Book lovers are familiar with those lists everyone puts out at the start of summer with “light” recommendations for the beach, the cabin, or the campground. Just about every newspaper, magazine, blog and publisher puts out a “summer read” list. But what exactly makes a book summer worthy? I think it has something to do with reading that doesn’t require a lot of concentration so you don’t lose your place in the story when you’re distracted by waves and sand and that guy/girl toweling off down the beach.
I have a friend who argues that we shouldn’t automatically turn our brains off just because it’s July and August. I confess I’m not in the habit of giving any special thought to what I read based on the season, but I do understand fans of the summer read. God knows we have enough dark winter nights to curl up with meaty reads exploring life’s big questions.
Summer is more relaxed, a time to chill out and have fun. So whether you’re looking for something to throw in your suitcase or take to the beach, here are 10 recommendations. Go ahead, spill some sunscreen on the page and enjoy!
BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter
Soak up the sun with this fun, and funny, tale of a young innkeeper in a small village on the Italian coast and Hollywood royalty of the 1960’s.
GODS BEHAVING BADLY by Marie Phillips
Put ancient deities (Greek gods) in modern-day London and see how they get on. Add a mortal love story and this book will have you rolling with laughter.
HOW TO BE GOOD by Nick Hornsby
What’s a wife and doctor to do when her Uber cranky husband suddenly converts into a sickening do-gooder? Hilarity ensues!
ETTA & OTTO & RUSSELL & JAMES by Emma Hooper
A delightful read about love and family. At 82 Etta leaves her prairie farm, husband Otto and neighbour Russell, and begins to walk to see the ocean. Moving back and forth between Etta’s walk and the men’s’ lives, it’s a beautiful story about ordinary people and their love for each other.
THE FINAL CONFESSIONS OF MABEL STARK by Robert Hough
True story of a famous female tiger trainer who worked in the great travelling circuses of the 1920s. Surviving several serious cat mailings and five husbands, Mabel is truly a memorable character with a wicked sense of humour.
OUT-TAKES FROM A MARRIAGE by Ann Leary
Funny, biting humour about celebrity culture and a wife whose now-famous husband is passing her by. Is he having an affair or not? As she searches for answers, she frantically tries to stay in the game with cosmetic surgery, hair extensions and designer couture.
A SPOT OF BOTHER by Mark Haddon
Hilarious and oh so British. A humourous look at a family falling apart and then dusting themselves off and getting back up again.
Too hot for you? Here’s a couple of thrillers that will offer up some chills.
THE BLACK-EYED BLONDE by Benjamin Black
Channeling the modern master of crime fiction Raymond Chandler and his gritty sad detective Philip Marlowe, Black has brought the mean streets of 1950’s L.A. to life. Part mystery, part old-fashioned hard-boiled story, this is the most fun you’ll have with missing lovers and murder.
MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz
A murder mystery within a murder mystery in classic Agatha Christie style. Suspenseful and filled with interesting twists and turns, it will keep you cool as temperatures soar trying to figure out whodunnit.
THE JAZZ BIRD by Craig Holden
True story of one of America’s most successful bootleggers in 1920s Prohibition. After being released from prison, he learns his beautiful wife has left him and stolen all the money. Murder followed by the sensational courtroom drama will have you up long after lights out. A gripping page turner with fascinating characters during an intriguing time in history.
For my part I’m challenging myself to read three books this summer in genres outside my comfort zone: self-help, fantasy and sports. If anyone has any recommendations, I’m all ears.