Here it is, summer has come back around again. As probably the time when people who aren’t natural readers read the most (think lying by the pool, on the beach, on the plane, in the park etc…), I’m keen to give hefty book recs as I know that’s probably the only time you normies will ever read them. At the same time, any average reader’s reaction when I hand them six 600-page-plus novels to get through is going to be a “Hell NAH”, so I’ve satisfied myself with giving you average-to-shorter novels, that also aren’t so emotionally heavy to read. We’re on holiday, we don’t want to be crying on the beach.
I’m going to be taking a leaf out of my own book, and reading some lighter-hearted books this summer, as lately I’ve been reading the newest Hanya Yanagihara novel (good, but heavy – both metaphorically and physically) and breaking that up with an even more depressing novel about the Vietnam War called ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong. The writing is absolutely fantastic, but I genuinely almost threw up on the tube the other day while I was reading it. A super visceral reaction to the extraordinary capability of human cruelty, especially in times of war. So… yeah, I think it’s time for a break.
If you haven’t read the first book by Elodie Harper, ‘The Wolf Den,’ then I strongly advise you to read that first as ‘The House With The Golden Door’ is the sequel, but the series is just so good, I had to include it.
I’ve included a book of poetry for your lazy intellectuals which will take avid readers about half an hour to consume, but I’m really enjoying Wendy Cope at the moment, and I think you will too.
‘The Shepherd’s Hut’ by Tim Winton is a book that I’ve had sitting on my shelf for ages. You know, those kinds of books that don’t look that appealing, so they just sit there on the shelf getting less and less interesting. Well two weeks ago, I thought, ‘Why the hell not?’ feeling wild and spontaneous, so I picked it up and read it and it was amazing. You couldn’t find a novel more Australian, more bogan, or one that was more honest.
As for me, I’ll be with you reading ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’. Taylor Jenkins Reid has a wonderful way of making it all come together in the end for a clever and highly anticipated climax, as well as leaving you imagining the characters trotting off into the sunset – for better or for worse. Hopefully, that’s what we’ll all be like this summer.
Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
Everyone knows Daisy Jones and The Six.
Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split.
Nobody ever knew why. Until now.
The only thing that’s certain is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked, barefoot, on to the stage at the Whiskey, the band were irrevocably changed…
This is the story of their incredible rise and fall. The ambition, the desire, the heartbreak, and the music.
Everyone was there. Everyone remembers it differently.
The House With The Golden Door – Elodie Harper
The life of a courtesan in Pompeii is glittering, yet precarious...
Amara has escaped her life as a slave in the town's most notorious brothel, but now her existence depends on the affections of her patron: a man she might not know as well as she once thought.
At night she dreams of the wolf den, still haunted by her past. Amara longs for the women she was forced to leave behind and worse, finds herself pursued by the man who once owned her. In order to be free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.
Amara knows her existence in Pompeii is subject to Venus, the goddess of love. Yet finding love may prove to be the most dangerous act of all.
We return to Pompeii for the second instalment in Elodie Harper's Wolf Den Trilogy, set in the town's lupanar and reimagining the lives of women long overlooked.
The Shepherd’s Hut – Tim Winton
‘For the first time in me life I know what I want and I have what it takes to get me there. If you never experienced that I feel sorry for you.
But it wasn’t always like this. I been through fire to get here. So be happy for me. And for fucksake, don’t get in my way.’
Jaxie dreads going home. His mum’s dead. The old man bashes him without mercy, and he wishes he was an orphan. But no one’s ever told Jaxie Clackton to be careful what he wishes for.
In one terrible moment his life is stripped to little more than what he can carry and how he can keep himself alive. There’s just one person left in the world who understands him and what he still dares to hope for. But to reach her he’ll have to cross the vast saltlands on a trek that only a dreamer or a fugitive would attempt.
This urgent masterpiece is a rifle shot of a novel – crisp, fast, shocking – about solitude and unlikely friendship, about the raw business of survival, but most of all about what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and brutal world.
Island – Aldous Huxley
For over a hundred years the Pacific island of Pala has been the scene of a unique experiment in civilisation. Its inhabitants live in a society where Western science has been brought together with Eastern philosophy to create a paradise on earth. When a cynical journalist, Will Farnaby, arrives to research potential oil reserves on Pala, he quickly falls in love with the way of life on the island. Soon the need to complete his mission becomes an intolerable burden and he must make a difficult choice.
Ariadne – Jennifer Saint
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of King Minos, Ariadne and Phaedra grow up hearing the terrible bellows of the Minotaur from the Labyrinth. The Minotaur – Minos’ greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls for him. But helping Theseus defeat the monster means betraying her family, and Ariadne knows that in a world ruled by mercurial gods, drawing their attention can cost you everything.
Ariadne has heard too many tales of women being punished for the acts of men – she is determined to set her own fate. But will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
If I Don’t Know – Wendy Cope
Wendy Cope's most recent collection, her first since Serious Concerns in 1992, extends her concern with the comedy of the examined life ('the way we have been, the way we sometimes are'), and imagines those adjustments to the ordinary which would fulfil our futures, or allow us to realize the golden age of five minutes ago, or weigh the 'out there' of the present moment, where what is in sight is also out of reach. These are poems of well-tempered yearning, conditional idylls which sing in praise of lying fallow, the creativity of daydream, the yeast of boredom, the truths of intermediacy. Wendy Cope's formal tact is alertly present - in triolets, rondeaux, villanelles, squibs, epigrams - small forms whose power to disarm goes hand in hand with her characteristically tart ripostes to the way things (usually) are. This collection extends the variousness of her occasions.