Get inspired with our 2019 Summer Reading List
Are you sitting comfortably? Here’s our pick of the best books to read over the coming months.
3 min read
From a murder investigation in 1920s Berlin to a story of lost love in Suffolk – our literary list has something for everyone.
Whether it’s a quick read or six-book saga, there’s nothing like losing yourself in a good story. Everything around you fades away and time takes a back seat as your imagination brings the words bounding off the page. You don’t just read a book; you join forces with it to create an immersive experience that’s unique to you. Before you know it you’re commanding armies, falling in love or solving a crime. Not a bad way to pass the time.
And with summer fast approaching, you may be thinking about which novels to join forces with while enjoying the sunshine. The good news is that, be it a beach book, staycation story or picnic page-turner, we’ve got a reading recommendation for you.
Our Summer Reading List features nine riveting reads. They were selected by our staff and written by some of today’s most celebrated authors, including a hotly-tipped debut novelist and ‘the greatest storyteller of all time’.
So bookmarks at the ready – here’s this year’s selection.
The Second Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith
Paul Stewart is in Scotland pursuing his successful career as a food writer. His agent and girlfriend, Gloria, has arranged for him to write The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters – a project he relishes but that has to be delivered in six months. It is not going well, as Paul finds his domestic circumstances unsuited to concentrated hard work: Gloria has now moved in with him (not specifically invited) and has brought with her two extremely vocal and demanding Siamese cats.
Beginning to worry that The Philosophy of Food will never be written, Paul calls on the aid of his cousin, Chloe, who suggests a radical course of action…
Around the World in 80 Days by Mark Beaumont
This is the inspiring true story of one man's record-breaking cycle around the world.
On Monday, 18 September 2017, Mark Beaumont pedalled through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Seventy-eight days, 14 hours and 40 minutes earlier he set off from the same point, beginning his attempt to circumnavigate the world in record time. Covering more than 18,000 miles and cycling through some of the harshest conditions one man and his bike can endure, Mark made history. He smashed two Guinness world records and beat the previous record by an astonishing 45 days.
The Parisian by Isabella Hammad
Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus, a town in Ottoman Palestine. A dreamer, a romantic and an aesthete – in 1914 he leaves to study medicine in France, and falls in love. When Midhat returns to Nablus to find it under British rule, and the entire region erupting with nationalist fervour, he must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community.
The story of Midhat’s life develops alongside the idea of a nation, as he and those close to him confront what it means to strive for independence in a world that seems on the verge of falling apart.
This is Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad’s critically acclaimed debut novel.
Metropolis by Philip Kerr
Berlin, 1928, the dying days of the Weimar Republic shortly before Hitler and the Nazis came to power. It was a period of decadence and excess as Berliners – after the terrible slaughter of World War I and the hardships that followed – are enjoying their own version of Babylon. Bernie is a young detective working in Vice when he gets a summons from Bernard Weiss, Chief of Berlin's Criminal Police. He invites Bernie to join KIA – Criminal Inspection A – the supervisory body for all homicide investigation in Kripo. Bernie's first task is to investigate the Silesian Station killings – four prostitutes murdered in as many weeks.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone is considered by many to be the world’s first detective novel. A priceless Indian diamond, which had been brought to England as spoils of war, is given to Rachel Verrinder on her 18th birthday. That very night, the stone is stolen. Suspicion then falls on a hunchbacked housemaid, on Rachel's cousin Franklin Blake, on a troupe of mysterious Indian jugglers, and on Rachel herself…
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child.
Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? And who does the little girl belong to?
Matilda by Roald Dahl
This children’s classic is celebrating its 30th anniversary and remains an absolute joy for children young and old. No wonder author Roald Dahl topped a nationwide poll by Canon UK last year to be named the greatest storyteller of all time.
The 30th anniversary edition comes in three different covers showing a grown-up Matilda as an astrophysicist, world traveller and chief executive of the British Library. They are all drawn by legendary illustrator Quentin Blake, a long-time collaborator of Dahl’s.
Solitaire by Jane Thynne
June 1940: the first summer of the war. Berlin is being bombed and nightly blackouts suffocate the city. Then France falls and a shadow descends. A shadow has fallen over Clara Vine’s own life, too. She is an Anglo-German woman in a country that hates England. Virulent anti-British propaganda is everywhere.
Then she is summoned to meet the Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who has decided that Clara should adopt a new role – as his spy — and that she must go to Paris on a mission.
The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley
Posy Montague is approaching her 70th birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her idyllic childhood, Posy knows she must make an agonising decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she spent 25 years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell.
Then a face appears from the past – Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken 50 years ago…