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Added: Monday 30th July, 2018

Summer Reads

We asked writers to recommend their favourite reading material for the summer holidays

Dean Atta, poet
“My summer read was published last summer and remains in the forefront of my mind whenever I am asked for book recommendations. Before I Step Outside (You Love Me) by Travis Alabanza (pictured) is a self-published poetry pamphlet about the sadly all too common trans non-binary experience of street harassment. This small book is filled with so much strength and defiance that people of all gender expressions will take inspiration from it. Reading this book is a lesson in compassion.”

Neil Bartlett, theatre director and writer 
“Summertime reading is all about losing yourself in a different time and place. I think a summertime book needs to be sexy too, because summer is so much about the body. A queer classic from one long-ago 1970's hot summer of my youth that I'd definitely revisit on these sticky nights and days that we're currently having is Edmund White's Nocturnes for the King of Naples... full of desire, full of beauty, full of restless, questioning life.”

Astra Bloom, writer 
“My summer love must be Tale of a Tooth. Author, Allie Rogers has quite magically channelled a real small boy! Danny tells his story of living with his mum, loving his dinosaurs, managing poverty, and then 'a evil monster', a woman named Karen. This is an extraordinary book, there is not one line that feels phoney or twee, and that in my experience is almost impossible with child narrators. Danny's language is shockingly perfect. No, this is not light and summer-sexy but it is a genuine gem, a heartwarming, inspiring, funny, dark and sad book that feels like it could do with some hype!”

Sharon Duggal, novelist
“I love a story I can become totally immersed in so I often read a mixture of classics and contemporary books over the summer in search of that. The true magic of reading is that you can be transported to new or different worlds whether you are able to travel in the summer or not and some of my favourites are set in places I have never been to except in my imagination. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera is a perfect summer read - a beautiful, evocative story of unrequited love that lasts a lifetime. Marquez is such a masterful storyteller that he entices and draws you into the middle of this distant, mysterious world to the point where you can smell the mango trees, taste the bitter almonds and feel your heartbreaking for Florentino. That's want I want from a summer read.”

Vanessa Gebbie, writer and tutor 
“For me, a summer read needs to be uplifting to some degree - acting like the summer holiday - offering not just time out, but real R and R - Rest, Relaxation and a third R - Renewal. A time for positive rethinking. I'd love to share a book I was introduced to last year: Plainsong by American author Kent Haruf, who I'm ashamed to say I had not heard of. It is absolutely beautiful, thought-provoking and utterly glorious - a brilliant and engaging story, first published in 1999. It's a little gem which will send you on a search for Kent Haruf's other works.”

Katy Massey, writer 
“I’d recommend the Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evaristo, as a great summer read. Summer offers lots of us the time and space to try something new, and if you’ve never read a book in verse then this is a captivating place to start. Set in Roman-occupied London, and following the exploits of Zuleika – a Nubian girl married off to an older Roman man – our capital city of 2,000 years ago is portrayed to be as vibrant and as interesting as any Dickensian version. This is a racially-mixed, queer, poverty-stricken, wealthy, glamorous and violent city that is instantly recognisable, yet wonderfully located in antiquity where Zuleika and her crew are brilliantly brought to life by Evaristo’s sparkling poetry. I love this book!” 

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