Soothing summer: Book binge

In an earlier post this week, I reflected on how 2021 has been, as far as years go, Not Great. And we all could probably use some intensive chilling out time this summer via movies and TV.

To that end, here are some suggestions for the "easy listening" version of books - titles you can take on holiday, or enjoy at home. For me, there's nothing so relaxing as a couple of hours with a book that's so entertaining that I stop calculating the longevity of the Christmas ham, or pondering the Tetris-like puzzle of where all the Christmas-gifted Lego is going to live.

Those concerns can wait. For it is summer and I am reading a book.

Young adults (or even kids') fiction

I am a great fan of reading YA fiction as an adult. Why? It's typically fast-paced, entertaining, and pretty easy to read, and unlike literary fiction the ending will probably make sense. Some YA to try:

These violent delights - Romeo and Juliet except it's in Shanghai in the 1920s and they are from rival crime families. And also there's a supernatural horror/plague lurking. Follow that up with the sequel, Our violent ends.

The knife of never letting go - The beginning of Patrick Ness's riveting sci-fi trilogy. Could not put it down. 

The golden compass - Technically a kids' book but why should they have all the fun? This is the first book of Philip Pullman's epic His dark materials series.

Find more YA reads in our Genre guide for teens.

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Suspense thrillers

The girl in the mirror - Is this great literature? No. Is it kind of trashy? Yes. Did I enjoy reading it? Absolutely. Already read it and want something in this vein? Try these suspenseful reads.

The girl before - From the "beware ultra-minimalist houses" genre of thrillers. Will Jane's fate be the same as the house's former tenant's? Like this? Try more titles by J. P. Delaney.

Psychological thrillers - Check out our selected list, some of which don't even have "girl" in the title! 

Contemporary mysteries - There's a lot of overlap between mystery and suspense. These are novels with a central mystery at their core and often a lot of tension and excitement.

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Cruisy reads

When you just want to read something set in an exotic locale with a bit of relationshippy drama thrown in. Pairs well with chardonnay. Try:

You'll also find some great suggestions in our Nice reads list.

Need something uplifting? Try our Uplit list.

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Biographies and memoirs

Dear girls - If you like a bit of crude humour but also important life lessons then give comedian Ali Wong's book a try. Laughs aplenty.

This much is true - The irrepressible Miriam Margolyes is a British acting legend and the MVP of Graham Norton's couch. This isn't wall-to-wall anecdotes about bodily functions and sex acts (unfortunately) but these do make regular appearances. There's also a lot about Margolyes' 80 years of life. A great storyteller is a great storyteller whether in person or in print.

Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to Happiness - The perfect way to reflect on and appreciate the good things about life, via British  comedian Bill Bailey.

I realise that these are exclusively books by comedians or comedic actors but there are plenty of other options in our Biography and Memoir reading guide.

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True crime

Some people find reading true crime relaxing. I am not one of those people, but if you are there is plenty to keep you busy in our True crime reading guide - forensics, gangsters, miscarriages of justice, and heaps of murdery murder.

Re-read a favourite

The great thing about books is you can read them as many times as you want. There are genuinely no rules against this!

On my list of possible re-reads are:

The changeover - A New Zealand classic and one of the only books I've read multiple times. Set in Christchurch that's much more magical than the one we all know. 

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - I may even follow up with the TV series.

Got any easy read recommendations? Chuck 'em in the comments.

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