Books for summer: 15 of the hottest holiday reads
With summer holidays in full flow, Hannah Stephenson flicks through the best books to to nab for the beach, plane or sun-lounger
SUITCASE packed for your summer hols? It's time to scan the bookshelves for some great reads while you're away.
From sagas and dramas, to thrillers, romance and real life, there's no shortage of great books out there to choose from right now, whether you like a good beach read or a more complex literary novel.
Leaf through some of these suggestions...
1. The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts (HQ, £12.99 hardback, available August 9)
Fans of Helen Fielding and Jilly Cooper should check out this fresh and funny debut from the former features director of Tatler, about the misadventures of singleton Polly Spencer. She writes about the aristocracy for celebrity magazine Posh!, drinks too much, is turning 30 and feels the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend's summer wedding are looking slim. Sex, a debauched hen night and a dalliance with a legendary playboy are all thrown into the mix in this light-hearted beach read.
2. A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne (Doubleday, £14.99 hardback, available August 9)
Anyone who loved Boyne's last epic saga, The Heart's Invisible Furies, will be reaching for this latest novel from the award-winning Irish writer and author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. This psychological drama sees a would-be writer in pursuit of other people's stories. He doesn't care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – as long as they help him rise to the top. Stories will make him famous but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal. They may even make him do worse.
3. After The Party by Cressida Connolly (Viking, £14.99 hardback, available now)
This evocative inter-war story, set during the tumultuous late 1930s in a big country house, sees a party-going protagonist return home to find herself entangled in a world of idealistic beliefs and seemingly innocent friendships. As her her small, privileged circle hears of the possibilities of another war, she becomes fascinated with Oswald Moseley and his fascists, who offer solutions which will have devastating consequences.
4. How To Be Famous by Caitlin Moran (Ebury, £14.99 hardback, available now)
The award-winning columnist is at her best here, mixing biting humour with feminist polemic, in the second in a semi-autobiographical trilogy following the adventures of Johanna Morrigan, a 19-year-old columnist (known as Dolly Wilde), who makes a name for herself against a backdrop of 1995 London at the epicentre of Britpop. When an odious comedian videos them having sex and then shows the film to his mates, Johanna sets out to wreak revenge and, safe to say, comes out on top.
5. Kudos by Rachel Cusk (Faber & Faber, £16.99 hardback, available now)
Last in this trilogy in which writer Faye, a woman on a plane, listens to the stranger in the seat next to hers telling her the story of his life: His work, his marriage, and the harrowing night he has just spent burying the family dog. Travelling to promote the book she has just published, the novel explores the conversations she has with the people she meets – about art, family, politics, love, sorrow and joy, justice and injustice. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry.
6. Less by Andrew Sean Greer (Abacus, £8.99 paperback, available now)
If you missed the hardback, check out this gentle, witty Pulitzer-winning story about failed novelist Arthur Less, a gay man who receives a wedding invitation from an ex-boyfriend who's engaged to someone else. Arthur decides to go travelling to dubious literary events around the world – from San Francisco to Japan, Italy and back again – yet distance doesn't help him face his plight. Greer's sparkling prose covers his mishaps, misunderstandings, and the fragility of the human heart.
7. From The Corner Of The Oval Office by Beck Dorey-Stein (Bantam, £14.99 hardback, available now)
Anyone who wants to find out about the inside workings of the Oval Office should grab a copy of this true account of the author's experience working there for Barack Obama, as part of the elite team which follows the president around the world. Far from being a dry tome, it features the dilemmas of what she should wear, how she deals with the alpha females on the team, and falls in love with one of his closest aids. Funny and sassy insider account.
8. Skin Deep by Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland, £12.99 paperback, available now)
This atmospheric 'why-dunnit' centres on a woman who's been living on the French Riviera for 25 years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But the arrival of a visitor from her distant past leads to her reacting violently to the intrusion. Nugent's novel is a dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes a woman from an island childhood in Ireland to ruin in Nice.
9. Skyjack by KJ Howe (Headline, £8.99 paperback original, available August 2)
In the second novel from Kim Howe, kidnapping negotiator Thea Paris finds herself in another high intensity hostage situation, when her flight is hijacked over the Libyan Desert when she is escorting two former child soldiers to freedom in London. Howe has spent time researching the world of international kidnapping, interviewing negotiators, security experts and SAS soldiers, which brings a sense of realism to the mix.
10. The Light Between Us by Katie Khan (Doubleday, £12.99 hardback, available August 9)
This 'will they, won't they' love story sees two old university friends, Thea and Isaac, come together when Thea's quest to prove that time travel does exist goes wrong. When one of their friends going missing in an experiment, they're forced to re-examine their own friendship, which isn't perhaps as platonic as they used to think. Perfect for fans of Sliding Doors and The Versions Of Us.
11. The Outsider by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton, £20 hardback, available now)
Fancy a chill down your spine while you're chilling out? The latest tale from the horror master sees a Little League coach arrested when an 11-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park. Yet, despite DNA evidence and eyewitness reports, it turns out the suspect has an alibi and was out of town that day. As detectives look for clues, horrifying answers begin to emerge.
12. Vox by Christina Dalcher (HQ, £12.99 hardback, available August 23)
There's a massive buzz around this dystopian debut, which explores a world where women have a daily quota of 100 words; any more and 1,000 volts of electricity will course through their veins. No woman is able to speak over this limit without punishment. Books are forbidden, bank accounts transferred to the closest male relative, and all female employment suspended, while any LGBT citizens and non-conformists are sent to 'correctional' camps. But when the right wing president's brother suffers a stroke which affects his speech, a leading female neurolinguist is temporarily given back her voice to work on the cure.
13. Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey (Viking, £12.99 hardback, available now)
From the acclaimed author of Elizabeth Is Missing comes this beautifully written family saga, in which a woman's 15-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonising days. When she is found, unharmed, in the middle of the countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But she refuses to tell anyone what happened – and when the once-happy family return to London, she starts acting strangely. It's a painfully honest account of what it's like to have a depressed daughter, while still keeping an eye on the everyday side of modern family life.
14. You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday, £16.99 hardback, available now)
This engaging short story collection takes its name from a twist in a game of 'I'll think it, you say it' taking place between two of her characters in one story – but which doesn't play out conventionally and continues its thread through all the others. Each of the 11 stories deals with power dynamics between characters, and how the balance can shift, often disastrously.
15. The Wives by Lauren Weisberger (HarperCollins, £12.99 hardback, available now)
The author of The Devil Wears Prada reunites readers with former Runway assistant Emily Charlton (played by Emily Blunt in the hit film), who is now an image consultant to Hollywood stars, and goes to the rescue of a model friend whose senator husband has set her up to disgrace her and dumped her. But this is a story of female sassiness and solidarity, full of girl power and fun.