7 of our all-time favourite shorter books to read this summer
With the sun continuing to shine, lying around and soaking it all up is particularly appealing.
The glorious weather means we're also dusting off our old books and throwing them in beach bags for a bit of seasonal reading.
And even if current conditions don't last, the following seven narratives will.
Yes, here at Her we've come up with a definitive list of great short books of literary merit that will help fill sunny days...
Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
This book is a real modern classic that never loses its enjoyment. Its fashionable New York setting makes it a great summer read and the carefree feelings that come with sunny weather gives the eccentric Holly Golightly a lovability that’s felt even more than usual.
If you’re a movie fan that is yet to delve into the book, be prepared for a few changes: the swinging Sixties of the movie is wartime 1940s in the book - and Paul remains nameless throughout the entire thing. But if you love Audrey Hepburn’s character, don’t worry, you’ll still find her in the pages of this novella.
It’s a wonderful read and, at just 142 pages, it’s perfect for a short summer escape.
The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
“The sun is shining, mynah birds are chattering, palm trees are swaying, so what.”
This first line from The Descendants admittedly might kill your summer buzz for a second but if you can get past it, this really is a good and often funny read that will get you thinking about loss, life and relationships.
The story is set in Hawaii so that’s automatically a summer theme, right? We’re going with yes.
The protagonist is Matt King, whose wife is in a coma after a boating accident and whose two daughters are bordering on out of control. The book follows Matt as he comes to terms with turning off his wife’s life support and tries to figure out when his daughters first began to stray. All of this, as well as finding out that his wife had been having an affair just before her accident and that she was in love with the other man.
We know. This all sounds very heavy for a summer read but this story isn’t written as a sob story. It regularly deals with its heavy topic through dry humour.
So if you’re looking for a more thoughtful summer read, this one is for you. At a bit under 300 pages it’s the longest novel on the list but still a quick read. As an added bonus, this book has been adapted into a movie starring George Clooney, so that’s there waiting for you when you’re done.
Delicacy (originally La Délicatesse) by David Foenkinos
This book is another one that has a somewhat gloomy premise where the main character loses her husband of seven years. But the book itself is far from gloomy.
It is a beautifully written, enchanting tale of losing love and finding it again. It is a delicate observation of how Natalie, the protagonist, moves on from her husband’s death and finds her place in a new life without him.
It’s a sweet and captivating story that draws its strength from the narrative and descriptions. The book is an easy read so at 250 pages, you’ll fly through it.
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
Originally written in Japanese, this one is for those of you who are OK with a book that has very little plot. The book is more of an observation on everyday life. It looks at how a couple’s life together is affected by a cat who invites itself into their home and their lives.
The book is very Japanese in its style; it takes time with each description and each part is carefully and deliberately crafted. The images in this book are beautiful and everything you need while relaxing under the sun.
If you want to give it a go but think a book full of descriptions and no plot is a bit daunting you’ll be pleased to know that it is only 140 pages. Nothing in this book drags and it’s a great one for letting your mind wander in the sun.
Of Love And Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez
This book is completely captivating and completely wonderful. There are so many layers to this story that it seems impossible Marquez could fit it into 160 pages.
Sierva Maria, the protagonist, is brought to a convent after she is believed to be have been possessed by a rabid dog-bite. There she meets Father Cayetano Delaura who falls in love with her.
The story itself is dark and unsettling but simultaneously enchanting. The beginning invites you in and draws you along with a deceivingly light tone and by the time things begin to heat up you have been completely enveloped into the book’s world.
The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
Think sea, sea breeze and adventure, albeit a solitary one. This is a book to contemplate alone.
Hemingway shows the trials of life in this little novella. The losses, the triumphs, the work we have to go through to succeed – it is all incorporated into this story that’s essentially about, well, a fish.
It’s 132 pages and is a read-in-one-sitting type of book.
The Call Of The Wild / White Fang by Jack London
These two are actually short stories but they had to get a mention because White Fang is one of our absolute favourite stories and The Call Of The Wild isn’t far behind.
These may seem like strange summer picks, being largely set in the snows of Alaska but the themes pervading these stories are ones of escape and adventure which are perfect for summer holidays.
We first read these two stories during the summer and they left us with a sense of longing and wanderlust that we had to just sit with for about an hour afterwards. Amazing!
So, there you go!
Our seven short summer reads that will get you your literary fix in the minimal amount of hours. Who says reading needs to be time consuming?
A good book can do just about anything; from taking you on a wild and fantastical adventure to making you feel like an all-knowing super sleuth (if you figure out the killer twist).
Every week at #Bookmarked, we will be taking you through some of our all-time favourite books - as well as the newest novels hitting shelves in Ireland.