Summer Read Suggestions… From Authors

Earlier in my ‘Summer Reads Week’ I asked for suggestions of favourite summer reads from publishers pasts and the ones they were looking forward to having a read of over the coming months. So I then thought what about authors? I have noticed in the past some papers and the like get some authors to tell us just what they will be reading over the summer, so I thought why not do the same with authors? Asking simply what makes the perfect summer read for you and which book is your favourite summery read? Which book are you most eager to read over the summer months and why?

Rather than go off and just get any author I could to answer these questions I decided to go for some authors who have produced some of my favourite reads over the last few years of me writing Savidge Reads. I was most chuffed that they all said yes…

Maria Barbal

It depends quite on the time to spend. If I have a complete month it’s a good moment to read a long novel but also for a second rereading or for reading the whole work of an author.

I have read one book by Herta Müller and I would like to read some more.  Specially Tot el Que Tinc ho duc al damunt  (Atemschaukel, English: Everything I Possess I Carry With Me), because she has a poetic and piercing style, and reaches the reader with her writing.

Neil Bartlett

A perfect summer read for me is one which is utterly engrossing, but which I can safely fall asleep while reading on the flagstones of my garden, and then pick up the thread of at once, once I awake. Two contrasting examples currently in my pile; The Leopard (Lampedusa- perfect, as it makes the Visconti movie replay in my head) and My Memories of Six Reigns by Her Highness Princess Marie Louise – a junkshop find, full of great pictures and bizarre bejewelled stories.

Which book for this summer ? Andrew Graham Dixon’s new Caravaggio biog, which I think will piss me off, as he’s very determined to de-queer the paintings, but he’s a serious historian, and Caravaggio is an artist whose works I hope to spend the rest of my life looking at.

Stella Duffy

I read really widely anyway, and have never really bought into the ‘some books are for the beach’ idea, BUT I do like the books I’m hungry to get through in one or two sittings when I happen to have an afternoon free (we don’t have much skill at actually going away on holiday in our house!). I’ve had splendid summers in my garden where, after working all morning, I’ve spent the afternoon speeding through a friend’s very fast-paced dark crime novel or another mate’s bonkbuster.

I remember a great summer week of working every morning and reading Val McDermid’s Mermaid’s Singing in the garden in the afternoons. It hardly sounds summery, but there was something about the contrast between the warmth and sunshine and the darkness of the book that I really enjoyed.

I have Anna Quindlen’s ‘Every Last One’ on my TBR pile and I’m definitely looking forward to that. Unusually I HAVE been swayed by the quotes on the cover – Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Alice Hoffman in praise? It has to be good! I also have some newly released Janet Frame short stories ‘The Daylight and The Dust’ which I’m definitely looking forward to, and I do think they will need a long, slow, quiet afternoon or two to really do them justice.

Tess Gerritsen

The perfect summer read… A book that takes me completely out of my own surroundings and transports me to a different one.  I especially love being plunged into a different time period, or even a different world.  An historical mystery by Arianna Franklin, for instance, would be an example of a perfect summer read.  Or a fantasy novel along the lines of Tolkien.

I have a copy of Justin Cronin’s The Passage.  I can’t wait to dive in. And I also have a copy of Manda Scott’s mammoth work Boudica, which I’ve been putting off until I have the time to do it justice.  I’m looking forward to them both so much!

Sophie Hannah

The perfect summer read, for me, is anything that pins me to my sun-lounger long after I would ordinarily have leaped into the swimming pool – a book worth getting sunstroke for. I have lots of favourite holiday reads dating back several years – the one that springs to mind is ‘The Memory Game’ by Nicci French, which I read on holiday in Florida in 1999. It remains one of the most sophisticated, intelligent, sensitive and gripping thrillers I’ve ever read.

On my holiday this year, I plan to read the new Scott Turow, ‘Innocent’, the sequel to ‘Presumed Innocent’, which I have no doubt will be as stylish and compelling as Turow always is, and ‘The Disappeared’ by MR Hall, a brilliant new crime writer whose series protagonist is a coroner.

Hillary Jordan

My perfect summer read is a beautifully written novel that grabs hold of me on page one, pulls me into another world and doesn’t let go till The End. I think my best ever summer read was Lord of the Rings.

This summer I was hoping to read The Lacuna but am racing to finish my own second novel, Red…so I suspect that’s the only book my nose will be buried in over the next few months!

