Bookends: summer reading

I had planned today to write about some of the summer recommended reading lists that are now beginning to make an appearance. It happens every year as we get into July. Often they come under headings like Perfect Summer Reading, or Best Books for the Beach or Must Read Books for Holidays. I don’t really understand the idea of seasonal reading like this let alone what criteria is being used to classify titles as a summer reading option. Are they defined by a particular theme or writing style? Are they books featuring holidays or set in sunny holiday places? Or are they made from a waterproof paper so they don’t get all crinkly from splashes at the poolside? ( which of course mistakenly supposes that’s how all of us spend our holiday time?

At least the Financial Times had the intelligence to use the broader category of leisure reading for their round up recently. Kudos to them also for including works in translation which is something we see seldom.

Here are their fiction recommendations:
Travelling Sprinkler by Nicholson Barker
The Strangler Vine by Miranda Carter
Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davies
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
In the Wolfs Mouth by Adam Foulds
Everland by Rebecca Hunt
All the Rage by AL Kennedy
Redeployment by Phil Klay
the Last Word by Hanif Kureishi
On Such a Full Sea by Chang Rae Lee
the Medici Boy by John L’Hureux
Kinder than Solitude by Yiyun Li
Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Elmear McBride
Bark by Lorrie Moore
Family Life by Akhil Sharma

I’d not heard of most of these, with the exception of the titles by McBride and Kureishi, but the FT considers them the best of the 2014 titles to date.

Would any of these be on your list of recommendations? What do yiu think of the whole notion of ” summer reading”?


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

20 thoughts on “Bookends: summer reading

  • I recognise most of those authors but haven’t read any of these books. I’d like to in a few cases but these days I don’t read that many brand new books. Perhaps I should look up the summer reading lists for 2010 and 2011!

    I’m not sure if I read any differently in summer. I have a picture in my head of me reading under a tree in the park and the book is a lighter comedy, but that’s not really a reflection of reality!

    • I have this romantic idea of sitting on the grass reading too. the reality is that I get very uncomfortable about 15 mins because the ground is rather hard

  • I want to read The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi.

    I think the whole notion of ‘summer reading’ is nonsensical in one sense, but if it’s a good excuse to write up articles which include new titles, then I’m all for it.

  • I haven’t read any of the books on your list but I have heard Nicholson Baker speaking about and reading from his and it sounds like a good one. I read seasonally except reserving “creepy” books for fall and the RIP challenge, otherwise it is always open season.

  • I’ve heard of a few of them, but never read any. I don’t really know what to make of summer reading lists – to me they seem to comprise of light books, something you don’t want to think through too much. But some of the books in this list sound heavy to me.

    • I’m sure there’s an element Nish where people put a title on a list that they think makes them sound intellectual. But I bet they never read it…

  • Karen, I’ve never completely understood “seasonal” reading either. I guess it’s because summer (at least in the U.S.) is when kids are off from school and when families plan vacations. Of course, I have a hard time imagining how, when kids are home how does a parent find time to read, vacation or not? lol I also don’t understand subject matter mattering, but that’s me. Perhaps it’s more the new releases? I don’t pay attention to it, and don’t get it so I’m clueless here! lol

    • I’glad to know that I am not the only scratching my head about this concept

      Karen Heenan-Davies

  • Most of those titles are unknown to me, I am planning on reading A Girl is a half formed thing later.this month for a book group I have decided to try out. Their next meeting is the 31 st of July.

    • I find it interesting that so many people (like yourself) who I consider to have their finger on the pulse havent heard of many of these titles.

      Karen Heenan-Davies

      • I don’t know that I have my finger on the pulse 🙂 these are obviously titles I should be looking and listening out for

  • I love lists wherever they come from and whatever they are called. Even the Christmas ‘best of the year’ recommendations which are always so ‘worthy’ have me jotting down titles for the tbr pile. At least the ones you get at this time of the year are readable 🙂 The one here that I’ve had my eyes on since I first heard about it is ‘The Strangled Vine’. It was long listed for the Women’s Prize.

    • Lists are so dangerous for me because I just find it so difficult to resist buying new books. A few of these are calling ‘buy me’

      Karen Heenan-Davies

  • I haven’t read any of these yet but since I am from India, I know of “Family Life” – it has been getting very positive reviews and a lot of coverage in all our dailies. So I guess it would be a safe bet 🙂

  • I recognise few of them too, but spot a couple of non-western (Asian) names in there – could any of those add to your “travelling round the world” challenge?

    • Most definitely they will be up for consideration Nordie, I just have to find out a it more about the authors

  • Crikey, I look at that list and recognise no more on it than you do – and this after 6 months of trawling the publisher’s catalogues for SNB!

    • They really are unknown quantities if they have slipped past your eagle eyes. Makes me curious to know more about them..


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