Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Every time I think about this book I am reminded of Babe and Wallace and Gromit. If you know why, then high five! This novel is so dark, dismal and melancholy, but the writing is just perfect. I found myself excited to read more and taking my time over each page, really savouring every moment of it. The descriptions are vivid and almost terrifyingly haunting at some points (I'm thinking about the murders and the horse beating). I've been advised to avoid Dostoyesvsky for a little while because it is 'too depressing', but I look forward to exploring more of his works when my brain can handle it.
The Silver Dark Sea by Susan Fletcher
This is a truly beautiful novel about the restorative power of hope. Susan Fletcher has long been one of my favourite writers because of her lyrical prose and uplifting narratives. In this novel she weaves in a slightly magical vibe which works brilliantly with her solid and very human characters.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
I fell in love with John Wyndham when I read The Day of the Triffids and this has cemented his place in my 'favourite authors' list. He writes science fiction that is not so ridiculously far out that I lose track of the whys and wherefores of the story. Which is always a plus. I couldn't put this book down and it made a very traumatic flight (I thought I was going to die), slightly more bearable.
Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim Parks
I felt supremely nerdy when I said to a friend that I was reading a book about Italian trains, I think understandably so, but actually this book is brilliant. When I was 20 I travelled round Italy using the trains and Parks talks a lot about trains that I am familiar with, the frustrations of train travel in Italy and the many many confusing aspects of ticketing, fees etc. Even without my experience on the trains I think this book would be highly readable. Parks is very adept at describing people and history and his little vignettes make great non-fictional story telling.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I needed a bit of escapism at the end of July and this provided the perfect fictional escape. This novel has such a wonderfully fairytale-esque structure and the characters have been formed with such care. It is quite fantastical, but not beyond what I can usually read. It was the pacing that I found to be particularly well done, as it had such a perfect balance of fast paced plot movements and slower and more focused character and setting descriptions. I really couldn't put it down.
What were your favourite reads this summer?