Summer is a great time of year. But with longer days and more time off for some, it’s also a time that can quickly go to waste if you’re not careful. So why not make the most of what you’ve got with our pick of the top five books to read this summer. After all, nothing beats relaxing with a good book.
The Feather Thief
A true-crime adventure by Kirk Wallace Johnson, The Feather Thief centres around the author’s own obsession with one of the most bizarre crimes of the century.
The novels follows the crime of twenty-year old musical prodigy Edwin Rist. Here, we learn that in one evening he broke into the British Museum of Natural History before slipping away hours later with a suitcase full of rare bird specimens collected by a contemporary of Charles Darwin.
According to Penguin Publishing, “Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when he first heard about the heist, from his fly-fishing guide. When he discovered that the thief evaded prison, and that half the birds were never recovered, Johnson embarked upon a years-long worldwide investigation which led him deep into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.”
Girls Burn Brighter
The debut novel by Shobha Rao, Girls Burn Brighter explores the story of two girls driven apart, only to journey across continents to find each other again.
Rao positions the protagonists – Poornima and Savitha – against adversity from the start. In fact, the relationship between the two is driven by a sense of hope – something starkly absent from the upbringing of the two girls.
Separated by tragedy, the book swiftly moves onto their quest to reunite as they both deal with their fair share of drama – most namely Poornima’s father marrying her off and Savitha becoming entwined with human trafficking.
Staggering between the girls’ perspectives, Girls Burn Brighter tackles the very real issues of human trafficking, immigration and feminism head on as both girls never lose sight of the hope that burns within.
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Children of Blood and Bone
A change of pace from the real-world issues that the afore-mentioned books deal with, Children of Blood and Bone is a great way to get your kids engaged with a novel this summer.
Debuting at number one on The New York Times best-seller list for young adult books, the novel centres around Zélie Adebola as she goes about restoring magic in the country of Orïsha.
This fictional land sets the scene for the novel, with author Tomi Adeyemi carefully showing how the corruption of a King has rid the land of its magic and its people. Eleven years after the raids, Zélie is introduced and quickly sent off on a journey to retrieve three sacred artifacts and bring order to the land once more. If he fails, Orïsha will lose its magic forever.
The Great Alone
The Great Alone deals with the fragility of the human spirit in a way that only Kristin Hannah can.
Focusing on Ernt Allbright – a recently returned prisoner of war from Vietnam – and his family, the novel is a gripping read from start to finish. We see the family make the impulsive decision to move to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in a community filled with strong and hardened men and women.
Beyond Ernt, Hannah explores the coming of age realisations that grip the family’s 13-year-old daughter, Leni. Struggling to find her place in life, Leni too sees this change as a chance to start anew.
However, as winter approaches and darkness makes itself at home in the Alaskan wilderness, the family soon learn that in the wild there is no one to save them but themselves.
Educated: A Memoir
Without a doubt the most unbelievable entry on this list, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Tara Westover’s biography is in fact, non-fiction.
Born to survivalist parents in the mountains of Idaho, Westover had anything but a traditional upbringing. Instead of playing sport and going to school, the author found herself stock-piling cans for the impending end of the world. Even more amazingly, her upbringing saw her family neglect hospitals and education altogether.
Educated documents Westover’s quest to free herself from the limitations of her early life, with the book following her journey to Brigham Young University, Cambridge and Harvard.
A fascinating exploration of the strength of human resolve, Educated is impossible to put down.