From erotic romance to gripping drama and the latest crime fiction; the best summer reads of 2015

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Harriet Hall
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The summer holidays; when that dusty pile of books on your bedside table finally stands a chance of being read.

On offer this year is an eclectic mix; from romance and gripping thrillers to historical accounts and apocalyptic imaginings that will have you glued to your deck chair.

So, if your suitcase is feeling a little light, your bookshelves a little sparse and your kindle scarily empty, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve hand-picked the best reads of the summer – including Harper Lee’s sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, an adult Princess Diaries and, if you’re feeling cheeky, the new Fifty Shades book.

There are so many to choose from, you might just want to consider booking a longer holiday...

Words: Harriet Hall

  • Grey by E.L. James

    The newest addition to the Fifty Shades franchise – this time told from the perspective of sadomasochistic billionaire, Christian. There was so much hype surrounding the book’s release that Amazon saw an ‘unprecedented’ amount of pre-orders. Check out all the things we learned about Christian from it, here.

    Buy it here

  • In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

    It’s Blume’s first adult novel in 16 years. Based loosely on Blume’s own childhood, the book tells the true story of a series of freak plane crashes that occurred when the author was growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s and the effects they had upon the local community.

    Buy it here

  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

    A number one best-seller before it’s even been released, the book picks up where the American literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird left off. It sees Jean Louise Finch (Scout) struggling with personal and political demons involving Atticus and the small Alabama town of Maycomb that moulded her, when she goes home to visit her father.

    Pre-order it here. Out 14 July

  • Disclaimer by Renee Knight

    Renee Knight’s Disclaimer is her debut published novel (previous works having been repeatedly rejected by publishers). Fitting in with the ‘suburban noir’ genre of thrillers, typically with female protagonists (Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train), the book tells the chilling story of Catherine, who returns home one night to find a book on her bedside table that contains her darkest secret. 

    Buy it here

  • Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell

    From the author who brought us Carrie and the gang, it’s the book Sex and the City fans have been waiting for. It’s not a sequel, but those who loved SATC will find a multitude of similarities. Pandy is a famous novelist whose popular character, Monica, becomes the protagonist of several film adaptations. But Pandy doesn’t want to be defined by Monica and strives to become a serious writer, so plans to kill her off…

    Pre-order it here. Out 30 June

  • Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

    The 11th novel in the Princess Diaries series sees Princess Mia plan a fairy-tale wedding. But, knowing Mia’s haphazard ways, there’s a chance the wedding might turn into a royal disaster. It’s the first adult novel in the series- as fans have all since grown up – so it’s ideal if you want to reacquaint yourself with your favourite pre-teen princess.

    Buy it here

  • Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

    Author of the bestselling Lacey Flint series, this new book from Sharon Bolton is a stand-alone psychological thriller that tells the story of best friends, whose relationship is destroyed after a freak accident in which the narrator’s two children are killed. Unable to escape one another, revenge becomes the dish of the day. "Creeps under your skin and doesn't let you go" says Paula Hawkins, author of Girl on the Train.

    Pre-order here. Out 2 July

  • God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

    Renowned author Toni Morrison returns this year with her latest novel, about the daughter of a prostitute whose own relationship is deeply affected by her mother’s past, and the lies she has been told. The book is a Freudian nightmare, revealing the psychological damage parents can do to their children and how it creates a vicious cycle.

    Buy it here

  • The Santangelos by Jackie Collins

    Perfect beach reading, Jackie Collins’ latest novel is a drama-filled, sex-fuelled story of the infamous Italian family; The Santangelos. Love, lust and revenge make for a heady broth.

    Pre-order it here. Out 10 Sept

  • A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    The sequel to bestselling Life After Life, which looked at the possibility of doing your life over until you got it perfect, A God in Ruins returns to focus on the protagonist’s younger brother - an RAF bomber and aspiring poet who discovers the meaning of his own life in the twentieth century. The book ends with an unexpected and poignant twist.

    Buy it here

  • The First Bad Man by Miranda July

    The first novel by the film-maker and writer tells the story of odd-ball Cheryl, whose idiosyncrasies and quirks are all experienced from first person perspective. Funny and suitably touching, Lena Dunham has described it as “astounding…never has a novel spoken so deeply to my sexuality, my spirituality, my secret self.”

    Buy it here

  • A Fortunate Age by Joanna Rakoff

    An homage to Mary McCarthy’s 1963 The Group, this partly autobiographical first novel from Joanna Rakoff follows six graduates as they navigate New York City life in the 1990s, looking for careers, love and a place to live. A perfect coming-of-age story.

    Buy it here

  • Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

    Inspired by the ancient traditions of storytelling, Rushdie’s newest work combines history, mythology, fantasy and love in an apocalyptic future. After a storm strikes New York City, the surreal occurrences commence.

    Pre-order it here. Out 8 Sept

  • The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

    Eva and Jim first meet as students at Cambridge University in 1958. Like a literary Sliding Doors, the story then follows three possible versions of what happens next. Barnett’s debut novel is about how even the smallest decisions can change the path of our future.

    Buy it here

  • A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

    Set in Cornwall in 1947. The story follows 89-year-old Marvellous Ways, who is wiling away her twilight years and young solder, Francis Drake, who returns from the battlefields of France, emotionally exhausted. An unlikely friendship sparks between the two and they bring each other back to life.

    Buy it here

  • Left of The Bang by Claire Lowdon

    The phrase is a military term for the build-up to an explosion and the book describes just that – Tamsin Jarvis, a failing pianist thought she loved her boyfriend, Callum, but is presented with a dilemma when she meets Chris. Lowdon encapsulates what life is like for the ‘lost generation’ of young Londoners today. Expect sexual honesty and knowing humour.

    Buy it here

  • I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers

    Great, easy-reading crime fiction. After his wife suddenly dies, Michael Turner moves to London and befriends his neighbours, the Nelson Family. But one catastrophic June afternoon will change everything and Michael has a secret he struggles to keep.

    Buy it here

  • The Turning Point by Freya North

    The new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author, Freya North, tells the story of Canadian musician Scott Emerson and Norfolk-based children’s author, Frankie Shaw. They embark, against the odds, on a long-distance relationship but tragedy strikes. A moving tale about never taking life for granted.

    Buy it here

  • The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop

    We all learned about Bletchley Park in the film, The Imitation Game, but 75% of the people working at Bletchley were women thanks to the 1941 National Service Act. The scale of WWII meant that, for the first time women were obligated to join the war effort. This book tells the stories of the incredible women who worked at Bletchley.

    Buy it here

  • Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

    Set in a New England preparatory school, Dark Rooms tells the story of Grace, whose younger sister, Nica, is murdered. While attempting to track down Nina’s killer, Grace unearths some secrets her sister fought to keep quiet.

    Buy it here

  • The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop

    An unflinching but tender portrayal of life after children. Charlotte struggles to recognise herself and her husband, Henry, is dreading the bitter winter ahead. The pair decide to escape their worries and embark on an adventure to Australia but it soon turns out their new life is not what either were hoping for. A moving story of marriage, home and self-discovery.  

    Pre-order it here. Out 13 August

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Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall is a former Stylist contributor.