Summer Reads

I always appreciate a good book recommendation.

Particularly the sort that involves frantic flapping and “oh my god, haven’t you read _____?”

Those are the best.

So I thought I’d share a few of mine, just incase you’re in need of one or two.

One: The Power by Naomi Alderman

I really cannot recommend this book enough. I bought it on a whim and wasn’t really expecting much but loved it.

The concept sounds a little odd and far fetched, teenage girls around the world suddenly wake up to find they have these powers – electricity that shoots from their hands. The rest of the book follows what happens to the world in this new reality.

I really don’t want to give too much away because it would spoil it, but even if you think it sounds like something you wouldn’t like, give it a go. I promise you will and by the end your mind will be blown.

Really very very clever, without being boring about it,

Two: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

A truly fascinating (non-fiction) look at our history, right back to the very beginning. From the very first chapter you’ll start to question every part of your existence upto this point.

I talk about this book almost constantly and think about it all of the time. It may have sent me spiralling into an existential crisis, but we won’t hold that against it!

Read it, absorb it, but feel free to question it. While I think he gets a lot right (and will give you a new perspective on almost everything) I do disagree with some of his thinking.

A brilliant book for people who don’t even think they like non-fiction books. As far from a textbook as you can get.

Three: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

An American classic which I had never heard of until this year. I devoured it.

A dark, dystopian tale which I’m not sure how to explain without giving it all away. Atwood’s ability to explain things which live only in her imagination and she could never have experienced truly chilled me to my soul. A remarkable work of fiction that you’ll find hard to put down, and offers up some pretty scary food for thought.

Current events make it feel scarily plausible.

Not a light hearted summer romp, so avoid if that’s what you’re after!

Four: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

A really beautiful, tender book. Heartbreaking in parts, but lovely.

I got sucked in and read the whole thing in one afternoon, unable to tear myself away. I sobbed for a good hour afterwards!

Very, very much enjoyed the final Great Escape reference. (You’ll see.)

Five: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Murderous, twisty, compelling, easy read.

Six: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

I only meant to recommend five books, but I also feel like I might have told you about this one before so it doesn’t really count.

Very good murder mystery, rich characters, clever plot.

A good beachy page turner.

Now. Your turn!

I’m half way through two books I don’t think I’ll bother finishing (life is too short to finish bad books), you must have something up your sleeve for me…

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Have you seen these?

  • Isobel

    I’d highly recommend The Alchemist, it’s a beautiful story about discovering your place in the world, but without being heavy handed about it,
    Isobel xx

  • Sapiens was my favourite too. I read the second book by him – Homo Deus, also very good but not as good as the first one.
    The Art of Happiness, a Handbook for Living by Dailai Lama is wonderful, I am re-reading it second time now. Budhist knowledge about happy life summed up in a small handbook that’s easy to understand and you can take away a lot from it for daily life.
    I got to the point where I stopped reading fiction and magazines completely, I just don’t get anything out of them (apart from Paulo Coehlo books).

    Lucia –

  • Lesley Pearse books are my ABSOLUTE favourites <3

    • Chloe McGuinness

      Mine too! Excited to read her new release 🙂

  • E Jane

    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Its short but one of the most emotive and powerful books you will ever read. xxx

    • Aparna Ram

      Loved this one! Would definitely recommend it even though it’s not a light hearted summer vacation kind of read.

  • Laura

    Thanks Rosie these sound great!
    If you haven’t read A Little Life I would thoroughly recommend it! Not for the faint hearted, it is harrowing in parts but the characters are amazing. I was super sad when I finished it. A real page turner and one of the best books I have read for years x

    • Ashley

      Snap! I’ve actually reread it since because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Heartbreaking x

      • I’ve read this too and I honestly feel like it will stay with my forever, harrowing is exactly the word but one of the best books I have ever read!

  • Catie Paterson

    I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power and have not stopped talking about either since! Especially The Power, a real mind twister!!
    Just finished reading The Underground Railway, found it fascinating.

  • LauraCrosby

    The Girls by Emma Cline, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and anything by Gillian Flynn (she has works besides Gone Girl) if you like murdery books. I would also highly, strongly, passionately recommend A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I read it on holiday in a few days, it made me feel like no ever book has made me feel before, so many tears and so much joy.

  • Robyn

    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. One of only a handful of books to make me cry. A harrowing love story that will still pop in to your head weeks after reading.

    • Catie Paterson

      Gosh, yes this book is an emotional rollercoaster.

