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Wednesday 13 July 2022

Summer Holiday Book List

A pile of colourful books: it's the Is This Mutton Summer Book List 2022

Dear friends. I'm a voracious reader, as those of you familiar with the monthly Friday Favorites will know. But on holiday, well! I have been known to devour a book in one day. 

I'm always looking for book recommendations so  I thought it might be useful to provide a list of what I'm taking on vacation. I've also come up with the Mutton 5:  books I've loved that you might want to discover.

My holiday reads are three types of book.  Lighter beach reads - "chick lit," but not too fluffy, romantic or superficial;  contemporary fiction - more literary merit, perhaps nominated for book prizes, and non-fiction. I like to be surprised and intrigued by non-fiction. 

My MO on holiday is to have two books on the go at any one time. I like to dip into fiction and non fiction. I take two Kindles, one as a spare. One year I lost a Kindle by leaving it briefly in the sun, and finding books in English was a nightmare! 

What I'm Planning to Read

Light Beach Reads

I'm Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait 

A comic and whip smart novel about sisters, mothers and daughters in a dysfunctional family.

One Last Secret by Adele Parks

A new book by Parks is always an event for me. They're always full of interesting characters, dilemmas and twists.  This one is described as a domestic thriller. Would you kill to keep a secret? 

The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn 

I knew I'd have to read this when a reviewer described it as: "A book that will be loved unreasonably and life-long, I believe, like I Capture The Castle"  (one of my favourite books of all time). 

When a whale washed up on the beach of a manor house in Dorset, unwanted orphan Cristabel, 12, claims it as her own, and her life starts to change. 

One Little Lie by Lauren Weisberger

Previously published as Where the Grass is Green. Weisberger wrote The Devil Wears Prada and her books are always witty and refreshing. This is a story about another "perfect" life set to disintegrate thanks to a lie. 

That Green Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan

I've been following the author on Twitter for a long time so it was good to watch the unfolding excitement about her first novel. We'll be transported to 1950s New York in this evocative and page-turning debut featuring a stellar line-up of brave, complicated and bright women. 

Contemporary Fiction

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Long listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022. Two young Vietnamese women go missing, decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

Christine Falls: The First Quirke Mystery by Benjamin Black (John Banville)

I like to take a pathologist on holiday with me (!), it's a profession that has always fascinated me. The Quirke series is by Irish author John Banville writing as Benjamin Black. 

Quirke’s pathology department, set deep beneath the city of Dublin, is his own gloomy realm: always quiet, always night, and always under his control. Until late one evening after a party he stumbles across a body that should not be there – and his brother-in-law falsifying the corpse’s cause of death.


Jellyfish Age Backwards: Nature's Secrets to Longevity by Nicklas Brendborg

I saw a review for this a few weeks ago and instantly thought it was right up my street. Molecular biologist Nicklas Brendborg takes us on a journey from the farthest reaches of the globe to the most cutting-edge research to explore everything the natural world and science have to offer on the mystery of aging.

From the centuries-old Greenland shark and backwards-aging jellyfish to the man who fasted for a year and the woman who successfully edited her own DNA, this book follows the thread of every experiment, story, and myth in the search for immortality.

Wintering: The power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May

A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, Wintering is a poignant and comforting meditation on the fallow periods of life, times when we must retreat to care for and repair ourselves. Katherine May shows us how to come through these times with the wisdom of knowing that, like the seasons, our winters and summers are the ebb and flow of life.

Five of My Favourites  

Just. Got. Real by Jane Fallon

Another author who never disappoints. This latest novel shot into the Sunday Times top 10 on the strength of pre-orders.  It's ostensibly about a conman who grooms women on a dating site, but I found that more of a side plot with the main focus on friendships between women.  Ultimately uplifting. 

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I started looking at my previous editions of Friday Favourites but couldn't find any books in the last 2 years that really jumped out at me.  So I decided to include a couple of my all-time favourites. This is one, and if you haven't discovered the writing of Elizabeth Strout, you're in for a treat. Olive Kitteridge is "a difficult woman" - stubborn, opinionated, judgmental. But she's also very real, and Strout's writing is a joy. 

Our Spoons Came from Woolworth's by Barbara Comyns

I've mentioned Barbara Comyns before and in particular The Skin Chairs, which seems to be out of print everywhere.  If you like quirky, offbeat writing and eccentric characters, this is for you. Our Spoons Came from Woolworth's was her second novel. Set in bohemian London in the 1930s it's about pretty, unworldly Sophia, 21, who has hastily married a young painter called Charles. An artist's model with an eccentric collection of pets, she is ill-equipped to cope with a London where poverty, babies and husband conspire to torment her. Amazon has most of Barbara Comyns' books in Kindle and paperback formats, so if you love this, as I did, there's a rich seam to discover. 

I Sent a Letter to My Love by Bernice Rubens

Bernice Rubens died in 2004. The Welsh writer was the first woman to win the Booker Prize in 1970, for The Elected Member. I discovered her in the early 1980s when I was given a copy of I Sent a Letter to My Love to review, for a weekly paper. Her writing is melancholy and moving.  In this story, a lonely woman who's a carer for her brother, finds romance through a correspondence, but things become complicated when the male writer demands to meet her. 

Now a couple of non-fiction recommendations:

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore 

I first read this on Skiathos in 2016, and found it utterly engrossing.  During the First World War, young American women flocked to work in factories, painting clocks, watches and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in dust from the paint.

However, as the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. It turned out that the very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was slowly killing them: the radium paint was poisonous.

Written in Bone by Sue Black (non-fiction)

One of my favourites in May. You would think that bones are a dry old subject, but reading this fascinating book by Dame Professor Sue Black, a forensic anthropologist, was like a relaxing balm. She has a wonderfully easy and gentle way of explaining science and amazing facts. I was riveted. 

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1 comment

  1. These sound really compelling. I want to check them out. One thing I love is a good thriller especially if there’s a twist at the end. Such a value selection thanks for sharing. I hope your having a pleasant weekend. https://www.bauchlefashion.com/2022/10/9-trends-that-are-worth-investment-for.html?spref=pi&m=1


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