Trashy, mindless, predictable… These are some of the words you might choose to describe the typical ‘summer read’. Not to knock them – it’s often their vacuous qualities which make them so perfect for chain-reading. I mean, you don’t see many people lying on the beach with the collected works of James Joyce. But here at the LRC, we think the perfect summer read can have the best of both worlds: it is compelling, without being complicated; it is thought-provoking, without being dense; and it is imaginative, without verging into fatuous. And we think we just might have a few of these types of books in Filton LRC. Give the following a go this summer:
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Drama
Read it if you like: women supporting each other, respect, social justice, chocolate pie
Opening Lines: Mae Mobley was born on an early Sunday morning in August, 1960. A church baby we like to call it. Taking care a white babies, that’s what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Science Fiction
Read it if you like: post-apocalyptic scenarios, father-son relationships, convincing dialogue, the power of love
Opening Lines: When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Read it if you like: friendship, unusual narrators, the many aspects of humanity, crying
Opening Lines: First the colours. Then the humans. That’s how I usually see things. Or at least, how I try. Here is a small fact: You are going to die.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Read it if you like: anthropomorphism, miracles, magical realism, castaway scenarios
Opening Lines: My suffering left me sad and gloomy. Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly wrought me back to life.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Genre: Mystery, Crime
Read it if you like: secrets, plot twists, treasure hunts
Opening Lines: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it.
The Shock of the Fall, by Nathan Filer
Genre: Mental Health, Young Adult
Read it if you like: understanding trauma and mental illness, family dynamics, humour, unreliable narrators
Opening Lines: I should say that I am not a nice person. Sometimes I try to be, but often I’m not. So when it was my turn to cover my eyes and count to a hundred – I cheated.
One Day, by David Nicholls
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Read it if you like: convincing characters, dysfunctional relationships, novels that span numerous decades
Opening Lines: ‘I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,’ she said. ‘You know, actually change something.’
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Read it if you like: sarcasm, convincing detail, survival attempts of varying success, unhabitable planets
Opening Lines: I’m pretty much f****d. That’s my considered opinion.
Before I Go to Sleep, by S. J. Watson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Read it if you like: diary form, suspense, theorising, being too on edge to sleep
Opening Lines: The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.
Noughts & Crosses, by Malorie Blackman
Genre: Romance, Dystopia, Young Adult
Read it if you like: fighting against racism, societal norms and injustice, love against the odds, bravery
Opening Lines: ‘Honestly, Mrs Hadley,’ said Meggie McGregor, wiping her eyes. ‘That sense of humour of yours will be the death of me yet!’