Paul Magrs

There are several novels I associate with summer – and I’d be keen to reread them at some point during the holiday… R C Sherrif – The Fortnight in September, a suburban family between the wars goes to the seaside. Nothing happens – from everyone’s POV. A perfect novel! Haruki Murakami – The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, it’s long, episodic and puzzling. I read it in Paris last summer and loved it. Scarlett Thomas – The End of Mr Y. This is another holiday read that’s all mind-bendy and completely absorbing and perfect for sitting at cafe tables with strong coffee and fancy ice cream. Jacqueline Susann – The Love Machine. Perfect sleazy soap opera set in the world of 60s television. Jonathan Caroll – The Land of Laughs, a wonderful supernatural thriller about a writer of children’s books.

And, of course, as many unread or favourite Puffins, gobbled up alongside all of these. The papery fragrance of Puffins *is* what summer smells of, to me. Too many, no..?

Dan Rhodes

My reading habits aren’t particularly affected by the seasons, although I did once give up on Kafka’s The Castle while lying on the beach in Majorca. I just couldn’t feel the cold. At the moment I’m going through a cop novel phase. Two in particular I’ve found supremely original and well worth a look: Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis takes a Chinese detective and drops him in the English countryside, and Pocket Notebook by Mike Thomas follows a ‘roided-up firearms officer as his life and career unravel quite spectacularly. Most cop novels are by whey-faced writer types who would run a mile from a genuine crime scene, but Mike Thomas happens to be a serving police officer, which adds a frisson of authenticity to proceedings. Should that matter in fiction? Possibly not, but either way it’s a cracking read. I’m impatient for more from those two.

I’m going to plough through my short story shelf. There’s still plenty of stuff I haven’t read by William Trevor, VS Pritchett, Katherine Mansfield, Paul Bowles, etc, etc. And just when I think I must be nearing the end of Chekhov’s fiction I always seem to find a bunch of stories I’d never heard of. And while I’m on the subject of short stories, may I recommend Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards? I’m always on about this book, but it’s criminally overlooked. It’s one of the best things ever to have happened on Earth.

Natasha Solomons

I remember my summers by the books I was reading. The summer of 2000 wasn’t island hopping through Greece with a slightly dodgy boyfriend and his dodgier moped, it was ‘A Thousand Years of Solitude’. The August I left school was ‘Moontiger’ and ‘A Town Like Alice’  — (which did cause me to develop a slight obsession with the sarong). During summer I want a book that transports me — I want the story to be more real than the British drizzle and to be so compelling that I’m flipping the bbq burgers in one hand and clutching my book in the other.

The books I love this year are Irene Sabatini’s ‘The Boy Next Door’, which has already won the Orange New Writer’s Prize — it’s the love story of a mixed race couple struggling amidst the growing chaos in Zimbabwe. I love these kinds of books: the small and personal set against the vast and cataclysmic. The other is Emma Henderson’s ‘Grace Williams Says it Loud’, which made me cry. The book is inspired by Emma’s own sister who lived for many years in a unit for disabled people. Yet, this is a sweeping love story narrated with such verve by Grace that you forget she is unable to speak. You’ll also fall in love with Daniel — he’s so dapper and debonair. I’ll also be re-reading Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ for the seventieth time. No summer is complete without a little strawberry picking at Donwell Abbey.

Evie Wyld

I love a really massive book for a summer read, and preferably something a bit spooky or scary, like Murakami’s Wind up Bird Chronicles. That was perfect. But this summer I’m looking forward to The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I’ve heard amazing things about this book.

Other things I’m taking on holiday are Larry’s Party by Carol Shields and The Trout Opera by Matthew Condon. I love Carol Shields and I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, and I’ve just been given a copy of the Trout Opera by my partner. He says I’ll love it, and he should know. All Australians I’m afraid!

So there you have it, on Friday and Saturday it’s a two parter of books that some other bloggers (some still haven’t responded tut tut, ha) have suggested for your summer reading TBR’s. Back to today though, anything taken your fancy from the selection of titles above? I am most intrigued by some of them I have to say. Did any authors surprise you with what they could be reading over the summer?


Filed under Dan Rhodes, Evie Wyld, Hillary Jordan, Maria Barbal, Natasha Solomons, Neil Bartlett, Paul Magrs, Sophie Hannah, Stella Duffy, Tess Gerritsen

23 responses to “Summer Read Suggestions… From Authors

  1. Oh, some great answers! I especially loved Dan Rhodes’ because he mentions Katherine Mansfield, who is my favourite short story writer and who should be read in the summer by everyone.

