Recommendations for summer reads

Summer Reads“It’s very comforting to read authors you’re familiar with.”

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Whether you’re a sun-worshipper or an activity junkie, there are certain things that all summer holidays have in common: proximity to a body of water, be it chlorinated or salty; easy access to a steady supply of perfectly-chilled beverages; and at least one family member permanently marinated in factor 50. The other staple is, of course, a good book.

DJ and bibliophile Rick O’Shea joined owner of independent book shop Raven Books, Louisa Cameron, to share their recommendations for summer reads with Seán O’Rourke and his listeners.

Louisa kicked things off with a new collection of classic mysteries called Murder in Midsummer. The book features crime fiction by iconic writers of the genre including Ruth Rendell, Arthur Conan Doyle and more.

“It’s very comforting to read authors you’re familiar with. You know you’re in good hands. You know for summer there’s not going to be anything too shocking, too dark or too gruesome. Most of the stories are in or around 30 pages, so perfect length for a wait in the airport.”

Rick’s first recommendation was historical fiction by Joseph O’Connor. Shadowplay focuses on Bram Stoker and a love triangle he was embroiled in, that may have been the inspiration for his iconic work Dracula. Seán wondered if it was scary, to which Rick replied:

“I wouldn’t classify it as scary, I would classify it as atmospheric, definitely. It captures that part of 19th century London, very much so.”

Rick and Louisa, barreled through a veritable embarrassment of riches spanning genres from fantasy to non-fiction, via a graphic novel about Irish designer Eileen Grey and Kevin Barry’s latest offering, Night Boat to Tangier which Rick said is the best book he’s read this year by a country mile.

“I have very high standards when it comes to Kevin Barry. It is absolutely at the top of his range. It is like a beautiful flower that slowly unfurls and then, because it’s Kevin Barry, it spits poison in your eye.”

Another hit with Louisa is the book that inspired recent HBO television series Chernobyl. Soon to be released in paperback, Voices of Chernobyl by Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, is a remarkable piece of non-fiction, Louisa told Seán:

“She spoke right after the event to the ordinary people who were directly affected by the disaster… It stands as an incredible, moving, deeply personal testimony, which to this day is in contradiction of what the Kremlin claim happened.”

You can listen to Rick and Louisa’s recommendations in full on Today with Seán O’Rourke here.

© The Listener 2019

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