A world of wonderful words
Whether it’s on the plane, on the beach or simply in your own back garden, summer’s made for taking your time over a good book. But with so many new, classic and somewhere-in-between titles out there, where to begin? We’ve scoured the shelves and put together a shortlist of recent arrivals, old favourites and out-of-the-ordinary reads to get you started.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
With accolades including a spot on Vogue’s list of Top 10 Books of 2017, there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this Irish writer’s sharp-witted debut. An encounter with a well-known photographer draws aspiring writers Frances and Bobbi into the sophisticated world of the older woman and her husband, Nick. Bobbi’s developing relationship with him tests the close friendship between her and Frances as they navigate early adulthood in post-economic crash Dublin.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Effia, daughter of an Asante chief, marries a slave trader. Esi, her unknown sister, is captured and sold into slavery across the Atlantic. From there begins a multi-generational saga that unravels the lasting impact of the slave trade on the African people on both sides of it. This breakthrough novel from Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Gyasi, explores a difficult subject with deft and humanity.
Circe by Madeline Miller
From the best-selling author of The Song of Achilles comes another story drawn from Greek myth. Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, grows up as an ungainly outsider among her beautiful, immortal family. Cast out for seeking forbidden powers, she lives her life on a deserted island, encountering gods, heroes and vengeful monsters. Miller’s dazzling first-person narrative brings Circe to life, in a bewitching tale that touches on fate, family and finding your own place in the world.
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G Wodehouse
Slim enough for a carry-on bag and brimming with English wit, this is the perfect starting point for anyone new to Wodehouse. First published in 1923, this short story collection introduces the hapless Bertie Wooster and his highly competent butler, Jeeves – two of the most beloved characters in English fiction. Best read on a country house escape in the Cotswolds.
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
A book that crosses borders, both literally and figuratively. Yuri Herrera’s arresting novella has only recently become available to English-speaking readers, after being acclaimed as the best piece of fiction published in Spanish this decade. We follow the fearless Makina as she embarks on a journey across the US-Mexico border to retrieve her brother. But first, she must enlist the help of local gangsters. The stark style recalls the cool, collected tone of a vintage noir, with a dash of the mythological and surreal thrown in.
The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh
This unusual take on that stalwart of holiday reading, the thriller, focuses on a small community of criminals on the Texas Plains: the Blinds. As part of an experiment in rehabilitation, they’ve had all memory of their crimes erased – they just know they’ve broken the law. After the local sheriff, Cal, is called in to investigate a spate of violence, the experiment begins to unravel. This dark and irreverent novel will stick in your mind long after the last page.
The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
An unseasonably hot spring day brings the devil to 1930s Moscow. The suave satanic Woland and his retinue of demons – including a giant, cigar-smoking cat – wreak havoc across the city and whisk its inhabitants away to a midnight witches ball. A satire with a love story (and other tales) at its heart, The Master & Margarita became an underground hit when it was published in 1966, over 20 years after its author’s death. Dive into this 20th century classic and enjoy the ride.
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
Holidays are a time to switch off from the countless things to think or worry about in day-to-day life. And if you find that difficult, this warm, wise non-fiction read is here to help. After experiencing years of anxiety, British writer Matt Haig began questioning all the ways the modern world seems designed to stress us out. The result is a personal, insightful and witty exploration of how to slow down, stay happy and live well in the present moment.