For some people the few weeks off during the annual summer holiday is one of the few times in the year they get relax with a book. for regular readers it a chance to read even more than normal. I suppose what I am saying is the summertime is a great chance to discover some good books. 

Finding the ideal book is difficult and a gamble sometimes so this blog post is about me making some personal recommendations as well as looking at some of the most talked about this summer. For books that I have read I will give a rating out of 5 and they will also have a TBT (Tried By Tim).

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. (available in Hardback and Ebook)

For months now I have heard so much about this book. From newspaper reviews to Nicola Sturgeon on Twitter they have all been raving over it. Now it is long listed for the Booker Prize and Gordon Burn Book Prize,and was the book that most people were saying as their summer pick for this year.

It is the first novel by George Saunders and is about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his first son at the dawn of the American Civil War. Lincoln in the Bardo poses the question “how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?”.
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney. (available in Hardback and Ebook) 

While compiling this list I scoured all the newspaper summer reading recommendations and this high up there. I hadn’t really heard much about it

The book is about a group of friends who ask each other endless questions. As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and each other.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (TBT) Rating 3.5/5

(Available in Paperback and Ebook).

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This book seems to be a magnet to awards and award nominations. Having read it I understand why.

Just like with ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ it is set at a similar time during the Indian Wars and the American Civil War. The book is about two soldiers and their relationship at a brutal time in American history. It is brutal, poetic, romantic and thought-provoking that at the heart of it is about love and its many forms. It takes you the reader on a journey and you don’t know where it is going to take you. The characters have stayed with me love after reading.

With some books the hype is not always fitting but for this one it is.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. (Available in Hardback and Ebook) 

Like Lincoln in the Bardo this has been talked about a lot this year. It is also one of the books this year that is about kindness which becoming a big trend in literature at the moment.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life and has a routine which she is happy in. One simple act of kindness changes her world and she needs to learn how to live in the world.

The Power by Naomi Alderman (Available in Paperback and Ebook) 

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This is a sci-fi book where women are in control of the world and with just a flick of their fingers they can inflict pain or even death.

This summer it is a big read for many following on from the success of the TV series and book ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The Power has also won the 2017 Women’s Bailey’s Prize for Literature.
House of Names by Colm Toibin (TBT) Rating 4/5

(Available in Hardback and Ebook)

This is a retelling of a classic tale. Now I am not someone who read or studied Classics so I come to this story with limited knowledge. This lack of knowledge didn’t affect the enjoyment of the book though.

It is a retelling of the Greek tragedy of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra and is told from three different perspectives Clytemnestra, her daughter, Electra, and her son, Orestes.

It is essentially about family, love, betrayal and trust and is brutal to all involved in the story. I found the perspective from Orestes the most interesting and would have liked the whole story to be from his perspective.

I was completely hooked on the story and couldn’t put it down. It is a great read and I highly recommend especially for a holiday read.

The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis. (Available in Hardback and Ebook) 

This novel is inspired by the authors upbringing and childhood and is a debut novel.

It controversially raises debate on socially inequality, sexuality, and violence.

I get the impression it is a heavy and emotional read.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano Lesnevich. ( Available in Hardback and Ebook).

This is a true crime story and is based on work that Alexandria did as a law student on a retrial of death row convicted murderer.

It deals with personal stories and the law and is a different take on your usual crime story.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (TBT) 2/5

(Available in Hardback and Ebook)

It took Arundhati Roy 20 years to publish a second novel and I thought it was going to take me that long to finish.

This is a very intricate, complex novel with multiple narratives and a large cast of characters. It is very political and for me I found this tough going as I know very little about India and politics there. I think if you have an understanding of this then it will make the book easier to read.

I can see why it is nominated for the Booker Prize and it at times reminded me ‘Midnights Children’ by Rushdie.

The first half of the book I found tough going and was a hard slog. The second half did seem to pick up more.

If you are planning on reading then set aside a lot of time for it.

Dr Who Mr Men Series by Adam Hargreaves (TBT) Rating 3

(Available in Paperback and Ebook)

 

We have all grown up with the Mr and Little Miss books and now they meet Dr Who in these adorable mash-ups of series.

