At university, a vast amount of reading is required – textbooks, theses, articles, novels – and it’s easy to forget that reading can actually be an enjoyable and relaxing pastime. With this in mind, here are eight fantastic books to get you reading for pleasure again this summer. There’s a wide variety of genres and styles in this list, so everyone should be able to find something here that makes them want to turn the page.
1.) Room by Emma Donoghue
While not exactly a fun-filled summer romp, this book grips its reader in a different way. It’s told from the perspective of Jack: a five-year-old boy held captive with his mother in a garden shed. For Jack, this is nothing unusual, as he believes the shed is the entire world. His realisation about the true scale of the world around him, combined with his mother’s desperation to escape and return to her family, makes for a harrowing and moving read. The portrayal of such dark adult themes as described through the eyes of a child only adds to this. If you haven’t read this one yet, now is the perfect time: it’s recently been adapted into an Oscar-winning film.
2.) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Released back in 2011, ‘The Song of Achilles’ was Miller’s debut novel and took her ten years to write. Despite receiving critical acclaim, the novel slipped somewhat under the radar, so if you’ve never heard of it, move it to the top of your list this summer. Set in Greece, this book was made to be read in the sunshine. It focuses on the love affair between Patroclus and Achilles, and mixes mythology with human emotion in a way guaranteed to keep you reading.
3.) Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The true definition of a page turner. ‘Red Rising’ is the first in a trilogy of science-fiction-come-fantasy novels set on Mars, where everyone’s social standing is made apparent by whichever ‘colour’ they belong to. That is, until Darrow (a Red) infiltrates the world of the enigmatic Golds in an attempt to gain vengeance for the pain they have caused him. Using myth, technology and excellent storytelling, Brown doesn’t disappoint with this series.
4.) Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Why not confuse your brain this summer by reading a chilling ghost story set in the eternal Arctic winter? Paver is best known for her young-adult fiction, so a supernatural thriller seemed an odd choice of genre for her to tackle, but she doesn’t disappoint. The characters are human, the setting utterly convincing, and the build-up in atmosphere as the sun disappears for months is genuinely unnerving. It may seem unorthodox, but the quality of this book makes it worth reading any time of year.
5.) The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
This slot can be applied to any of the Cormoran Strike detective novels, though if you’ve never read them, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ is the first. These books mark a move into more adult fiction for J.K. Rowling, writing under a male pseudonym, and she does it well. Well written and thoroughly gripping, the desire to solve each case is bound to have you racing for the end. With the latest in the series hitting the shelves last year, now’s the time to delve into Strike’s world.
6.) The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Windows and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
With a title that’s practically a novel in itself, The Hundred-Year-Old Man is, to put it simply, just a very funny book. It was originally crafted by Jonasson in his native Swedish tongue, before being translated and meeting huge success around the world, even resulting in a film adaptation. It tells the story of Allan Karlsson who, in a desperate attempt to avoid his birthday celebrations, flees his nursing home. What follows is the a strange, hilarious series of events that finds Allan’s past and present woven together seamlessly. If you’re sick of textbooks, and want something that’s actually going to make you laugh, then look no further.
7.) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
A true classic. Released in 1994, and set during the Italian and German occupation of the Second World War, ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ is the quintessential summer read. It’s so full of romance, sorrow, music and joy that it’s practically impossible to read it when not sunning yourself on a Greek Island with a drink in hand. There’s little else to say about this one, other than read it. Read it right now.
7.) Lean in 15 by Joe Wicks
The pressure to get into shape has become a staple part of the build up to summer, and deciding how to go about it can be both baffling and frustrating. Enter Joe Wicks, or ‘The Body Coach’ to any of his YouTube fans. ‘Lean in 15’ is the answer to all of our confusion about staying healthy, acting as both an exercise guide and a cookbook for quick, balanced and tasty meals. There’s a wide variety of recipes and routines included in the book, so hopefully everyone should find something to help them get a little fitter in the run up to sunshine. That is, unless we’re all too busy making our way through our endless summer reading lists.
By Nicholas Cairns