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7 Top authors reveal their chosen summer reads

Wondering what to pack for your holiday reading? Take inspiration from some of our favourite writers, says Hannah Stephenson.

We asked seven top authors – who themselves have new books out this summer and autumn – to share some of the books they’re most looking forward to reading this summer.

With mystery, drama and thought-provoking non-fiction in the mix, could one of these inspire your next holiday read?

1. Lisa Jewell

The award-winning female-fiction-turned-thriller writer says: “My eyes keep going to my reading pile and falling on the same three books that I am absolutely desperate to read but am saving for my holidays in August and the suspense is killing me! The first is Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan (Grove Press UK, £14.99). It’s set in Rhode Island where my best friend lives and it was she who recommended it. It’s the story of sisters, Angel and Marie, and the desperate childhood secret that haunts them.

“Next is Nonfiction by Julie Myerson (Corsair, £16.99). Myerson has written across many genres and is uniformly brilliant in all of them. It’s a fictional story about a mother dealing with her daughter’s drug addiction, loosely based on Myerson’s own well-documented struggles with her oldest son many years ago. Her writing is both beautiful and addictive and I know this will be done in one day on a sun-lounger.

“Lastly is Sun Damage by Sabine Durrant (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99), who has written some of my favourite books of all time, including Lie With Me and Finders Keepers. This is a mystery suspense novel about a group of friends sharing a villa in the South of France, with, unbeknownst to them, a criminal in their midst.”

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell is published by Century on July 21, priced £16.99

2. Anthony Horowitz

The prolific novelist, screenwriter and creator of the Alex Rider teen spy series says: “I’ve become a huge fan of Japanese murder mystery, which really pushes the envelope when it comes to bizarre, fiendishly complicated plots filled with mind-boggling clues – and all credit to Pushkin Press who are leading the way with handsome editions of mysteries you won’t find anywhere else.

“The latest to arrive on my desk is Death On Gokumon Island by Seishi Yokomizo (Pushkin Vertigo, £8.99 paperback) and the title is enough to grab my interest. Lots of gruesome murders with all the characters trapped on an island. Perfect summer fun.

“Alias Emma by Ava Glass (Century, £14.99, out August 4) is a non-stop adventure/action story with all the action taking place within a 24-hour period. It’s got a terrific lead character in Emma Makepeace, a young spy in a covert department where nobody is to be trusted. It’s all tremendous fun and I suspect this is going to be a major, long-running series.”

The Twist Of A Knife by Anthony Horowitz is published by Century on August 18, priced £20

3. Fern Britton

The Cornwall-based bestselling novelist and broadcaster says: “I’ll be spending this summer at home in the back garden in Cornwall, going down to the beach for a swim in the early evening and then back for supper. I’ll be doing my summer reading here.

“I’ll be reading three thrillers – The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller (Penguin, £8.99 paperback), about a family who have a house in Cape Cod called The Paper Palace and this girl goes there every summer. She jumps into the swimming pool and while in the pool has a moment of remembering a lost love.

“The Haven by Amanda Jennings (HQ, £14.99) is another one which caught my eye as it’s set in Cornwall – about a couple who leave everything behind to join a group living in a tumbledown farm on Bodmin Moor, which is all fine until this idyllic life, with some strange characters, starts to unravel.

“The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel (Lake Union Publishing, £4.99 paperback), with its lovely art deco cover, tells the story of people escaping Germany and the concentration camps of the Second World War, who climb aboard an ocean liner which is going to take them to New York and a happy life. But of course, reading about it, we know that the Atlantic was full of German U-boats waiting to sink everything coming to and from America.”

The Good Servant by Fern Britton is published by HarperCollins, priced £14.99

4. Mike Gayle

The bestselling writer of touching, humorous and uplifting stories says: “This year, I’m hoping to do all my holiday reading by the pool of the apartment we’ll be staying at in Portugal. Rather than stick to one genre, I like to take a mixture of books with me, so there’s no chance of getting bored. I love a good domestic thriller and they don’t get any better than those written by Lisa Jewell.

“Her latest, The Family Remains (Century, £16.99, out July 21), is a sequel to her recent mega hit The Family Upstairs, and I can’t wait to see where she takes the story next.

