Just in time for the summer holidays, Wayne Winstone shares his top reads for you to tuck into a suitcase or settle down with in the shade
As August stretches out before us, hopefully with more than a smattering of long lazy days to be enjoyed, it’s the time when many of us turn to our To Be Read pile. Whether it’s for a long journey to far-flung places, or just sitting in your own garden on a lazy day, it’s time to find something new to dip into. Wayne shares his personal suggestions for your summer reading pleasure this year (just click the book covers to shop).
The Perfect Golden Circle – Benjamin Myers
This beautifully written novel is the story of two rural outcasts, and the crop circles they create under cover of night over the course of the long, hot and very strange summer of 1989.
The adventures of these two oddball characters are told with gentle humour and the book is full of the sense of the English countryside, the mood of the late 80s and – with echoes of TV’s The Detectorists – of their warm and surprising friendship.
Demon Copperhead –
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, this is a modern David Copperfield-inspired story of a boy born to a single mother in a trailer, with little beyond his dead father’s good looks and his own copper-coloured hair, wit and innate talent for survival.
Told in his unsparing and humorous voice, the story follows the boy as he braves the perils of the modern foster care system, child labour, athletic success, addiction … and love.
Here too is the author’s anger and compassion, and faith in the powers of a good story.
Isaac and the Egg –
This best-selling modern fable is an unforgettable novel about friendship, love, sorrow and joy. Told with humour and tenderness, it starts with the day Isaac Addy walks into the woods – the worst day of his life – and finds something extraordinary there, taking it home with him.
A grieving Isaac and his curious new friend are unlikely companions, but this single chance encounter will soon transform Isaac’s life in ways he cannot imagine.
The Escape Artist –
In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba became the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz. He did it in order to tell the truth of the death camp to the world – and to warn what fate awaited others.
He and his fellow escapee, Fred Wetzler, climbed mountains, crossed rivers and narrowly avoided German bullets, bringing the first full account of Auschwitz to the world.
Their detailed report would eventually reach Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the Pope.
The Lost Rainforests of Britain – Guy Shrubsole
This is the story of a unique British habitat – one so ravaged most people today don’t realise it still exists.
On a journey from the woods of the Western Highlands and the Lake District through the rainforests of Wales down to Devon and Cornwall, Shrubsole maps these ecosystems in exquisite detail – but underlines that without immediate political and public support, we risk losing them forever.
This is the extraordinary tale of one person’s quest to find Britain’s lost rainforests and to bring them back.
Marple: Twelve New Stories
A dozen original short stories, penned by 12 best-selling authors, will introduce Jane Marple to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple through a unique perspective, but stays true to the traditional mystery story.
Penelope of Ithaca was barely into womanhood when she was married to Odysseus.
While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead – and suitors are beginning to knock at her door.
No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’s empty throne – not yet. But as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war.
Shrines of Gaiety –
This hugely enjoyable and immersive novel is set in Soho in the 1920s, where nightclub owner Nellie Coker has just been released from prison. Greeted by her adult children who have been running her empire during her six-month absence, Nellie knows that the business she built is now under threat from those who want to take over.
Full of interesting characters, including Gwendolyn, a war nurse turned librarian who becomes an invaluable assistant to Inspector Frobisher, and teenage runaway Freda.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,
and Tomorrow –
In this exhilarating novel, two friends come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy … and a kind of immortality. Spanning 30 years, from Massachusetts to California and everything in between, it’s a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play and our need to connect and to love.
Yes, it is a love story; but it is not one you have read before.
Wild Fell –
An RSPB Warden tells the story of how he worked to create an economically-viable hill farm in the Lake District that allows space for nature. His passion for making a difference, his advocacy for wildflowers and his eternal hope for the planet are an education and an inspiration. It’s a call to recognise that the solutions for a richer world lie at our feet and, by focusing, we can rebuild landscapes.
The Satsuma Complex –
Gary, a legal assistant, agrees to meet colleague Brendan in the local pub for a drink. Shortly after, Brendan has to leave. Gary stays in the pub and gets talking to a girl who is reading a book called The Satsuma Complex. They get on really well, but she leaves without saying goodbye and he hasn’t got her name.
So, she becomes Satsuma.
The next day, he learns Brendon has gone missing and he tries to find Satsuma to see if she saw or heard anything. Missing people, murder, a love story, humour and plot twists make this a marvellously entertaining novel.
It takes a brave person to attempt a contemporary reimagining of a beloved
novel – but India Knight has managed it brilliantly.
Darling is a savagely funny, bracingly sad, dazzlingly clever take on Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love.
It’s a razor-sharp, laugh-out-loud novel – imaginative and tremendously romantic, with sharp writing, perfect detailing and funny jokes.