You may be poolside topping up your tan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up some new knowledge. Whether it’s a meditation on love and family or a call-to-arms to abandon your social media accounts, give your grey matter the gift of a good book this summer.
The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. The Language of Kindness is her astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care and kindness: we watch as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive. You’d struggle to find a more vital and moving book to pack in your suitcase this year.
The Stopping Places
Damian Le Bas
Damian Le Bas grew up surrounded by Gypsy history. His great-grandmother would tell him stories of her childhood in the ancient Romani language; the places her family stopped and worked, the ways they lived, the superstitions and lores of their people. Let him take you on a journey through the British countryside, but not as you know it. A horse-drawn wagon ride through Gypsy history, Damian uncovers the links between the romanticised Gypsies of old, and their much-maligned descendants of today.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
Perfect for both fans of Knausgaard and newcomers to his work, Summer is the ideal holiday companion. Knausgaard writes about long days full of sunlight, eating ice cream with his children, lawn sprinklers and ladybirds, as he searches for meaning in the moments that slip through our fingers.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari, read by Derek Perkins
Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens is fast becoming a modern classic. If you haven’t discovered it yet, this summer is the perfect time to catch up. It will challenge everything you thought you knew about being human: our history, our power struggles, and even our future on this planet. Download the audio edition and let it all sink in – you'll be quoting it to your friends and family every 5 minutes.
The World As It Is: Inside the Obama White House
The book for a little deckchair reflection, Ben Rhodes’ vivid political memoir gives an unfiltered look inside Obama’s White House. You’ll feel like you’re in the Oval Office yourself as Rhodes puts you right in the action during the most tense and poignant moments in recent history, telling the full story of what it means to work alongside a radical leader; of how idealism can confront reality and survive; of how the White House really functions; and of what it is to have a partnership, and ultimately a friendship, with a historic president.
Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading
This is truly a book for people who love books. From Narnia to Wonderland and everywhere in between, Bookworm is Lucy Mangan’s evocative and witty homage to a childhood in which reading was as essential as breathing. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives, as well as uncovering a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.
I Found My Tribe
Ruth’s tribe are her lively children and her filmmaker husband, Simon, who has Motor Neurone Disease and can only communicate with his eyes. Her other ‘tribe’ are the friends who gather at the cove in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and regularly throw themselves into the freezing cold water, just for kicks. This life-affirming memoir is a summer must-read for those who feel like life often passes them by. An invocation to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, this book is an urgent and uplifting love letter to family, friends and the brightness of life.
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
You might find it difficult to imagine life without your Instagram account, but Silicon Valley pioneer Jaron Lanier makes a powerful case for why we should ditch social media. From lining the pockets of multi-national corporations to the toxic effects on your social life, you may find your finger hovering over that ‘delete’ button this summer.
Our Place: Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?
Environmental thought and politics have become parts of mainstream cultural life in Britain. The wish to protect wildlife is now a central goal for our society, but where did these ‘green’ ideas come from? And who created the cherished institutions, such as the National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that are now so embedded in public life with millions of members? Naturalist Mark Cocker’s impassioned personal quest through the British Countryside is a truly thought-provoking summer read, whether you’re planning a jaunt to the country, or just a spot of reading in the garden.
Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging
Have your perception shifted by Afua Hirsch’s passionate and deeply provocative exploration of Britain’s crisis of identity. Calling into question our conflicted ideas around immigration and races, this is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be ‘colour-blind’ have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race and it’s a compelling call for change.