Summer Book Selections

 
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Words in heat

Whether you’re by the ocean surrounded with sun and sand, or in the breeze of the air-conditioned hotel room, or in a cafe somewhere between hot and cool, these are the books to bring.

 
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I know, I know, I have always promised to make a book recommendation list, but for some reason, it has always slipped my mind and the only ones who hear about my current reads are those I encounter in real life (or in the occasional interview since it’s a mandatory question). I’m quite happy to say that I’ve finally found the time to sit down, looked through my library, and selected a few of my favourites, both old and new. There is sort of a running theme in this list, all of these books feature a female protagonists, set in summer, and have a sort of existentialist despondency that I seem to have a taste for in my reading. And so, here it is, my selection of books to read this summer, in no particular order:

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

“All the more reason, then, to wonder why I had confessed what was so much my own to strangers, people very different from me, who would therefore never be able to understand my reasons.”

Leda, a middle-aged divorcee, finds herself alone for the first time in years after her daughters left to spend time with their father. She travels to the Italian coast, and in the midst of learning with how to cope with being alone, encounters a family whose behaviour becomes bothersome and strange.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

“The Greek Girl is lazy. The windows are dirty in their beach house but she has not cleaned them. She never locks the door. That is careless. It is like an invitation.”

The novel follows Sofia, The Greek Girl, who is accompanying her mother in Almeria who suffers from a myriad of unidentifiable illnesses, and spends the summer swimming, reading, encountering the locals. She moves through the city in a dream-like state, always thinking, always watching out for the jellyfish that haunts the beaches.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francois Sagan

“My love of pleasure seems to be the only consistent side of my character. Is it because I have not read enough?” "

Cecile, a young girl, travels to Côte d'Azur with her charming and affluent father, where they spend their time reading and sleeping by the beach by day and partying by night with the socialites who have also left Paris for the summer. Their happiness is suddenly interrupted when her father falls for her mother’s old friend, who is firm and kind, but despises their way of life.

Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa

“All these things we had long since forgotten she gathered up one by one in her hands, caressing and warming them until they came back to life. She was perhaps the only one who ever truly loved the Hotel Iris.” 

A young girl named Mari lives and works in a derelict seaside motel owned by her mother. One night, they are forced to expel a pair of guests, a man and a woman, who was arguing and causing noise in the motel. Mari finds herself inexplicably drawn to the man’s voice, and sets out into town to search for him.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“Ever since I was small I loved feeling somebody comb my hair. It made me go all sleepy and peaceful.” 

In the heat of the New York summer, Esther, contemplates her own future. She has spent the last few months in a prestigious program for young women writers, and yet she finds herself lost, despondent, and drowning in an inexplicable sorrow.

And that’s the selection for the month, I hope you’ve discovered – or rediscovered – something in this list, and if you have any thoughts on any of these books, drop a message below. Bissous!