Ten summer reads perfect for the beach (or pool)

Sink your teeth into a seriously addictive read while lying by the pool or on the beach. Here are some of the recently published titles, from novels to nonfiction and memoir, which have had us ravenously turning the pages.

‘Hot Milk’
Deborah Levy

A mother and daughter head to a remote Spanish village in search of a medical cure for the older woman’s raft of bizarre and possibly psychosomatic ailments. Against this sultry and oppressive desert backdrop, the two women are forced to confront their troubled relationship. The result is a hypnotic, disturbing meditation on the nature of motherhood.

‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’
Gail Honeyman

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, this debut novel has as its unlikely heroine an eccentric, deadpan recluse, who exists on frozen pizza and cheap vodka. Through a chance encounter with an elderly stranger and a new friendship with an equally awkward colleague, Eleanor is gradually, painfully, drawn from her shell and in doing so must confront a traumatic secret from her past. British author Honeyman has created an offbeat romance with real soul.

‘Things That Happened Before the Earthquake’
Chiara Barzini

In the wake of California’s 1992 riots, a teenager is uprooted from an idyllic life in Italy and dropped into the strange suburban world of San Fernando Valley. Gangs, raves, drugs and fast-food make for a stark cultural collision, one which Eugenia must navigate in addition to all the usual teenage angst. It’s a coming-of-age tale, but with a darker and richer feel than the norm, hinging on a vulnerable, reckless young protagonist trying to forge her identity.

‘My Struggle’
Karl Ove Knausgård

OK, so this technically isn’t a new read, nor is it a single book, but audiences are still discovering this masterpiece outside the author’s native Norway. An autobiographical series of six novels, some reviewers have hailed it as the first great literary classic of the 21st century, and likened Knausgård to a modern-day Proust. He dishes the dirt on real friends and family (not bothering to change names) and details the most embarrassing minutiae of growing up, yet this literary sensation is somehow resolutely unsensational and entirely relatable. One in every nine Norwegian adults has bought a copy, so time to find out why “My Struggle” has such a cult following.

‘Shadow Man’
Alan Drew

A killer thriller to set you on the edge of your sun lounger, “Shadow Man” sees an idyllic community rocked by a string of murders. Set in Orange County in the 80s, Detective Ben Wade and forensic specialist Natasha Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the culprit, and doing so expose the treacherous underbelly of suburban life as well as secrets from Wade’s own past. By pulling in more complex human issues, and clearly knowing his setting inside-out, Drew takes his novel beyond the genre’s conventions – more literary thriller than police procedural.

‘Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean’
Morten Strøksnes

Did you know there are sharks dwelling in the freezing Norwegian Sea that can live for 500 years and outgrow even great whites? No wonder Strøksnes, one of Norway’s most celebrated nonfiction authors, is so obsessed with finding the infamous Greenland shark. In this thrilling, wise and hilarious marine adventure we join him on the trail of one of Earth’s strangest and most elusive predators.

‘Behold the Dreamers’
Imbolo Mbue

Mbue doesn’t shy away from the controversial topics of the world we live in: race, class, liberty, the economy and immigration all get dissected in this story about a young Cameroonian couple pursuing the American dream in Harlem, New York. It’s 2008 and the financial crisis strikes, frustrating the family’s pursuit of happiness with often heartbreaking consequences.  Will the dreamers lose their faith that “America has something for everyone, sir”?

‘Greatest Hits’
Laura Barnett

Alone in her studio, a 60-something singer-songwriter takes a journey back into her past, selecting sixteen tracks that have defined her to create a uniquely personal Greatest Hits album. Through this medium – each chapter is a flashback to a different memory, sparked by a particular song – a roller coaster story of friendships, ambition, love and loss comes into the spotlight. The song lyrics featured come from a real-life companion album the author penned with singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams, meaning “Greatest Hits” not only provides a holiday read but also a cracking summer soundtrack.

‘Turning: A Swimming Memoir’
Jessica J Lee

The perfect choice for anyone who loved Helen Macdonald’s “H is for Hawk”, Lee similarly turns to evocative, lyrically nature writing to deal with personal grief. It documents her attempt to swim in 52 German lakes over 52 weeks – no matter what the weather or season – as she tries to overcome a broken heart and deadening depression. From “cool silk” of slipping into a summer lake to “cold, and pain, and elation” in the frozen depths of winter, her personal obsession and visceral sensations are interwoven with histories of a haunted landscape.

‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’
Arundhati Roy

Talk about anticipation: Arundhati Roy has made us wait 20 years for the follow up to her Booker Prize-winning “The God of Small Things.” Dissecting life in India in the wake of the partition, her sprawling second novel isn’t exactly a light read either. But once again Roy has created a deeply affecting, monumental work about a tumultuous period in 20th century history, told through the eyes of two characters on the fringes of society.

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