Summer is properly my favorite times of year, its sunny (some of the time), I can go sailing, and I’m on holiday which to me means one thing, reading. Not that I don’t read insane amounts when it’s not summer; I could be accused of reading too much, especially when I have other thing to do, I am defiantly a procrastinator in that sense. But, to me summer means endless days of chocolate, ice cream, and a good book. My version of heaven. It is also the time of year when summer reading guides are published, theses long lists lots of people writing about their ideal summer reading list, all with different ideas about what is a good summer read, and so I thought it was high time I put my hat in the ring.
I am not a great upholder of the notion that there is a certain genre that is the right genre, or that a particular season demands the reading of a particular genre, as some suggest. This list is a hodgepodge purely of book I have happened to read when the weather is warm, and so there are classics, alongside children’s books, and a bit is Chick lit; it is really a reflection of how eclectic a reader I am. I also have decided to limit myself to five books before I start listing half my book case.
- Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransom)
Yes it’s a children’s book, but I still love it. Most people will know of the first of Arthur Ransom’s beloved series of stories about children messing about on boats, which alongside the famous five encapsulate a lost age of innocence. I was first introduced to the stories when my mum gave me a now dog eared copy when I was eight, in the hope that I would start to enjoy reading. It was a good investment, that summer as I feel in love with John, Susan, Titty (yes, real name), Roger, Nancy and Peggy and their adventures I also begin a lifelong love affair with reading. Over the next year or so I devoured all 12 of the books, and reread them constantly. I defy anyone not to fall in love with the idea of going off in a little boat and having adventures. For me, even now it is not summer unless I have reread at least one of these books, even now over ten years later it is still the perfect summer read.
- Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
I know I am seriously bringing to tone down, but who cannot enjoy a little secret indulgence in a “trashy” novel in my mind they are not only the best pick me up after a bad day, but also a great accompaniment to a sunny day, a beach/park (whatever is closest), and a glass a pimms (yes I am that British!). In my mind Sophie Kinsella is the queen of the genre, and the Shopaholic series is the jewel in the crown. I defy anyone not to fall in love with Becky Bloomwood, in my mind she is one of the best written characters in modern literature. As a writer Kinsella writes amazing characters who are flawed, but you still can’t help but like them and be intrigued by their stories. What makes this book so good is that whist the blurb may make the situation seem a little bit ridiculous, and unlikely, just so completely far away from the average readers experience. However she frames this within so many experiences and situations that everyone knows (annoying parents, dead end jobs). And it is this which makes the book so hilarious, and you cannot help but relate to Becky. Basically I love this book, and this writer, and I’ll continue to say this until everyone picks up this book and laughs until they turn blue.
3.Emma (Jane Austen)
Right, bringing the tone up again, I told you this list was going to be eclectic. This was the first Jane Austen novel I read, in a deliberate attempt to avoid all the hype around Pride and Prejudice; the protagonist also shares my name so what’s not to like, and is the reason I decided to read this one first, and before you ask, yes I am very vain. It’s very hard to find anything to say about any of Jane Austen’s novels that has not already been said by generations of readers. Its continuing popularly speaks for its self no one can deny that Austen knew how to write, and how. In my mind Emma and Austen’s other novels are an example of the British novel at its very best. The plots are well written and engaging, and the characters, well you can’t deny they are badly crafted when millions of women have fallen for Mr Darcy; although, I much prefer Mr Kightley which properly explains my preference for Emma. What makes any Jane Auten novel perfect for the summer is that the long lazy days mean that you can indulge and wallow in how beautiful these novels are.
4.Rebecca (Daphhe De Maurier)
This is a book I was first introduced to by my Mother, and Grandmother who recommended it to me; so I dutifully went off to the bookshop to purchase a copy before settling down in a deck chair to read. What can I say, apart from the fact that I was transfixed first by the the world and characters that De Maurier created, and then by the thriller like plot. This book contains all the best elements of a novel that is to be enjoyed whist being warmed by the summer rays. The settings of Monte Carlo, and Manderley seems to be blest by warm summer sun, which make the story all the more enjoyable, and puts a harsh light upon the unfolding tragedy. There is very little to say about this novel due to its brilliance that can only really speak for itself, all that I can really say is that from those very first famous lines you are grabbed by the throat and dragged into this story which twists and turns in many surprising directions.
5.The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
Yes it’s another children’s book, but really I’m a child at heart, and when better to enjoy a children’s book than at summer, in fact any time of year. I think my continual love of these delightful stories is linked to my love of boats, a love which is realised any time the temperature reaches anything close to the low twenties. Apart from that this is really a charming book with lovely characters, and wonderful stories. In many respects it is wrong to pass it off as a children’s story because it is so beautifully written. It can bring back so many lovely memories and bring complete joy to any reader, and in many respects this is precisely what makes perfect summer reading for me.