The Stylist team's pick of the top 10 ultimate summer reads

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Stylist Team
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Bikinis picked, suitcases packed but stuck for something to read? Or just looking a little light on the book front? Do not fear, we've asked the bookworms among us here at Stylist to give you their ultimate beach reads.

Sit back, relax and check out our top 10 summer books. From beloved classics to modern fiction, there's something for all tastes here.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

"I could happily re-read this novel every month whether I’m on holiday or not! It follows the history of a precious illustrated Jewish tome after it’s rescued from the Serbian-Bosnian war, revealing the story of its journey from Sarajevo to Vienna to Venice to Barcelona, all the way back to its creation in Seville in the 1400s, and the people who were involved in its travels.

"If you think it sounds dry, I promise it’s absolutely not thanks to Brooks’ vivid descriptions and story-telling."

Recommendation by Gemma Crisp, Stylist's Acting Associate Editor

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

"What I want on holiday is an intelligent historical novel with copious period detail, a sharp, minxy heroine and a whole lot of be-petticoated, periwig-topped bonking.

"This classic story (it was published in 1945) of the Moll Flanders-like adventures of the irrepressible Amber, who becomes mistress to Charles II, is the perfect blend of sauce and sensibility."

Recommendation by Anna-Marie Crowhurst, Emerald Street Contributor

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

"The Salem witchcraft trials might seem like a dark subject matter for when you’re trying to unwind but I have never been as gripped by a narrative as I was when reading about this small American community plunged into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice.

"I strongly recommend reading a play, particularly one by Arthur Miller when on holiday. They’re short, they play out like a film in your head (to compensate for no screens on your flight) and it’s a refreshing change from a weighty novel."

Recomendation by Sejal Kapadia,'s Editorial Assistant

Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

"I shall be reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Prince of Mist when I go on holiday in two weeks. His books are always set abroad – usually in Spain - and are suitably spooky without scaring the living daylights out of you."

Recommendation by Natasha Tomalin, Stylist's Deputy Art Editor

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

"Although weighty in your beach bag – it’s roughly 900-pages long – this absorbing modern epic is definitely worth the extra kgs: gripping, evocative, heart-rending and impeccably written (just remember to break and reapply your sunscreen)."

Recommendation by Lizzie Pook, Stylist's Deputy Features Editor

Justine by Lawrence Durrell

"Lawrence Durrell, older brother of the naturalist Gerald, is a great writer to read in the summer time as he spent very little time living in Britain and set his books in the cities and on the islands he knew. Justine is the first of four books set in Alexandria, Egypt. It’s beautiful and languorous, full of casual infidelity and spiritual crises. The plot is not the point, lie back and enjoy the poetry."

Recommendation by Anna Fielding, Emerald Street's Editor

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"It’s short and doesn't need masses of attention. Also, if you have a willing partner, you can pick out the parts which you think demonstrate Fitzgerald’s critique of the American Dream (I’ve done this, it’s a REALLY COOL thing to do). Basically, it’s nostalgia for my English Lit A-level class."

Recommendation by Elinor Block,'s Writer

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

"Charting the unique bond of four friends growing up in Louisiana in the 1960s – and the breakdown of a fraught mother-daughter relationship in the present day – this book is my go-to summer read. It’s packed with evocative scenes of summer: think long hot days spent swimming off the riverbank and knocking back iced tea cocktails with spicy shrimp gumbo.

"It also boasts a brilliant cast of vibrant, flawed characters and has just the right blend of humour and tragedy to make it a compulsive beachside page-turner."

Recommendation by Anna Brech,'s Writer

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

"I always think a holiday is a good time to read those books you always mean to, real classics. This is good for a holiday as it's a collection of short stories based on fairy tales so you can dip in and out – so the darker themes of the stories give you something to think about before you go off and have a dip in the sea."

Recommendation by Siobhan Morrin, Emerald Street's Sub-Editor

Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows by JK Rowling

"Who wouldn’t you want to delve into a fictional world where magic actually happens? Add in an evil villain, plenty of adventure and seven incredible instalments, and there’s enough to keep you entertained for an entire holiday. I’m always drawn back to the last book to relive the epic final battle between good and evil. In fact, I’ve been known to read it, then flip straight back to the start again."

Recommendation by Giselle Wainwright, Stylist Contributor


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