Not that library, hunty. The only kind of shade we’re interested in this post is the shade you’re going to read these books under. From books of love, Greek mythology and interior know-how’s, here’s our top twelve reads to get stuck into this summer.
Disclaimer: we pinched the synopsis’ from trusty Amazon (#lazyjournalism #toohottocare) and also if you click the title of the book it will take you to Amazon to order it, however this post isn’t affiliated with Amazon. Just an fyi.
New-ish releases to get stuck in to
These are the hot page-turners of this summer, so if you want to be able to join in the conversation in the office make sure you pick these up immediately.
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonising pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.
Both Mark and I rave about The Power. As fans of dystopian futures like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games, The Power definitely gives a great vision of an alternative future, one where women take full control and we love it. A perfect, electrifying (eye roll) read.
How to be Famous, Caitlin Moran
I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly. My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs HellTM – as rockstars do. And my new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name. But when my two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know my name for all the wrong reasons.
He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’ Suzanne warned me. But by that point, I’d already had sex with him. Bad sex. Now I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy. He needs to be stopped. But how can one woman stop a bad, famous, powerful man?
Firstly, longest synopsis ever. Secondly, David is only half way through so who knows how the story will progress BUT Caitlin Moran is one of our favourite journalists and authors. If you haven’t already, go and read How to be a Woman and How to Build a Girl, they’re great. So far, we’re loving How to be Famous. To be honest, Moran’s writing is so full of wit and humour, it’s bound to be a goodun’.
Everything I Know about Love, Dolly Alderton
When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It’s a book about bad dates, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough.
To be honest, there’s nothing really left for us to say. The book is amazing. It had us laughing and crying. More importantly, it’s so brilliantly relatable. It’s the perfect easy read and you’ll eat it right up.
Favourite Summer reads
These are the books that we’d reach for again and again.
The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
Greek mythology? Check. Gay love story? Check. The Song of Achilles flew straight up to the top of David’s favourite books of all time list. The tale is incredible and Madeline Miller’s writing is extraordinarily poetic. No wonder that The Song of Achilles has become one of Bloomsbury’s Modern Classics. To give you a taste…
The god touches his finger to the arrow’s fletching. Then he breathes, a puff of air – as if to send dandelions flying, to push toy boats over water. And the arrow flies, straight and silent, in a curving, downward arc towards Achilles’ back.
Madeline Miller has also just released Circe which is currently on our ‘to read’ pile. Another tale based on Greek Mythology, if it’s anything like The Song of Achilles then we can’t wait to get stuck in.
The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver
A heartbreaking story of a man torn between the warm heart of Mexico and the cold embrace of 1950s America in the shadow of Senator McCarthy. Born in America and raised in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salome. When he starts work in the household of Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo – where the Bolshevik leader, Lev Trotsky, is also being harboured as a political exile – he inadvertently casts his lot with art, communism and revolution. A compulsive diarist, he records and relates his colourful experiences of life with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Trotsky in the midst of the Mexican revolution. A violent upheaval sends him back to America; but political winds continue to throw him between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach – the lacuna – between truth and public presumption.
The Lacuna is so descriptive, it’s beautiful. With Frida Kahlo the hot topic in London this summer thanks to the new exhibition at the V&A we’d highly recommend for you to dive straight in to The Lacuna.
Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
San Francisco, 1976. A naïve young secretary, fresh out of Cleveland, tumbles headlong into a brave new world of laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests. The saga that ensues is manic, romantic, tawdry, touching, and outrageous – unmistakably the handiwork of Armistead Maupin.
Mark RAVES about Tales of the City. It’s full of drama, there’s always scandal and it’s super funny.
There are nine novels in the series so plenty to take you through summer and beyond.
Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman
The story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.
But we’re sure that you already knew that! Most have seen the film, which is incredible but the book is also amazing. Set during a sweltering Italian summer, it’s a beautiful story of young love.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.
We’re hooked on the TV show so if you’re looking for something to binge watch then definitely binge watch The Handmaid’s Tale. Before you do, pick up the book and get to know Gilead.
New books for interior lovers
Now, we can’t do a round-up of our favourite books without a touch of interiors, can we? Two of our pals, Victoria Harrison and Kate Watson-Smyth have just released two crackers. Make sure you pick these up!
Happy by Design, Victoria Harrison
Happy by Design teaches us how we can actively improve our health and wellbeing through the way we design our living spaces. From the paint colour that’s been named the happiest, to the science of getting a good night’s sleep, Happy by Design offers bite-sized and affordable design ideas that are accessible to all, from a young renter in an urban apartment to a busy family in their own home.
By quizzing experts from NASA scientists to colour gurus, Victoria Harrison has devised a Happy Home Programme to help everyone transform their living spaces and put wellbeing at the heart of their homes. With fun and easy ideas for each room in the home, the programme is easy to follow and packed with tips and inspiration to help everyone live the happiest life possible.
Mad About the House, Kate Watson-Smyth
Packed full of ideas and inspiration for every budget, work through your home room by room with Kate’s expert and practical tips and tricks that ensure every corner reaches its maximum potential. As well as her top 10 design hacks, Kate reveals the rules of rug layout, explains how to buy a sofa, and shows you how to get the lighting right in every room. Learn how to decorate your home with style and confidence, select colours that work, make the most of small spaces and create the perfect zones for relaxation, entertaining and work sometimes all in the same space.
Soon to be released and we can’t wait!
Shelfie, Martha Roberts
Released in two days! The brilliant Martha, a.k.a. The Colour File, is exploring the shelfie.
A decorating trend and social media phenomenon, ‘the shelfie’ originally emerged in response to the clutter-clearing movement. What started as a label for beautiful bookshelves is now applied to artfully stylish arrangements of collectables, flowers, photos, crafting ephemera, perfume bottles – and of course books. And shelfies don’t just appear on shelves, but also on desks, worktops and fireplaces.
The Rival, Charlotte Duckworth
We can’t wait for The Rival. Written by the super talented Charlotte Duckworth, we still have a little time to wait as it’s not released until September 6th, but still in the nick of time for catching the end of summer. Make sure you pre-order your copy as we’re certain The Rival will fly off the shelves.
Living in her home in the remote countryside – the perfect place to get away from it all – Helenais a career woman with no job and a mother without a baby. She blames Ashley for destroying her life. But is what happened really Ashley’s fault?
When Helena hires Ashley to work for her, she’s startled but impressed by her fierce ambition. They form a dream team and Helena is proud – maybe this is the protégée she’s always wanted to have? But soon Helena realizes that nothing will stand in the way of Ashley’s drive to get to the top. And when Helena becomes pregnant, everything she has worked so hard for is suddenly threatened, with devastating consequences…
The Rival is an addictive psychological suspense about ambition, female rivalry, and how far you’d go to get what you want.
Whether you’re knee deep in sand, sunning yourself on some tropical island or you need a book to distract you from the muggy London tube, we hope you enjoy our top 10 summer reads.
We’d love to hear if you’ve read any of our recommendations and what you thought, or, even better, we’re always on the look out for recommendations so please do send them our way. Drop us a comment or tweet us and let us know!
David & Mark x