I asked my A Year With My Camera students for some book recommendations for the summer. These were my requests:
- 8 books to see me through 2 weeks.
- No chick lit - I prefer Jack Reacher.
- A page turner with a bit of depth so I don't read it all in one day.
I had nearly 100 replies over email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they are so good I have to share.
Top 10 recommended reads for summer 2017
The top 10 are based on my entirely unscientific most-recommended count. I've also included the most interesting-looking of the one-off suggestions at the end of this post, plus a couple of my own favourites.
Peter James' Roy Grace series, recommended by virtually everyone. Apparently it's critical that you read them in order. This is the first.
If you like Peter James, according to my correspondents, you will also like: Ian Rankin, Robert Goddard, PD James, Jo Nesbo, Jeffrey Archer, Stieg Larsson, and possibly Jeffrey Deaver.
Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent was another popular recommendation. I've already read this one and it was an absolute joy.
"What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion." I Am Pilgrim is by Terry Hayes
This one has been consistently recommended to me all year. It's time I read it. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Lots of recommendations for Mick Herron's spy series, including from me. If he is new to you, you're in for a treat because there are 4 already published and the 5th on its way. "You don't stop being a spook just because you're no longer in the game."
Barskins is an epic read by the looks of it, by Annie Proulx, the author of Brokeback Mountain. I have it in front of me, and it is so big it may not qualify for carry on luggage.
"A mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary." His Bloody Project, by Graeme Macrae Burnet.
This is my favourite fantasy fiction find of 2017. Absolutely enchanting read and with an immensely satisfying conclusion.
If you like fantasy fiction that isn't all warlocks and dragons, you might also like: The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman, The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin, The Dagger & The Coin series by Daniel Abraham, The Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard.
A perfectly paced page turner with a charming set of characters - The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley.
"An inventive tour de force inspired by Sigmund Freud's 1909 visit to America" - The Interpretation of Murder, Jed Rubenfeld.
Of course, if it's a step-by-step beginner's photography course you're after, broken up into weekly lessons with a built-in progress log, you should look no further than my very own A Year With My Camera workbooks:
Others good reads to consider:
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson: "The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and its amazing 'White City' was one of the wonders of the world. This is the incredible story of its realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked: one was an architect, the other a serial killer."
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon: "Part whodunnit, part coming of age, this is a gripping debut about the secrets behind every door."
A Sweet Life, Lucinda Osmond: Lucinda is a friend of mine, and her memoir of growing up in the sweet shop in Dorchester in the 1970s will take you right back to a world of fruit salads and 10p mix ups.
Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh: I read this before I watched the TV series recently. It had passed me by previously, but it's a funny, caustic, easy read.
Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss: Non fiction. Easy to read in very short chapters, but another big book that will last well. Packed with life hacks.
The Night Manager, John le Carre: any John le Carre will see you through a good couple of days, but I was glad I read this one before I watched it.
The Devil in the Marshalsea, Antonia Hodgson: fast paced historical fiction series for people who like Shardlake, SJ Parris, and The Name of the Rose.
Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller: "Thrilling, transporting, delicately realised and held together by a sophisticated sense of suspense."
Sirens, Joseph Knox: "A powerhouse of noir."
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell: gripping fiction/fantasy crossover with a haunting finale. (Also Cloud Atlas, if you've not read it yet.)
What's your best page turner recommendation? Add your suggestion to the ever-growing Facebook post that started all this off: Click here to add your favourite page turner.