My Summer Reading List 2020

get me on holiday asap

Originally, this post was going to be a list of beach reads that aren’t crap, i.e. ones that aren’t called ‘the secret WAG’ and don’t revolve around missing kids (think Gwen in Gavin and Stacey reading ‘Please Mummy, No!’ and it’s sequel, ‘Daddy, please don’t!’).

But as holidays are off the cards for the foreseeable future, I’ve written a list of the books I’m hoping to get through over the summer. Even though I finished my degree a few weeks ago, with a recession on the horizon and hardly any jobs on the market, it looks like I’m going to have quite a lot of time on my hands. :))

I probably won’t end up reviewing all of these books, but I will do an updated post at the end of the summer just to see how many I’ve read and enjoyed.

As always, if anyone has recommendations just drop me a message!

Already on my bookshelf…

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold

When I think of Jack the Ripper, I think of Whitechapel, the 1870s and prostitutes. When I think of the five women he killed, my mind pretty much goes blank. Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five is ‘a crusading book that aims to give voices to those silenced so brutally by a vicious killer’ (Waterstones). I’ve already started this and I’m hooked.

You can order The Five here.

The Mirror and the Light (2020) – Hilary Mantel

I’m reviewing all the books on the shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (starting with Dominicana), and Hilary Mantel’s newest historical novel is a contender. Set in the 1500s, ‘Thomas Cromwell has ascended to the highest echelons of Henry VIII’s tumultuous court. Now all of England lies at his feet, ripe for innovation and religious reform. But as fortune’s wheel turns, Cromwell’s enemies are gathering in the shadows and the question remains: how long can anyone survive under Henry’s cruel and capricious gaze?’ (Waterstones).

More historical fiction! I was planning to get a review out for this in the coming weeks, but unfortunately, The Mirror and the Light is in fact 900 pages long (seems excessive but ok) and I’m kind of intimidated by it.

Interested? Get it here.

The Secret History (1992)- Donna Tartt

The first novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Donna Tartt: ‘Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever’ (Waterstones).

The Secret History sounds really weird and kind of scary. I can’t wait to get into it.

Order The Secret History here.

Brideshead Revisited (1945) – Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited is perhaps Evelyn Waugh’s most celebrated work. It’s described as ‘a stunning novel of duty and desire set amongst the decadent, faded glory of the English aristocracy in the run-up to the Second World War’ (Waterstones). I’m getting Remains of the Day vibes so I think I’ll enjoy this one.

Get Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece here.

Things Bright and Beautiful (2018)- Anbara Salam

So I heard about this while stuck in a YouTube hole, watching a video titled ’10 Books about Cults’. Things Bright and Beautiful was a bit of an impulse buy. However, it does sound really cool: ‘Just as Bea begins to adapt to island life, an unexpected guest arrives and Advent Island turns against its would-be saviors. Trapped in the jungle with her increasingly unhinged husband, Bea must fight tooth-and-nail for her freedom, and for her life’. Creepy.

Order Things Bright and Beautiful now.

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty (2020)- Florence Given

Everyone is talking about Florence Given’s debut novel, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. Described as ‘a fervent, accessible entry point into progressive feminist discussion’, Florence is determined to empower women everywhere and I for one am here for it.

Get Florence Given’s debut here.

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) – Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe’s definitive novel satirises the glitz and hedonism of 1980s New York. The New York Times describes it as ‘six hundred and fifty-nine pages of raw energy about New York City and various of its inhabitants – a big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won’t let go’.

I’m imagining the aesthetics of American Psycho but without the serial killer. Or maybe there is a serial killer? I guess we’ll find out.

You can get it here.

Underworld (1997) – Don DeLillo

DeLillo’s postmodern masterpiece, Underworld, begins ‘at the Dodgers-Giants 1951 National League final, where Bobby Thomson hits The Shot Heard Round the World and wins the pennant race for the Giants. But on the other side of the planet, another highly significant shot was fired: the USSR’s first atomic detonation. And so begins a masterpiece of gloriously symphonic storytelling’ (Waterstones).

I love Don DeLillo. I loved Mao II and White Noise and I’m sure I’m going to love Underworld too.

Join me in my Don DeLillo love-fest! Get it here.

Works by Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas is one of the most acclaimed writers of the 20th Century and, next to Roald Dahl, is probably one of the most interesting people to come out of Wales. It seems a bit mental to me that even though I grew up in Swansea, I’ve never properly read or been taught anything by him. I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about.

Order Dylan’s work here.

Books I’ve yet to order…

Queenie (2019) – Candice Carty-Williams

Candice Carty-Williams’ debut has been one of the most talked about novels of the last year: ‘Caught between the Jamaican British family who don’t seem to understand her, a job that’s not all it promised and a man she just can’t get over, Queenie’s life seems to be steadily spiralling out of control’ (Waterstones).

I’ve just ordered this book and I’m so excited! Expect a review very soon.

The Nickel Boys (2019) – Colston Whitehead

Colston Whitehead is the genius behind The Underground Railroad and a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. His newest novel is ‘throbbing with righteous anger and visceral prose’, taking ‘the real-life Florida reform school as a jumping off point to explore the tensions inherent in the US Civil Rights movement. Powerful and incendiary, The Nickel Boys cements Whitehead’s formidable reputation as one of the greatest living American writers’.

This book sounds like it might break me into a million pieces, but in a good way.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) – Gabriel García Márquez

Winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, this magical realist novel is the story of a multi-generational family in Columbia. How have I lived on this earth for 21 years and still not read anything by Gabriel García Márquez? I’m starting out with One Hundred Years of Solitude but I definitely want to read Love in the Time of Cholera at some point as well.

Weather (2020) – Jenny Offill

This book sounds so sick, I’m going to order it as soon as I finish this post: ‘A wry, quietly powerful novel whose understated insight and keen intelligence illuminates aspects of everyday life in Trump’s America, Weather is told in short snippets of crystalline prose. Eagerly anticipated by readers dazzled by her previous works, this perfectly poised novel is a model of concision and wit’ (Waterstones).

As Weather is also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, I’m thinking of scheduling a review of it before I try and tackle the doorstop that is The Mirror and the Light.



These are the novels you can expect to see on my blog over the next few months. I’m also excited to have a new book club pick coming out this weekend along with a post about last month’s novel, Brave New World!

lots of love xx

Published by Lily Evans

writing about books

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