The first four that have been published are Dr.First, Dr.Fourth, Dr. Eleventh and Dr.Twelfth. Each story is a faithful homage to each of these doctors and features villains such as Daleks and Zygons and favourites such as River Song, Missy and Sarah Jane.

No matter if you are a child or an adult this series is a delight for anyone who is a Doctor who fan. The next four in the series due out at the end of August are Dr.Second, Dr.Seventh, Dr.Eighth and Dr.Ninth. There is also a Christmas edition planned featuring Dr.Tenth.

I Can’t Believe You Just Said That: The Truth About Why People Are So Rude by Danny Wallace (TBT) Rating 4/5

(Available in Hardback and Ebook)

I am a fan of Danny Wallace’s work because he takes an everyday subject and explores it in his unique way. In this book he looks at rudeness after an incident with Madam Hotdog.

He looks at the psychology and social causes of rudeness with his own wit and humour thrown in as well. I found the book quite thought-provoking. I could relate to many things said and it has made me more aware of responses when in public.

Reading this during the General Election was interesting as he touches on why we think our opinion is more important, how rebellion in history repeats itself and how we challenge tradition. It really is fitting for today and I would highly recommend reading it. If you work in customer services then this is a must read.

Holding by Graham Norton (TBT) 3/5

(Available in Paperback and Ebook)

Another debut novel on the list and this is by Graham Norton. It is set in the Irish town on Duneen and its local community.

The community all seem to have their own secrets so when a skeleton in unearthed so are many others secrets.

It was a great book and a strong first novel. I could see the book being turned into a TV series and I would like to read more about some of the characters in future books as I think there is potential for series of these books.
Calling Major Tom by David Barnett (TBT) 3/5

(Available in Paperback and Ebook)

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I received an advanced copy of this book. This is a story about a guy who wants to escape the world but though an unlikely phone encounter he learns something about himself and others.

It is a heartwarming book and will make you smile, cry and laugh. It features some great characters and I wanted to know more after reading the book. It would be brilliant as a TV series.

This is another of those books that is part of the growing number of ‘kindness’ literature genre books that are appearing on shelves.

The Pier Fall & Other Stories by Mark Haddon (TBT) Rating 3.5/5

(Available in Paperback and Ebook)

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I’m not a big fan usually of short stories. I think it is because I prefer to spend a lot of time getting to know characters and with short stories you don’t get much opportunity to do that.

The Pier Falls is a collection of 8 dark short stories. I suppose there are glimpses light in them but generally they are very dark and sad tales.

I liked that they were all very different in location but the theme of things ending are present in all of them.

My two favourite stories were the title story ‘The Pier Falls’ and ‘Wodwo’. My least favourite was ‘The Woodpecker and the Wolf’.

When I started the book I had hoped they would be quite uplifting tales but they were far from it.

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (Available in Paperback and Ebook)

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This is another book that has attracted lots of awards and nominations. It is set in early New York and is about a mysterious strangers from England. Can he be trusted with his proposal?

There has certainly been a lot of hype about this book so is probably worth giving a go if you are a fan of historical fiction.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. (Available in Paperback and Ebook).

Praised by Obama and Oprah Winfrey and received nearly every top American literature award going this book is now starting to get noticed over here in the UK helped by being included on the Long list for the Booker Prize.

It is about Cora a slave who has had a tough life but learns of a way to escape from another slave called Caesar.

I am currently reading this book and so far I am really enjoying it.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig (TBT) 4.5/5

(Available in Hardback and Ebook)

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I am not sure how I can write a review for this book that truly reflects how much I needed this in my life at the moment but I ama going to try.

This about someone who ages slowly and has seen many things in their lifetime. Although there is a plot to the book the message from it is what stand out the most. It makes you stop and think about your life and what we should be focussing on. This is like a self-help book but told through fiction narrative.

Having just gone through some difficult times in my personal life this book just so happened to be my next read and it was just what I needed. If ever a book could give someone a hug then this it. Thank you Matt Haig for this. It has meant a lot to me. This is a perfect summer read.

So there you have it my top picks for summer reads. You can of course read them at anytime but it is this time of year when we usually have more time to read. I hope it has given you some ideas.

If you read any of them or have already read any of these titles then please let me know in the comments box but remember no spoilers. Also please feel free to suggest your own titles as well. Happy reading.

 

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