Summer Reading

It has taken me over a week to write this post…it’s caused me a bit of grief if I’m honest.  A few weeks ago a friend asked me for some holiday reading recommendations.  Pressure indeed. Holidays are so precious and often it is the only time some of my friends get uninterrupted reading time – to get this wrong, might be disastrous.  This post first started as a long list of books I thought would be great for various destinations, all designed to get you into atmosphere of the place.  The list was getting longer and I kept thinking of more I could add.  Pointless.  When someone asks for a recommendation they want 2 or 3 options to choose from.  Once I get started though I can’t stop – I just keep thinking of other books that I would love people to read.

I’ve now decided to change strategy and instead of recommending a long list of fab books, I’ll tell you about the books I plan to read between now and when the little Fictionhabits go back to school in September.  Maybe some of you can join me in reading a couple of these titles and we can compare notes after the summer.

First up is The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus.  I bought this a few weeks ago at the recommendation of the author himself.  I was scrolling through Twitter one evening when someone I follow retweeted this from Leo.  Dangerous indeed, especially after a couple of glasses of wine!  I did a quick search of blogs I respect and before I knew what I’d done, the book was in my basket at the big river.   It is a story within a story, using a unique narrative style following a writer promoting his book – or is it?  It gets some fabulous reviews, often referred to as “refreshing”.  My only concern is that a lot of reviews also use the word “postmodern” to describe it – a word destined to put me off, but I am willing to ignore this description and give it a go.  I bought it for £3.99, by the way, which I think is pretty reasonable!

This week sees the centenary of the birth of novelist Elizabeth Taylor.  She is generally regarded as one of the most under-rated writers of the last century.  She wrote about everyday life, apparently able to brilliantly capture the nuances of unremarkable events.  I have never read any of her work, but have read so much about her in the last months, that I feel I can’t put it off any longer and need to get hold of one of her books.  I am going to check my local second-hand bookshop first, failing that my big river basket will probably contain A Game of Hide and Seek.  Radio 4 have been doing their bit to celebrate Elizabeth Taylor, with some short stories and Sunday’s Bookclub episode dedicated to Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont.  Click on the links to listen (only available for a short time and to UK listeners – sorry!).

Anne Tyler is another writer I’ve read a lot about but not attempted any of her books.  She has written 19 books, the most recent published this year.  I picked up Ladder of Years, written in 1995, at my local second-hand book shop.  I vaguely remembered having read something about it somewhere.  It gets mixed reviews, so I’m not sure it is regarded as her best work, my hope is, those readers who were dissatisfied didn’t quite get it rather than really disliked it.  The story sounds quite interesting; a woman on a beach holiday, dressed only in a bathing suit, walks away from her family and just keeps walking.  I hope to get a flavour of Anne Tyler’s writing from this book as there are plenty of her other works adorning the shelves of my local town’s charity shops.

I recently won a little competition run by Penguin English Library and my prize was to choose one of their lovely reissues of classic works.  The cover art on all the books in this series, is beautiful.  I  chose The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe.  I selected it because Poe is often cited as a writer and poet who influenced other writers.  This is a lovely little  book with several of his grisly tales.  It is exactly suited to holiday reading.

Other books I intend to read this summer are The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  These are both book club books.  Now all I need to decide is which of these books I take with me on our annual 2 weeks under canvas in France! (…and not a 50 Shades in sight).

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6 Responses to Summer Reading

  1. Pingback: Summer Reading Roundup | A Fiction Habit

  2. Pingback: The Afterparty – Leo Benedictus | A Fiction Habit

  3. I look forward to reading your thoughts on Anne Tyler as I still haven’t read anything by her, but heard her name mentioned a lot. I was also looking at a display of the beautiful Penguin books in Waterstones the other day! I almost bought the Edgar Allan Poe one, but changed my mind at the last minute. I’m trying to stop myself over-buying books!

    And I Capture the Castle is a great book. I’ve actually been thinking of re-reading it at some point this year! Enjoy!

    • Back from hols and just seen your comment. So glad I took “I Capture the Castle” with me – what an amazing book, and why haven’t I read it before?!! Read it again…immediately. Some of the best first person writing I’ve read in a long time, just beautifully observed and very funny in places. Will write about it at some point, but worried that at my current Olympics intake rate (bearing in mind I’ve only been back in the country barely 24 hours) I will cancel out any activity other than sleeping!! Love it!!

  4. CFisher says:

    I only discovered Elizabeth Taylor this year. She’s a wonderful writer. She combines sympathy with unflinching honesty and describes characters with a light and effective touch. I must see if those links are still there! Congratulations on the award!

    • Hi Colin, Hope you got to listen to the Elizabeth Taylor stuff on R4. There has been so much in the press about her in the last week, I am really now looking forward to getting stuck into one of her books

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