Summer is just around the corner, kicking off tomorrow, Saturday, June 20. Whether you’re inclined to head to the beach, park, or even hang inside, soaking up the AC, having a book in-hand is an ideal way to pass the time.
Stepping into an action story may add some thrill to a lazy afternoon, while indulging in a whimsical fantasy might be relaxing before heading to bed. We’ve also included memoirs by Anglo favorites that could even prove relatable to readers’ own lives.
Here are 10 books worth bringing along on summer outings or staycations:
1. Codename Villanelle
We all know and love the infectious Villanelle, who we’ve followed through all three seasons of Killing Eve. But, where did this fascinating assassin come from? Luke Jennings‘ 2014 novella, Codename Villanelle, introduced the killer for hire to the world. Why not go back and do a deep dive into this psychopath’s psyche? As well, catch-up with handler Konstantin and MI5 agent Eve. There’s no Carolyn, though — her character was invented for the series.
Published in 2019, author Candice Carty-Williams‘ Queenie revolves around a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London. Queenie Jenkins works at a national newspaper and has just gone through a bad breakup. She’s trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in, making questionable decisions and endearing herself to readers with her warm humor along the way.
3. Great Expectations
Charles Dickens‘ Great Expectations was published in 1861 and is just as relevant now as it was then. Narrated in the first person, an orphaned boy named Pip tells his story of rising to success. But as he advances, he leaves his friends behind, revealing his true colors. This coming of age story examines personal responsibility and accountability, and has inspired an impressive share of onscreen adaptations over the years.
4. The Hobbit
If you’ve already seen the 2012 film The Hobbit, it might be fun to go back and get even more details from J.R.R. Tolkien‘s 310 page novel, published in 1937. The story kicks off with the wizard Gandalf approaching a hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins. With some prompting, Baggins agrees to journey to the Lonely Mountain to retrieve a guarded treasure for his wizard friend. Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the film, gave the source material a read himself recently during quarantine.
5. Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life
Sir Michael Caine has three memoirs, with 2018’s Blowing the Bloody Doors Off being the latest. With a career that spans six decades, he has a lot to say. In his third book, he shares life lessons on achieving success, one step at a time. Like where he says, “Small parts, lead to big things. And if you keep doing things right, the stars will align when you least expect it.” We’re gonna be sure to take notes.
6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe might be deemed a children’s book, but it’s definitely for adults, too. The story revolves around four siblings, who find a magical portal in the back of a wardrobe. It takes them to a land called Narnia, where the children are tasked with freeing the land from the clutches of an evil White Witch. They have the help of a talking lion named Aslan, who is the rightful king. There’s nothing quite like an epic fantasy to provide some summer escapism.
7. The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe
In this Queen-approved biography, Queen Elizabeth II‘s dresser, Angela Kelly LVO, shares anecdotes and never before seen photos of the monarch. Kelly worked on behalf of the Queen for 25 years and has plenty of material to pull from. She went from Senior Dresser to Personal Advisor, being just that close to her Majesty.
8. And Furthermore
Dame Judi Dench is a regular on Anglophenia, and unquestionably a reader (and writer!) favorite. And with this 2012 memoir, fans of hers can learn about her childhood growing up in York, England. Her family was in love with the theater, introducing her to acting at an early age. We’ll learn about her education and career, but she also expands on her marriage to Michael Williams, her daughter Finty, and grandson Sammy. All told in her words.
9. The Woman in the Window
A.J. Finn‘s The Woman in the Window is being made into a movie, starring Amy Adams and Julianne Moore. Darkest Hour director Joe Wright is adapting the novel for the big screen, reuniting him with Gary Oldman, also set to star. The story revolves around Dr. Anna Fox, a former child psychiatrist, who has become agoraphobic. She spends her days in her NYC townhouse sipping (or rather, chugging) wine and watching old movies. She also obsessively watches her neighbors, safely behind a sheet of glass. When a new family moves in across the street, Dr. Fox witnesses an unsettling event. At least, she thinks she saw something.
10. Pet Sematary
A summer read doesn’t have to be a light read. Why not throw some Stephen King into the mix? And, no, the title isn’t a typo, it’s meant to be “sematary” as if misspelled by a child. When Louis Creed and his family move to a new town, they discover a pet cemetery. At first, they think it’s sweet that the neighbor children have a place to lay their deceased pets to rest. But they soon learn that the pets don’t stay dead… so, when their young son is killed in an accident, Creed attempts to use this knowledge to bring his son back to life.
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