11 Best Summer Reads
Mainstreet Trading's Rosamund de la Hey picks her 11 Best Books to read this summer
By Rosamund de la Hey
Rosamund de la Hey is co-founder of award-winning book shop Mainstreet Trading in St Boswells. Prior to opening up Mainstreet she was children’s marketing director at Bloomsbury Publishing, where she worked from 1994 to 2007. During this time she waved her magic wand over the Harry Potter books, working closely with JK Rowling, to create what was to become a phenomenon. Originally a bookshop & café, Mainstreet now boasts a deli and homeware department too making it a must-visit destination in the borders. Not been? You should.
Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen
Erin French grew up barefoot on a 25-acre farm in Maine, fell in love with food as a teenager working the line at her dad’s diner and found her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant The Lost Kitchen. Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen is one young woman’s story of hard graft, heartache and outstanding resilience and success. Read this and you’ll want to book a place at her table in Maine.
Perfect for fans of Wild by Sheryl Strayed…
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
Small Pleasures is a precise, witty, delicate pleasure of a read. On the one hand the story of a woman, who is conscious life is passing her by, on the other, a touching, funny and tender love story. With not a word out of place, it lingers in the mind, you can hear the clock ticking in the hall.
Perfect for those to relish exquisite, funny writing…
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer with a devoted husband. A gift, her mother once said, not everybody gets. So why is everything broken? At heart it’s about the love between two sisters, it’s one of those books you’ll want to press Sorrow and Bliss into the hands of your friends.
Perfect for fans of Fleabag…
A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
The court of James I is no place for the weak. Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family, Anne Turner has wit and ingenuity, but no position. While their unlikely friendship brings Anne the excitement and notice she craves, danger lurks in its wake. This is a richly realised, gripping historical novel, A Net for Small FIshes – if you liked The Favourite, you’ll love this book..
Perfect for fans of Rose Tremain or Hilary Mantel…
Slow Horses by Mick Herron
If you’ve enjoyed the new TV series starring Gary Oldman and Kristen Scott Thomas, it’s well worth reading the original text - Slow Horses by Mick Herron. The writing is luxuriously enjoyable, packed with gruesome wit at the extreme ‘management style’ of Jackson Lamb, errant head of the place failed spooks go to be bored into submission (or resignation).
Perfect for fans of sophisticated thrillers…
The Familia Grande by Camille Kouchner
Camille Koucher was in her forties before she felt able (or at liberty) to write her story of family abuse, suicide, shame and guilt. But stay with me, Familia Grande is an extraordinary memoir that reads like a novel, suffused with the glamour of upmarket French family holidays, marked by the dread of truth to emerge.
Perfect for those who like to mix a little darkness into their reading…
The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
Having loved Clare Pooley’s first novel, The Authenticity Project, I can confirm that her second The People on Platform 5 delivers just what we all need – a delightful, layered tale of unexpected friendship and, in Iona Iversen, an eccentric heroine who’s easy to love. What if all those commuters, studiously ignoring each other day after day on the train, actually broke the rules and spoke to each other….?
Perfect for commuters on holiday!
The High House by Jessie Greengrass
When we think of environmental novels, or speculative fiction it often conjures up the feel of something distant, distinct from our time. Jessie Greengrass’s triumph is her ability to bring the threat of climate change right into our own all too familiar spaces. The High House is a book that you feel deep in your bones, it’s one we should all read.
Perfect for holidays when we have thinking time…
Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott
(winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction 2022)
I was at first put off this book by its length and seemingly bleak subject matter. Luckily a mild dose of Covid gave me the time to dive in, and I’m so grateful I did. Invisible Child is one of those eye-opening, life-changing books that you want to press into the hands of everyone you meet. If you loved Educated by Tara Westover, please read Invisible Child, you won’t regret meeting Dasani or her family.
Perfect for disappearing into, Dasani will live with you…
Stasiland by Anne Fundez
This is an old favourite, read while at a sales conference in Berlin. Australian journalist, Anne Fundez explores the newly opened Stasi case files unearthing some extraordinary stories from behind the iron curtain. Stasiland reads as a series of short stories, and is utterly fascinating. If you enjoyed arthouse film, The Lives of Others, you’ll love this.
Perfect if you are travelling in Europe…
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Lockdown has encouraged lots of people to revisit old favourites, for me, A Fine Balance is the one. Set in India during Partition, you know it’s not going to be without pain, but the writing and storytelling is just out of this world, you can hear the singsong language almost as though it’s being read to you. If you haven’t already discovered it, I urge you to read this remarkable book.
Perfect (essential) for those travelling in India…