Longer days mean more time for reading – by the pool, on the beach or in a café in a distant city. Whether it’s a long read or something light to dip into these ten books are guaranteed to broaden your summer horizons.
Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
In this heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting debut, Adebayo takes us on a journey through the fragility of love, the wretchedness of grief and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. Set against the backdrop of 1980s Nigeria, there is a powerful simplicity in Adebayo’s writing, and it is no surprise that this impressive novel has been shortlisted for several literary prizes.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions by Sir David Attenborough
In 1954, David Attenborough was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to travel the world finding rare animals for London Zoo’s collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC for a new show called Zoo Quest. This is the story of those travels, and it is written with Attenborough’s trademark wit and charm, by the man who made us fall in love with the natural world, and who is still doing so today.
The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George
From the bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, comes a delightful novel about self-discovery and new beginnings. Desperate to escape her loveless marriage, Marianne throws herself into the Seine, only to be rescued by a passer-by. While recovering, she is entranced by a photo she sees of a Brittany port town, so she embarks on a final adventure, meeting a host of colourful characters who gather in a seaside bistro called Ar Mor. In this company she discovers a new version of herself – one that is passionate, carefree and powerful. The Little Breton Bistro is a love letter to second chances and the perfect holiday read.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
On 21 June, 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol, where the ‘unrepentant aristocrat’ has been sentenced to indefinite house arrest by a Bolshevik tribunal. Swapping his usual well-appointed suite, for a tiny attic room, the count’s friendships with other hotel staff and residents over the ensuing decades reveal the farcical side of life in Soviet Russia, which is so at odds with the Count’s own genteel nature. This gently comic novel has a wonderful plot and beautifully drawn characters that will stay with you well beyond the final page.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Five years after the publication of her prize-winning bestseller The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller returns with a wonderfully modern take on the myth of Circe. Originally a relatively minor character in Homer’s Odyssey, we join Miller’s Circe on her journey of self-discovery, from an unhappy childhood with sun god Helios, to her years of exile on a deserted island of Aiaia, as along the way her story is entwined with some of the most famous names from Greek mythology, and once again, Miller breathes new life into tales of old.
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor
Following the overwhelming response to his 2015 Oxford Union address, Tharoor has expanded his speech from that debate, to carefully unpick the various arguments that the British presence in India was in any way benign. It is a vital and persuasive work that goes someway to redress the balance of Raj nostalgia of recent years, and lays bare just how destructive the British conquest of India really was.
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy
Described as a memoir of life, art and separation, Levy’s second instalment of her ‘living autobiography’ sees the narrator ruminate on the minutiae and great events of one’s existence. Putting her life back together following her divorce, finding space to write, and the space to exist as a woman no longer defined by marriage; The Cost of Living is trademark Levy – wry, insightful and thought-provoking.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
Described by Bill Gates as “an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world”, Hans Rosling’s Factfulness aims to correct the common misconceptions that even the most educated minds have about the real state of the globe, while offering an explanation as to why peoples’ views are often so inaccurate. In a surprisingly uplifting read, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Rosling concludes that for all its imperfections, the world is in a much better state than we might think.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Described by the New York Times as a ‘new kind of adultery novel’, Conversations with Friends is an assured debut that can be enjoyed on many levels; it is a romantic comedy, a feminist text, a book about infidelity, and a story about the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy. Charting the relationships of the four central characters, Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa; Conversations with Friends delves into identity and communication, delivering a modern love story that has been a favourite with literary prize panels since its publication last year.
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
From the Man Booker long-listed author of My Name is Lucy Barton, comes an unforgettable tale of love and loss in a small town Illinois. Returning to Amgash after seventeen years away, successful New York writer, Lucy Barton, arrives back to visit her siblings. Exploring what it is like for those who have left, and those left behind in small town communities, Anything is Possible resonates with the deep bonds of family and the hope that comes with reconciliation. Rightly considered one of America’s finest living writers, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Strout, has once again delivered a stunning depiction of the human condition.