I was asked to East Coast Radio to come up with some book suggestions for summer reading. I was wondering why summer reading should be any different from reading at any other time of year. I mean, the books you like are the books you like… you’re hardly going to change genre just because the sun in shining.
Do those who like violent thrillers turn to soft romances just cause the sun in shining or they are lounging by the pool?
So here are a selection of the kind of books I like – there is a bit of variety and I have also included some Irish Women’s Fiction (used to be called ‘chick lit’).
WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE BY MARIA SEMPLE
This is a great read… the story of a woman called Bernadette Fox – a strong woman, but who develops an allergy to Seattle and to people so that she becomes agrophobic.
Her daughters fabulous results in school means that she claims her promised reward of a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette by now is having her life run by a virtual assistant in India…. so a trip to the end of the earth is problematic. So she disappears.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW BY JONAS JONASSON
It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.
THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB BY LILY KOPPEL (a true story)
This is on my to read list.. it comes recommended by a good friend in the US and as over the last 6 months so many of us in Ireland fell in love with Cmdr Hadfield I am dying to read this…..
As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.(le
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS BY ML STEADMAN
I haven’t read this yet but it comes highly recommended by my mother and some friends whose judgement is rarely wrong.
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.
The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.
ME BEFORE YOU BY JOJO MOYES
I loved this book… I flew through it… but it moved me like books rarely do.
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
PAPER AEROPLANES BY DAWN O PORTER
This is a (older) young adult book… and a debut from Dawn O Porter… documentary maker, journalist and married to our own Chris O Dowd.
You could read it in one sitting.. but for anyone who has once been a girl this book will resonate with you – even if your girlhood was two decades before the characters in the book.
Set in the mid-1990s, fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn’t be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo’s jealous ex-best friend and Renée’s growing infatuation with Flo’s brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.
With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, PAPER AEROPLANES is a gritty, poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny and powerful novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence and the power of female friendship
AND IRISH WOMEN’S FICTION
The Captains Table by Muriel Bolger
No matter the problem, a Mediterranean cruise is the perfect solution – at least, this is the opinion of a group of solo travellers who enjoy dinner together at the Captain’s Table during their first night on the ship.
When a group of solo travellers meet for dinner on the first day of a luxury cruise, alliances are quickly formed. But as the ship makes its way through azure Mediterranean waters, it becomes clear that some of the passengers have their own reasons for wanting to escape their everyday lives . . .
The Letter by Maria Duffy
Just launched… the letter is the story of Ellie Duggan is getting married in seven weeks. But just before she sets off for a fun-filled New York hen party weekend, she finds a letter addressed to her sister Caroline.Dated only weeks before Caroline died in a tragic accident, it contains some startling information which forces Ellie to face some truths about herself, Caroline’s death – and even her forthcoming marriage.Ellie has spent the three years since Caroline’s death running from the truth. But as the weekend in New York comes to a close, she makes a drastic decision. As Ellie finally lays old ghosts to rest, she realises that the truth can set you free. But will she be willing to take the risk?
The Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan
Land of Dreams is the stunning third novel in the Ellis Island trilogy. Ellie’s idyllic and bohemian family lifestyle on Fire Island is shattered when her eldest son, Leo, runs away to Hollywood to seek his fame and fortune. Ellie is compelled to chase after him, uprooting her youngest son and long-time friend and confidante Bridie as she goes. Ellie fashions a new home amongst the celebrities, artists and movie moguls of the day to appease Leo’s star-studded dreams. As she carves out a new way of life, Ellie is drawn towards intense new friendships. Talented composer Stan is completely different to any other man she has previously encountered whilst kindred spirit Suri opens Ellie’s eyes to a whole new set of injustices. Ellie sees beyond the glitz of 1940s Hollywood, realising that the glamorous and exciting world is also a dangerous place overflowing with vanity and greed. It is up to Ellie to protect her precious family from the disappointments such surroundings can bring and also from the more menacing threats radiating from the war raging in Europe.
5 Peppermint Grove by Michelle Jackson
Ruth Travers is leaving Ireland like so many of the Irish Diaspora who have gone before her. But, instead of a coffin ship, she’s travelling business class on a Boeing 777 and will be landing in sunny Perth, Western Australia. Leaving behind her married boyfriend of ten years, Ruth hopes to make a fresh start. Her mother Angela, who lived in Perth in the seventies, is distraught when she hears that Ruth is Australia bound. It is only when Ruth discovers a sealed airmail envelope, with 5 Peppermint Grove, Perth, scrawled across it in her mother’s handwriting, that she wonders what else Angela may be hiding. Her best friend Julia Perrin gently orchestrated the move to Perth for her friend’s own good. She is a successful businesswoman with her own travel company and so busy fixing everybody else’s life she sees no need to do so with her own . . . until she visits Ruth in Perth! Sunshine, sandy beaches and barbeques abound but there may be more than Angela’s secret waiting for them in Peppermint Grove .