Books guaranteed to turn your head
Books guaranteed to turn your head
Love Island: fascinating social experiment? Barometer of modern gender mores? Or just a bronzed, chiselled version of guiltily watching two strangers have an argument on the street?
Whatever your excuse for watching ITV’s reality TV behemoth, the pool has now been drained, the sun loungers folded away and the cast of twenty-somethings you’ve ogled for months are headed for 12 months of Boohoo #instapromo contracts and Fresher’s Week PAs. Like them, it’s time for us to move on.
To fill the terrible hole in your evenings, may we humbly suggest a book or two that offer something of the villa’s magic. Whether you’re a sucker for a good romance (Tommy and Molly-Mae!), a strong heroine living life on her own terms (Amber!) or just fancy a witty insight into the pitfalls and perils of modern dating (Maura! Anne! All the ones whose names you can’t remember!), we have the perfect titles for you to graft, crack on with and get to know.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (2018)
A book with a similar premise to Love Island - send a group of strangers to an idyllic location, cut them off from the outside world and see what happens - this, of course, is fiction, meaning you get a proper answer to questions of 'where their head is at at the minute'. Moriarty’s addictive story is set at a health resort, where everyone is battling with some serious inner demons. Expect plenty of twists and turns, none of which involves a public vote.
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton (2019)
Love Island haters claim it's all about the white teeth, bulging abs and sex, but in truth, it's the all-too relatable moments of romantic drama that keep audiences hooked. Dolly Alderton’s intimate memoir from the front line of modern dating offers the same intimacy, as well as plenty of big laughs. Consider it the equivalent of having a heart-to-heart with your brightest and funniest of friends over a glass of pinot, or some cordial orange drunk from a flask with your name on the side.
The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper (2019)
Remember the whole Tommy-Lucie-Molly-Mae situation? How about the Anne-Jordan-India one? No? Anyway, here's a story of a complicated love triangle you won't forget in a hurry. Stephanie doesn’t believe in true love but is content with her fiancé Matt. Jamie, a hopeless romantic, is happily married to Helen. But after meeting each other on a country retreat, Stephanie and Jamie realise they want to crack on with each other, leading to all kinds of drama. It is what it is - namely, a brilliant novel about forbidden desire.
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945)
If Love Island existed in the early 20th century, then the two heroines of The Pursuit of Love would have been first through the door of the villa. Mitford's story follows cousins Linda and Fanny as they dream of a life full of glamour, romance and ‘finding the one’ at last. It's full of moments even more bittersweet than the time Anton was evicted and told Amber to go on and win it. You remember.
This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire (2017)
If you spent most of this year's series glued to Twitter sharing your 'advice' for the Islanders, then this is the book for you. YouTuber Will Darbyshire asked his social followers for some words of wisdom following a break-up. 15,000 responses later, he has compiled the letters, poems and photographs into a compendium that doubles as a vivid insight into love in the modern age. Which is exactly what Love Island is, obviously.
Expectation by Anna Hope (2019)
The real hero of Love Island 2019 was friendship - particularly, it seemed at times, between the women who bonded beautifully and had each others' backs when Michael, Jordan and the rest (except Ovie!) let them down. Female solidarity is also the subject of Anna Hope’s electrifying novel Expectations, which opens on a warm summer’s day in a London park where best friends Hannah, Cate and Lissa share a boozy picnic whilst dreaming about their futures, then catches up with them ten years on.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (2012)
Like everyone's favourite Islander Amber the hero of Jojo Moyes' trilogy, Lou Clark, is kind-hearted, has a wicked sense of humour and a positive outlook on life. And like Amber, that doesn't always guarantee her happiness. When Lou starts a new job caring for Will Traynor - a wealthy, young banker left paralysed from the neck down - she finds her optimism challenged by Will's anger and frustration. As they fall in love, every inch of you will be rooting for their 'happy ever after' as they attempt to find new meaning to their lives. A powerful and emotional read that will challenge the most cynical romantics.
The Mister by E L James (2019)
Fifty Shades of Grey was even name-checked on Love Island this year, when Jordan and Anne (*sad face emoji*) spent their evening in the hideaway indulging in a little light whip play. Sorry - banter. Anyway, E L James's latest novel is another erotic adventure in which a man called Maxim Trevelyan inherits his family’s fortune then meets an enigmatic young woman called Alessia, who's just arrived in England. Soon they're sharing cups of warm cocoa and long walks in the park. Kind of.
The Penguin Perspectives essay series, which captured the hopes and fears of early lockdown, is now available to download and listen to for free.
If you're disappointed not to be going away this summer, console yourself with these disastrous trips from fiction. They'll make a fortnight on the sofa all the more enticing.