“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

―John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

The long days of summer can feel like a blank page, full of opportunity and easy optimism. There’s no better time to peel back the cover of a book whose pages already carry the meandering yarn of a great story. Great stories transport and titillate, offering a chance to travel vast distances in the mind of another; either character or author or both. 

As a heatwave descends, we couldn’t imagine more perfect conditions for rest, relaxation, and reading – here are our recommendations for the dog days’ best books…

Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid 

Such a Fun Age tells the story of a young black woman who is wrongly accused of kidnapping while babysitting a child and the events that follow it.

Engaging, nuanced, and charged at times, this novel offers a critical look at the saviour complex that so often infects racial discourse. 

The Love Square – Laura Jane Williams 

Options, options… What is an unlucky singleton to do when her luck changes – really changes. This light, joyful, humorous summer read delves into the question of how to choose The One when, all of a sudden, there are several. 

Summer – Ali Smith 

The final instalment of a beloved seasonal quartet, Summer offers a mirror to the age in which we live, a whirlwind that is the news of the day, and a poignant exploration of passing time. The gripping format surprises as it delights and challenges the notion that we know all the ways a story can be told.  

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens 

Bringing together a suspected murder, a coming-of-age tale, and an ode to the natural world, Delia Owens masterfully draws readers in and brings the setting of the story to life as an ever-present character. 

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo  

This book offers a rare chance to truly, deeply get to know its characters. “Mostly women, black, and British”, the twelve characters who populate the interconnected story seem as real as you or me. 

The Only Gaijin in the Village – Iain Maloney 

Having decided to settle in a rural Japanese village, the author and his wife imagine a world of pastoral delights – they meet bird-sized bees and hawk-eyed neighbours, instead. Adventure alongside them in this detailed memoir of cultural immersion and continuous learning. 

Italian Life – Tim Parks 

Italian Life is a thought-provoking, fascinating and often entertaining look at a paradoxical nation behind the scenes: a compelling account of how Italy actually happens.