Get these delicious literary treats in front of your eyeballs! Whether you’re enjoying summer in Sydney, are having a coastal adventure elsewhere, live in one of those places like Mexico or California which never have a proper winter, or are bunkered down in the chilly months wanting some armchair escapism this is for you. OK, not all these books are set in summer, but they are great for holiday reading, and even better, they are all written by wonderful women who are masters of their writerly craft.
This isn’t intended as a lengthy book review column as there are plenty of great sites for book reviews (I recommend The Millions, The New Yorker and The Guardian for starters), more just a pointer towards some of the books I have adored of late. I have always had a strong passion for reading though, and started my career in the book industry (and still work on book-related things here and there). I worked in bookstores and was a bookstore manager at 23 (at the airport of course, and travel took me away from this job at regular intervals), and went on to be a buyer, section manager and then eventually into publishing where I worked as a book publicist for four years. It was my job to get the books into the media and organise and go on book tours. It was pretty ace. I still work with clients on bookish jobs from time to time and don’t plan to change that ever. Last year I decided to focus my energy on new books and especially ones written by women, who don’t get enough recognition in this industry.
I hope you love these books as much as I did! And be sure to leave some of your own book recommendations in the comments below!
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Set in the small coastal town of Almería in Southern Spain, amidst the hot desert sand and jellyfish-filled ocean, Hot Milk follows Sophie and her mother Rose as they visit the famed Dr Gomez and his assistant Nurse Sunshine in the hope of uncovering the mystery of Rose’s ailing health. This hard-to-put-down novel has a hilarious undertone of sly humour, an enigmatic cast of characters, and a vividly painted landscape that will ensure that even if you can’t make it to the beach this summer, Hot Milk will take you there. It’s a cracker.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
When I travel I always seek out bookstores and libraries, and on my recent honeymoon to Hawaii, we visited the coolest little independent bookstore called Talk Story in Kauai (pictured below – that’s me with this very book in the bag). Of course I had to support this little gem of a place, so bought a hardback edition (Americans love their hardbacks!) of Little Fires Everywhere. This intriguing tale weaves and unfolds the stories of the Richardson family of Shaker Heights and the artist Mia who inhabits their rental house with her daughter Pearl. Celeste Ng has a subtle and masterful way of storytelling that I admire so much. I really felt for these characters and the situations they found themselves in and the book really propels you towards the conclusion. You crave answers to ‘who lit the fires?’ and ‘do you blame them?’. It explores themes of life on the move versus a stable suburban existence, race and privilege, motherhood and heaps more. I can’t wait to read further works by Ng, starting with her debut Everything I Never Told You.
You may also like the Wild Spin post Wild Words: A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Another one to thank Sydney Writers’ Festival for. American writer Brit Bennett did the Opening Address at the festival alongside literary great George Saunders, and to say she held her own is an understatement. In addition to being compulsively readable, The Mothers explores big themes such as abortion and friendship betrayals, and her characters are easy to relate to, and hard to forget. So much talent for a writer so young. I can’t wait to see what does next.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Just the premise alone will be enough to have you picking up this book: suddenly young women get the power to electric shock in a harmful way through the very touch of their fingers, making them become the more powerful of the sexes. The way this ripples throughout the world is fascinating to explore. We follow multiple characters who experience this phenomenon in differing ways, and it opens up a Pandora’s Box of what ifs.
This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
This was my first ever graphic novel and I’m not sure if I just picked a very amazing one, or if graphic novels are amazing and I need to weave them into my reading life more often. OK, so my husband is an illustrator and this was his book, so I can’t take credit for the selection of this great work, I really just picked it off our shelf. Mariko and Jillian Tamako are Canadian cousins. Jillian weaves the illustration magic and Mariko writes the touching dialogue. Mariko was at Sydney Writers’ Festival last year, which is where Phil got the book.
Which books would you recommend for summer reading? Or do you have any other fave books written by women I should read? Let me know in the comments below. And I’ll be sharing a Wild Five: Autumn Reads post in the coming months.