Unbelievably, we're already halfway through the year and all of a sudden it's summer. Here at The Willoughby Book Club we've been planning our summer jaunts for a while, and can't wait to dig our toes into the sand or the grass, take a deep breath of fresh air and begin to relax. And what better time for reading than on holidays? As booklovers, we need to put serious thought into what we take to read on our holidays, because there's nothing worse than having reading time but nothing to read (or the 'wrong' title)! Some of us will be reading new releases, some of us tackling the stacks of books we've gathered so far this year, and some of us just like to meander. How about you?
Wherever you go this summer, we wish you very happy reading!
Here are just a few of the titles that we're planning to read this summer.
I actually have three holidays booked within the space of three months this summer, one in the Peak District, one in Cornwall and one in Lanzarote so I need a BIG BIG BIG list. Here is what I’ve got so far, it will obviously be added to massively between now and then…
I absolutely love reading on holiday and I have lots of memories of what books I’ve read in what locations. Last year I read ‘Where the Crawdad’s Sing’ in a log cabin in the forest, and I would wake up before anyone else and sit reading outside first thing in the morning with nothing but the sounds of the forest waking up too…this is one of my favourite memories of that week.
I have already bought ‘Blood Orange’ by Harriett Tyce which I’ve decided to add to my holiday pile rather than read now as I’m expecting it to be really good and I want the perfect place to read it in. I will admit that I have read ‘The Lies You Told’ and wasn’t that keen but I found ‘Blood Orange’ in a charity shop, the setting of a court case and an unreliable narrator and liked the sound of it. It’s been compared to ‘Apple Tree Yard’ which I loved so I’m hoping this is just as gripping.
I have just ordered ‘Midsummer Mysteries’ by Agatha Christie. It’s a book of short stories featuring some of her well-known characters like Miss Marple & Poirot based around the summertime theme. I have already got, and read, ‘Midwinter Murder’ and ‘Sinister Spring’ so I know what to expect. They’re not complex stories in any way but I thought light-hearted, quick reads would be perfect to pick up & put down in between all the walks we have planned in the Peak District. It’s got a beautiful front cover too, which I can never resist.
I have read a couple of Taylor Jenkins Reid books recently and think these are perfect summer reads, usually set in sunny, glamourous places. I really like the sound of ‘Maybe in Another Life’ as it sounds as though it’s got a similar premise to the film ‘Sliding Doors’. With alternating timelines depending on what decision the character, Hannah, makes at midnight after a night out, it follows the consequences and fate of that choice on her life going forwards. I’m just hoping I don’t have to concentrate on this too much so as not to get the timelines mixed up!
With a busy summer ahead of me, daytrips with my grandparents, a little getaway to Wales and a family holiday in Sicily, I’m hoping to squeeze in some reading, here and there! Fingers crossed, I get a chance to read more, but these are the three books I’m hoping to carry along with me this summer.
Shoko’s Smile by Choi Eun-Young, a collection of short stories, painting intimate portraits of young women in South Korea. Taking an unvarnished look into the female experience, this is a moving collection from an author to watch! I’m hoping to dip in and out of this, in-between little breaks to myself or even first thing in the morning!
Feeling like this is a book to read on the beach and read in big chunks, Devotion by Hannah Kent is another book travelling with me this summer! Devotion follows two young friends, Hanne and Thea, in 1886 as they and their community embark on a dangerous journey to Australia to escape religious persecution. Thinking this is finally the home and freedom they’ve been looking for, it also proves disastrous for both girls, but it seems even nature cannot break their bond…
And with Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid sitting on my TBR list for a little while, this is also coming along with me! Juniper and Thorn is a complex and enthralling retelling of the Grimm Fairy Tale, The Juniper Tree, with a young witch and her sister trying to escape the clutches of their cruel and xenophobic dad.
With lots of sunbathing planned for trips to Turkey and Portugal, I'll have plenty of time to kick back and read (which I cannot wait for). First on my list is Penance by Eliza Clark, following her debut novel Boy Parts, Penance is Clark’s second novel. A sleepy seaside town and a shocking murder of a sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson leads us to be placed into journalist Carelli, who construct what he claims is the definitive account of the events of that night. Built on hours of research, interviews and conversations with the killers themselves, the only question Clark leaves to be answered is, how much of it is true? I cannot wait to grab a copy!
Next on my list is Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth. Following Lucy and her journey of making sense of herself, Sunburn is a tender portrayal of first love, adolescent anxiety and the realities of growing up in a small town.
Katie Bishop’s The Girls of Summer has been on my bedside table waiting to be picked up, following 17-year-old best friends Rachel and Caroline spending their summer travelling in the Greek Islands, a murky and intense holiday leads to dark territory. Grappling with themes of power, sex and consent, The Girls of Summer explores the complicated nature of trauma and memory.
