Monday 6 June 2016

The Best Books for Summer

It's patchily warm here on the coast of the UK, but June 1st has passed and stuff in the garden is growing and various sporting tournaments are imminently upon us, and therefore it is summer. Last week I listed the books I plan to read this summer, but then I thought of you, my dear blog readers, and wondered, what if you were stuck for summer reading ideas? And so I thought I would post a helpful list of some of my favourite summery books.

These aren't necessarily books set during the summer (although some are), or ones which feature on 'books to put in your beach bag' type lists (although again, some are), but just books which are for whatever reason linked with summer in my head. If we were playing word association with books and you said 'summer' I would reply with some or all of these titles. And with that slightly weird and clunky analogy, we're off!

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Excellent because it's actually set at the beach. The story of a fairly dysfunctional family's summer at their beach house and the way that all of their personal tragedies intertwine and relate to each other. Heavy subjects make for light reading, and this book is compulsive and gorgeous. 

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

This book just screams summer to me. All those days spent running around the countryside having adventures! Roberta, Phyllis (who 'meant extremely well' - my favourite description of a character in literature, ever), and Peter move to the countryside with their mother after an unspeakable thing happens and their father has to go away suddenly. There, they live by a railway and become 'the railway children', timing their days around the various trains that they wave to and ask to 'take their love to father'. Watch the original movie version with Bernard Cribbins as Perks and Jenny Agutter as Bobby (Daddy! My Daddy!). The Treasure Seekers fits the same brief. 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

This is probably the summeriest book I own, full of sunlight and food and mystery and romance. At its heart it's a love story, all about two sisters finding their roots and learning to be a family. All of Sarah Addison Allen's books are great but this one is the most remeniscent of summer. 

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

What's better in summer than dreaming (and reading!) about all the bookshops you could potentially visit? This excellent book details more than a hundred books worldwide. Plan a visit! 

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

The Chocolat trilogy are some of my favourite books of all time. This one introduces Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk when they move to a small town in rural France to open a chocolaterie opposite a church during Lent. The local Catholic priest immediately decides Vianne is pretty much the devil and various people in the town take it upon themselves to try and drive her out. Thankfully she also has a staunch and unforgettable cast of characters on her side, and the magic of her creations, as well as the magic of Vianne herself is a gorgeous and immersive way to spend the summer. 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

This is pretty much the quintessential summer book from what I remember about it, which I will admit is not a huge amount besides that is's a super sweet love story, Lola is awesome, and I really liked how Anna and Etienne, the couple from the first book in the 'series' were intertwined into the story. I'm re-reading it this summer. 

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

Starts in summer and I always used to re-read it starting on the first day of the school summer holidays. Six weeks of entire freedom seemed like the time for question to Mordor to save the world, really. Also nothing is more summery than Rivendell, and having six meals a day, Hobbit style!

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald in general always seems very summer to me, probably because I never studied his books, and he was one of the few classic authors I discovered on my own and really loved as a teen. Also his rich, nothing much to do all day characters give off that relaxed summer vibe. Gatsby gets enough recognition, but I prefer this. It starts at the beach, and is really about Scott and Zelda themselves...

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

If you've been around these parts for a while then you'll know all about my undying love for this book. Summer is a season of discovery and possibility and what better but a book about setting out on a long and difficult journey of discovery? 

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Probably one of my favourite road trip books, this actually gave me butterflies. Amy and her mum are moving across the country, and Amy has been left behind to bring the car. Since the accident her dad died in she is too nervous to get behind the wheel though, so help is enlisted in the form of Roger, the son of a family friend. Each chapter has a playlist, which is what you want from a summer book, really. Re-reading this one too! 

I could go on and on but I won't. Hopefully there will be something for everyone on this list! What are your favourite summery books?

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  1. D'you know, ever since they made the movies of the Lord of the Rings I seem to have given up re-reading the books! You've made me want to rectify that - I used to love re-reading them every year or so...

  2. Funny, for me Lord of the Rings is very much a winter book! Probably because as a teenager I read it every year, immediately after seeing the first film, then in the run-up to the second and third films and it became a tradition to read a chapter a night, starting around November and finishing in the new year.

    I'm a funny one. My ideal beach reading is science fiction, and I'm aiming to work down my sf pile this summer. I read The Time Machine last week, and have just started Iain M. Banks' The Player of Games.