Reading lists

12 poolside page turners to read this summer

Make summer yours this year: pour yourself a colourful cocktail, don sunglasses that would make Audrey Hepburn jealous, and grab a brilliant book to read. Whether you're lounging by the pool or chilling in your garden, these are the books guaranteed to keep you turning the pages this summer.


If you were a fan of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this should be top of your summer reading pile. Meet Sylvia. A prickly woman who lives alone, splitting her time between her job at a university and volunteering at a hedgehog sanctuary. She's in love with her boss, Professor Lomax. But her plans for happy ever after are thwarted when a bright new PhD candidate catches his eye. With brilliant characters and a wonderful change of heart as you wade deeper into the story, Sylvia realises she's been hibernating most of her life. Is it time to wake up and make some changes? It's quirky, uplifting and feelgood. Throw on a comfy kimono and let yourself be charmed by this story as you enjoy the sunshine.

I Looked Away

A gripping thriller that'll keep you glued to the page is one way to describe this fantastic new book from Jane Corry, bestselling author of My Husband's Wife and Blood Sisters. It's a story told from two view points: grandmother Ellie, who takes her eyes off her beloved grandson for one minute, with disastrous consquences - and Jo, a homeless woman selling The Big Issue to get by. But how are these women connected? What has Ellie been hiding? How can a thriller be so addictive and yet pull on your heart strings all at once? Read it for all the answers. (Warning: you'll end up with strap marks, you'll be so consumed. Remember that sun cream, guys.)

I Owe You One

A book with a big heart, this is entertaining, fun-filled reading, perfect for an afternoon spent in the sun, your toes dipped in the pool or the breeze in your hair. Our leading lady is strong-willed, supportive Fixie, who is used to sorting out EVERYTHING for everyone. When she saves a stranger's laptop in a cafe, the handsome guy tells her he owes her one. She thinks nothing of it, but it turns out she could use a favour. Which turns into another. And another. It's a light, lovely, happy-sad story about family, standing up for yourself and learning to fail - the most human thing of all.

The Mister

For true escapism this summer, turn to the sultry new romance from E L James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey. You'll be whisked away into a love story that grips you from the beginning, filled with danger, passion and also some adorable moments that'll have your heart melting like the ice in your G&T. After Maxim inherits his family's title, wealth and responsibility, he is quite frankly unsure what to do with it. Then beautiful, musically talented Alessia walks into his life, and he is gripped with a new desire unlike anything he's ever known. It'll take your breath away. Find yourself a patch of shade and enjoy the rollercoaster ride.

The Things We Left Unsaid

This book is as beautiful as a sunkissed glow, with characters as memorable as they come. Marian Keyes called it tender and thoughtful and we couldn't agree more. It's a book to get lost in as you're wrapped in Rachel's world - a woman who has never had a very good relationship with her mother, Eleanor. She lives in her shadow, and struggles with some painful childhood memories which have kept them far from close. But when her fiancé leaves her the day of her wedding, she has no choice but to move back home, where she'll discover that confronting your past can hold the key to happiness. It's radiant. It's lovely. It's a book that'll lift you up.

Nine Perfect Strangers

This will make you gasp in shock, laugh out loud and race compulsively to the end. It's pure entertainment - a head-scratching mystery speckled with relateable characters and an edge of creepiness. Nine people turn up at a resort for a cleansing ten days, to recharge, relax, and rediscover themselves. But it turns out the director has something else in mind. Something that seems, with every passing day, more sinister. Health spa gone wrong, anyone? It's a darkly funny premise that will see you smiling one minute, then snorting with surprise into your sangria.

Never Greener

Sometimes a book comes along that steals your heart (just like Gavin and Stacey did on screen, written by the same Ruth who we all know and love.) Warm, witty and wise, this is a story about second chances, and it deserves to be crammed into your hand luggage this summer beside your sunglasses and your iphone. Kate and Callum have a fleeting affair, but bump into each other years later when they're leading very different lives. Sparks fly. Tears fall. Hearts break. There's love, lust, guilt and laughter - it's a jumble of emotions that will keep you on your toes. Your sandal-covered, perfectly pedicured toes. Ah, summer.

The Turn of the Key

What can make summer even better? A new suspenseful novel from Ruth Ware, of course! A nanny is in prison, awaiting trial for the death of a child. And while Rowan has made mistakes, she's certainly not guilty of murder. When she turned up to start her job at the big house in a remote part of Scotland, it all seemed perfect, at first - but soon spiralled into a nightmare. Because there were cameras everywhere. The lights turned off at strange times. The girls weren't well-behaved, and she was left alone for weeks at a time, with only the strange handyman on site. It's chilling and totally absorbing. Best read in a park with other people around, if you're easily creeped out...

The Trick to Time

If you loved Brooklyn, you'll want to get your hands on this one. 60 year old Mona lives alone and crafts wooden dolls with a local carpenter. (Intrigue). She spends a lot of time thinking about her first love, William, and the life they built together when they left Ireland for Birmingham back when she was young. But tragedy struck, and now she is living with loss and heartbreak. It's a beautiful read that will move you to tears. If you want a side of emotional punch with your cocktail, or a poignant ending to complete your peaceful afternoon by the pool, this is the book for you.

The Family Upstairs

Wow. Just wow. This book will absolutely grab you. Twists, questions, family drama - it's as addictive as your favourite neon nail polish, and a thriller you'll want to relish, page by page, as you piece the story together. Libby was adopted as a baby, and lives a normal life until she is given a huge house in Chelsea. A gift from her birth parents, whom she knows very little about. And Henry? Henry once lived in that house. He had a great life, until the strangers came to stay. The plot is utterly engrossing, but there is warmth and love threaded through the pages to balance out the creepiness. It's impossible to put down. 

Still Me

If you fell in love with Lou Clarke during Me Before You, treat yourself this summer and sink into the third and final book in the series. Juggling her New York life and job as an assistant to a glamorous socialite, she runs errands, attends events, and all the while wonders longingly about her boyfriend and family back home. Then a man named Josh walks into her life, who reminds her, strangely, of someone from her past. It's a wonderful, uplifting read full of surprises, struggles and strength, with an ending that Lou deserves. Just make sure you leave your sunglasses on for this one - it'll leave you puffy-eyed!

The Rumour

On your summer holiday, you need something unputdownable - something to maximise your tanning time, right? - and this psychological thriller fits the bill. Expect twists, turns, and one big rumour, which starts as gossip at the school gates and spreads like widfire. Is there a child killer living in their community? Are their children safe? One casual comment leads Joanna, a woman trying to fit in with the other school mums, down a path where there's no going back. It's based on a sensational true crime story, and it's well written, brilliantly paced, and utterly thought-provoking.

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