My summer holiday already seems like a long time ago, but the schools have only just broken up, so many of you may be yet to make your summer trips. So for your delectation as I sleep off my final nightshift of the run, here are some beach reading suggestions from me.
Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood
I loved this latest novel from Kirsty Greenwood. It’s like the book love child of a late 90s/early 2000s romantic comedy and the sort of screwball antics a drunken modern day Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia story might get up to. Big, Sexy Love tells the story of anxious Olive, who takes refuge from her fears in routine but is forced out of her comfort zone by her dying best friend Birdie. I laughed, I nearly cried (in a corner of the newsroom on my “lunch” break at 3am) and I loved the romance. But most of all I loved the friendship between Olive and Birdie – they’re there for each other, through thick and thin, with humour but without jealousy, judgement or ulterior motive. We need more books with Olives and Birdies. Read this on the beach – but maybe not on the plane for reasons that will become apparent if you read it! And it’s a total bargain at 99p on Kindle at time of writing.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
One of my favourite sort of books to read on my holidays are “rich people problem” novels, and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub is a really good one. You’re following a two couples and their children over the course of one summer. Twenty years earlier, three of them were in a band together and now Hollywood wants to make a film about the fourth member, who made it big and then died young. Will they do it? Are they ready for the revelations that that might bring? And what happens when your kids start to be cooler than you? If you don’t like reading about rich, privelieged hipsters in Brooklyn then give this a miss, but if you do, well, it’s a joy.
Dead is Good by Jo Perry
If you’re after a mystery to read on the beach, try Perry’s Charlie and Rose series from my old friends and frequent supplier of excellent noir-y books, Fahrenheit Press. Dead is Good is the third book following the afterlife adventures of Charlie and Rose the dog as they wander Los Angeles trying to solve crimes but unable to actually influence the outcome of anything (or at least not often). It may sound a bit meta, but it’s a lot of fun. In book 3, Charlie is trying to keep his ex-girlfriend alive and figure out who it is who wants her dead. And the details about Los Angeles are a joy. I could have read another 50 pages at least. Dead is Good is £1.99 on Kindle at time of writing – but if you want to start at the beginning and find out how Charlie ended up as a ghost, then Dead is Better is only 99p.
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
If you love historical fiction or books set across different periods, Matt Haig’s new novel may be for you. It’s not your usual time slip book though because although the narrative jumps around between the present day and various points in the last 500 years, our lead character is the same person. Tom may look like he’s 41, but he’s actually hundreds of years old. He’s lived through everything from the Elizabethan era Britain to Jazz Age Paris and now he’s a history teacher in modern day London. It’s the perfect cover – teaching children about the things that he’s lived through – as long as he doesn’t slip up and fall in love. Because last time that happened it didn’t end well. This kept me engrossed on several train journeys this week, and I couldn’t wait to find out how it turned out. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s going to be turned into a film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, so everyone is going to be talking about that when it comes out and you can be all smug because you read it first!
A couple of other suggestions for you: there’s more romantic comedy in or if you want something older Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me; there are more rich people problems in Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan; if you want some more travels through time – albeit with a different tone entirely – then try The Chronicles of St Mary Series by Jodi Taylor and if you still haven’t read Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible yet, that’s out in paperback now (and was only £1.99 on Kindle at time of writing).
And if you need even more, may I point you back in the direction of my favourite beach reads from my holiday, which I loved so much I’ve already written whole posts of their own about them: Written in Dead Wax and Standard Deviation.