“As a bit of contrast, I’m also looking forward to reading Preventable by Devi Sridhar (Viking, £20). Sridhar is chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh and her book, subtitled, How A Pandemic Changed The World & How To Stop The Next One, is a comprehensive and readable look at the Covid crisis.

“My last choice is The Answer To Everything by Luke Kennard (Fourth Estate, £8.99 paperback). I enjoyed the poet and academic’s previous novel The Transition immensely, and I’m really looking forward to discovering what he’ll do with this tale of an ordinary couple who have their lives turned upside-down by the arrival of new neighbours.”

The Museum Of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £16.99

5. John Connolly

The Irish writer, best known for his Charlie Parker series, says: “I’m about to begin the second year of my doctorate, so much of my reading is based around that. But I’ve set aside a couple of books, mostly non-fiction, as summer diversions, the first of them with slightly mixed feelings.

“James Lee Burke’s new novel, Every Cloak Rolled In Blood (Orion, £20) draws upon the sudden death of his daughter Pamala in July 2020. I knew Pamala, and liked her a great deal, so exploring her father’s sense of bereavement through one of his fictional counterparts will be an intimate, affecting experience, I think.

“I love books on music, although for a long time this tended to be a largely male preserve, but that’s changing. I’ve been familiar with Jude Rogers’ magazine work for many years, so I’m looking forward to her memoir-cum-inquiry, The Sound Of Being Human: How Music Shapes Our Lives (White Rabbit, £16.99).

“Finally, film volumes are my other weakness, so I’ll be spending time with Carry On Regardless (White Owl, £20), Caroline Frost’s history of the Carry On series, because the actors involved were such a curious, sometimes troubled bunch. As for where I’ll be reading these books, well, with two elderly dogs to look after, it’ll probably be at home, for the most part. But I could be in worse company, in both canine and literary terms.”

The Furies by John Connolly is published on August 4 by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20

6. John Boyne

The bestselling author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas says: “I’m taking a copy of Aingeala Flannery’s debut novel The Amusements (Sandycove, £12.99) with me to France this week. Having spent most of my childhood summers in seaside towns on the south coast of Ireland, I expect this will bring back memories of those glorious days, and with jacket endorsements from the likes of Anne Enright and Donal Ryan, it’s sure to be a valuable read.

“I was a great admirer of Emilie Pine’s essay collection Notes To Self, so I have high hopes for Ruth & Pen (Hamish Hamilton, £14.99), a novel that charts the story of a middle-aged woman and a teenage girl over a single day in Dublin. (A female counterpoint to Ulysses, perhaps?) Pine is known for the authenticity and vulnerability of her writing, and I’m intrigued to see how she makes the leap from non-fiction to fiction.

“Finally, later in the summer, Ross Raisin publishes A Hunger (Jonathan Cape, £16.99, out August 4). Raisin’s three earlier novels were outstanding so this, which features a cook in crisis, is probably the book I’m most looking forward to over the months ahead. I spend a lot of time in Lausanne, Switzerland, these days, and I’m planning on reading this on the sunny banks of Lake Geneva.”

All The Broken Places by John Boyne is published by Doubleday on September 15, priced £20

7. Kathy Reichs

The forensic anthropologist and bestselling author of the Temperance Brennan series says: “I’ll be reading Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, £14.99). This novel comes highly recommended by the members of my reading group, Wine Club With A Book Problem. The ladies used the terms ‘witty’ and ‘original’ in describing Garmus’ work.

“The protagonist, Elizabeth Zott, speaks to me because she is a woman working in the unforgiving all-male environment of a science research institute in the 1960s. Though not that far in the past, I’ve been in similar work situations, and I can identify. Besides, I like funny stuff.

“The Science Of Murder: The Forensics Of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine (Sourcebooks, £14.04 paperback) has obvious appeal. Christie wrote about dead bodies and the clues left behind in the commission of murders. So do I. Though the term ‘forensic science’ wasn’t used in her day, the parallels between Christie’s work and mine are obvious.”

Cold, Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs is published on July 21 by Simon & Schuster, priced £20


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