Last week summer officially started and with that comes the pleasant calling to go on vacation and have a reading list. This is not the usual summer list of the trendiest books but an invitation to read books that you might not usually read. You can also consider it a suggestion of books that are good to read any time of the year (especially if you have not read them already).
Recommended Summer Reads:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This is not a book I would have started reading from the blurb, but I picked it up after looking through suggestions on Goodreads.com. If you like misery, a story about writers, Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, or Weathering Heights then this book is for you. If you liked The Shadow of the Wind or The Time Traveller’s Wife, then this book is definitely for you. If, on the other hand, you are not fond of setting, backstory and time-jumps then don’t even bother reading it. My suggestion: take this book if you have a long flight or if you are planning on having lots of leisure time at the beach.
Hard Magic by Larry Correia
This book took me totally by surprise. It is a mix of fantasy, steam punk and science fiction with just a hint of urban fantasy and hardboiled detective to boot. A smart read with a writer who loves pop literature. The main characters are so likeable that I wanted to meet them. Well-rounded characters, clean prose and superb plotting. If you are thinking of dabbling in unknown territory and you have never read any of these genres then this is a safe way to begin. Do not attempt to read it if you dislike modern characterization or too much magic. My suggestion: read it on a long flight, train or bus ride and it is especially good if you cannot sleep or do not want to sleep.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndahm
An oldie but a goodie. Old fashioned science fiction from one of the masters – what else can I say? Good for any holiday destination as it is small enough to fit in your bag and fun enough to keep you chillaxed all through your vacation. My suggestion: read it during hotel room chill-out time. And then watch the 1962 movie for the total retro experience. And if you’re an audiobook fan, listen to the full cast 1968 BBC Radio version for even more back-in-time fun.
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
This is one of those books you read and feel a little bit smarter afterwards. As the title suggests, it is all about how we make decisions, from emotions to reasoning and dopamine connections. When to use our ‘gut’ and when to reason through a decision. I guarantee that even if you are a neuroscientist and know everything there is to know about the brain, you will still find this book insightful, even if it is only to learn how safe plane travel has become and how following the right decision-making instinct or reason could save your life. It is half a self-help book, half insightful research, and just plain (no pun intended) fun to read. My suggestion: a great summer read anytime but especially if you are a bit scared of flying.
My Summer’s To-Read List:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez
I have never read it. It is a postmodern classic and my own choice to fill in a 12-hour train ride. It is nice, thick and intense yet still fits in my hand luggage. My suggestion, if you are stuck on a long journey, take a book you have been meaning to read but never get round to. The catch being that it is the only reading material you put in your hand luggage and that way you literally have nothing else to read.
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthienssen
My dad gave me this one and he said I would like it. So why not? There it goes into my bag. I do not know what it is about nor have I seen any reviews, I am prepared to be surprised, although going by the title it does sound corny.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I have had War and Peace on my to-read list since I started it in winter, I still have not gotten round to finishing it. I thought that perhaps I would put it on the blog and the peer pressure would make me finish it. I have a hardcover edition that has more or less the same size and consistency of a brick, and I always feel ridiculous taking my brick – I mean book – on public transport. It goes ‘caplunk’ when I put it on a table. Not even the bible that I have is as imposing as this book. So I decided to go with an audiobook but then it felt like cheating. Now I am off to buy a paperback. I suppose you can never have too many Tolstoy books in your bookshelf and I can always use the one I already have as a doorstopper, bookend, paperweight, or intruder/self-defence weapon.