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Ten of the best vacation reads for this summer


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What’s a summer holiday without getting in some serious reading time?

Reading on beach 14.6

Now the exams are over and university is on hold until September, it’s time to treat yourself. Whether you need a palate cleanser after a heavy term of reading or you want to use your time off constructively, we’ve got you covered for this summer of reading.

Books to read on the beach

Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson
Morgan Matson’s YA novels tend to be quite long, but very easy reads, with likeable characters and engaging plots. In this one, Emily’s best friend Sloane goes AWOL, leaving behind a list of dares for Emily to carry out to ensure she has a fantastic summer. It’s filled with the kind of antics we’d all like to have a go at – dancing until dawn, kissing a stranger – and is a great read to kick off your summer of fun.

Summerland, by Elin Hilderbrand.
If you see ‘summer’ as a verb, Elin Hilderbrand novels are probably a good one for you. Set on Nantucket, this novel is a mix between a beach reach and a crime novel, and will conjure up that breezy beautiful New England coastline wherever you happen to be ‘summering’.

One Perfect Summer, by Paige Toon
Paige Toon writes great beach reads, and this one is no exception. Alice meets Joe when she’s on holiday in Dorset, but when summer is over, so is their romance. What we then follow is how Alice’s life changes when she moves to Cambridge for university, and whether she’ll ever see Joe again. If you’re a fan of Toon’s work, you might just spot some previous characters making a few cameos here and there.

Books set in the summer... with a twist

Summertime, by Vanessa Lafaye
It might be summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read a book with some meaning behind it. Set in Florida during the hurricane season of 1935, this is a surprisingly pertinent read for Summer 2018, with its racial tensions and social inequalities. A lazy summer turns into a nightmare for the characters and – spoilers – don’t expect everybody to survive.

Joyland, by Stephen King
The master of horror turns his attentions to the undeniable creepiness of a fairground in the off-season. Devin Jones becomes a ‘carny’ – a fairground worker – in the summer of 1973 and finds himself embroiled in an unsolved murder case and the death of a child. Unlike lots of King’s work, this one isn’t too scary, so hopefully you’ll get some sleep this summer!

The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald
This is perhaps best read towards the end of the summer, when it feels as if you’ve been on holiday forever. You probably need no introduction to the novel, but it’s so worth a read, even if you’ve seen the film adaptations.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan
One hot summer, Bryony Tallis sees something she mustn’t and says something she shouldn’t, and so begins McEwan’s most acclaimed novel. It’s a sweeping and epic novel, moving you through World War II and bringing you to a shocking twist in the conclusion.

Books to read because you’ve got the time

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
It’s a huge book – nearly 1000 pages in my copy – so if you’re ever going to manage it, summer is the time. It also conjures up the hot sultry antebellum South incredibly, and will introduce you to the ever-infuriating Scarlett O’Hara. Seriously, this has been my read of the year so far, because every page is such a rollercoaster.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Another beast of a book, but if you’ve got the time, well worth it. The story of the Tudors has been told so many times, by books, TV and films, but never quite like this. If you want to keep your brain ticking over this summer, you could do a lot worse than picking up this first part of the story of Thomas Cromwell.

That fantasy series you’ve been meaning to try...
We all love a binge-watch of something on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but binge-reading is something we don’t often get the chance to do. So take this opportunity to plunge headlong into the world of Westeros, Narnia or Middle Earth. The characters will become like your best friends. The only downside is that you’ll almost certainly suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you’re forced to leave them!

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