Short Books Summer Reading

We asked some of our wonderful Short Books authors to tell us about their ideal summer reads. From the freshest titles to buried gems, there’s plenty to check out over the coming months of sunshine! Here’s the first instalment…

DN - ImageDerek Niemann
Author of A Nazi in the Family and Birds in a Cage

Non-fiction: Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton)DN - Landmarks
“I can’t last the summer without dipping into Macfarlane’s latest work. It’s called ‘a field guide to the literature of nature’ and as someone who is obsessed with the meanings of words and wildlife, I can’t resist it. He’s a truly original writer.”

Fiction: Flight by Isabel Ashdown (Myriad Editions)
“I love Issie’s books; they crackle with unspoken thoughts and words, and she is terrific at exploring the fissures in relationships. She’s Jane Austen for the iPad generation. Her novels are unlike anything else I read too, so they are a real summer tonic.”

AG - ImageAndrea Gillies
Author of The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay and Keeper

Non-fiction: The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin (Vintage)AG - Songlines
“Ostensibly about the culture of the Aboriginal people of Australia, their web of songlines, their dreaming-tracks, but which ranges deeply and widely in addressing Pascal’s assertion that all of humankind’s woes derive from an inability to sit still. People Chatwin encountered, and also read, are quoted, as are many of the things he learned from his years studying nomads. It’s absorbing and anecdotal and makes perfect airport reading.”

Fiction: Light Years by James Salter, who died recently aged 90 (Penguin)
“It’s the vividly told, beautifully written story of an American couple who have everything, who have each other and fulfillment and a glorious summer house and two wonderful daughters and great friends and contentment, and whose marriage falls apart. This makes it sound melancholy and depressing but it’s anything but that. It’s full of life and wisdom and colour and observational asides and the writing is really magnificent. There is no more perfect beach book.”

BrandrethGyles Brandreth
Author of The 7 Secrets of Happiness

Non-fiction: Code Black by Mark Evans (Coronet)
“An unlikely ‘summer read’ and not really what I’d think of as ‘my kind of book’, but it’s completely extraordinary, so powerful I could not put it down and I am recommending it to every one I meet – regardless of the time of year.  It’s a soldier’s story of what happened to him and his men in Afghanistan.  It’s a riveting account of the realities of war.  Andy McNab, Bernard Cornwell and others are raving about it.  I’m not surprised. Code Black is fascinating, shocking, intensely human, beautifully constructed, wonderfully well-written.  If you want to remember the book you read this summer, this is the book to read.”

Fiction: Mapp & Lucia by E F Benson (Penguin)GB - Mapp and Lucinda
“And now for something completely different . . . I am the proud president of the Friends of Tilling, the society devoted to celebrating the wonderful of Mapp and Lucia, two remarkable ladies created by one of Britain’s greatest comic writers, E F Benson (1867-1940).  Benson lived in Rye (the Tilling of the stories) and his novels conjure up a world of snobbery, gossip, back-biting that’s irresistible, wicked, funny and charming.  Start with Queen Lucia, the first in the series, and you won’t stop until you’ve read them all.”

Watch this space for more great recommendations in the next couple of weeks.