Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

The 50 best summer reads

Big Girl by Danielle Steele
This is Arifa's suggestion for the beach or the plane this summer. Two sisters, one large one - although in Steele's world this is a mere 10 to 15lbs overweight - and one perfect one. A story about self-acceptance.
Publisher Corgi
How much £7.99
The Butterfly Isles by Patricia Barkham
'A quintessential summer read that follows one man's quest to see all 60 species of British butterfly in one summer,' says Greg Eden. 'Informed, inspirational and occasionally deeply personal, this is a lovely piece of natural history writing.'
Publisher Granta Books
How much £9.99
Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
A new Bond novel from one of the most successful thriller writers around, says Greg. Rebecca Armstrong says Fleming fans will be pleased to see that 007 is recognisable despite a few Deaver-ish twists.
Publisher Hodder
How much £19.99
Super-Cannes by J G Ballard
'Among the last of Ballard's novels, Super-Cannes glimpses a society where, when you peel away the skin, all sorts of horrors lurk. It's compulsively believable - with a cloudless sky and the sound of the sea nearby, making it only more so,' says David Miller.
Publisher HarperCollins
How much £12.99
Bed by David Whitehouse
A slightly surreal story about Mal, who's an extraordinary child until one day he takes to his bed and doesn't get up again, becoming the fattest man in the world. 'He's an extremely vivid firework of a character,' says Greg.
Publisher Canongate
How much £11.99
There But for The by Ali Smith
The latest offering from the Costa Award winning writer Ali Smith comes out this month, says Arifa Akbar. The premise is that a dinner party guest locks himself in the host's bedroom and refuses to come out for months. Not necessarily something we can all relate to but certainly one to provoke a lively discussion.
Publisher Hamish Hamilton
How much £16.99
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
'Written when the author was just 18, this was an overnight sensation in the 1950s and remains a classic fictional exploration of adolescent angst and confusion,' says Greg.
Publisher Penguin Great Loves
How much £5.99
Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson
Every day, Christine wakes up not knowing where - or who ? she is, and has to piece her life back together. 'This corking novel is absolutely gripping and a seriously impressive debut,' says Rebecca.
Publisher Doubleday
How much £12.99
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
A tale of divorce, death and Dickens in the jungle told with bravery, brilliance and brutality, says David. 'Unfailingly funny and horrifying, unsettling and moving, it's Waugh at his best, if not the best of Waugh.'
Publisher Penguin
How much £9.99
An Agent of Deceit by Chris Morgan Jones
If your beach readings lean towards thrills rather than romance, this is a good one to start with. A debut novel that delves into the shadowy world of oligarchs, private investigators and dodgy dealings.
Publisher Mantle
How much £16.99
The Second Coming by John Niven
Scottish novelist John Niven turns his satirical sights on the subject of religion and builds his latest book around the arrival of Jesus Christ in modern-day America, says Greg.
Publisher William Heinemann
How much £12.99
History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason
'A hugely accomplished novel - the story of Piet Barol, a young, provincial Dutchman and the social and sexual adventure he embarks upon in belle époque Amsterdam,' says Greg.
Publisher W&N
How much £12.99
The Man Who Saved Britain by Simon Winder
The author's debut is a sly, wry account of Britain since the War, says David. 'His argument is that two things haven't changed since the early 1950s - the Queen and James Bond. A splendid read.'
Publisher Picador
How much £8.99
A Month in the Country by J L Carr
Spanning one short hazy English summer this is a novel to treasure, says Greg. 'Magical and mournful, this book's simplicity is one of its most striking qualities.'
Publisher Penguin Modern Classics
How much £7.99
Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon
More elegant, understated crime fighting from the mistress of La Serinissima, says Rebecca. 'A welcome return to the comfortable characters and locations that her fans have come to love.'
Publisher William Heinemann
How much £16.99
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
