Summer Reads

School’s out, it hasn’t rained in weeks and I’m not beach body ready… so I guess it’s officially summer!

Many of you no doubt will be toddling off on your holidays, in search of relaxation and sun (although God knows why, my village had hotter weather than Barbados the other day. BARBADOS). Whether departing or staying put, you may be in need of a good book to see you through.

Back in March I had a reading spa at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in the beautiful city of Bath (read about it here). So here’s what I think about some of the books I procured on that visit, should any of them take your fancy.

Now I will warn you, I have a penchant for true stories and travel memoirs so this isn’t the most balanced of lists. It’s simply what I have read most recently.

Names For The Sea by Sarah Moss

When Sarah’s husband is made redundant she chooses to up sticks and take her young family to live in Iceland. Now I don’t know a huge amount about Iceland, I’ve never been, but I really enjoyed My Year Of Living Danishly (read about that here) so I gave this a whirl. In truth I preferred the former of the two books but this story is still very interesting. You learn about Icelandic culture, society, folklore and things of a geographical nature (such as volcanoes!) alongside the author’s personal triumphs and struggles.

I am only part way through this book but it had to be included in the list. The only hardback I chose on my visit to Mr B’s (and signed by the author no less) Educated is a truly remarkable memoir. Tara grew up in rural Idaho with her parents and siblings. She had no birth certificate. She never went to school. There were no medical records because her parents didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. She spent her childhood working in a junkyard preparing for End of Days. It’s an extraordinary story. All the more extraordinary is the author’s quest for an education which took her on an incredible journey. Just amazing.

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle

I’ve never read any graphic novels. Well, not unless you count the Tin Tin and Asterix books I read as a child. I was under the impression they weren’t really proper books, just dressed up comics but this is a real story and the pictures add an endearing quality that would be amiss without them! I just love the illustrations. I zipped through this quickly so perhaps not the best option for a long haul flight but easy and engaging.

The Moth

The Moth was founded in the late 90’s by novelist George Dawes Green who wanted to recreate the summer evenings he and his friends spent sitting on his porch swapping stories and anecdotes from their lives whilst moths which would flit overhead. The Moth now proudly boasts having presented more than 10,000 stories, performed live without notes, across America.

The reason I was tempted by this book is because I like to read in bed. Sometimes, if I’m particularly tired, I just want to read something short (but interesting!) before turning off the light. I’m talking 10 minutes MAX. This book meets this brief perfectly. A collection of short stories that you can read one by one, in any order. From the doctor who gets a call from the Catholic Church to save Mother Theresa’s life to the woman whose pen pal is a convict to the student who had his identity stolen… each of these true stories is a gem. Hilarious, heartbreaking, inspiring. I loved it!

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