Grab a Pimm’s and get settled with these easy-read summer books
Late summer brings with it an odd kind of nostalgia. We know autumn is waiting just around the corner and yet, there’s still that snatched window of time to bask in the sun and kick back with hazy twilight evenings – all the more precious because it’ll all be over soon.
One of the best ways to mark this fleeting transition period is by re-visiting some of your favourite books from years gone by. These don’t necessarily need to be hefty tomes but instead the kind of quick-win, rewarding reads that you can chomp through all in one sitting. Old-school summer titles fit the bill perfectly, as do a few comforting throwbacks from years gone by.
Here are five favourites to get you started – grab that Pimm’s and retreat to the garden hammock; reading waits for no woman…
The Beach by Alex Garland
A riotous romp of a read, this tense beach thriller will have you churning through the pages. It’s also a brilliant observed satire on Thailand’s backpacker community and will ring true with anyone who’s looked to “find themselves” on the Khao San Road. Whether you’re a newbie to the book (where were you in the 90s?) or re-reading it from earlier years, it always delivers with a well-paced, sometimes spacey plot that charts the demise of a secret island utopia.
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Most of us are familiar with Meryl Streep’s take on Miranda Priestly – but the original depiction of one of fiction’s finest anti-heroines is, if anything, more snark-ridden and darkly comic. Lauren Weisberger’s hilarious take on life in a high-end fashion magazine has everything you need in an entertaining read. Providing a candid window onto the luxury world of the New York elite, along with a painfully accurate description of the boss from hell, it’s an apt reminder that “dream jobs” rarely live up to the hype.
The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
If you’re not yet acquainted with the delights of the Cazalet clan, a summer’s afternoon is just the time to dive right in. Elizabeth Jane Howard’s bestselling five-part series begins fairly gently, on a country estate just before the outbreak of World War II. On the surface, the Cazalet siblings and their families occupy a golden world of picnics, tennis and twilight cocktails. But delve a little deeper, and fractures are starting to show – in marriages, in jobs and on a world stage. Howard’s magic lies in her ability to really capture her characters, and her warm, endearing style is impossible to resist.
One Day by David Nicholls
Remember all the hype about One Day when it came out 10 years ago? It was there for a reason. David Nicholls draws you close with his oh-so relatable novel charting the friendship between two university pals over a 20-year period. Emma and Dexter are very different people, but somehow their paths are fated to intertwine. The structure of the book, providing a snapshot of their lives on the same day every year, reels the reader in for a taut, funny and nostalgic ride of near-misses and might-have-beens.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
A teen girl’s angst over periods, friends and a schoolteacher crush are instantly recognisable in this painfully funny classic by Judy Blume. Re-reading the book from an adult perspective makes you appreciate just how spot-on the author’s observations are. Blume is frank, funny and entirely unafraid to tackle the challenges of teendom; many of which still ring true today, nearly 50 years after the book was first published.
Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.