By Lauren Jones, Amy Wright, Rowan Jackson and Ana Matute
Summer is currently in full swing in the UK as we’re in the middle of one of the hottest heatwaves ever recorded. With that in mind, we’ve decided to pick some summery reads to enrich your heatwave experience, with a couple of suggestions for wintery books if you feel you need a distraction from the heat and want to transport your mind to a cold winter's day.
Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Lobsters is a light-hearted, humorous read that lives up to its tagline of “a socially awkward love story” in the best kind of way. The split-perspective YA novel follows eighteen-year-olds Hannah and Sam as they live out the summer between finishing their A-Levels and beginning university, which involves holidays, stress about results day, a healthy dose of teenage angst and, of course, romantic mishaps.
Hannah and Sam first meet in a bathroom where they’re trying to escape the chaos of a house party. The awkward-yet-adorable chance encounter ends with Hannah heading off to find her crush Freddie. Throughout the rest of the novel, we see Hannah and Sam attempt to reconnect, which results in some sweet, hilarious and painfully embarrassing moments. You’ll easily get engrossed in Lobsters if you decide to pick it up, and it’s perfect for a heatwave because it’s such a fun and easy read!
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Another book that is perfect to help get you through a heatwave, whilst also providing some much-needed escapism, is Beach Read by Emily Henry. This fun romcom tells the story of authors January and Gus, who are both experiencing writer’s block and agree to swap genres to see who can write a bestseller. The two become unlikely friends, having previously been rivals at college and it becomes apparent that they have a lot more in common than previously thought. If you are looking for a feel-good novel with a cute but emotional storyline, Beach Read will certainly provide this with its page-turning romance, heart breaking sorrow and witty humour. As the title suggests, it makes a great summer read, whether or not you are at the beach.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Snowdrifts and frost demons, chilling blizzards and dark forests, The Bear and the Nightingale is a world away from the scorching heat. It is a whimsical tale steeped in Russian folklore and fairy tale. Vasilisa is a girl gifted with the second sight, which gives her the ability to see the spirits around her. She spends her childhood in her village, huddling around the fire at home with her siblings and listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. But her way of life is threatened when her devout stepmother forbids the honouring of household spirits and attempts to control her wayward stepdaughter. Strange events then begin plaguing her village – crops fail, monsters prowl the forests and Vasilisa must find the courage to protect her family from this threat. This atmospheric book perfectly evokes the Russian wilderness and winter and is a perfect escape to a world of magic and cold.
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Hot Milk is a hypnotic, evocative and powerful novel set in Almeria, Spain. Its strange and powerful narrative focused on anthropology graduate, Sofia and her hypochondriac and manipulative mother, Rose, is simultaneously captivating and haunting. Sofia and her mother have travelled to Spain with the hope of finding a diagnosis for Rose’s strange and fluctuating ailments which have taken over Sofia’s life. As Sofia explores the town, she begins to reflect upon her relationships and life choices. Deborah Levy’s elegant and lyrical prose is soaked with symbolism and is a powerful reflection on the complexity of the human mind and relationships. Sofia’s anthropology focused mind provides us with intelligent and profound observations of the people that surround her, which adds further complexity and depth to the narrative. When reading Hot Milk, there is an overwhelming atmosphere of sweltering, stifling heat, which reflects Sofia’s suffocating situation with her mother and makes for a great, almost feverish, summer read.
In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González. Translated by Frank Wynne
In the Beginning Was the Sea is an epistolary novel that tells the story of a couple in the ’70s in Colombia that decide to leave the city and start living on the tropical Caribbean coast. The natural elements are essential throughout the novel as they reflect the relationship between the couple and show how life always comes back to nature. Full of powerful images, In the Beginning Was the Sea blends atmosphere and tension with intellectual characters battling love and sea. Allow In the Beginning Was the Sea to help you feel the breeze of the Caribbean while witnessing the trials of love.