and my mind over the last few years. I heard first heard Philippa on the Food for Thought podcast and she was brilliant so this is a must read for me (even if perhaps not the most fun read). Perhaps it will be for you too.
Books I have already read and highly recommend:
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester – I first came across Natasha in a bookshop in Australia (her first two historical novels weren’t published in the UK) and I love her writing. I finished the Paris Secret last week and it’s exquisite. A story of love and loss, of the incredible sacrifices women made without acknowledgement during the Second World War, and of a wardrobe of mysterious Dior gowns.
Meet Me In Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft – I was lucky enough to read this incredible third novel last year and I cried a lot of tears over it. Set in India during the years of the First World War it tells an important story of family, and memory and how we are in charge of our own destinies.
The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey – This was my favourite book of 2019 and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. If you’re an audiobook fan, Imogen Church’s narration is glorious.
Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – a fun romance that features a chronically ill heroine. I loved this for so many reasons.
The Uptown Series by Ruby Lang – I listened to the first two of this trilogy on my commute earlier in the year and they are brilliant romances set around the real estate market in NYC. I’m not commuting anymore (one benefit of Covid-19) but now I’ve handed in book 4 I’m going to listen to third before I start work in the mornings!
Why I No Longer Talk to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge – I read this last summer and it’s an uncomfortable read but taught me a lot. It’s a good starting place to question our own internal racial biases and dig into our privileges.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – This is a beautifully written novel and race the American “justice” system. But please don’t read this and think these are American problems. The reason I suggested “Why I No Longer…” above is because it specifically tackles British race relations.
The Shellseekers by Rosamund Pilcher – My ultimate favourite summer comfort read. I read this every year if I can and it sweeps me away like only the most brilliant family sagas can.
What are you reading this summer?