Summer paperback readsIf you've not got an e-reader, you'll want some lightweight paperbacks to take with you on holiday - here's our pick of those light enough to stuff in with your sandals.
Books to swoon over
The Paying Guests
Our August Book of the Month is a classic Sarah Waters: intelligent, thrilling and steeped in historical detail. In 1920s London, debt-ridden Frances and her widowed mother take in a young married couple as lodgers. Waters' note-perfect exposition of social tensions and prejudice are as thrilling as the covert romance between Frances and her young lodger. You might easily stay up until dawn to finish this one.
Get ready for a Sadie Jones moment: not only is her current release, Fallout, our current BOTM, but her Costa First Novel award-winner, The Outcast, will air as a prime-time BBC drama on 11 July. Fallout is a brilliantly atmospheric tale of two young lovers in 1970s London - find out more about it and then come and chat to Sadie when she joins us for a webchat on Monday 20 July, from 9-10 pm.
Books to take on Roman holidays
The Talented Mr Ripley
You'll have seen Anthony Horowitz's now-iconic film, featuring a baby-faced Matt Damon and pre-Goop Gwyneth - now read the equally brilliant book by Patricia Highsmith. Take it with you to the Italian Riviera. Steer clear of spontaneous boat trips.
My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante's exquisite Neapolitan Novels series (part four is due in the autumn) will transport you back to the dusty roads and claustrophobic apartments of 1950s Naples. The first book, My Brilliant Friend, follows two little girls growing up in super-macho southern Italy - a coming-of-age story with a feminist edge.
Books to chill and thrill
Shortlisted for this year's Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction, The Bees is a daring sci-fi novel that will have you gripped. Author Laline Paull creates an entirely believable micro-civilisation of bees struggling to survive in their harsh hive environment. Striking and at times brutal, it highlights some surprising hypocrisies in our own society.
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
In the summer of 1975, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with 15-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his garden, along with a manuscript of the novel that secured his lasting fame. Quebert is the only suspect. Marcus Goldman - Quebert's most gifted protege - throws off his writer's block and heads to New Hampshire to clear his mentor's name.
Books for aspiring writers
The Opposite Of Loneliness
Prodigiously talented student Marina Keegan graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012, destined for a glittering writing career. Five days later, she was tragically killed in a car crash. This book is a collection of her work written over the course of her student career, lovingly compiled by her family and professors. Whilst it's impossible to read without a sense of tragic irony, Keegan's witty and inspiring prose bursts with life-affirming optimism and hope.
My Salinger Year
Fresh-faced 20-something Joanna takes a job in an old-fashioned New York literary agency to answer Salinger's fan mail. A funny, unsentimental memoir that shows just how much our world has changed in 20 years - sigh with nostalgia over the dictaphones, typewriters and old-time agents dozing at their desks after Martini lunches.
Epic books that span generations
Franzen's new novel Purity is published this September (our October Bookclub choice), and The Corrections, his best-selling family saga, is an ideal primer. It is funny, wise and honest - Franzen captures the nuances of family life so well you'll be nodding fervently in silent recognition. Get your questions ready for this American great when he joins us in September for a rare live webchat.
A Spool Of Blue Thread
Anne Tyler's 20th novel, hailed by many as her best yet. Brimming with the humour and impeccable detail that have become Tyler hallmarks, A Spool of Blue Thread unfurls the story of the Whitshank family over four generations, from 1920s to the present day. Deceptively simple, the book's astonishing insights will have you gazing thoughtfully out across the beach (hopefully).
Books about childhood
Man at the HelmAll the wit and charm of Love, Nina - this time in fictional form. Two sisters attempt to find a new husband for their newly-single mother, with less than successful results. The dysfunctional family and its effect on a rural village is brilliantly told with Stibbe's deadpan humour and warmth. If you loved I Capture the Castle, this is one for you.
The 2015 Folio Prize winner, Family Life draws on writer Akhil Sharma's own migrant childhood. Told through the eyes of eight-year-old Ajay, the book charts his family's move from India to the USA and the upheaval that follows - a beautifully written, darkly comic tale of a family in crisis.
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Last updated: about 2 years ago