Summer Reading: Our Best Books For The Beach

Summer holidays are around the corner so it seemed a good idea to round up some good reads for the beach or back garden.

For anyone who hasn’t yet read Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, above, so cleverly displayed in Waterstones in Piccadilly, do consider it. We suggested it back here, and since then we’ve had reports via our instagram feed that Sarah’s first book, After Me Comes The Flood is also excellent, but I’ve not read it yet.

The most entertaining memoir I’ve read all year is Priestdaddy, by Patricia Lockwood, recommended on Belgian Waffle’s reading list (my go-to list for new recs). Patricia is a poet and it shows in her wonderfully considered descriptions, she writes in a gently humorous way coming at her subject – her own, slightly batty family – with a fresh, left-of-field style. Patricia and her husband return home to her parent’s home (a church rectory) deflated and poor after a health scare. While amusingly documenting the antics of her Catholic priest father and long suffering mother she also unravels her own childhood issues, wrong footing you slightly with her funny scenarios until you realize the sadness underpinning the hilarity. Very good indeed.

If you are a David Sedaris fan (I am) then you’ve probably already added Theft By Finding to your wish list. It’s a surprise though, as it reveals David’s life before being stupendously successful in the form of his regularly kept diary. It’s funny, but also dark and sad, as he reveals the struggle to break out of his home town of Raleigh in North Carolina. How he’s still alive after all those drugs, I just don’t know. Brilliant, but not what you’d expect.

Uncommon People by David Hepworth is for anyone else who enjoyed his last book, Never A Dull Moment, a fond look at the music of 1971. Here David lists the most important musical artist per year, starting in 1955 (Little Richard) and ending in 1995 (Marc Andreessen). Niche, but wonderfully written and very entertaining.

The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos. I can not remember who suggest this to me but it’s fabulous. I love an art forgery story, this one also revolves around women artists – some forgotten- and that is always a good thing. You learn a lot about how to forge an Old Master, too.

If you are a fan, and I’ve mentioned before that I am, then The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths is out and must be read, obvs.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was recommended to us by a few readers on our twitter feed after Jane sent out a call for good book recommendations. It is indeed very good, according to Jane.

On the same call out, Jenni Eclair suggested her own short story collection, Listening In, and since we love Jenni, we’re adding in here too. She has illustrated them herself she tells us.

After too long a gap, Syd Moore has written a new Essex witchy book, Strange Magic, An Essex Witch Museum Mystery. A little lighter than her previous, really excellent novels, but a good summer read.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty, winner of the Man Booker 2016, is supposed to be brilliant. I have tried it, got to page 44 and felt too stupid to continue. But I WILL get there because the reviews are good. It must be me.

Mauve by Simon Garfield is another niche pick. I read it because of the fashion/ perfume connection, since it’s about William Perkin, who discovered how to make the colourway mauve cheaply and easily in the mid 1800s. Hugely interesting and a real insight into the industrial revolution, if you like that sort of thing.

What are you guys reading currently? Any good suggestions?








  • Helen says:

    The Sellout has been languishing on my bedside table for months now … glad I’m not the only one who’s stalled with it.

    Looking forward to exploring the rest of your list – I so appreciate good recommendations!

  • Vivienne says:

    Very interesting ideas, thank you! I, too, love Elly Griffith novels but they read too quickly!

  • Sue says:

    I keep meaning to read The Essex Serpent – loveliest cover ever. Recently, I have got/read: The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig, The Party by Elizabeth Day, and Lottie Moggach. (I’ve nearly finished the AC and it is very good.)

  • Louise says:

    It’s not you, The Sellout is not an accessible book, and certainly not one for a cheering holiday read.

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