Right now, it's the perfect weather for sitting outside with a book.
"But what shall I read??"
Well, I'm glad you asked. This is my list of recommendations of books (in no particular order) that have a summer vibe for me. It's an expansion on this article I wrote last year when I just started my job as Online Books Editor for Exeposé.
1. I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)In the vividly beautiful English countryside, Cassandra and her eccentric family live and dream in their home, a ruined castle. Even though it was written in the 1940's, the writing is incredibly modern and still relevant today. With an immensely likeable and relatable teenage narrator, it's a funny, honest and astoundingly gorgeous book.
2. The Great Gatsby (F.Scott Fitzgerald)
Clichéd English student choice but I've read this book over countless times, and I still find something new. It's heralded as an absolute classic and therefore risked ruin by the education system through forcing students to fish for metaphors. But it's a wonderful and beautiful story; full of beauty, touching moments and heady prose. It's easy to lose yourself in this dreamy and poetic novella as you watch the American Dream crumble.
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's (Truman Capote)
This is completely different from the film; darker, grittier - and better (please don't kill me). The effortlessly glamorous Holly Golightly resides in New York and her life glitters, but only on the surface. She could have easily become another Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, but she's immensely complex, fascinating and ungraspable. Always restless and always on the run, Holly Golightly will always be one of my favourite characters.
4. The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides)
It's as creepy as it sounds. The beautiful and distant Lisbon sisters capture the fascination of the neighbourhood - especially the teenage boys. When 13 year old Cecelia commits suicide they all watch, entranced, as the Lisbon family decays. It's masterfully written and haunting.
5. On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
Drink, drugs and a lot of driving. It's another clichéd English student choice, but this book just sweeps you along with the frantic desperation to live life, set to the background of jazz music. On the Road has an unconventional prose style, called spontaneous prose. Kerouac originally wrote it in three weeks on "the scroll" - a 122ft long scroll of paper he taped together. It'll make you want to let everything go and take a road trip with friends.
6. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
One of my favourite bildungsroman, this book follows Sayuri's rise from a child living in an impoverished fishing village to an immensely successful geisha in Gion, whilst Japan is on the brink of WWII. It's an incredible and emotional insight into this world of beauty and luxury.
7. The Art of Asking (Amanda Palmer)
It's the non-fiction book everyone should read. So many of us spend too much of our life afraid or embarrassed to ask for help, and we shame others for asking. Amanda Palmer is a rock star, activist, blogger, a former living statue and now a writer. After leaving her record label, she launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, asking for $100,000 to fund an album. Palmer soon set a record for the biggest crowd-funded music project at $1.2 million. This lead to one of the most viewed TED talks, and now the book. Raw, honest and beautifully written, it's genuinely one of the most influential books I have ever read. If you want a full review of the book, I wrote one here.
8. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
I read it for the first time when I was about Jem's age, and reread again recently - it's a story that stays with you. Set in the 1930's, six-year-old Scout and her big brother Jem live in Alabama when their father, Atticus Finch, is appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. It's a heartachingly amazing book. The sequel, Go Set a Watchman, will be released 14 July 2015 (55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird), so get reading!
9. Paper Towns (John Green)
Books don't tend to make me laugh out loud, but this one got me. Margo Roth Spiegelman, who appears to be the ultimate girl-next-door, takes her neighbour and childhood friend Quentin on a mad night of revenge pranks - and she disappears the next day. With a group of friends, they search for her, discovering the "real Margo" and all her complexities. The film adaptation is coming out 24 July 2015.
10. The Sandman (Neil Gaiman)
In their attempts to capture Death, a cult have caught the wrong Eternal - Dream. During his imprisonment, the mortal world warps. It doesn't have a summer vibe for me, unlike the other books, but it's utterly engrossing and you'll want to spend your whole summer reading the whole series.
Hope you enjoy this list - what books are you going to be reading this summer?