For Books’ Sake’s Summer Reads 2014!

23rd Jun 2014

Temperatures of 15 degrees plus? School, university or work holidays fast approaching? Whether you're off to the beach, the beer garden or just enjoying a day off curled up at home we hope you've got your noses buried in a good book... here are some of our favourites to get you inspired for summer!

Our writers’ recommended summer reads include…

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites is a rain-swept Nordic landscape necessary for sweaty summer days. For those of you – like me – who prefer to hide from summer’s unnatural warmth, this stark account of Agnes Magnúsdóttir and the last public execution in Iceland is the perfect accompaniment to the season.

Check out the full For Books’ Sake review of Burial Rites.  [Alice Farrant]

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Mary Anning was a real 19th century fossil hunter whose important discoveries were long ignored by more prominent (male) scientists. Anning’s story finally gets told in Remarkable Creatures, a novel by Tracy Chevalier. Looking for a different kind of summer vacation? Visit Lyme Regis and dig up your own ichthyosaur. [Becky Holmes]

The Luminaries

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

A murder mystery, astrological adventure, love story and Victorian, gold-digging journey are all rolled into one in The Luminaries. The story follows Walter Moody as he runs from his problems, encounters the supernatural and becomes embroiled in a heated man hunt for a murder and a missing fortune holder.

Check out the full For Books’ Sake review of The Luminaries. [Rhona Scullion]

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reich

When Reichl accepted a position as Restaurant Critic for the New York Times in 1993, she was shocked to find that every restaurateur in New York recognised her. Dedicated to authentic reviews, Reichl resolved to dine in costume. Peppered with industry politics and recipes, Reichl’s memoir is a delightful read. [Phylisa Joy]

Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Darting between Venice, Crete and Jerusalem, Daphne – Queen of the disconcerting – Du Maurier mashes up supernatural sci-fi and grisly crime thriller in this 1971 collection of short stories. Caution: you’ll never be able to look at a child in a red, hooded coat in quite the same way again… [Amy Clarke]

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is the book for people who don’t have time to read. It’s an addictive, fast-paced read with that killer twist and this time next year everyone will still be reading it and talking about it. Speculating about the characters is almost as much fun as reading about them so get on it now!  [Beulah Devaney]

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Cecile is 17, spoilt, and staying on the Riviera with her dad over the summer. Their frivolous fun is ruined by a sober family friend and, as the weather heats up, Cecile becomes more paranoid about her intentions. It’s a predictable, but well-observed, story of a self-centred teenager’s summer. [Kate Lunn]

The Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

This memoir tells the story of how Deborah Rodriguez came to set up the first modern beauty school in Afghanistan. Along the way we also get to hear the fascinating and often heart-breaking stories of the women who Deborah meets during her time in Kabul. It makes for illuminating reading. [Jasmin Nahar]


Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in 1960’s Nigeria, this beautifully written novel centres around three intersecting lives in a country shattered by civil war: a houseboy, a young woman of privilege, and an Englishman. Adichie is fearless in recording the horrors of war and her words stay with us long after the last page. [Emma Yates-Badley]

Around the World in 72 Days and Other Writings by Nellie Bly

In 1889, reporter Nellie Bly set off on a record-breaking trip around the world, documenting her solo journey in a series of articles collected as Around the World in 72 Days and Other Writings. Spunky, and maybe the first female journalist to ‘lean in’, who better than Bly to guide your armchair travels this summer? [Deanne Van Toll]

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Donaghue sweeps us into boomtown San Francisco saloon bars with a tangy slice of novelised history. As friend and cross-dressing gadabout Jenny Bonnet is murdered, infamous burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon sets out for justice. At once glamourous and avant-garde, Blanche’s world is also sordid; one of gin-soaked babies and small-pox ridden pimps. Fabulous. [Lucy Rock]

Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper

Beauty in title alone, this brutal thought provoking fantasy follows 16 year old (Sleeping) Beauty as she escapes the Curse and travels through time and myth witnessing the destruction of humanity and our environment. A dark web of horror and fairy tale, this is a summer read with a message.  [Becky Lucas]The Waves

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

Woolf’s most experimental work presents the journey from childhood to adulthood through the eyes of six narrators, interspersed with description of a coastal scene from sunrise to sunset. The Waves is a definite beach read: listen to waves crash upon the shore whilst you discover the meaning behind this masterpiece. Check out the full For Books’ Sake review of The Waves. [Aimee Oliver]

The Empathy Exams – Leslie Jamison

These essays navigate, courageously, the thin line between suffering and enduring; empathy and guilt; the fraught and the felt. The staccato pulse of the author’s intellectual rigour is balanced by tender lyricism. This collection is at once brave and essential, imbued with the vital force it both queries and delivers. [Kirsti Whelan]

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

When two teenage girls, pregnant and on the run, turn up at the elderly Talmadge’s orchard he decides to help them. A haunting debut set in mid 19th Century Washington State, with rounded characters and a gripping plot that is far from routine. [Shirley Whiteside]

Have you read any of our recommendations? Which other summer reads would you add to our list?