A powerful debut novel telling the story of 10-year-old Elly and her brother Joe, says Greg. The story follows the central characters throughout their childhood and then as adults.
Publisher Headline Review
How much £7.99
Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
'This is a humorous take on what it's like to be married to a roguish writer,' says Arifa. It's an exploration of love and how we learn to be together.
Publisher Picador
How much £12.99
The Redundancy of Courage by Timothy Mo
'A book of devastation and political emptiness that has been written with the pace of a thriller and with passion, humour and courage,' says David.
Publisher Paddleless Press
How much £7.99
Run! by Dean Karnazes
Real-life adventures stories from a superathlete. This is a follow-up to his best-selling Ultamarathon Manand includes accounts of running in the Australian Outback and Death Valley.
Publisher Allen & Unwin
How much £10.99
The Russia House by John le Carré
This is le Carré's first post- Glasnost novel and brilliantly captures the the slow thaw of the Cold War.
Publisher Penguin Modern Classics
How much £9.99
Big Girl by Danielle Steele
This is Arifa's suggestion for the beach or the plane this summer. Two sisters, one large one - although in Steele's world this is a mere 10 to 15lbs overweight - and one perfect one. A story about self-acceptance.
Publisher Corgi
How much £7.99
The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr
This account of the tracking of a 19th-century French serial killer deftly explains the birth of forensic science in Europe and beyond.
Publisher Simon & Schuster
How much £16.99
The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
'Taking his cue from Pushkin, Vikram Seth's first novel is beguilingly odd,' says David. 'It's a novel in verse set in California. The chatty narrator takes us through the lives of yuppies with rare panache.'
Publisher Faber & Faber
How much £9.99
Gillespie & I by Jane Harris
Set in 1930s London and Victorian Glasgow, this novel is haunting, and loud with laughter in the dark, as a cultured octogenarian harks back to her life in another country 50 years before,' says Greg.
Publisher Faber & Faber
How much £14.99
The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross
'Load up your iPod, free up your brain,' says David. 'Alex Ross provides the almost unthinkable - a history of the last century through music, from Richard Strauss to Radiohead, with devastating ease.'
Publisher Fourth Estate
How much £14.99
Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
I was given this book of Raymond Carver's classic short stories about 10 years ago and have never stopped reading it. Usually, I'm not a fan of short stories but this book changed all that.
Publisher Harvill Press
How much £12.99
Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer
Set in modern-day South Africa, and translated from Afrikaans, this is peppered with colourful street slang and has its tension levels set to almost unbearable, says Rebecca.
Publisher Hodder
How much £6.99
Cold Heaven by Brian Moore
A bored, unfaithful wife discovers that her husband has risen from the dead. 'It's eerily suspenseful, compelling and brilliant,' says David.
Publisher Flamingo
How much Second-hand
The Go-Between by L P Hartley
Set in the summer of 1900, this novel tells of a teenage boy's meddling in the love lives of elders with tragic results, says Greg.
Publisher Penguin Modern Classics
How much £9.99
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
This might be a book of stories about animals but in Sedaris's immensely talented hands it's so much more than that. This will have you chuckling on your sunlounger without a doubt.
Publisher Little Brown
How much £12.99
The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
'This is Hollinghurst's first novel since his 2004 Booker winner, The Line of Beauty,' says Arifa. It was worth the wait. It's the story of two families and two houses spanning the 20th century.
Publisher Picador
How much £20
Hope & Glory by Stuart Maconie
Stuart Maconie is a popular chronicler of all things British, says Greg. Here, he seeks out the people, places and events that have shaped modern Britain and our national identity.
Publisher Ebury Press
How much £11.99
Last Chance to Die by Noah Boyd
The second novel to feature Steve Vail, a kind of Jack Reacher 2.0, says Rebecca. 'It's just as pacy - if occasionally preposterous ? as its predecessor.'
Publisher Harper
How much £7.99
The Maid by Kimberly Cutter
Historical fiction might not be the classic beach choice but this tale about Joan of Arc is unputdownable, which is want you want from a holiday read.
