Inspiring Summer Reads
Inspiring Summer Reads
Holiday season is upon us and we wanted to share our favourite reads this summer from the Team at Inspired. There appears to be a compelling crime-thriller theme here, perfect for your holiday recommendations and filled with suspense, surprise and excitement.
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I recently read Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I say ‘read’, I think ‘consumed’ is probably a better description – cover-to-cover in a day! The gripping plot is fuelled by a depth in character development, particularly among the female characters I thought, that meant I simply couldn’t book the book down. While the female characters stand out as a complex web of personalities, formed by life experiences and current environments, the male characters are certainly far from just functional roles. In a perfect discussion of ‘appearances versus reality’, this novel challenges the reader’s expectation of a binary ‘good guy / bad guy’ set-up as the final twists challenge the archetypical ‘hysterical female’ role as we uncover the truth. The characters are even more than a formation of Hawkins’ excellent writing, they are formed by how they’re told they appear by other characters in the novel. With this, we are reminded to challenge our first impressions of other people and also to not simply assume the roles and traits that others presuppose or tell us we have. We will be all the stronger for it.
Nasty Women by 404 Ink
Nasty Women is a collection of over 20 non-fiction essays from 404 Ink, a small independent publisher, founded by Laura Jones and Heather McDaid, winners of the London Book Fair Trailblazers Award and longlisted for Most Innovative Publisher Award 2017; I was absolutely blown away by this book, crowdfunded and brought to life by a new alternative press. It is a powerful and necessary read with essays about what it is to be a woman in the 21st Century. The authors have shared their eclectic experiences and perspectives, focussing on important topics such as sexism, power, mental health, racism, pregnancy, immigration and politics. They have reclaimed the term ‘Nasty Women’ making us all proud to be known as nasty, or know a nasty woman!
My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood
Based on a journalist in denial about her posttraumatic stress disorder, this book has twists and turns you just can’t see coming. There was one point where my mouth was simply open wide in shock and I turned to my partner and said, “I actually can’t believe that just happened, you HAVE TO read this book!” I don’t want to tell you much more about the plot but if you are a fan of a fast-paced thriller with twists and turns and don’t mind being sent from war zone to seaside town like a pinball machine, this pacey novel is for you!
BabyDoll by Hollie Overton
I devoured BabyDoll by Hollie Overton, this is a novel that had me out in the garden and refusing to move. A compelling read that insists on being read in one sitting. Lily was abducted at 16 and held captive, one day a mistake equates to her freedom. Grabbing her daughter, Sky, she runs and doesn’t look back, finally returning home. The novel goes on to tell the sequence of events past and present, her life leading up to the abduction as well as the family dealing with the aftermath of her return… There is perhaps not the most realistic representation of events but I still couldn't put this book down. This is a novel where you really get a feel for love, devotion, and the bond of family. BabyDoll was a fantastic read that made me feel like part of the family.
A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters
What would you do if you discovered a diary in a skip? Try 148 diaries, completely anonymous and spanning decades. When they were delivered, via a friend, into the hands of biographer Alexander Masters, he decided to embark on a journey of discovery in search of the author and to uncover the why. Is ‘I’ male or female? Are they still alive? What was their impetus for filling hundreds of exercise books with their innermost thoughts, obsessions, complaints and fantasies and disposing of them in such a way? The book he writes in the process of his investigation is a celebration of the absurdity and banality of our unique inner lives. Along with excerpts of the diarist’s spidery scrawl, the book reproduces their strange and sometimes deeply disturbing sketches and illustrations - one of the most delightful elements. It is an under the skin, absorbing read, intriguing, unsettling and funny in equal measures. The intimacy of being party to another’s unfettered subconscious leaves you completely invested and immersed; so much so, that I found myself viewing my own world through the unique filter of ‘I’. Highly recommended.
The Girl Before by J.P Delaney
Just like Emma had before, Jane can’t turn down the offer of One Folgate Street, a minimalistic house, despite the rules that go with renting it. The Girl Before alternates between Emma and Jane. Emma who is searching for somewhere new to live with her boyfriend Simon after their house was burgled and Emma held at knifepoint. Jane, still enveloped in grief at the loss of her baby in a tragic stillbirth, is looking for a new home. Both Emma and Jane move into One Folgate Street consecutively. This is a thrilling read to discover who exactly Emma was, and how she died.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
If you’re a bit of a science-fiction nerd and are partial to reading ‘a good yarn’ type of novel on holiday, I highly recommend Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One. This is a novel set in a dystopian future where people escape their bleak reality by living online, in the ‘OASIS’. This is a totally immersive virtual reality platform where anything is possible; a welcome relief to the limitations of the real world where resources have dried up. Our hero Wade Watts, AKA ‘Parzival’, is an average schoolboy who spends his time trawling through archived popular culture in an attempt to crack the first clue to the hunt for the Easter egg. This is a game that the deceased creator of the OASIS built in to the platform, which will reward the winner with his considerable legacy. Wade has been poring over the first clue for years without getting anywhere, but a brainwave in the middle of a lesson launches him into the race headfirst, and more than just his knowledge of 80’s cult movies is tested. The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the juxtaposition between the familiarity of the references to 80’s pop-culture and the alien-ness of the dystopian setting. Simply put, this book is so much fun!
Night School by Lee Child
This 21st Jack Reacher thriller is set back in his military police days when following another successful ‘secret mission’, plus another medal to add to his collection, he is put back in civvies and sent to ‘school’! This ‘school’ has only two other students from the CIA and FBI, not Reacher’s favourite people! Their mission is to locate and stop someone intending to cause world catastrophe. An excellent new read for fans of Major Jack Reacher and his sidekick, the enigmatic Sergeant Frances Neagley. Sure to appeal to a huge waiting audience for a ‘must read’ thriller for your summer holidays. Enjoy!