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Tome On The Range

99% Perspiration: Recommended Summer Reading
Nathalie Olah , July 12th, 2013 09:11

With contributions from Ned Beauman, Emily Berry and Joe Dunthorne, Nathalie Olah rounds up recommendations from authors, publishers, poets and editors for an impressive list of not-so-well-trodden holiday reading

It’s always tempting to pick up a few of those airport sexy reads and transform the annual trip to Benidorm into a voyage of libidinous discovery. But try to resist. Because there are many books you can take on holiday that are capable of titillating the loins as well as the mind, heart, bladder and bowels. Books that are almost incomplete without the accompanying sound of Bamboleo, the faint whiff of sea/sewage and grains of sand welded to their pages with blobs of Piz Buin.

So many in fact, that compiling a definitive list of ‘all time Summer reads’ seemed beyond our sole capabilities. So we called on some of today’s best authors, publishers and editors to help us out. Because choosing what to read can be tricky, and if you fuck it up those two weeks off you get a year, could be spent completing a succession of Spa-bought su doku mags*.

Selector: Emily Berry, Poet and author of this century’s best poetry collection, Dear Boy (Faber)
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux

Because I was totally gripped by this last summer, surely the best time of year for reading Heart of Darkness style tales of psychological disintegration in the jungle – especially if you’re in Cornwall, feeling reasonably hinged, and cold.

Selector: Alex Miller, Editor of Vice
Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad

Everyone should read this in the summer because it's about all the exciting stuff crappy books by ex-solders are normally about - bombs, killing people, spies, terrorists - except it's really good. It's one of the books whose plot I've been trying to forget for years, in the hope that one day I can I can read it again without plot-spoiling my own brain.

Selector: Hannah Lack, Document Editor at AnOther Magazine
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCuller

This is a beguiling deep-south tale set in a ramshackle small town full of fireflies, lonely souls, whiskey and music drifting from radios on summer evenings…enchanting and tragic.

Selector: Ned Beauman, Author of Boxer, Beetle and The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre)
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

I read this in three days on my roof last summer while my laptop was broken and I think with this book that's the only way to break through from "this is so boring" to "this is often boring but also magnificent."

Selector: Evie Wyld, Author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice and All the Birds Singing (Jonathan Cape)
The Gamal by Ciaran Collins.

It's dark, beautiful, and funny and you won't be able to stop reading it. It's an immersive - the kind you'll get immediately stuck into on a holiday. Extreme poolside pleasure.

Selector: Simon Prosser, Publisher, Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books & Five Dials Magazine
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani (Penguin Modern Classics)

A timeless and universal novel about a very particular time and place - Ferrara, Italy in the fascist years pre World War II - this is a small masterpiece of love, yearning and remembrance, published in 1962 (and filmed by Vittorio de Sica in 1971). With something of the mood of Le Grand Meaulnes and Brideshead Revisited, it has a spell-binding effect. I wonder why it’s not better known?

Selector: Joe Dunthorne, Author of Submarine and Wild Abandon (Penguin)
Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max

I love it, both for its calm, perceptive account of DFW's background and its smart engagement with his work. It unpicks the myths that surround DFW and, in doing so, creates something much better than a myth: a real person.

Selector: Joe Stretch, Author of Midlife (Vintage), Friction (Vintage) and The Adult (Jonathan Cape)
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

I read it in Dubrovnik last summer. Reading books full of pain, heat, sadness and turmoil while relaxing on a beach is one of late-capitalism's great treats. When you look up from the page, and you can't quite believe where you've been, or where you are.

Selector: Richard Milward, Author of Apples, Ten Storey Lovesong and Kimberley’s Capital Punishment (Faber)
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

It's the ideal accompaniment to a booze-soaked summer on the Continent. The prose is tight and easy on the eye, and the characters are even tighter (drunk) as Jake Barnes and his companions navigate the Pernod-pickled cafes of Paris and the bullrings of Pamplona.

Selector: Karl Smith, Books Editor at The Quietus
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Bought at Luton Airport on a whim, this is the book which got me back into reading at 15, is as responsible as Woody Allen (if not more) for my trip to Barcelona a few years ago and the only book which I can guarantee is - at all times - in the secondhand paperback heap outside of the bookshop where I work. I don't know if that's because people read it and throw it away, or because people want to spread the word, mind.