I never go anywhere without at least two books in my bag. I don’t care what happens as long as I have books with me. They’re much more important than food. Or sleep. They’re like oxygen. Travelling with nothing to read is my idea of sheer hell. Travelling with a book is a slice of purest pleasure.
Here are my top three authors for this summer. All totally wonderful, all completely different.
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian – Marina Lewycka
Short listed for the Orange Prize, long listed for the Booker Prize, winner of a SAGA Award for Wit and a Bollinger Prize for Comic Fiction, Marina Lewycka’s 2005 novel bundles along at breakneck speed. It’s a masterpiece of wry humour, an uncomfortable mix of tragedy and hilarity with a poignant and disturbing laugh-out-loud storyline.
Here’s an excerpt from the blurb on the back cover.
“Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukranian divorcee. He was eighty four and she was thirty six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the muddy water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.”
Joel Goldman – The Lou Mason thriller series
Joel Goldman is a cracking Kansas City-based thriller writer who’s making well-deserved inroads into Britain’s large and enthusiastic crime novels market. I’ve just read his splendid Lou Mason thriller series, a fine body of work that’s as intelligent, eloquent and incisive as it is witty, scary, tense and occasionally gory.
Goldman has a pleasingly wry turn of phrase and his books are rich in top quality banter. If you enjoy word tennis, you’ll love them. His plotting is tight as a tight thing from a very tight place, and his descriptions of Kansas City paint a vivid backdrop for the action. Excellent. I’m starting his Jack Davis thriller series next…
Here’s a link to Joel Goldman’s UK website, where you can dowload the first three chapters of all of his books for free.
Nevil Shute – A Town Like Alice
Nevil Shute died way before I was old enough to thank him for the years of pleasure his books have given me. I dearly wish he was still around.
From the 1920s to the 1960s Shute was one of Britain’s best-loved authors, creator of dyed-in-the-wool Boys Own-style wartime and post-war adventures for adults. And every book he wrote is a gem.
Yes, they’re old fashioned and often anachronistic. But his storytelling is faultless. Shute writes about how ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. His characters are honourable, diligent, steadfast, reserved, strong and incredibly brave. A Town Like Alice is my favourite and I re-read it every couple of years, getting more pleasure out of it every time. Expect wartime horrors, adventure, travel and triumph, all woven around one of the most charming and innocent love stories of all time.