Your phone is in aeroplane mode, your best mate has started snoring on your shoulder after one too many airport cocktails, it’s the perfect time to grab a paperback and start your holiday off with the perfect novel. If you’re at a loose end with exams over, or just can’t face the graduate job search today, here is a list of 5 great reads to get stuck into this summer!
The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
What would you do today if you already knew when you would die? This is the premise of Chloe Benjamin’s best selling novel. The four Gold siblings are just teenagers when they visit a mystic who claims to know the day everyone will die. The book follows the course of their lives over the following decades as they grapple with this knowledge. Simon escapes to San Francisco, Klara becomes a Vegas magician, Daniel becomes an army doctor ,and Varya throws herself into science, researching longevity in a bid to stave off her fate. An intriguing premise makes way for a poignant, decade-spanning story that explores how each of the sibling’s lives are transformed.
A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters – Julian Barnes
Perfect for those days when you don’t have time to digest a whole novel, Julian Barnes quirky collection of short stories can be read as standalones, or taken together to make a subversive history of the world told through a multitude of perspectives. From Noah’s ark to Victorian England, the Titanic and the Amazon rainforest, Barnes takes the mythologies we’re all familiar with, adds a twist of humour and cynicism, and transforms them into distorted versions of themselves.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin- Louis De Bernieres
Not lucky enough to actually be swept away to a scorching Greek island this summer? This modern classic is the next best thing. A more ambitious read than some of the other titles, but the pay-off is well worth it. Bernieres uses captivating, lyrical description from the beginning: telling a love story set during the second world war that reads like an ancient mythic tragedy. The leader of the Italian garrison, Captain Corelli, is in charge of the island of Celaphonia. When he begins a torrid affair with one of the islanders, Pelagia, their love seems doomed from the start. Despite the sometimes heavy historical description and musical knowledge, Bernieres weaves humour, tears, and violence into a sublime novel.
The Beach – Alex Garland
This gripping thriller is great if you have some free time this summer, it’ll pull you in to its strangely chilling plot and help you escape for a few days. British backpacker Richard, the story’s narrator, arrives in Bangkok, Thailand, and checks himself into a hostel, in hopes of finding adventure; instead he gets wrapped up in a web of deceit, mistrust and psychological turmoil. Think Lord of the Flies meets Trainspotting. Garland’s writing is sharp and intelligent, with well-drawn characters, making this an intriguing read.
Our Tiny Useless Hearts- Toni Jordan
Full of character and wit, this novel is perfect to sling in your beach bag and polish off in an afternoon. Caroline’s husband Henry runs off with his daughter’s teacher, and Caroline goes after him. This leaves her sister, Janice, in charge of Caroline’s two daughters for the weekend. Sound complicated? It only gets crazier when Caroline’s neighbours and Janice’s ex-husband turn up too. Wryly observed and very funny, this book will wrap you up in its lighthearted and warming narrative.
– by Sarah Roberts
*Cover image courtesy of firstcomeflowers.typepad.com