I have also decided to try and venture out of my usual genres, and I'm hoping to read Pat Barker’s The Silence of The Girls alongside my other reads.
I don't have a 'big' holiday planned for this summer, but I'll be escaping for weekends here and there, and trying to fit in as much reading as possible amongst the general push and pull of life. I always have a book in my bag, but I do tend to choose more escapist books over the summer months, engaging but maybe not too challenging.
I tend to read more crime during summer to keep the attention and the pace up. On the recommendation of Olivia I'll be reading The Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater: the premise sounds great. I have also chosen The Khan by Saima Mir. This was a hit of summer 2022, and it looks a gripping read.
Successful London lawyer returns to the gritty Northern city of her birth for her sister's wedding, but a dark chain of events resulting in the death of her father draws into the web of organised crime which he had headed. Turning stereotypes about Muslim women on their heads and upending crime writing tropes, this looks like a twisty, engrossing read!
Lazy hazy summer hours call for transporting books, and while I won't be travelling much myself I have chosen Enchantment by Katherine May and Bittersweet by Susan Cain for solace for the soul. I enjoyed both Wintering and Quiet, and look forward to getting stuck into these author's newest titles.
I'll also be aiming to tackle some of my ever-growing TBR pile, in particular The Gospel According to Blindboy, Blindboy Boatclub's first collection of short stories. I'm a huge fan of the Blindboy podcast, and despite dipping in to this book on multiple occasions I've never got round to enjoying it properly. The way Blindboy speaks about the writing process on his podcast will surely enrich the reading experience. He has another collection due out later this year so I'd better get on with this...
I’m sure I’m like most people when I say I like some light easy reading when I’m on holiday. Something easy to get into but enough to keep me interested. And summer is definitely the season to read rom-coms. But I also find it hard to plan ahead what I want to read so this list is definitely subject to change (usually the night before I go when I finally get around to packing). And with a trip to Marseille, a couple of trips homes to Ireland and lots of daytrips planned, I should have plenty of time for reading.
My collection of rom-coms is growing fast, so I want to tackle that (before I inevitably buy more). A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy looks like the perfect fit. We recently received stock copies at Willoughby HQ and I had to pick one up! An up and coming country star and a boy who would rather be anywhere else both end up working at amusement park for the summer. Full of family secrets and summer fun, I’m really looking forward to jumping into this one.
I’m also hoping to get to a couple more on my tbr like That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey, For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding and Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Adams.
I usually like to read a lot of heavy fantasy books, but recently I’ve been introduced to the genre of “cozy fantasy”: it's more like a light contemporary book just in a fantasy setting. The two I recently picked up and plan to take with me on my next trip are Can't Spell Treason Without Tea by Rebecca Throne and The Bookshop and the Barbarian by Morgan Stang. And just in case I also will be bringing The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri because there is something so right about reading about a hot climate while in the sun at the beach.
And, because I can never actually make up my mind, I have a couple more general fiction books on standby for if I’m in the mood for something a little more serious or sad. I’m very drawn to Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo and Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds. I’ve been recommended both numerous times and I’m very excited to finally read them.
As you can see I’m quite indecisive and I need a lot of options, so here’s to hoping I get through most of them!
Summer is my absolute favourite season for reading because I love to be outside in the sunshine! My trip to Italy was the perfect location to read Donatella di Pietrantonio’s wonderful novella ‘A Girl Returned’, translated by Ann Goldstein. It’s a moving, beautifully written piece, set on the Abruzzo coast and follows a year in the life of 13-year-old, as she reckons with her new, complicated family dynamic. I love discovering and reading translated Italian fiction, having fallen in love with Elena Ferrante’s writing via her Neapolitan quartet a few years ago. ‘A Girl Returned’ is a great example of the high quality of modern Italian literature.
I’m also looking forward to reading a short story collection titled ‘Nineteen Claws and a Blackbird’ by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses. She’s known for writing dark, surreal tales, full of imagination and humour that explore interesting themes of violence, family and . I find bitesize stories are the perfect thing for dipping in and out of on a hot day and this one is very much in my wheelhouse.
I’m making a small trip to the picturesque Hebden Bridge in August, so I’ll be picking up a Benjamin Myers book to mark the occasion (he lives there and his first publisher Blue Moose are Hebden-based!). I absolutely loved his 2019 novel, ‘The Offing’, and hope to pick up either ‘The Perfect Golden Circle’ or ‘Pig Iron’. ‘The Perfect Golden Circle’ was recommended by Marianne and revolves around two very different men in the 1980s, who begin making crop circles over the course of one long, hot summer. His writing is just wonderful and I can’t wait to read more of his back catalogue.