Photo: Stuart Nicholas White for MyDaily
There's nothing like settling down on a picnic rug on a hot summer's day and losing yourself in a good book...
I love jotting down people's recommendations for must-read novels but also love returning to tried and tested tomes, reacquainting myself with favourite characters and picking up new little tidbits I missed on the first read.
Click on the gallery below to browse some of my all-time favourite summer reads. I'd love to hear yours.
- Best for transporting yourself to a bygone era: Memoirs of a Geisha
If there’s one book that guarantees to have me glued to my seat it’s the divine <em>Memoirs of a Geisha</em>. I know of no other book that has me turning the pages so fervently, diving headfirst into the Japanese culture, feeling like I’m there and looking around almost as if I can smell, see and touch everything being depicted on the pages.</p>
A love story, told from the perspective of a little Japanese girl called Sayuri who was pushed into the profession of being a Geisha at the age of nine. It explains in intricate detail how she was trained to become Geisha, what she wore, how she was taught to walk, how she did her hair and makeup, and the formalities, traditions and etiquette.</p>
- Best edge of the armchair thriller: Perfume
You might be surprised to hear that <em>Perfume</em> by German author Patrick Suskind is one of my favourite books. Set in 18<sup>th</sup> Century France, it’s a very dark tale about a man’s fascination for the scent of women. It’s very dark and creepy with the anti-hero Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who is a perfume apprentice, wanting to sample the scents of blonde women, brunettes and redheads, killing them, mashing them up and trying to distill them to bring out their perfume. It might sound a little daunting but trust me, it’s a gripping read.</p>
- Best for giving yourself a pep talk: The Secret
A book that I love, and lots of my friends also love. It is written by Ronda Byrne, was published in 2006, and is, quite simply, inspiring. It’s a self-help book of sorts, all about controlling your thoughts, editing them out and clearing out the junk. The idea behind it is that you are responsible for creating the world around you and that good, clear positive thoughts create a good, clear positive life.</p>
It’s sort of saying that whether you call it ‘luck’ or ‘being in the right place at the right time’ a positive attitude will take you places. I love that philosophy! Whenever I need a little pep talk to pick me up, I can literally open up on any page of <em>The Secret</em>, read three tiny little paragraphs and feel all zipped up and ready to go again.</p>
- Best page-turner: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
<em>The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas</em> would have to be one of my all-time favourite novels. It’s set during the holocaust and is a story of friendship between two nine-year-old boys: Bruno, the son of a concentration camp commandant, and a Jewish boy called Shmuel (the boy in the striped pajamas after whom the book is named) who is interred in ‘Out-With’ (Auschwitz) the camp near Bruno’s house. It is a beautifully written and incredibly moving book - a page-turner for anyone aged 13 years and up.</p>
- Best for making you laugh out loud: Almost French
I really enjoy reading travel memoirs. If you haven’t been to a place they allow you to immerse yourself in a new and exotic culture, and if you have been, a memoir will evoke memories and almost make you feel like you’re right back there. For me, <em>Almost French</em> falls into the latter category. It tells the story of an Aussie girl (the author Sarah Turnbull) who falls in love with a Frenchman in Bucharest and decides, on a whim, to visit him in Paris. Her adventures are hilarious as she tries to fit into Parisian life and avoid social faux pas. If you know Paris, you won’t be able to read it without laughing out loud.</p>
- Best for reading the little one in your life: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
My favourite book from my childhood, <em>The Very Hungry Caterpillar</em> tells the story of a caterpillar who eats his way through a vast quantity of food. It teaches counting and the days of the week: “On Monday he ate through one apple, but he was still hungry. On Tuesday he ate through two pears…” The board pages of the book have holes ‘chewed’ through them to allow little fingers to follow the caterpillar’s progress. It was written by Eric Carle and it’s said that since it was published in 1969 one copy of the book has been sold every minute!</p>
- Best for inspiration: Eat, Pray, Love
One of my favourite girly reads <em>Eat, Pray, Love </em>tells the story of a 32-year-old woman (the author Elizabeth Gilbert) who ends her marriage and spends a year traveling around the world in search of herself. The ‘Eat’ chapters of the book document her time in Italy where she focuses on ditching her food hang-ups and enjoying life. In the ‘Pray’ section of the book she moves on to India and spends three months at an ashram in search of her spiritual side. And in ‘Love’ she travels to Bali and finds love the second time around with a Brazilian man. A celebration of womanhood, <em>Eat, Pray, Love</em> is all about overcoming challenges and finding hope.</p>