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Summer Reading

I love those lists you get in the papers of who is planning on reading what on their Summer holidays.  I used to love all that; deciding what books to pack without having to pay excess baggage, not even minding if you’re delayed at Departures as it meant more time to read, ignoring your companion on the plane, lying on a beach with nothing to interrupt you. Those days seem long gone.

I remember once stupidly not taking anything thinking I’d grab something at the airport, running out of time and just frantically choosing two random books  in the queue at W H Smith and then being lumbered for the entire holiday with not one, but two, total duds. I was desperate for something to read and tried to persuade my husband to swap me his Life of Pi and Elmore Leonard but he wasn’t budging.  I can’t even remember what they were – I left them in the hotel for the next person to enjoy. Next time I’ll take my Kindle.

I have a bit of a scattergun approach to how I choose what to read next. Like most people, I suppose, it’s a mixture of recommendations by friends, reviews in the paper, snippets in magazines, what people are talking about on Twitter.  I’m also lucky enough to get sent lots of review copies. I borrow a lot from the library. I bought a slim volume of (fantastic) short stories by Breece D’J Pancake because I liked his name.

This is what I’m planning on reading this Summer on my staycation:

The Stranger’s Child – Alan Hollinghurst

I’ve seen so much buzz about this book. There’s towering piles on tables inside the door of my local Waterstone’s as it’s Book of The Week but it was on offer at Tesco’s so it went in with my shopping. The blurb on the back (set in 1913, Cambridge, exploration of English culture) and the photo was enough to sell it to me.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D – Nicole Bernier

This is about a woman, Kate, who gets left the journals belonging to her best friend Elizabeth when she  is killed in a plane crash. It’s a delicately observed story about marriage and motherhood, and the different selves we all present to the world – how perhaps you can never really know someone, even if you think you shared all their secrets. It’s set in that middle place – in life, in marriage – a place where I find myself.  Bernier wrote in an interview, ” I have always been intrigued and haunted by the notion of legacy, the trace people leave behind once they’re gone–how others define them, and what they’ve done to define themselves.’ This subject is totally pre-occupying me at the moment so it seemed apt.

Penny Hancock – Tideline

This is billed as a dark and psychologically gripping thriller. It’s been compared to Daphne du Maurier, Hitchcock and John Fowles’ The Collector which totally freaked me out as a teenager.

Shelley Harris – Jubilee

I meant to read this during the week of The Jubilee but failed. It’s set in 1977 and the springboard is a photograph taken at a street party and what’s happened to those featured in it revolving around the story of a young Asian boy in the photo’s foreground.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Lots of people (India Knight, Daisy Goodwin etc) have been raving about this on Twitter. I remember India Knight raving about Babyliss Big Hair (a curling iron thingie) and when I bought it (for yes, I am easily influenced) it showed up as Customers Who Bought This, Also Bought ‘Comfort and Joy’ by India Knight.’

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

As I seem to be gravitating  towards books about love, loss and regret at a certain age this seems to fit beautifully. I downloaded it otherwise it would have joined my shelves of Anne Tyler and Tessa Hadley novels.

I have a whole load of books already on my shelves with the word ‘Summer’ in the title so they should make it too.

The Book of Summers – Emylia Hall

The Summer of  Drowning – John Burnside

The Summer Without Men  – Siri Husvedt

The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

What sways you when planning your next read? Do you plan it out, have a strictly rotated ‘To Be Read’ pile or are you quite fickle like me? Do you read a different sort of novel in the Summer from other times?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. You’ve chosen an interesting mix there. My criteria is usually to try to find long books, as it’s a great opportunity to read lots over a short space of time if you normally only manage a few pages a day. Then you don’t feel as if you’ve forgotten the beginning before you get to the end!

    June 28, 2012
  2. Excellent, thanks to you for taking the time from your busy reading schedule to write this! I feel like I’ll never read all the books I want to read already, so *why* I have been after more recommendations, I’m not sure!

    As you know, I mostly just copy what you’re reading or read what you lend me! And then there are shortlists and longlists, and reviews online, and people talking about things on Twitter, and classics that I should have read by now but haven’t…

    Having to do all my reading on a Kindle at the moment, because reading actual books requires the light on which wakes Esme… I’m really enjoying my first Anne Tyler, so maybe a couple more of those. I have Half Blood Blues somewhere in a box, that I’d quite like to find, when I can read a real book! Someone sent me a copy of Jennifer Egan’s first novel, so that too (I’ve done a quick flip through and no powerpoint sofar…)

    June 28, 2012
  3. linda #

    Thanks for more books for my list!

    I am fickle and easily swayed by a convincing sell job. I heard a panel on CBC the other day talking about mysteries and I immediately put Gone Girl on my reserve list at the library before I could forget about it. I think I am No. 2 on the list, so will have it soon.

    Have just started one of your previous recs: Into the Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes.

    June 29, 2012
  4. linda #

    Also, John Fowles’ The Magus had me freaked out in my late teens. Not sure I’d have the patience for it now, but i remember feeling like I’d been turned upside down and loved being challenged like that.

    June 29, 2012

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