Publisher Bloomsbury
How much £12.99
The Wilt Inheritance by Tom Sharpe
'He may be in his eighties and his characters slightly dated, but I have a certain nostalgic affection for Sharpe's brand of farcical fiction,' says Greg.
Publisher Hutchinson
How much £7.99
With the Kisses of His Mouth by Monique Roffey
Although this is technically quite a literary tome, Arifa reckons it would be good for the beach too. Billed as a 'sexual odyssey' by the publishers.
Publisher Simon & Schuster
How much £12.99
Beauty and the Inferno by Roberto Saviano
Translated from the Italian by Oonagh Stransky, this series of essays includes the author's experience of death threats after the writing of Gomorrah, an exploration of the Camorra Mafia of Naples.
Publisher Maclehose Press
How much £16.99
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman by Margaret Drabble
Arifa has chosen this as one of her favourite classic novels. Perfect for dipping in and out of on a hot summer day, this is a collection of short stories written over the last four decades.
Publisher Penguin Classics
How much £20
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
A teenage boy is the only survivor of a family massacre and can't speak about what he has seen. A retired hypnotist is brought in to find out the truth, which is more chilling than he, or we, could imagine, says Rebecca.
Publisher Blue Door
How much £12.99
Ed by Mehdi Hasan and James Mcintyre
This will be the book lying carelessly on the sunbeds of Chiantishire this summer. And it was co-written by one of our former political reporters so for that reason, this is one of Arifa's picks.
Publisher Biteback
How much £16.99
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
In this 1984 Pulitzer prize-wining novel, Lurie casts a kind but merciless eye on England and Englishness through the stories of two American academics on research leave abroad.
Publisher Vintage
How much £8.99
The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard
'This deceptively slim novel, about a young girl's summer near Naples, her loves and entanglements with other's affairs is deftly etched in the most perfect prose,' says David.
Publisher Virago
How much £8.99
A Walk-On Part by Chris Mullin
This isn't out until 25 August but if you've read the first two volumes, you'll be eagerly awaiting this final volume, which covers the period from the death of John Smith in 1994 to 2000.
Publisher Profile
How much £25
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
'A masterpiece of travel writing which is by turns, exhilarating, whimsical and poetic. A hugely evocative and romantic portrait of a bygone age,' says Greg.
Publisher Penguin
How much £8.99
Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith
This is the final book in a trilogy that started with Child 44, says Rebecca. Once again, former secret service agent Leo Demidov finds himself at odds with the Soviet state he once upheld.
Publisher Simon & Schuster
How much £16.99
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Just as the acclaimed American Wife fictionalised the life of Laura Bush, so this is a story of Earnest Hemingway's first marriage told by his wife, Hadley Richardson.
Publisher Virago
How much £12.99
Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg
Also non-fiction but as it's Simon Pegg it will go in comedy too, says Arifa. 'It's quirkier and more characterful than the average TV celebrity autobiography.'
Publisher Arrow
How much £18.99
The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
The posthumous novel from Beryl Bainbridge is about a London girl who goes on a road trip around civil rights-era America in a camper van with her lover.
Publisher Little Brown
How much £16.99
Constance by Franny Moyle
This story of Oscar Wilde's often forgotten about and long-suffering wife contains remarkable new material, says Arifa.
Publisher Little Brown
How much £12.99
The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato
'Recently re-issued and coincidentally at the same time as the author died aged nearly 100, this is Sabato's 1948 existential masterpiece,' says David.
Publisher Penguin
How much £8.99
Victory by Joseph Conrad
'The best introduction to Conrad,' says David. 'A romance and thriller set on an island that ends with, essentially, a shoot-out on the sand. It's sublime.'
Publisher Penguin
How much £6.99

Don’t pack literary let-downs this year. Kate Watson-Smyth offers the hottest holiday books

>> Click More Pictures to launch our guide

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