Summer Reading

Whether you want to match your reading material to your holiday destination or you want to escape to a completely different place while remaining at home; I picked nine of my favourite summer appropriate books, which might help you pick what to read over the next few months.

The Beach by Alex Garland
Three backpackers discover a secret secluded spot on a remove island in a Thai national park. A small community of people live on the island in apparent harmony with nature and themselves. The Beach mingles perfectly the characters, scenery, and atmosphere of the backpacker trail with vivid imagery and engaging storytelling. As the story unfolds, the dark side of paradise reveals itself; what the backpackers discover is not a Utopia as they once thought but a nightmare.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
This non-fiction book follows Christopher McCandless who, in April 1992, gave his $24,000 college fund to Oxfam to set out across Western United States. He later stripped his vehicle of its license plates and abandoned the vehicle after a flash flood, and hitchhiked to the Stampede Trail in Alaska. An acquaintance he met along the way offered to lend him more suitable clothing (since he had very little) and buy him better supplies, Christopher declined and set out with only 10 pounds of rice, a .22 caliber rifle, several boxes of rifle rounds, a camera, and some reading material including a field guide to edible plants.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, survives a shipwreck and spends 227 days stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Beautifully written, The Life of Pi is not only about the story of Piscine but about story telling itself and how stories can not only give life its meaning but can ultimately, keep us alive.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
This novella introduces us to Holly Golightly, an independent (of mind) young woman living in New York who strives to be a high-climbing socialite. Holly has no job so she spends her life socialising with wealthy men who take her to clubs and restaurants, and offer her money along with expensive gifts. Her curious lifestyle mixed with her endearing personality, makes her outspoken views more than a little poignant at times. Inevitably Holly reveals a vulnerability, which is the fear of never knowing what she really wants until she has thrown it away.

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
Sherman McCoy - "Master of the Universe" - works at Wall Street's Pierce and Pierce. He is a millionaire with a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress; despite having it all, one mistake causes his whole world to collapse in this perfect account of one man's fall from grace.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Just after might on the second day of its journey, the Orient Express is brought to a halt by a snowdrift. When morning comes, the detective Hercule Poirot learns of a murder aboard the train; an American lies dead in his compartment having been stabbed several times, yet his door is locked.. from the inside.

The Shining by Stephen King
Jack Torrance moves with his wife and son to the Colorado Rockies after accepting a position as an off-season caretaker at the historic Overlook Hotel. Danny, Jack's young son, learns he possesses a psychic ability called "the shining," which allows Danny to see the horrific past of the hotel and its former guests. When a blizzard leaves the family trapped and secluded within the hotel, supernatural forces start to have a dangerous and unpredictable influence over Jack's behaviour.

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
This first novel in Patricia Highsmith's psychological thriller series, the Ripliad, we meet Tom Ripley: a young man struggling to make a living in 1950s Manhattan. Herbert Greenleaf, a wealthy shipping magnate, asks Tom to travel to Italy to find his son, Dickie Greenleaf, and urge him to return to America. Tom finds Dickie and becomes rather fond of their friendship, at which point the fondness tips quickly over into an obsession, descending into a dark and twisted tale of identify theft and murder.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Valley of the Dolls is a trash classic telling the story of three struggling actresses in early forties Hollywood. Anne Welles, Jennifer North and Neely O'Hara are followed through twenty years of their lives; the women are seen to claw their way to the top of their careers with the help of copious amounts of pills, sex, and alcohol.. only to come crashing down in their own inevitable self-destruction.