  • Diana Leça

    Joël Dicker’s second book (just released) The Baltimore Boys is even better than The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, which i also loved

  • Diana Leça

    The Dry by Jane Harper is also excellent

  • The slow pace

    I’m almost finishing Sapiens and I can’t gree with you more! I like that it’s a little bit controversial and it makes you think. I don’t agree with some things the author says, but sometimes you need those questions to be raised because it makes you uncomfortable… and our brain needs that from time to time to be healthy!
    I love non fiction! Have you read Prisioners of Geography by Tim Marshall? It’s one of my favourite books. It will blow your mind and will help you understand politics nowadays with a differnt point of view. I have bought Tim Marshall’s latest book, which I will read when I finish Sapiens. It’s about flags and politics again and makes the Sheldon Cooper in me so very excited! I can’t wait to read it!

  • Elena Storozhkova

    Thanks for sharing, Rosie! I love a good beach read! Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante are probably the best ones I read this year. Saving the last one for my vacation on the Amalfi coast. Other good ones I could definitely recommend: Nutshell by Ian McEwan and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (didn’t expect to love it and it’s a proper page-turner!)
    Enjoy your summer reads xx

    • Julia

      I wanted to second the nomination for the Neapolitan Novels, best books I’ve read in a long time. Really great summer read, or really anytime of the year! Makes me miss Italy!

  • Aparna Ram

    Firstly Rosie, you have to get on Goodreads! It’s a great way of finding new books and do sign up to the annual reading challenge. I recommend:
    All the Missing Girls – a murder mystery story that’s told back to front.
    Commonwealth – A family drama that takes place over decades. you really start to care for the characters and think about them long after the book is finished.

    If you read the Handmaid’s Tale, you should also pick up 1984 by George Orwell. It’s scarily apt for the political age we are living in.

    a couple of books I read recently after which I immediately wished I could get those hours back were
    The Girls – a vulnerable teenage girl joins a cult – how on earth this story was told over 350 odd pages I will never understand. I was bored beyond belief.
    It Ends with Us – deals with an important issue of domestic abuse but the book was more Hallmark movie than a substantial read.

    • zldn

      I thought The Girls was an excellent read but I liked it more for Cline’s mediations on teen girlhood than the actual cult narrative, which felt secondary to the novel

      • Aparna Ram

        I agree with you that the book is more a narrative of the teen character’s state of mind but I found the character quite hard to empathise with. I’ve noticed this book is one of those that people either really love or were just really disinterested in. I fell in the latter category.

        Commonwealth for me had a larger array of characters to get to know over a longer period of time. I’m about 150 pages into The Nix and I’m liking this one too.

  • Thanks for the list! I’m always looking for good books to read. At the moment I’m reading I Am Malala and love it so much. It’s REALLY interesting and I highly recommend it. The next on my list is Girl on the Train. I know, I know…I’m probably the last person to read it…so no spoilers please!

  • Peppermint Dolly

    Liane Moriarty – Big Little Lies specifically, Reece Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman have co-produced a telly box version, but I stopped watching that after just a couple of episode unfortunately (it just didn’t do it for me). But the book – THE BOOK! Now that is a truly wonderful and gripping page turner – go read it!


    • Ana Simões

      Exactly. I started watching the show… which I followed to the end, because Reese Witherspoon is absolutely brilliant in it and Kidman’s closet is worth drooling for. But the book is amazing.

    • donna w.

      Big Little Lies is definitely one of my faves!

  • The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favourite books of all time…it just blew my mind. I’m reading Far From The Madding Crowd now, I find switching up old and new keeps me interested! After this it’s onto Cloud Atlas.

  • Eva van den Belt

    A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. It will CHANGE your life and it will leave you a sobbing broken mess at various points but it is honestly the most life altering book I’ve ever read (buy it as an e book, it’s over 600 pages I think…) xx

  • I really feel like the students in the UK miss out on so much because their compulsory reading lists are so short! I was introduced to Atwood by my school and have been a fan ever since 🙂

  • Agreed with Isobel! The Alchemist is such an amazing book which will inspire you to want to keep traveling and exploring the world. x michelle

  • Lucy Robson

    the Seven Sisters books by Lucinda Riley are a great read and Caraval by Stephanie Garber is very good, and similar to ‘the night circus’

  • Isabelle Robison

    I just finished reading ‘The Baltimore boys’ by Joel Dicker (sequel to Harry Quebert – although completely seperate plot-line) and utterly loved it. Almost better than his first!
    You’ll love it!
    Isabelle x

  • Ooh excellent book recs Rosie! I read the Handmaids Tale back in school and LOVED it, I need to watch the TV series. I also second Isobel, The Alchemist is a great book! Immy x

  • Lorna

    I’ve just bought The Handmaid’s Tale and Sapiens to take on holiday with me so looking forward to reading them now! All The Light We Cannot See was released last year but is truly one of my favourites- such a powerful and beautifully written book. I’d also highly recommend The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Parry. Love your blog Rosie!

