Summer reading lists

I keep seeing these around, wondering why I don’t get the concept. I tried reading seasonally appropriate books in the run up to Christmas one year and really enjoyed it, but summer reading lists aren’t filled with tales of folk going on holiday, nor books based in holiday destinations, so what’s it all about – other than an exercise in driving up books sales in a fallow period before the pre-Christmas buying spree?

In a previous life, summer holiday luggage would be split – one his clothes suitcase, one her clothes suitcase and one books suitcase. Obviously this pre-dated kindles when two weeks of reading was a considerable haul. As our tastes in reading differed dramatically, the book suitcase was subdivided into his books and her books. When selecting candidates, the only reason a book was excluded was its hardback cover. Otherwise I simply selected the books I most wanted to read from my list of potentials, ensuring a balance between heavyweight tomes and lighter reads (or sorbet books as I like to call them).

This year, I was rather taken by Penguin’s take on the subject of summer lists, for they’ve broken their recommendations down into five categories. I took a look at them to see what might tempt me – should I not already be suffering under the weight of an overwhelming TBR list – and here’s a few contenders.

Books to help you understand today’s complicated world

The headline book in this category is Jared Diamond’s Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change; I’ve not read Guns, Germs and Steel as I’m waiting to hear @breakerofthing’s review once he’s finished, but still, this one temps me. Philippa Perry’s The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) sounds right for adding to my professional library and, as Arundhuti Roy is famed for her non-fiction writing, its collection into My Seditious Heart is a real draw. Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl was immensely moving reading, so her collection of stories about growing up in the Soviet Union during WWII – Last Witnesses – sounds right up my street. Lastly James O’Brien’s How to Be Right in a world gone wrong is attractive, if only as I’ve long enjoyed his LBC show.

I’m somewhat horrified to find this first category already has potential to cause severe TBR overload.

Amazing real life stories to escape into

Just as well then that the only two of interest from this bunch are an already read (Tara Westover’s excellent Educated) and being read (Michelle Obama’s Becoming).

Books to give you a fresh perspective

I’d not previously heard of the headline book, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous but, as I love a memoir, I think I may read a sample to check on it’s “voice”. Ali Smith’s Spring and Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me also have the potential to find themselves on that TBR all too soon.

As this would usually be my to-go category, I think my TBR got off lightly!

Books to make you laugh and cry

I love William Boyd’s books about Africa enough to want to start reading Love is Blind immediately, even though it is not based there. I read The Book Thief literally ages after everyone else as I worried the hype would leave me disappointed, but I thought it was lovely, so his Bridge of Clay seems likely to be added. I’m decidedely doing a shall-I-shan’t-I dance with my “buy” finger over Paris Echo from Sebastian Falkes,Ā The Trick to Time from Kit de Waal, The Great Level from Stella Tillyard and Ordinary People from Diana Evans.

I didn’t think this category would be dangerous – which just goes to show how much I know about my reading habits!

Heart stopping thrillers

Feeling confident that this category would be safe for my swaying TBR, I nevertheless found one absolute must buy – Blue Sky – the latest Jackson Brodie from Kate Atkinson. I’ve read pretty much everything she’s written and always enjoyed them.

 

Do you have a summer reading list? Is it any different to your normal TBR list?


Ā© Debra Carey, 2019

4 comments

  1. I don’t have a summer reading list for various reasons including the fact that for holiday reading I like to dip in and see what other people have left behind. I have made some interesting discoveries that way: not new, new books but new to me. ‘Lee Child’ was one of them, and I thought at first that it belonged to a genre that I am not particularly interested in, but despite a slightly formulaic approach they are very readable for a holiday downtime and – I think – reasonably well-written.

    I tend to be suspicious of lists of books *ought* to read! šŸ™‚

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  2. I am too Alan, but maybe that’s because I seem to have read very few of them – classics in particular. But hey, at my age, I just read what I want to and hang what I *ought* to!

    Yes, it can be enjoyable discovering new authors via what other holiday-makers have left behind. Until you’re on holiday in Italy and the books are in Italian. I could cope with menu ordering and directions, but literature was a bridge too far!

    You know I’m a fan of thrillers although I’ve yet to read lee Child. My Dad was a huge fan, so one day …

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  3. I never bother with “recommended reading lists” from publishers – my TBR list is so high and none of the categories above interest me, except maybe “books to make you laugh and cry” except my idea of that kind of book is probably different from Penguin’s. šŸ˜‰ I read various kinds of speculative and genre fiction, including books for teens and children, which would require separate categories, such as “fantastical adventures to escape into”.

    It is nice these days to be able to take hundreds of books with you, isn’t it?

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  4. You’d be the perfect person to create an alternative summer reading list – I bet your “fantastical adventures to escape into” would be fabulous!

    Yup, those e-readers have made a massive difference to portability of luggage which, as someone with a bad back, has been quite the boon.

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