In Review

Summer reading: 15 captivating books to whisk you away

Let your mind explore new horizons via these exciting new titles

Fiction

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize is “set in an uneasy near-future, in which AI and genetic enhancement threaten to create a human underclass”, said The Guardian. It tells the story of a robot who becomes an “artificial friend” to a sickly teenager. Klara and the Sun is a “slow-burn masterpiece”, said the FT - a brilliant examination of what it means to be human. Out now; The Week Bookshop £15.99

The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

This “dramatic thriller” - first published in 1939 and recently rediscovered – tells the story of a Jewish businessman on the run inside prewar Germany, said The Times. Trying to flee the Nazis, he crisscrosses Germany by train - but realises that all exits are closed. “Stunning,” said Alec Russell in the FT - “easily” my book of the year. Out now; The Week Bookshop £11.99

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Lex is a successful New York lawyer, but as a child she lived in northern England, in a home where she and her siblings suffered horrific abuse, said The Sunday Times. Abigail Dean’s novel - a global bestseller - charts Lex’s traumatic confrontation with the past. “Girl A had me from page one,” said Sophie Warburton in The Sunday Telegraph. “Flipping between past and present, it has twists and turns aplenty.” Out now; The Week Bookshop £11.99

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

This beguiling novel - which is already being adapted into a TV show by HBO - unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets and one unspeakable childhood incident lead protagonist Elle Bishop to the precipice of a life-changing decision. “This is a novel of sensations - some painfully sharp,” writes Patricia Nicol in The Times. “This feels a remarkably assured debut.” Out now; Waterstones £12.99

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Having started out writing “very funny” literary novels, Rachel Cusk has switched more recently to “austere” auto-fiction, said John Self in The Times. Second Place is “a synthesis of old and new” – an experimental, philosophically-minded novel that also has “big characters” and some “truly funny” jokes. M, the narrator, is a writer who lives with her husband in a house on the coast. She invites a painter she admires to stay in its annexe (the “second place” of the title), but he brings along an uninvited companion – an “authentically awful” younger woman. Though not flawless, Second Place is a fascinating work from “one of our most interesting writers”. Out now; The Week Bookshop £11.99

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Described as Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada, this electric debut is about the tension that unfurls when two young black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of book publishing. “Readers should relish this glimpse into the publishing world and its original take on black professional women striving to hold on to their authentic selves and their tresses,” writes author Regina Porter in The GuardianOut now; Waterstones £12.99

The Book of Reykjavik edited by Vera Júlíusdóttir and Becca Parkinson

Iceland is a land of stories, from the epic sagas of its mythic past, to its claim today of being home to more writers, published books and avid readers per head than anywhere in the world. As its capital (and only city), Reykjavik has long been an inspiration for these stories. The tension between the fishing-village-turned-metropolis and the surrounding countryside, its rural past and urban present, weaves its way through The Book of Reykjavik, forming an outline of a fragmented city marked by both contradiction and creativity. Out 12 August; Amazon £9.99

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

The third book from the bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water looks into how a life can be derailed by decisions made decades before. Following Laura, a likely suspect in a brutal murder case that takes place on a London canal boat, A Slow Fire Burning digs deeper into the events that make a criminal life. “The flaws of each character will surprise and perhaps even enchant you — and only a clairvoyant could anticipate the book’s ending,” says The New York TimesOut 31 August; Waterstones £16.99

Non-fiction

The Sleeping Beauties by Suzanne O’Sullivan

This “extraordinary book” by the neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan examines the mysterious world of psychosomatic illnesses, said The Times. The title refers to “resignation syndrome”, a condition noted in the 1990s when a group of girls in Stockholm - all asylum seekers - suddenly fell into catatonic states. O’Sullivan’s examination of what is sometimes called “mass hysteria” is “mind-blowing” in every sense, said The Daily TelegraphOut now; The Week Bookshop £13.99

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston

The author of A Very English Scandal charts the press baron’s “vast appetites, ambition and feud with Rupert Murdoch”, says The Guardian. It all ends on his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine – named after his “now equally infamous” daughter. “John Preston’s research for this terrific biography is extensive; he interviewed three of Maxwell’s children and his sister,” writes Melania McDonagh in the London Evening Standard. “But he also presents a large character at the heart of a gripping novel which happens to be true.” Out now; The Week Bookshop £14.99 

Unsung Heroes

Everyday heroes are all around us – those who selflessly help their friends, neighbours and families or lend a hand within their local communities – and these acts of kindness were as prevalent as ever over this past year. StoryTerrace’s Unsung Heroes tells the story of 25 such people, including a London bus driver and a Team GB canoeist who became an NHS support worker. All profits are going to two causes: Maggie’s, a UK-based cancer charity and Unity Unlimited, a US-based educational non-profit organisation. Out now; Amazon £12.99

The Premonition by Michael Lewis

In this non-fiction thriller, the author of The Big Short examines a group of US scientists who spent years preparing for a Covid-like pandemic, only to be frustrated by bureaucrats. The main characters include a 13-year-old girl whose science project on the transmission of an airborne pathogen develops into a model of disease control and a local public-health officer who “uses her worm’s-eye view to see what the CDC misses, and reveals great truths about American society”. The Premonition is “terrifically damning of the failure of institutions”, says Roula Khalaf in the FTOut now; Waterstones £25

Real Estate by Deborah Levy 

Following the international critical and commercial success of The Cost of Living, this final volume of Deborah Levy’s “Living Autobiography” is a boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it. Real Estate resumes and expands Levy’s pioneering examination of a female life lived in the storm of the present tense, asking essential questions about womanhood, modernity, creative identity and personal freedom. “Each of these books bears several re-readings; together, they offer one version of how a woman might continually rewrite her own story,” writes Stephanie Merritt in The GuardianOut now; The Week Bookshop £8.99 

Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn 

RED magazine journalist Natasha Lunn’s celebration of love in all its forms, inspired by her newsletter of the same name, was acquired by her publishers following a 16-way auction. After years of interviewing people about their relationships, Lunn has learnt that our daily questions about love are often rooted in three bigger ones: how do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it? The book explores all three and contains interviews with authors and experts including Dolly Alderton, Philippa Perry and Esther Perel. Out now; Waterstones £14.99

The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy

Two leading Bloomberg journalists chart the rise of the world’s most powerful commodity traders since the 1970s via geopolitical vignettes, including “the breakneck privatisation” of the Soviet Union, says Andrew Hill in the FT. There’s a school of thought that the raw materials which make our lives so comfortable are too boring to dwell on, says John Arlidge in The Sunday Times. “Nothing could be further from the truth, as this remarkable book reveals.” Out now; The Week Bookshop £15.99

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