Looking for a good book to read on the plane or while you’re lazing on the beach in Spain? (I did not intend for that to rhyme – I swear!) If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know I’m a voracious reader (I’ve just started book 31 of the year – Murakami’s Norwegian Wood) so I decided to share my summer reading list. Some of these summer book recommendations I’ve already devoured and others I’ve yet to thumb through and no doubt there are some glaring omissions I’ll remember the second I hit publish. The best bit though? They’re all written by women.
Here are my book recommendations for summer 2017:
- Marlena – Julie Buntin
I’ve just finished reading this debut novel from Julie Buntin and can’t recommend it enough. Lost and awkward 15 year old Cat moves with her mother and brother to a backwater town where she instantly falls under the spell of her beautiful but Oxycontin-addled neighbour Marlena, who is captivating on the page. It’ll bring back all those feelings of being an awkward, confused teen who is impressed by the wrong cool girls. If you liked Emma Cline’s The Girls, chances are you’ll adore Marlena too.
- Emma – Jane Austen
Like all my fellow bookworms know, it’s 200 years since Jane Austen’s death so there’s no better time to delve into her incredible novels. My personal favourite is Emma – not only because it inspired Clueless – so I plan on rereading that classic but you can take your pick from Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice or go slightly more obscure and read Lady Susan. Austen really is one of the best novelists ever so show her some love this summer.
- When You Find Out The World is Against You – Kelly Oxford
When I read comedy writer Kelly Oxford’s first book ‘Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar’ I became a bit obsessed with her (and this was before I found out she came up with Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious Celebrities Read Mean Tweets skit). Her second book goes back and forth into her childhood again but covers her lifelong anxiety, having a breakdown at 19 and being abused on social media but with generous helpings of hilarious anecdotes too.
- How to Murder Your Life – Cat Marnell
I devoured HTMYL over Christmas after shamelessly begging – yes begging – Cat Marnell’s publicist for a copy and I’m already dying to reread it. If you don’t know the PR spiel yet here you go: Marnell was a Conde Nast beauty editor who later ditched her job at XOJane to ‘smoke angel dust’ on the roof of Le Bain. Cue NY Post headlines and a debate around glamorising addiction. As she gets drunk at fancy parties with horrified editors and stays up all night rewriting 50 words, it’s the story of an insecure woman whose real love is not drugs, it’s magazines. But, more than anything, as she namechecks everything from Jelena to Goya’s Black Paintings, can she write.
- Modern Lovers – Emma Straub
Want some contemporary fiction you’ll inhale in two days? Modern Lovers is pretty hard to beat. Set in modern day Brooklyn, the novel tells the story of two intertwined families who face different hurdles and the need to grow up when you’re an adult. At its heart is Elizabeth, a former wannabe rock star turned real estate agent who married her bandmate and had a son, Harry. With such well-written characters, I felt genuinely fond of them and a bit sad when I turned to the last page.
- Sex and Rage – Eve Babitz
Synonymous with Los Angeles, writer and artist Eve Babitz is experiencing something of a resurgence and this summer I plan on reading all her books but especially the recently reissued Sex and Rage (as recommended this month by the Belletrist book club). Originally published in 1979, Sex & Rage is the story of California beach babe Jacaranda who rubs shoulders with tycoons and surfers alike but when she wakes up aged 28, unemployed and disaffected, she flees to New York to live the dream.
7. Little Black Book – Otegha Uwagba
One for the handbag, writer and consultant Otegha Uwagba’s on-its-way-to-cult-status book is an essential toolkit for the modern working woman, offering priceless advice on everything from asking for a payrise to freelancing. Yes, I know you really don’t want to think about work when you’re on your holidays…but you still will. My list of business/career books I intend on reading but mysteriously don’t get around to it keeps growing. There’s no better time than when your flight is stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes to pick up a few useful work-life tips.
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Are you as addicted to HBO’s The Handmaid’s Tale as I am? I can’t breathe during most episodes, it’s that gripping and enraging. I’m embarrassed to admit this but even though I love The Blind Assassin and The Robber Bride…I’ve never read Margaret Atwood’s original dystopian novel. For shame. Who should I hand my feminist stripes back to? My local librarian says that everyone is looking for The Handmaid’s Tale which thrills me to no end and this summer I’m gonna join the queue to rectify the Offred-shaped hole in my life.
- The Rules Do Not Apply – Ariel Levy
One of the best books I’ve read this year, New Yorker writer Ariel Levy’s memoir encompasses her childhood, her marriage, her infidelity and her marriage breakdown but at its heart, it circles on the miscarriage she famously wrote about in Thanksgiving in Mongolia (a harrowing must-read). Her writing is engrossing, honest, brilliant and I couldn’t put it down. Side note: Ariel Levy’s two Longform podcasts are brilliant so I really recommend you listen.
- Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman – Anne Helen Peterson
Easily my favourite writer at Buzzfeed, Anne Helen Peterson’s first book covered one of my obsessions – Scandals of Classic Hollywood. Similar in theme to Elizabeth Wurtzel’s ‘Bitch’, Peterson’s new book looks at ‘difficult’ women, women who break the rules, who go against the tide and ‘nevertheless she persisted.’ Her pop culture gaze analyses Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Lena Dunham and explores why we love these ‘loudmouth’ women but equally love to tear them down.
Read anything good lately? I love book recommendations so let me know below or follow me on Instagram to see what I’m #currentlyreading.