Five Summer Reads

Scott Wallace
27th Nov 2016

Already dreaming of what you'll be doing over the summer, when life will finally slow down for a few weeks? There's nothing more therapeutic and relaxing than sinking into a good book, especially if it's enjoyed outdoors on a gorgeous summer's day. To help you get ready for a wonderful summer, here are five novels that will make a great summer read.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Literary legend Margaret Atwood never fails to surprise. For her latest she has moved away from the often chilling science-fiction and works of restless imagination that largely defined her previous work to contribute to Hogarth Shakespeare's recreation of classic works by The Bard. In Atwood's hands, The Tempest becomes a metatextual revenge fantasy, centred around stage productions of said play and one man's quest for retribution after having been ousted from his eminent theatre position. One of the things Margaret Atwood does best is construct stories like origami, and Hag-Seed has as many folds and wrinkles as her most complicated and best-loved works.

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimar McBride

The follow-up to the acclaimed A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is less knotty than its predecessor, but still just as emotionally raw, scabrous and strikingly unique. The Irish novelist writes in a way that verges on stream-of-consciousness, but rarely ever strays from evocative and absorbing kitchen sink realism. Set in mid-1990s London, at a time when the city was having a moment as one of the world's key cultural hubs, The Lesser Bohemians tells of a tumultuous and complex relationship between an 18-year-old aspiring actress just arrived from Ireland, and a man twenty years her senior.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Never one to shy away from being provocative, Ian McEwan has created another masterwork of moody and subversive comic melodrama. In this case it's a crime fiction novel narrated by an unborn foetus that bears witness to the steady decay of its parents' relationship. It may seem like a gimmick, but from this premise McEwan wrangles great pathos and mordant wit, the novel's nigh-omnipotent narrator becoming just as fully formed as the characters around it. This is one to grab if you're looking for something playful, gripping, and utterly original to lose yourself in over the summer.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout, having just won the 2016 Man Booker Prize, is sure to be flying off the shelves this summer. It's far edgier than what you'd expect from a summer read, but Paul Beatty's style is as free-flowing and hilarious as a Marx Brothers routine, even though it often crackles with fury and bitter irony. Narrated by a more-or-less unnamed protagonist, The Sellout takes a look at the status of black Americans, from history to the present that is at once both absurd and frighteningly pointed. It's a satirical piece in which the laughs come hard and fast, and leave thoughtful reflection in their wake.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith has affirmed her place as one of the 21st Century's greatest novelists, so a new novel from her is always an event. Swing Time continues in the vein of her previous works, investigating the intersecting of everyday lives as they are coloured by race, religion, gender and nationality, all through her unmatched ability to create fully three dimensional characters that seem so real that you could touch them. Swing Time is a novel about music and dance that spans from West Africa to London, as well as criss-crossing entire lifetimes. Reading a Zadie Smith novel is like briefly living someone else's life.