Your Summer's Reading List by YOU magazine's Books Editor Natasha Poliszczuk and Author Ali Harris

Wondering what to read this summer? Whether it's from your sunbed or sheltering inside from the rain, you have to look no further as I asked You magazine's Books Editor Natasha Poliszczuk and bestselling author Ali Harris for their top reading recommendations for  Summer 2021.

Your Summer Reading List by Natasha Poliszczuk, Books Editor at YOU 
Follow Natasha on Instagram @natashapoliszczuk
"I'm already assured of your excellent taste because you are a fan of The Alex Edit. Me too. (Both the woman and her independent boutique.) So it is with high hopes that I share with you some of my favourite recent books. The make for perfect summer reading, even (especially?) if you’re not going further than a deck chair in your garden."
The thriller: A Narrow Door - Joanne Harris
The new one from Joanne Harris is a long way from Chocolat. Rebecca is the first ever headmistress at St Oswald's school - and an antiheroine par excellence. She is literary proof that a woman scorned can be a dangerous thing indeed. A very dark, very twisty psychological thriller delivers spine-tingling tension - enough to chill you even on a sunlounger.
The life affirmer: The Reading List - Sara Nisha Jones
So this is a pure, unadulterated joy about the power of books and storytelling to bring people together. Lonely, anxious Aleisha discovers a stranger's reading list, tucked into a tattered library book. Tentatively, she shares it with her widowed grandfather - who longs to connect with his granddaughter. Absolutely captures the magic of reading - and libraries (I love a good library) - and their capacity to transform lives.
The sensation: Sorrow and Bliss - Meg Mason
It's possible I haven't banged on about this enough, but I'm going to persist. That's how good this book is: you'll tell everyone to read it. Yes, it's about the breakdown of a relationship and the unnamed mental illness which plagues Marths, but it's as hilarious as it is heartbreaking . Martha is a wonderful, singular creation - as is her acerbic sister (the true love in this book might well be between the two women). Completely sublime.
The modern marriage: Everyone is Still Alive - Cathy Rentzenbrink
This thoroughly engrossing portrait of marriage, friendship and love is an assured novelistic debut from this excellent writer. Juliet moves into her late mother's house on Magnolia Road with her husband Liam and their son, Charlie. As she struggles with grief and the burden of juggling work, family and the seemingly endless domestic admin, they are drawn into the local school run community. (Excellent fodder for novelist Liam's new book.) But the rupture of a marriage and an unexpected accident are the catalyst for questioning everything they think they know. Rentzenbrink wrote the beautiful The Last Act of Love and A Manual For Heartbreak so it is little wonder that she writes with such clear-eyed compassion about love.
The saga: I Couldn't Love You More - Esther Freud
This sweeps across three generations of women in one family - and the secrets, betrayal and heartbreak which bind them. Aoife sits at the bedside of her dying husband, still trying to solve the mystery surrounding her daughter Rosaleen. Skip to 1960s London and young, beautiful, rebellious Rosaleen is drawn in by the talented, older sculptor Felix, but when she finds herself pregnant, she is shipped off to Magdalene laundry. In contemporary London, artist Kate is unhappily married and longs to find her birth mother. An emotional epic - and a fascinating, study of the expectations on women. BE WARNED: were this a film, it would be classified as a weepy. If you, like me, are tender of heart, your handkerchief will be sodden.

Your Summer Book List by Ali Harris author of The First Last kiss (You can follow Ali on Instagram @aliharriswriter)

Summer reading is just the best, isn’t it? Losing yourself in an unputdownable book whilst being unable to get up from a sun lounger (or, more likely this year, garden hammock). Here’s my list of the best (paddling) poolside reads:

The Book Club pick: The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

I love a book club. I belong to a local one, of course, but I also religiously follow Reese Witherspoon’s @reesesbookclub on Instagram and  was super quick to nab this July recommendation. It’s Cowley-Heller’s debut novel, but as former head of Drama at HBO where she developed shows such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire (how’s that for a pedigree?) you instantly feel in safe, assured hands. Also, it has every ingredient I want from a summer read: secrets, a summer beach house, complex love triangle. Already a NYT bestseller, put this sweeping, sumptuous novel at the top of your TBR list at once!

The murder mystery:  The Truants by Kate Weinberg

When Jess Taylor starts Uni and instantly falls in with a thrill-seeking peer group who are all in thrall to their charismatic, maverick professor Lorna, little can she predict that this carefree but claustrophobic group of contemporaries could lead to temptation and ultimately, tragedy. For fans of Donna Tartt and Liane Moriarty, with shades of Notes on a Scandal, this unfolds as a coming-of-age Campus chronicle and seamlessly morphs into a murder mystery that cleverly pays close homage to Agatha Christie, without resorting to pastiche. Indeed, there is in this debut, a lingering literary backbone that marks out new novelist Weinberg as one to watch.

The instant uplift: Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce

Good news! Emmeline Lake, the gloriously gung-ho Wannabe War Correspondent turned advice columnist is back in this delightful sequel to A J Pearce’s bestselling debut novel, Dear Mrs Bird. It’s 1941 and Woman’s Friend has been drafted in by the Ministry of Information to spearhead a recruitment drive for Women War workers. But this is easier said than done for the employees Emmy meets at the Munitions factory who are expected to work long shifts and weekends with no childcare. What unfolds is an uplifting and insightful celebration of the power of female support, strength and friendship through the darkest of times. Historical and heartwarming, have a gin fizz and a hanky to hand!

The heart-wrenching romance: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

My friend, fellow author Paige Toon recommended Colleen Hoover to me when I’d finished her new novel, Someone I Used to Know (also highly recommend!) and said I was looking for another immersive, romantic summer read. Like Paige, Hoover writes fraught, unforgettable fiction, with live-off-the-page characters and complex love triangles that grip your heart it tightly until the last page. When 23 year-old Lily Bloom leaves her abusive childhood behind for a new life in Boston and meets and marries suave, sensitive, stubborn neurosurgeon Ryle, she feels she’s met her perfect man - apart from his similarities to her own father, that is. As she begins to question her relationship, her thoughts turn to her childhood love, Atlas Corrigan (great name, no?) But he unexpectedly turns up back in her life, she's forced to face the cycle of abuse she has become sucked into. Painful, powerful and unputdownable this is widely thought to be one of Hoover's best, you’ll devour it on your garden deckchair this summer.

The modern classic: Mr Wilder and Me by Jonathon Coe

I love reading historical fiction on holiday that draws upon the lives of real people and also takes you on a literary trip both abroad and back in time.  It’s 1970s Corfu and teenage Calista’s life has been changed by meeting Billy Wilder, Golden Era Oscar winning film writer and director (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment) and invited to be a translator on one of his final films. Decades later, she’s a well-known composer and is asked to write a score about him. A delightful, deeply immersive portrayal of the rise and fall of fame, expectation versus success and the long, hard pull of nostalgia on your life. Escapist and enthralling - enjoy! 

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