Summer Wardrobe

9 May 2017

Six Books To Take On Holiday

Whether you're the organised type whose books are packed a week in advance, or you pick up whatever catches your eye on the shelves in the airport (more than likely for last-minuters), if you're anything like me then holiday reading is an intrinsic part of your getaway and getting through paperbacks is a pool-side past-time like no other for relaxing the mind. Lengthy commutes this year have meant I've been reading a lot more (a bittersweet reality), and in turn, I've got a lot to recommend to those like-minded bookworms, if you're out there. I go through phases with genres, having spent a lot of time loyally scouring through the likes of Linwood Barclay or Jo Nesbo (scandi crime-thrillers are hard to tear me away from), but I've ventured out of my comfort zone recently and plan to continue the trend (throwing in a couple of classics, obviously). Some of these I've already read and reviewed, others I'm currently reading (as this will go live while I'm in Ibiza and no doubt sun-worshipping, horizontal).




Sweetbitter - Stephanie Danler 
First up is an intoxicating, charged and delectable story that's unlike anything I've read before. A coming of age novel of Tess who lives through the well-trodden cliche of moving to New York to be somebody and do something with her 'boring' life, there's more to this one that meets the eye. A glamourisation of a twenty-somethings wild and reckless lifestyle amidst a new city, with a new job and new friends, the story is full of adrenaline, painfully relatable to anyone who has ever started out somewhere or doing something new, and given the subject matter (the ins and outs of a NYC restaurant), it's strangely alluring. It will make you want to eat fine foods, drink fine wine (Tess spends a lot of the novel somewhat inebriated), but at the same time, cleanse, detox, purify and all of the above over and over. It's destructive yet beautiful, and something that I already want to read again (pretty good sign if you ask me). I was always taught at school that you read the first time for plot, and the second for meaning. And I haven't quite gotten under the skin of this one yet. 
Find Sweetbitter here.

Fates and Furies
An example of marmite in the realm of fiction, this book has conjured polarised opinions since its publication; some find it overly pretentious and utterly unrealistic, while others are mesmerised (my stance is more toward the latter). A story of love at first sight between two, unsuspecting adolescents, Lotto a wealthy lothario and aspiring actor, and Mathidle a mysterious, lonesome girl whos beauty is otherworldly, the novel unravels from their marriage at 22. The prose is lyrical (thus deemed somewhat pretentious in comparison to Groff's other novels), and the story's craft plays on your perception of the characters. Split into two sections, Fates and Furies, the novel really got going for me from the second half onwards, when all the dark secrets come spilling out that were lurking beneath their surface-deep, seemingly fairytale marriage. Full review to come soon!
Find Fates and Furies here.

The Handmaid's Tale - Maragret Atwood 
After the first few pages, this modern classic turned into, quite literally, something I couldn't put down, stimulated my thoughts and had me thinking why I hadn't come across it sooner. An infatuating parallel to Orwell's 1984, coined as the 'feminist version', told from the perspecive of Offred (literally, Of-Fred; the name of her Commander), who's role in society is now a handmaid within a totalitarian state that has replaced what once was modern America. It's provoking depiction of a society that's poignant now especially, given the time we are living in, noting the political situation in America and it's potential repercussions. So, it's no wonder that The Handmaid's Tale (and 1984) have undergone a huge resurgence in popularity recently. I'm recommending this book left, right and centre, and everyone that's followed suit has felt the same way. You can read my full review here
Find The Handmaid's Tale here.

This Must Be The Place - Maggie O'Farrell
Another one that's been everywhere recently, Maggie O'Farrell's latest novel is bound to be a fail-safe summer read. A high-flying ex-film star, Claudette Wells, gave up her career at it's peak and now living in Ireland with her family, whom she is fiercely protective of (so much so that she's willing to pull a shotgun out to anyone that pulls up the driveway). Her husband Daniel, a New Yorker at heart, is faced with a discovery of a woman he hasn't seen for twenty years, and it's a discovery that sends him off track from his family. A portrayal of the intricacies of marriage, differing perspective and (as you can guess from the map-design front cover) weaving in and out of different places that have significant, changing meanings. I'm yet to read an O'Farrell book but based on their track-record and cliff-hanger synopsis thus far, I'm keen to get started. Find This Must Be The Place here.

Affinity - Sarah Waters
A list of book recommendations wouldn't be complete without a neo-Victorian work of fiction thrown into the mix. Undoubtedly my favourite genre, deception, darkness and sinister happenings grace the pages of books like these; being simultaneously intoxicating and repelling, and something you wont be able to put down. Affinity infiltrates the life of Maragret Prior, and the relationship she builds with one of the inmates, Selina Dawes, whom she meets at the local prison; one who is known as a spirit medium and without knowing her, interests Margaret overwhelmingly. If you're anything like me when reading this, you find yourself questioning things you've always believed don't exist, which is pretty powerful in itself. Also, one of Water's most famous novels, Fingersmith, has just been made into a Japanese adaptation (and in some independent cinemas right now), which is one of my favourites and the novel that got me hooked on this author. 
Find Affinity here.


The Trouble With Goats and Sheep - Joanna Cannon
Another, literal, example of that overused but underplayed turn of phrase, don't judge a book by its cover, or title in this instance. I've had many a comment; why are you reading a book on goats (granted, most were dad jokes), but unless you've been hiding under a rock, you'll have seen this just about everywhere recently, equipped with rave reviews. Told from the perspective of a ten year-old during the famously hot summer of 1976 (a classically sweltering drought really sets the scene of a who-done-it), the narrative's charming, childlike tone is refreshingly light upon the really quite sinister goings on of the novel (it also makes this an 'easy' read in my opinion; precisely what you want whilst lounging on a sunbed). There's something about books set within a neighbourhood, with behind-closed-doors suspicions, based on seemingly 'ordinary' people, that can be far more gripping than far-fetched plots. It reminds me of one of my favourite books, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, a similarly disturbing tale set in everyday suburbia (but minus the punctuation). I haven't finished this one yet so review to follow.
Find The Trouble With Goats and Sheep here.

Let me know your summer reading recommendations!
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