Sunday, June 10, 2012

More summer reads

Great list in The Independent on Friday- it seems we're spoilt for choice for books this summer. I'll be heading to Hodges and Figgis in the next couple of weeks to stock up. Decisions, decisions!
 (edited, see http://www.independent.co.uk/ for full list which includes children's books.)

Skios by Michael Frayn A contemporary Greek drama unfolds on the island of Skios when a case of mistaken identity threatens to expose the dubious foundations of a farcical hifalutin' intellectual organisation. Nothing and no one escapes Frayn's eager satire in this wonderfully executed highbrow beach read.
Heft by Liz Moore A touching study of love and loneliness across the generations, set in Brooklyn and the lesser-known New York district of Yonkers. Moore makes sympathetic characters out of her loner protagonists: a housebound academic; his former student, now an alcoholic; and her baseball-playing son, each hoping for redemption from their isolated existences.
The Server by Tim Parks Beth is caught tight in the grip of a strict meditation retreat, trying to absolve herself of past sins. Parks is engaging, persistent, lyrical and entertaining as Beth decides whether to give into her own identity, or to that of the institute where she is staying.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel Bloody, intricate and all in period costume, the follow-up to Wolf Hall takes you back to the Tudors and keeps you there, more or less mesmerised. A bit like Game Of Thrones without the terrible writing, bad acting and unremitting misanthrophy.
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace Difficult, complicated, dull, far too long, set in a tax office and quite brilliant. David Foster Wallace's posthumous masterpiece needs at least a whole summer. Alienating, but in the best possible way, and also very funny.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles Magical echoes of Dorothy Parker and Scott Fitzgerald abound in this wonderful tale of Jazz-Age Manhattan. An instant classic.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach One badly thrown baseball profoundly changes the lives of star college player Henry Skrimshander and those around him.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer A fictional account of a woman sent by SOE into France during the Second World War who finds resources of strength and cunning few modern women will ever need to call on.
Mountains of the Moon by IJ Kay A confident book for an accomplished author, never mind a first timer. Young woman is released from prison; transcends her past to roam Africa.
Scenes from an Early Life by Philip Hensher Hensher's account of his husband's Bengali upbringing. His trick is to cast popular culture and relationships alongside social history in a flawless weave.
Crime and thrillers


A Death in Valencia by Jason Webster If you like your detective stories with an overseas slant, try Jason Webster's Valencia-set Max Cámara books, of which this is the second.
Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris Follow-up to The Hanging Shed, policeman turned hack Douglas Brodie is caught between the police and vigilantes.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn A chilling tale of a hip, New York couple's failing marriage: smart, suspenseful and brilliantly written, Gone Girl is a class act.

Kingdom of Strangers by Zoë Ferraris Saudi Arabia's mores and misogyny are captured with forensic detail.
Dead Scared by S J Bolton If you fancy a creepy read, try one of Bolton's earlier novels such as Blood Sacrifice, "Dead Scared is less of a gothic horror and more of a police thriller."
Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Elanor Dymott
Poetic and unsettling. Fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History will love this twisty tale of Alex's search for the truth about his murdered wife.

HHhH by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor Part deconstruction of the process of writing and part thrilling account of a plot to assassinate a high-ranking Nazi. Odd but brilliant.
The Expats by Chris Pavone How does a former spy settle dow  to life as a stay-at-home mother in Luxembourg's expat community? Kate Moore starts doubting her friends...
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino Two million copies sold in Japan, and it's easy to see why. A page-turner of a thriller with an evocative Tokyo setting and utterly surprising ending.

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