    I have that beautiful edition of The Daylight and the Dust and think that Stella Duffy’s plans to read the stories over a quiet afternoon or two sound idyllic.

    Quite a few mentions of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; I didn’t see it as a summer read myself (I think I read it in the thick of winter) but it does have elements that suit it to holiday reading of whatever kind.

    • I am yet to try any Katherine Mansfield and dont think I have her on the TBR, so unless one of my readers wants to do what has become a trend and send me a copy they are more than welcome… I am shameless I admit. Ha. I will have a gander at the library this weekend actually.

      I must try Janet Frame everyone I know who has read her has loved her!

  2. More wonderful answers and inspiration – I’m fascinated by how different these lists are from the “popular” lists that are in the papers at the moment. I greatly enjoyed reading the Janet Frame stories and am pleased to see Stella Duffy endorsing them.

    • I shamefully havent actually been looking at the lists in the papers and I love them, I just wasnt in the country for the weekend literary bits in the broad sheets!

      Janet Frame is an author I am definitely going to have to give a whirl.

  3. What a great, varied list! It’s interesting to see what writers are reading. I have to agree that A Fortnight in September is a wonderful read–even though time and place are different the family’s reactions and wishes and desires are so typical and universal it could happen anywhere. At least I could see bits and pieces of my family in the story. There are several more books here I want to read and a few more new ones to explore.

    • I hadn’t heard of A Fortnight in September before, in fact I havent heard of various recommendations on the sugestion posts this week, mind you thats a good thing. And a bad thing actually if you are on a book buying ban!

  4. I’ve got to keep my patriotic hat on and add that Carol Shields is Canadian/American!

    I think the common factor length. Maybe we need to see the spines of some of these “summer reads” to get the idea?

    • Interesting point about the spines of books. Mind you I can vouch The Passage is no small novel. I did pop spines up on my first summer reads week post and they all varied from long to short, I should have a gander at font size as maybe subconciously we go for shorter books.

  5. Some great suggestions but the one that really catches my eye is The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. This is such a great post idea, Simon.

  6. Great idea, and thanks to these wonderful authors for the recs. I’m right in the middle of The Passage right now, and I LOVE IT. Also have Scarlett Thomas’s second book on my Nook.

    • I think I need to go back to The End of Mr Y because I started it and didnt finish it, I dont know why but it simply wasnt working for me and I found myself getting really cranky! I have to say though I am not sure where I have put my copy. I might have to go hunting or to the library.

  7. novelinsights

    Oh fabulous that you have two of my favourite crime writers (Hannah and Gerritson) on here. I hope that Tess enjoys The Passage as much as we did! I’m also interested in the Caravaggio biography, although I kind of wish it was fiction (if that makes any sense)…! Also I’ve never heard of Rhapsody, but what a glowing review from Mr Rhodes 🙂

    • I know what you mean about the fiction over non fiction. I just wish I was better with non fiction books and I am rubbish. However my next read is actually a non fiction book… so we will see.

  8. What a great post, Simon. I am always fascinated to see what authors read. Brilliant!

  9. thanks for the suggestions

  10. Pingback: Summer Read Suggestions – The Bloggers (Part One) « Savidge Reads

  11. Juanita

    I always find something that I want to read on your blog. One of Natasha Solomons’ picks, The Boy Next Door, is going on my list. Decided to read a bit about Solomons’ own book, and that’s going on the list as well.

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  14. David

    Somewhat late posting a comment on this, Simon, but Google just threw your blog entry at me when I was searching for more info on Dorothy Edwards. I’m reading ‘Rhapsody’ at the moment and I have to agree with Dan Rhodes (who is also quoted on the back of the book where he describes it as a “card-carrying masterpiece”) – she really does deserve to be every bit as well known as Katherine Mansfield, as these are some of the most exquisite stories I’ve ever read. I often grumble about collections that have too many similar stories, but Edwards manages to make it work: almost all of them feature a narrator or central character going to stay with someone for the summer in a house in the country (and the house is almost always on a hill) and sharing a passion for music, but rather than being repetitious they read – to extend Edwards’s musical metaphor – like variations on a central theme. Proper genius-level stuff that, like Mansfield’s stories, I could probably return to again and again and get something else from. Honestly, given your enjoyment of many of the Persephone authors, you ought to read it as I’m sure you’d love it. Sadly Edwards only wrote the stories collected in ‘Rhapsody’ and one novel ‘Winter Sonata’ before committing suicide in 1934 at the age of just 31 (a sense of melancholy and loneliness creeps into her work too).

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