11 Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down This Summer
In need of a good read? These page-turners are the perfect way to while away long summer days
The Long Take by Robin Robertson (Penguin) $28
Described as a masterful epic by The Guardian, this novel won the Goldsmiths Prize for fiction and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for its depiction of traumatised World War II veteran Walter as he attempts to piece his life together in America. Told with Robertson’s poetic prose and dark filmic descriptions, this is a wondrous story that will sweep you away.
Milkman by Anna Burns (Faber) $33
Irish writer Anna Burns won the Man Booker Prize for her 2018 novel Milkman, told from the perspective of an 18-year-old girl in Belfast dealing with unwanted attention from a paramilitary man known as “the milkman”. Set to a backdrop of a tense Northern Ireland in conflict, Burns’ stream-of-consciousness style of writing polarised critics — some thought it overly wordy and interminable and others sublime. We say give it a go.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins) $33
Canadian writer Esi Edugyan’s third book is an engaging tale of former slave George Washington Black, who we’re introduced to at 11 years old on a Barbados cane plantation in the year 1830. What follows is tale of fraught bonds and betrayal as Washington travels at the mercy of his master from the Caribbean to the ice plains of the Canadian Arctic and the vast deserts of Morocco.
Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson (Little) $42
A retelling of the true story of French artist Claude Cahun and her creative and romantic partner Marcel Moore, who leave their glamorous lives in Paris for Jersey as World War II looms. It’s from here that they confront their true destiny, risking their lives to covertly spread anti-Nazi messages to German soldiers in inspired acts of resistance.
Do This For Me by Eliza Kennedy (Crown/Archetype) $42
This is a fun read. New York-based writer Eliza Kennedy paints a captivating picture of Raney Moore, a high-powered attorney at a prestigious Manhattan firm with a picture-perfect family life. Her world is seemingly in order until an infidelity bombshell sends her spiraling out of control. A saucy tale best enjoyed at the beach, where no one can see you blushing.
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber) $33
The book everyone is talking about and for good reason, Irish writer Sally Rooney’s follow-up to the smash hit Conversations with Friends is an unputdownable love story and a future classic. Expect to read this seductively elegant and twisting tale of two flawed young lovers all in one go, and then feel devastated when it’s over.
My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen (Blink Publishing) $40
Just like her songwriting, English singer Lily Allen’s memoir is refreshingly blunt, discussing everything from “feminism, the tabloids, money, faking orgasms, bad managers, fame, sexual abuse, mental health, narcissism, motherhood, stalking and parking tickets”. Released in the same year as her comeback album No Shame, the first record since the critically panned Sheezus, tabloid darling Lily has had time for self-reflection, and it appears she’s on a roll.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (Jonathan Cape) $37
The Mars Room is a searing insight into the daily grind of incarceration in contemporary America. Romy Hall is serving two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, while the world outside is changing beyond recognition. Reviews for the Man Booker-shortlisted novel have been glowing, with critic and writer George Saunders calling Kushner a “young master”.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Random House) $38
Don’t we all wish we could go to sleep for a year sometimes? The unnamed protagonist of My Year of Rest and Relaxation is undertaking just that quest. Disillusioned with her underpaid job in a Manhattan gallery and life in general, the recent Columbia graduate decides to pursue a self-induced, year-long coma abetted by prescription painkillers and the guidance of a truly terrible psychiatrist. This book is darkly comic, shocking and compassionate all at the same time.
Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster) $50
American investigative journalist Bob Woodward documents the “harrowing” reality of life inside Trump’s Whitehouse. Told through hours of interviews with first-hand sources, and with the deft experience gained from reporting on eight previous presidencies, this account of Donald’s reign of terror has been called “explosive” by The New Yorker.
Love is Blind by William Boyd (Penguin Books) $37
From one of Britain’s most-loved storytellers comes Love is Blind, which follows our protagonist Brodie Moncur as he flees his overbearing father in late 19th century Edinburgh for a job in Paris. It’s here he meets a famous pianist, sparking a turbulent love affair with a Russian soprano. In this, his 15th novel, “Boyd is back on a form few of his contemporaries can match”, notes The Guardian.