  • Amanda

    The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. It’s been turned into a tv series here in the US. Fantastic romantic exciting historical fiction set in Scotland! Also – the Magicians – also a tv series – for the fantasy lover!

  • Leanne Fantham

    The Handmaid’s Tale is a Canadian classic, not American! But yes, great book (and the TV adaptation was fantastic, too!)

  • Lamadoodle

    The Handmaiden’s Tale is not ‘American’ ;).

  • Elizabeth

    Adriana Trigiani’s new novel Kiss Carlo is wonderful. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

  • Samantha Anne Harden

    The Handmaids Tale is one of my all time favourite books … Margaret’s other work Oryx and Crake is also outstanding.. However it is fair to note she is Canadian, not American.

  • Megan

    I have just finished ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith. A vintage I had never read before but it is delightful. ‘Blindness’ by Jose Saramago is one I read for uni which is a good thought provoking read about humanity. If you enjoyed Handmaid’s Tale it is similarly dark though different in every other way.

  • Rach

    Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t heard of the other books except for the handmaids tale!

  • Canadian gal

    As we have all just celebrated Canada Day in London in Trafalgar Square this weekend I kindly remind you that Margaret Atwood is Canadian not America 🙂 *Sorry* :)))

  • Courtney M. Lindsey

    Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan – SO GOOD! I read it in a day and have been recommending it ever since. great, non-fiction read.

  • Lucy

    ‘But you did not come back’ by Marceline Loridan-Ivens. The memoir of a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust but her father did not. Very short book – only took me about an hour to read it was that good. Have re-read multiple times and I never get tired of how beautiful it is.

  • Little Miss Notting Hill

    So I’ve just finished ‘Marlena’ and I LOVED it – really recommend. I also loved The Fates and Furies and you HAVE to read Donna Tartt’s books if you haven’t already? The Goldfinch is my absolute favourites. I’m in a bookclub and we’ve read a few good ones here too I’ve listed at the bottom if you fancy a read – we’re reading the new Joel Dicker one at the moment, it’s just been published and is called ‘Baltimore Boys’:

    A xx

  • Katie Harker

    I’ve just finished reading The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, both really great and fun reads, perfect for summer 🙂

  • Angelique

    Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard is fabulous! I read it for the first time several years ago and have reread it several times since. It’s about love, food, family, friendships, and self-discovery. I’ve given it as a gift to half my friends. (I also just picked up the follow-up book Picnic in Provence! Can’t wait to read it!)

  • zldn

    I’d recommend The Girls by Emma Cline – a great read about a teen girl that gets involved in a cult, set during a hazy 70s Californian summer.
    My other rec is The Secret History by Donna Tartt, about a group of privileged students in an odd, secluded university studying Greek mythology and getting a little too into what they read. It’s a murder mystery at heart and very much a page turner!

  • Angela

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes!

    I ripped through it in three days! It’s so beautifully written and had me guessing until literally the last paragraph. Such an excellent read!

  • Alex Cole

    The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my reading bucket list for a while now! I need to get to the library ASAP so I can get started.
    Alex //

  • Ana Simões

    The Girl with All the Gifts for a bit of fun and scare; Robert Galbraith everything; and definitely Elena Ferrante’s 4 books revolving around Lina and Lenú’s friendship throughout the years. I’m going for Lucia Berlin’s Manual for Cleaning Women; I’m a huge fan of short stories. And I’ll also give the Hjorth&Stevensson a go. Happy readings to all 🙂

  • Honestly have been looking for a good new book and these sound FAB! I love a good murder mystery and by the sounds of so do you! I highly recommend a book called The Strangler Vine – its historical fiction and takes place in India during the British Raj and it’s an almost Sherlock Holmes esque mystery. Super fab!


  • mam

    Thanks for the recommendations! Margaret Atwood is actually Canadian (although The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the US, if that’s what you mean 🙂 )

    I highly recommend London by Edward Rutherford–it chronicles the history of London over thousands of years through stories about a few main families. And although his books are much lighter reads than many of those recommended, I can always count on anything by David Sedaris to make me laugh!

    • Lucy Edgar

      I tried to read London because my mum LOVED that book and his other one Sarum but sadly i found it hard to get into. I am personally not a short story sort reader as i find as soon as i am getting into it the story ends and i have to get into another – far too much effort.

      i have just finished The Power and have NOT been able to stop recommending it to people. Such an interesting concept and doest shy away from some slightly more uncomfortable aspects.

  • If you haven’t read it already, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. All of the characters are well developed, the plot is great and it’s easy to read because of the short chapters. The book is basically just about life, how people change or don’t change, and trying to make the best of the situation you’re in.
    Since it mainly follows the life of an african-american woman in the early 1900’s (who may or may not have the hots for another girl) it deals with a lot of important topics, but it does so in a very quiet way. Real life usually doesn’t jump from dramatic moment to dramatic moment, and it can be really hard to stand up for yourself when everything around you has been designed to keep you down, and this book depicts that reality really really well.

