I’m a big reader, and everyone, and the internet especially, knows it. Every time it does its rounds on Facebook, my husband sends me the picture of an enormous Amazon delivery van pulling up outside a house, with the caption “your books are here!” I don’t tend to buy a lot of books – they’re free from the library, the use of which I’m evangelical about when I get started – but during lockdown my Kindle worked over-time, and then I was given a number of beautiful hard backs for my birthday and I rediscovered the absolute pleasure of holding a new book. For all my belief in the importance of libraries, it is like nothing else in this world.
If you would like to know, the books were: Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy, and a book of lists, Lists of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher, as well as a set of Letters of Note compilations. These are so good for dipping in and out of, when you’re too tired for a proper read before bed or know you’ll have a five-minute wait for a ferry. You can read some of these letters on their Instagram, @lettersofnote; it’s definitely worth a follow. I would definitely recommend Hilary Mantel’s books as well, Thomas Cromwell has stayed with me far longer than I expected him to.
So, my news feeds are full of reviews, lists and writer’s opinions, and I’ve recently seen a number of suggested Summer Reading lists. Like everything, I’m sure these are to some degree industry or commercially driven, but as I’m really missing going to the library they are a good place to start for inspiration.
I’ve chosen five for my summer reading list, which I may or may not buy. We’ll see!
Mrs England, by Stacey Halls According to Richard Osmond, it’s a “gothic mystery set in a grand house in Edwardian Yorkshire where a nanny realises the family holds a dark secret”, sounds perfect.
The Great Mistake, by Jonathan Lee About Andrew Haswell Green, the reviews I’ve read of this suggest a fascinating look at an interesting man: he founded the Public Library of New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park, and united Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, creating the modern version of New York. It begins with his death on the steps of his home and reveals his past as the motives for his killing are unravelled.
The Absolute Book, by Elizabeth Knox An epic fantasy about the search for a book? I’m in!
The Gutsy Girl by Caroline Paul I came across Caroline Paul in a review of this book on BrainPickings, The Gutsy Girl: A Modern Manifesto for Bravery, Perseverance, and Breaking the Tyranny of Perfection – brain pickings in which she spoke about being a twin and being a woman and raising strong, brave girls. The book was described as “a modern manifesto for bravery, perseverance, and breaking the tyranny of perfection”. It sounds like a great adventure!
The Missing Sister, by Lucinda Riley I read the whole of The Seven Sisters series last year, after being given The Pearl Sister by my Mom, and this, the final book, has just been published. They are well told stories, set in wonderful, exotic places (including one in Scotland!), interesting and uplifting. I might start with this one.
I also like the sound of What Artists Wear, by Charlie Porter, about the language of clothes and how what artists choose to wear reflects their art, as artists are increasingly part of the work they produce. I know that’s not technically five, but as any reader knows. There’s always room for just one more: one more page, one more chapter, one more ‘oh hell I’ll just stay up and finish it’!
What’s on your reading list this summer?