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BOOK CLUB: The Best Books to take on your Summer Holidays

9 August 2018 | Freya Parr

You've booked your flights, bought a bikini, but have you picked your all important summer read? If not, don't panic! From dystopian thrillers to romantic novellas, we've rounded up the best books to read on your summer holidays - some of them are so good you'll probably finish before you get off the plane!

Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name
You’d be hard pressed to have not heard of the Oscar-nominated film starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, but have you read the book? It’s the most ideal summer read you could imagine. Sure, it will probably make you resent wherever you are and leave you lusting after the south of France, but you’ll get over that.
 
It’s an archetypal coming-of-age novel, chronicling the romance of 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old graduate student Oliver, who is working with Elio’s professor father for the summer in France. It’s an utterly compelling read, and its rich, evocative language transports you immediately to the surroundings, making it is the perfect beachside read. Pack an accompanying peach.

Image Credit: Nifty via Facebook
 
JG Ballard, High-Rise
Again, another great read that you may only have heard of in film form. The Tom Hiddleston flick had people relentlessly discussing it when it came out, and was then quickly forgotten. The book, however, is something I can imagine being read voraciously for years to come. In a similar way to Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it seems to shine a light on our potentially dystopian future.
 
High-Rise tells the story of a tower block based on a literal power structure, with the occupants at the top living a life of luxury. Inevitably, the smoke and mirrors disappear and the building’s habitants descend into chaos, becoming more primal by the day, driven by dangerous instinct. Ballard’s writing is compulsive and gripping, and you will be stuck with your head in it by your hotel’s pool, looking up at your accommodation with a whole new, darkened perspective.

Image Credit: High-Rise via Amazon
 
Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
Everyone needs a good meaty read for the summer. After all, it is the season in which we read the most due to the time we spend in the sun, unable to see our phone screens. Middlesex won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction back in 2003, and was one of the few books I studied at university that have really stuck with me.
 
It’s a classic Bildungsroman with a twist. Calliope Stephanides was born in 70s Michigan as an intersex baby, and the story follows his upbringing and subsequent navigation of a world of binaries. It’s a really fantastic piece of social criticism as well as a captivating story. Grab a copy for your sun-lounger.

Images: Middlesex via Amazon
 
Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach
After working your way through the house brick that is Middlesex, you’ll be gasping for the instant fix that a novella offers you. Enter Ian McEwan. Again, this is another book that has been recently turned into a film (I’m not quite sure how this has become such a running theme). The story is simple, and I’m still scratching my head wondering how they made it into a feature-length film.
 
We are introduced to the newly-married Edward and Florence on their honeymoon in Dorset. As they prepare to – ahem – consummate the marriage, Florence becomes completely revolted and runs away. Their relationship falls apart in the course of the book and we are ultimately thrust forward to Edward in his sixties, reminiscing on his lost love. It might sound overtly simplistic, but McEwan’s writing is anything but. It’s a stunning portrait of a young couple and McEwan’s prose is perfect to get lost in over the summer months.

Image Credit: On Chesil Beach via Amazon
 
Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road
Summers are destined for a road trip. Whether it’s to the Scottish Highlands, the south of France or even just a Premier Inn in Surrey, you’ll need a book to come with you and keep you company. Gloria Steinem is undoubtedly a goddess – she is a feminist activist, journalist and lecturer, and you’ll find yourself drawn to her every word within the first few pages of this memoir.
 
Her life has been one long, travelling journey, and to try and summarise any of the book’s contents would be to do it a disservice. Get sucked into her narrative and bathe in her prose – it’s quite the exotic journey and is definitely a book to keep stashed in your glovebox.

Image Credit: My Life on the Road via Amazon
 
Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last
Margaret Atwood is having a moment. Why not go beyond The Handmaid’s Tale and read one of her more recent books? This is one I cannot recommend highly enough. In typical Atwood fashion, we are plunged into a fabulously intricate dystopian world.
 
A married couple are at the centre of Atwood’s novel, who find themselves living in their car following an economic recession. At breaking point, they discover the Postitron Project. The project employs its participants in full-time work and provides them with a house for six months of the year. It is effectively a prison, with participants not allowed outside of the project while they are in residence. Inevitably, it is all too good to be true and there is much more to this social experiment than meets the eye. It’s a completely absorbing and impulsive read, and perfect to dig your teeth into on holiday. You’ll probably get it read before the end of the flight.

Image Credit: The Heart Goes Last via Amazon
 
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