From humorous short stories to enjoy on the commute to inspiring tales of resilience and discovery, find out what we’re reading this Summer.
The unexpected debut
Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson (Doubleday) out now
This gentle book charts the correspondence of two strangers, Tina Hopgood (a farmer’s wife in Bury St Edmunds) and Professor Anders Larsen, a curator at a Danish museum. What begins as a formal enquiry about the Tollund Man museum exhibit develops into an endearing friendship, as the letters zip back and forth with increased urgency and life-changing revelations. Youngson’s debut is a celebration of late beginnings – both for herself (she wrote it after taking early retirement from a successful career in the motor industry), and for her characters, as they re-evaluate the path their lives have taken and where they will go. Simply charming.
The ageless novel
The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, Aged 19 Going on 91 by David M. Barnett (Trapeze) out now
In an attempt to escape her problems, Jennifer makes a hasty decision to leave university halls, only to find herself living in an isolated retirement home on the outskirts of town. Despite the large age gap and a few initial disagreements, the new residents bond with their older companions, largely thanks to the introduction of a movie night. Later, faced with the potential closure of Sunset Promenade, the group must pull together to save their home.
This novel is an uplifting and heart-warming tale about community, exploring the trials and tribulations of being both young and old, and shows that we often have more in common than we think.
The adventurer’s tale
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar (W&N) out now
This poignant story follows two Syrian girls living centuries apart. One is a modern-day refugee seeking safe passage, the other a medieval adventurer and apprentice to a legendary mapmaker. Rawiya and Nour travel across the Middle East and North Africa along identical paths, finding themselves in very similar situations despite the history between them.
It is a tale of resilience, with both girls spurred on by the promise of reaching home, despite the turmoil unravelling around them.
The on-the-go read
Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Adventures in the Ordinary by Rebecca Front (Orion) out now
Filled with short-yet-hilarious observational stories, Rebecca Font’s Impossible Things Before Breakfast is ideal if you don’t always have time to get embroiled in a long novel. Perfect for cheering up your commute, or for those of us likely to have their deckchair time cut short entertaining little ones, this comical collection of snippets from Rebecca’s life is easy to dip into – but much harder to dip out of.
Bursting with tales of human quirks, misunderstandings and unexpected events – from school fairs to disastrous dinner parties – Rebecca highlights how one seemingly small incident can shine light on something much bigger. Insightful, witty and relatable, the collection is packed with characters you will recognise from your own life – something that makes it all the more enjoyable.
The pacey thriller
Take Me In by Sabine Durrant (Hodder & Stoughton) out now
Can you ever trust a complete stranger? For parents Marcus and Tessa vacationing in Greece, trust isn’t a choice when have-a-go-hero Dave Jepson saves their three-year-old son from drowning. Wrong-footed by the blame-game that ensues between them, cracks soon begin to show in their marriage. When Jepson starts turning up in their lives in an apparently coincidental (but increasingly more sinister) fashion – even when they’re back on home soil – the cracks only deepen.
With echoes of Ian McEwan’s unsettling Enduring Love, Durrant crafts a paranoid world where everyone has something to hide, and outsiders are not to be trusted. No one is without flaws, but the raw humanity is something that makes the novel even more compelling. Told through dual-narration, the alternate accounts draw the reader into a world where we don’t know who to trust.
The educational cookbook
The Clear Skin Cookbook by Dale Pinnock (Orion) out now
Our mantra when it comes to a good cookbook is: never trust one without mouth-watering pictures. However, this new-and-improved update to Pinnock’s original guide to clear-skin cooking had us rethinking. With over a third of the book dedicated to eloquent explanations of the science behind the chef’s rationale, and digestible breakdowns of the benefits of recipe ingredients, this cookbook is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to bolster their skincare routine from the inside out.
Our must-try recipe tip: Coconut-crusted salmon on spiced sweet potato puree with garlic greens.