Summer spells a season of slowing down, less work, more daytrips and lots of time to read.
While I’m sticking to my self-imposed editing schedule, I will take some time off, especially for reading breaks at my local café or outdoors if the weather is nice.
As I edit my novel I’m finding I crave immersive, intense worlds with characters so real I might meet them on the street (armoured bears aside), so my summer read reflect this. It’s a short list because I always let my mood dictate my reading so I want to leave room for the unexpected. I also received lots of book tokens for my birthday so I envisage a bookish day out that will add a few volumes to my summer reading pile. You know the kind of bookish day out I mean: browse books, break for lunch, browse more books, break for cake…
1. The Game of Kings (Book One of the Lymond Chronicles) by Dorothy Dunnett
I’m hoping that this book will fill the Wolf Hall shaped hole in my life. Set in the 16th century, exiled Francis Crawford returns to Scotland and finds a country in turmoil. Wanted for treason and murder his motive for returning is unclear and the unsavoury society he keeps only spells further trouble. Any story featuring a disreputable protagonist immediately hooks me and that it’s set in Scotland is an added bonus.
Plus, there is a Dorothy Dunnett Society who hold events in castles and meet regularly to discuss DD books, so naturally I want to join.
2. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
It might seem strange to read a book of the North during the height of summer but now I’ve started I can’t see myself pacing this series. His Dark Materials is a woeful gap in my childhood reading. I’ve managed to avoid spoilers for more than twenty years, surely I can’t survive much longer?
3. Trapeze (1947 - 1955) by Anais Nin
Is this a reading list curated by me if it doesn’t feature Anais Nin? Trapeze is the diary I have been longing to read, with Nin on the brink of two life-changing (and long-awaited) events: her relationship with Rupert Pole and the publication of her diary, which catapulted her to international fame. The diary is named after Nin’s high-wire act of maintaining a split existence as she balanced two marriages without either husband knowing about the other’s existence, right up to her death in 1977.
4. Lanark by Alasdair Gray
A blend of realism and fantasy, Lanark took the author decades to write and follows a young man’s odyssey through Unthank, a dystopian city based on Glasgow. Described as a modern vision of hell and a cornerstone of Scottish literature, Lanark is my most anticipated read of the summer.
5. The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
I am a big fan magical realism and Allende’s book has been recommended to me often as an epitome of the genre. Summer feels like the perfect time to read this epic tapestry of four generations of women, - Nivea, Clara, Blanca and Alba – when the long, hot days feel eternal and ripple with undetected magic.