  • Mod Nod

    nice list!
    p.s. Margaret Atwood is Canadian, not American 😉

  • Thanks for the recommendations! My favorite books recently have been “I’ll give you the Sun” by Jandie Nelson, the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy by Kevin Kwan (these are being made into a movie), and “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell.

  • Simone Bresser

    The rules don’t apply by Ariel Levy. Could not put it down.

  • For a very fun summer read that you’ll devour The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion had me laughing out loud! Anything by Liane Moriarty is also worth a read (Sky recently adapted Big Little Lies for tv with Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon etc). If you want a beautiful but truly epic read, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

    Laura xx | Loved By Laura

  • Ashley

    Shadow of the Wind is one of my favourites, as is Bell Canto and Circling the Sun.

  • Beth Killen

    The Power sounds really interesting, I think I’ll try to find that one.
    I would highly recommend girl unknown, have just finished reading it and it’s really good, v gripping!!


  • amy

    The Art of hearing Heartbeats is absolutely incredible – a romance novel which takes you to rarely seen parts of the world. And Graceling – a fantasy novel which I have reread about 10 times and just keep coming back to

  • Susan Rebecca

    The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls. It’s so good – and a true story. I just started The Handmaids Tale – excited to get into it!

  • Love that you read too! My favourite hobby.

  • vanessay

    Victoria The Queen by Julia Baird is fabulous. If you thought you had learned every single thing about Queen Victoria this book will change your mind. I might be biased because it is written by an Australian but this was my favourite of the past twelve months. I also re read a favourite from my teen years when I found it among a pile of my parent’s old books; Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford which started me on a whole Mitford stream. 🙂

  • Cynthia

    The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was great! My Dad and I read after seeing your first recommendation of it on the blog.

  • I will be adding these to my list of books to buy! So far this summer I’ve read The Muse by Jessie Burton (a very nice read, split between 1960s London and 1930s Spain) and Us by David Nicholls (of ‘One Day’ fame. Very heartwarming, honest read about love and family).

    Lynnsay x

  • Alessandra

    Oh your bookish recommendations are so tantalizing! One of the best moments in reading is when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, as well as a way of looking at things – which you
    had thought special and particular to you, or simply inspiring. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, and it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours. Hands to escape with, too. Then… a page-turner book which in my turn I highly recommend: The Seamstres, by María Dueñas. Thanks for sharing ^_^

  • Amy

    Hi Rosie, as a proud Canadian I feel as though I must let you know that Atwood is not an American. She hails from our capital city of Ottawa, Ontario. She is, indeed, a genius. I would also recommend “The Blind Assassin.”

  • “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. Soooo good.

  • I really liked reading Girl on The Train. I barely put it down and after two and a half days I read the entire book. This is coming from someone who never finishes books!

    Jess |

  • The Handmaid’s Tale blew me away. I can’t believe I put off reading it for so long! Poolside reading is the best reading.

    Lauren | | @misslcanning

  • I love reading but lately I have been so busy that I hadn’t the time to do it 🙁

    Miki xx

  • Hannah Lane

    Brilliant – thanks for the recommendations. I loved Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, definitely not a happy chick-lit book but loved it

  • Hanna

    The Essex Serpent. Beautiful new novel that reads like Victorian fiction.

  • The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson loved this one! xx

  • I always love a good book recommendation! I’ve done a whole post of them on my blog too! 😀 I can’t wait to get stuck into a few of these!! <3



  • Sarah O’Carroll

    A friend of mine wrote a book called The Peculiars – Jen Thorpe. It’s a great story about how a bunch of fairly quirky people connect over trying to overcome their phobias.

  • Caroline Brink

    You have to read All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr! This is my all time favorite book, and is just too incredible for words. I also recommend Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn as a great page turner. Despite it’s size, I read it in two days.

  • Anya

    Some great recommendations – I’ll be sure to pick some of these up in the book store next time! I actually have Sapiens but haven’t got around to reading it yet – definitely going to the top of the pile now.

    I would really recommend reading Station Eleven – post apocalyptic world intermixed with Shakespear – beautiful.

  • Nina White

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Perfect prose if you’re feeling languorous in the sun.

  • Calla

    I love book recommendations too; thank you for the post! I actually just bought Sapiens as a gift for my boyfriend, but now I may have to steal it…
    One tiny thing: I believe Margaret Atwood is actually a Canadian, rather than an American, novelist. Sorry to be a bore, just thought that I’d mention it!

  • Caroline Williams

    I absolutely DEVOURED The Beach by Alex Garland and The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis!