Need some summer reading inspiration? From the best new memoirs of 2020 to revisited favourites that bring back good memories, these are the books the Stylist team recommends you read in the park this week.
With this week’s sunny weather and temperatures set to reach a scorching 36°C on Friday (7 August), we are very much welcoming the weekend in high summer spirits. It’s the perfect time to grab a good book and head to the park with a bottle of sun cream and perhaps a punnet of strawberries (gin in a tin is of course optional).
If you’re looking for some inspiration on what book to dive into, the Booker Prize for Fiction longlist is a good place to start. Or, you can follow the hype and see which of the 10 most popular books in lockdown you’re yet to race through. It might even be time to actually finish that 1000-page classic that you tell people you read years ago.
The inspiration is endless, so we decided to let you know our own current recommendations.
From hot new memoirs to revisited favourites and novels that we’ve been meaning to get through for ages, here are the books that Stylist team members are taking to the park this week.
Digital writer Hollie Richardson is reading Coming Undone by Terri White
Hollie says: “I ordered Terri White’s memoir, Coming Undone, as soon as it came out earlier this month, but I’ve been waiting to be able to give it my full attention, because I knew it would be an intense read.
“I’ve been a huge fan of White’s searingly honest, compelling and heartbreakingly beautiful writing since first reading her personal articles a few years ago. This short book tells a big story, following White’s incredible journey of growing up in poverty, escaping – and returning to – domestic violence and sexual abuse, achieving an incredible career in magazine journalism, moving to New York, then ultimately drinking herself into a breakdown.
“Aside from just being one of the most candid and well written memoirs I think I’ve ever read, it’s also such an important time to discuss the realities of the issues she deals with – because so many other women still do.”
Senior beauty writer Hanna Ibraheem is reading More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
Hanna says: “I’m currently working my way through Elaine Welteroth’s More Than Enough. The first time I read it (last year), it filled me with so much motivation and was so uplifting, it made a genuine difference to the way I approached work and just life in general.
“Now, as we come out of lockdown, I’m feeling a bit sluggish and wanted to read something that would pick me and my spirits back up again – so I had to reach for this. It’s like listening to a friend talk honestly about their life while giving you an encouraging hug to take control of your own life. Add it to a sunny garden and you have the most idyllic reading session ever.”
Fitness writer Chloe Gray is reading Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Chloe says: “I’m currently reading Fleishman Is In Trouble, something I’ve been meaning to get my hands on for ages. The story of a middle-aged, recently divorced man is not something I’d usually pick up, but Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes his world of dating, family, and work so hilariously and engagingly.
“The characterisation is as much of the story as the plot, so while the events are slow it’s an absolute page turner, making it the perfect sunshine read (especially when accompanied with a gin and tonic).”
Digital editor-at-large Kayleigh Dray is reading Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Kayleigh says: “I’ve been meaning to read Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, by Deepa Anappara, since my good friend Sarah Shaffi recommended it to me a while back, but I just haven’t had time. Thanks to long dog walks with an Audible subscription, though, I’ve finally gotten around to it and not a moment too soon!
“It feels a little like an Enid Blyton book at first, thanks to its endearing nine-year-old narrator and his determination to solve a mystery. Unlike the Famous Five, though, readers will realise all too quickly that there is no happy conclusion in sight for Jai. That his quest to find the missing children from his basti will see him wander unwittingly into danger. And that his family are destined to be torn apart by tragedy.
“I’ve not reached the end yet, but fully expect to have my heart wrenched in two as the story (inspired by the all-too-sobering fact that some 180 children in India are believed to go missing every day) unfolds.”
SEO editor Lucy Robson is reading The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel A Van der Kolk
Lucy says: “I was intrigued by this book, after reading about and seeing lots of pictures of the chic cover on Instagram, featuring a very on trend Matisse print. Written by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, a psychiatrist who specialises in PTSD this is, perhaps surprisingly, an accessible and incredibly compelling book about the physical impact of post traumatic stress, a side effect of mental illness that is often overlooked.
“Looking at case studies from Vietnam veterans to car crash and sexual abuse survivors, it’s a fascinating investigation into the way life altering events can actually effect the functioning of the brain, which in effect determines how we respond to and whether or not we are able to overcome past trauma.
“I’m taking it to the park because I must confess it requires my full concentration to attempt to grasp the medical terminology and diagrams!”
Senior digital writer Megan Murray is reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Megan says: “Getting away on my lunch break, out of the house (read: two rooms) where I seem to spend all my time these days, has become so important to me. And, there’s nothing I like to do more on an outdoors lunch break in the summer sun than settle on a park bench and read my book.
“At the moment said book is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It won the Booker Prize in 2019 and I remember at the time making a mental note to get my hands on a copy, so when I’d finished those that were already on my ever increasing list, I was excited to get started.
“I’m nearly finished and I’ve adored every single page. Without giving too much away, each chapter charts the life of a different woman of colour, explaining her childhood, traumatic events she’s witnessed, her relationships with family and friends, loves and milestone moments up until the present day. Getting a glimpse into the stories of women from all over the world, understanding why they do the things they do and feel the things they feel has been fascinating to me. It’s all made even more enjoyable thanks to Evaristo’s brilliant writing, which is so natural that every character – and there’s quite a lot! – feels authentic.
“Not only that, you feel close to them, truly believing you are privy to their innermost thoughts. I also love that through these women, the book explores issues of race, culture clash, sexism, homophobia, painful childhoods and the difficult relationships we can have with our parents; it really spans so many topics that it’s also an educational must-read that I’d recommend to anyone.”
Images: various publication houses