Summer is here again, and what better way to spend some time than unwinding with a book? We love a great summer read, especially when it serves to transport the reader away to a faraway world. From sandy beaches and turquoise waters, to bustling distant cities we yearn to explore, the best summer reads give food for thought, as well as indulging a spot of wanderlust. Here are our Top 5 Summer Reads for the intrepid traveller.
My Family and Other Animals (Gerald Durrell)
The Durrell family needed nothing more than an escape from the dreary, illness-inducing weather of coastal Britain. Setting off on an adventure, this true story tells of the family's 1950s emigration to the island of Corfu, where youngest son Gerald spends his time getting to know the island's indigenous wildlife and simultaneously avoiding his French tutors. This funny, moving memoir of the family's five years living in Corfu, and their encounters with the local inhabitants both human and not, will sweep you away to a world of sun-kissed olive groves, clear blue waters, and the kind of carefree freedom reserved for childhood.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mohsin Hamid)
A careful thriller with a poignant message, this international bestseller was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Beginning in Lahore, the book takes its audience through the bustling streets and tea shops of Pakistan, before dashing back through the narrator's memories to the manicured lawns and prestigious halls of Princeton, and the charms of stunning Greece. A story of unrequited affection for both an adopted country and a tragic lover, this tender tale seamlessly blends building tension of the protagonist's current encounter with a mysterious American with the sorry details of an unforgotten past filled with rejection - a truly mesmerising read.
The Trip to Echo Spring (Olivia Laing)
Academic interest meets a fascinating travel story in this compelling non-fiction work by leading cultural critic Olivia Laing. Exploring the reasons why so many of the greatest American writers are known alcoholics, Laing's journey through history - and the ever-changing landscapes of America, which she traverses by train - takes on its own intriguing narrative. Thoroughly researched, yet far from dry, this is an important yet fascinating work, discussing in detail the lives of some of America's great, yet troubled writers - from F Scott Fitzgerald, to Hemingway, and Raymond Carver.
Under the Tuscan Sun (Frances Mayes)
The first of a three-part memoir on the American author's move to the ancient baked streets and rolling hills of Tuscany, this beloved story tells of the restoration of a neglected Bramasole property over a period of years, with the trials and tribulations of relocating to the sleepy village. Soaked in Italian charm, the book proved so popular it was made into a film, and has been enticing ex-pats to the lyrical hills of Tuscany since. If you fancy being swept away by the magic of Tuscany, this is the perfect summer read for you.
Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)
The only graphic novel to make our list, the readers of Persepolis should not be fooled by the fact this book is picture-rich. Telling the story of Marjane Satrapi's childhood in war-torn Iran, beginning before the Iranian revolution and continuing through the author's eventual move to Europe. A tale of culture, belonging, and a sense of displacement in a rapidly changing world, this two-part autobiography is both beautifully written and drawn. Be carried away from Iran's Persian roots to the café culture of Vienna and beyond, with a story of self-discovery amidst a whirlwind of international politics and adolescent turmoil.
These have been our five favourite summer reads to keep you busy whilst on your travels (or even inspire some). Have we missed your favourite summer read? Let us know what you'll be reading on holiday this summer in the comments below.