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Poolside Page Turners: Summer Reading List

Is there anything more wonderful than lying in the sun with a good book (and cooling cocktail) close to hand?

Whilst we love discovering far flung destinations, a true holiday is not complete without a pile of page turners and several afternoons to while away reading them. So make space in that suitcase: here are My Little Black Book’s summer reading list recommendations.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Call me perverse, but there’s something extremely satisfying about delving into a darkly suspenseful yarn on a warm sunny day – which has meant that whether I’m holidaying in Athens or Arizona, thrillers like Before I Go to Sleep or Elizabeth is Missing have rated highly on my reading list. If you’re of a similar persuasion, then I have good news for you: The Girl on the Train might just be your perfect poolside pick.

The titular ‘girl’ is Rachel, who we first meet during her daily commute; and it’s through her rather murky lens that we meet the other narrators, glossy Megan and home-maker Anna. Three very different women who initially seem to share little (well, except for Rachel and Anna, who apparently have a very similar taste in men – but I’ll say no more on that front), but whose lives entwine throughout the tale until its compelling and tragic conclusion.

This is not the book equivalent of a warm hug, so be warned: a cast of rather unsavoury characters means that humanity does not come off terribly well here. But if you’re looking for a well-written, unusual, and unputdownable holiday read, don’t hesitate to pop a copy of The Girl on the Train into your beach bag.

– Alex Mae

Us by David Nicholls

Whether you’re heading abroad or holidaying at home, this bittersweet tale charting the lifecycle of a relationship – from hedonistic first dates to sodden nappies and child rearing – is well worth toting on your travels.

When their relationship reaches breaking point, Douglas and Connie embark on a final family holiday with their trying teenage son, Albie. David Nicholls – bestselling author behind One Day – jumps between the past and present and narrates convincingly as both Douglas and Connie. There’s a generous dose of comedy in the form of the wayward teenager and his accordion playing Kiwi love interest, and suspense builds as Douglas chases this unlikely pair around Europe in an effort to save his relationships.

Admittedly easy reading, Us is an understated book but one that will drift into your thoughts for months after you finish it – and, if you’re sentimental, then it’s guaranteed to leave you misty eyed.

– Madelin Sinclair

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

If your perfect poolside page turner is the sort of story you can pick up and put down again fifteen minutes later when your companions declare it’s time for cocktails, then look away now: Tell the Wolves I’m Home is the type of tome you just have to gorge in one go.

It’s 1987, in New York, and fourteen-year-old June Elbus is struggling to find her place; at school, at home, in society. The only constant she has is her love for her uncle and best friend, Finn. But Finn has AIDS, and when he dies far too young from this socially stigmatised disease, June is left to deal with her complicated feelings alone – that is, until she receives a letter from a man who turns out to be Finn’s partner, a man who will help her question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

Brunt’s beautifully written debut might not be the obvious beach bag book – it is as heartbreaking as it is hopeful. But for anyone who has ever struggled to find their place, or questioned what ‘love’ really is, it’s a triumph that will live with you long after you’ve read the final word.

– Victoria Smith

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Even if you’ve been on holiday for a month, you cannot have failed to miss the hysteria surrounding Go Set A Watchman, the long anticipated sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. And whilst keeping up with the hype is well and good, now is also the ideal time to return to the much-loved novel that started it all (because you probably haven’t picked it up since school, right?).

Based in late 1930s America, To Kill A Mockingbird explores issues surrounding class, race and gender, all uncovered through the innocent eyes of a young girl, Scout. As the novel progresses and Scout grows up, we follow her realisation that innocence, just like a mocking bird, should be protected – the details of which I will leave for your own discovery.

A classic for over 50 years, culminating in an already infamous sequel (though really it’s a prequel), To Kill A Mocking Bird is a faultless way to reignite a literary love affair this summer.

– Susie Crisp

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

The title, Summer Secrets, might lead the reader to expect a tawdry tale of sizzling summer liaisons, but what Jane Green delivers is so much more – tawdry in places, sure, and certainly with an emphasis on the season, but this book is also emotive and unexpectedly thought-provoking.

From the lanes of London to the nooks of Nantucket, we follow Cat: once a hard-drinking party animal, now a single mother with a past that haunts her. It’s a past that she’s determined to put behind her; but it’s also a past that – as a reader – you find yourself desperate to learn about.

No holiday reading list is complete without one ‘chick lit’ pick, and this recently published offering (July 2015) is an easy breezy beach book that will have you hooked from take off to touch down.

– Florence Ward

Image Credit: Matthias Ripp


  • Tara-Jane Bloomfield-Gerdes

    I just finished reading Us and really enjoyed it! I love how easy it was to be able sympathise with Douglas when he’s a man in his 50s. (Maybe being a biochemist from Ipswich myself helped!)

    August 10, 2015
    • Madelin Sinclair

      I agree, Tara! David Nicholls is great at helping readers relate to his unlikely protagonists – he has an ability to convey the innermost thoughts of each character in an utterly convincing way.

      August 11, 2015

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