Whether you’re sitting on a beach in Spain or lounging in your back garden at home, summer is always a great time to indulge in a good book. 2014 has seen some fantastic novels hit the shelves, amongst them Terry Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim, J. Paul Henderson’s Last Bus To Coffeeville and Rebecca Hunt’s Everland, but what five books should you be reading this summer? The Culturefly writers share their picks with you below.
1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Recommended by Kim Evans)
If you’ve already devoured the Goldfinch and are looking for something to remind you of Donna Tartt’s dark and blackly funny first novel, The Secret History, you wouldn’t have to look much further than the recently published paperback of Karen Joy Fowler’s latest, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Through the wry and instantly likeable voice of our narrator – university student Rosemary – we explore the murkily obscured history of her family’s past and the strange disappearances of her siblings. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more truthful and, at times, hilarious investigation into family behaviours, secrets and guilt, all with an intriguing twist.
2. Campari For Breakfast by Sara Crowe (Recommended by Natalie Xenos)
If you’re holidaying at home this summer instead of jetting off to sunnier climes, grab yourself a copy of Sara Crowe’s debut novel. A quirky British book about a teenager who goes to live with her eccentric Aunt at her crumbling ancestral home, Campari for Breakfast is a coming-of-age novel that perfectly captures the immediacy of youth and the confusion that comes with losing someone you love. It’s the perfect length, never dragging or feeling too rushed, and can easily be read in a day or two. Campari for Breakfast is intelligent, witty and heartwarming, and it guarantees to put a smile on the reader’s face by the end.
3. The Good Luck Of Right Now by Matthew Quick (Recommended by Nell Young)
My pick for this year’s summer read has to be The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick. The story centres on Bartholomew Neil, who instantly drew me into his offbeat and dysfunctional world. At thirty-nine years old, he begins an extraordinary journey, told mostly through confidential letters to an imaginary friend – Richard Gere – his most memorable link to his late Mum. As his incredible journey unfolds he adopts a motley set of friends who travel with him to Canada on a quest. The disparate crew are soon confronted with the stark realities of being society’s outcasts and make revealing discoveries as a chain of unpredictable events unravel, which bring out the best in Bartholomew. This book really oozes warmth, quick wit and compassion. Find a shady spot because this is a real page turner.
4. The Ingo Chronicles by Helen Dunmore (Recommended by Sue Sheard)
There are some books that just scream summer and I can never let the season go by without spending at least a couple of days reading The Ingo Chronicles by Helen Dunmore. A series of beautiful children’s books about Sapphy, a young girl whose father disappears mysteriously one night. There are many hidden facets to this story. On the surface it explores the dynamics of a family coming to terms with loss and grief and the practicalities of how it affects everyday life. The subtext concerns Sapphy’s gradual distancing from her own household as she discovers new friends who, whilst allowing her to grow and explore, could prove very dangerous to her and her kinfolk.
If you’re looking for a more adult read, pick up a copy of Paul Sussman’s The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix. A novel about a mass murderer may not seem the cheeriest of reads but it’s hilarious and full of mischief. Just what you need for a holiday companion.
5. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (Recommended by Mel Kress)
You’re unlikely to find an author who writes a better summer read than Sarah Dessen, and the latest addition to her vastly popular body of work, The Moon and More, is no different. Once again we find ourselves in Dessen’s signature seaside town of Colby, this time through the eyes of Emaline, who works for her family estate and rental company. Dessen is consistent enough in her writing that if you like one of her books, you like them all, but at the same time each one has such a personal touch to the story that it never feels like you’re reading the same book. The Moon and More features all the same themes of family, friendship, what to do after high school and, of course, romance. Any fans of her previous novels will not be disappointed.