It’s been the perfect weather for reading in the garden and I’ve managed to spend these last few months whittling my list down so that I could recommend a great summer read, for my Summer 17 Degrees Column.
In this final post of three, I’m reviewing six books that I selected from my non-fiction pile. I know plenty of people who love reading about real life on their holidays and hopefully there’s something here for you to enjoy.
Gin Made Me Do It
Jassy Davies & Ruby Taylor
This is the only book you’ll need this summer for the hen night, birthday party or legendary barbecue that’ll have everyone talking about your fabulous cocktails for months to come. This gorgeous book would make the perfect gift, but once you’ve mixed yourself a few of its killer cocktails, you won’t want to be parted from it, I can assure you. It has a whole range of delicious summer cocktails – from a classic Bramble to some Sloe gin stunners. You’ll be bowled over by the range of botanical treats on offer here and there is genuinely something for everyone inside its beautifully illustrated pages. Whether you need to develop your palate or refine your garnishes, you’ll love experimenting with this guide to the hottest drink of the summer. By a few pages in, I was definitely reaching for the tonic to pour myself a sample. Mine’s an Aviation, if you’re asking. Cheers!
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer – the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade – from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case. If you haven’t heard of this book, where have you been over the last few months? Little did I know when I picked it up, that the cold case it describes would be solved through groundbreaking DNA evidence whilst I was reading it. 12 murders, 51 rapes and over 120 burglaries is a trail of horror that’s difficult to fathom, yet this book effortlessly draws the evidence together and presents you with the key facts that puzzled cops for decades. I read this entire book in a single sitting and can’t recommend it enough; it’s just so sad that Michelle didn’t live to see him convicted. Treat yourself to this gripping read – you won’t regret it.
First Man In – Leading From the Front
Leaders are made, not born. By gritting his teeth and getting on with life’s many challenges, Ant Middleton has developed an understanding of what makes true leadership. First Man In describes these vital lessons to make us see that we can all aim to be that bit braver in our everyday lives. After 13 years in the military, 4 of them as a Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper, Ant Middleton himself is a walking advertisement for pushing yourself out with your comfort zone. In this fascinating book, Ant speaks about the highs and lows of his life – from dazzling military accolades to dealing with the early death of his father and ending up in prison – and draws valuable lessons that we can all use in our daily lives. You’ll be gripped by his bulletproof advice when you’re away and might be inspired to put some of his ideas into practice when you get home from your holidays. What a read.
Rex v Edith Thompson
On the night of 3 October 1922, Edith Thompson and her husband Percy were walking home from the theatre when a man sprang out of the darkness and stabbed Percy to death. That murderer was Frederick Bywaters, Edith’s secret lover. This is a case that is still hailed as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British criminal history and you will definitely be shocked at how little it took to convict her. Edith’s intense love letters, considered obscene at the time, were read out at their trial in the Old Bailey and sadly they would seal her fate. Laura Thompson’s research is meticulous; she really transports you back into Edith’s world where her taste for romance and melodrama has fatal consequences. This is my book of the year so far and I’m recommending it to everyone. It’s more gripping than any fictional crime story I’ve ever read and totally unmissable. Read it now!
Why Mummy Drinks
Mummy Drinks is by Gill Sims, author of the online sensation Peter and Jane which you’ll definitely have seen popping up in your Facebook feed over the last year or so. At 39, Mummy isn’t keen to surrender to a world of advanced yoga classes, and polite book clubs where everyone claims to be tiddly and says things like ‘Ooh gosh, are you having another glass?’ She’s not a fan of becoming one of those women who ‘live for their children’ and stand in the playground trying to outdo each other with their offspring’s extracurricular activities and achievements. If you’re not afraid of a few swears and a distinctly ‘un-mumsy’ view of the world you’ll find plenty to connect with as you read this on your sunlounger. That’s if your awful offspring give you a second’s peace, of course. With lots of laughs and a few home truths, this is set to be a massive summer hit.
The Vanity Fair Diaries
It’s 1983. A young Englishwoman arrives in Manhattan. Summoned across the Atlantic to save Condé Nast’s famous Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is plunged into the world of the competitive New York media. She survives on her sharp wits and her ability to make the magazine her own. If you love a hefty slice of celebrity gossip, you’ll love this sensational account of life in the Big Apple during some of the most turbulent events in the 80s. In her writing about Michael Jackson, Princess Diana and Donald Trump, Brown records her private thoughts, rather than the version that went to print. Tina Brown’s writing is sharp, biting and provocative and it’s maybe just as well that many of the people we get to hear her true feelings about are no longer with us. This book will make you feel like you’re at the best, gossipy lunch you’ve ever had. Enjoy!
I have loved finding a bumper set of 18 recommendations for you this Summer. I try to include a range of genres and writers so that there’s something for everyone – you might find new writers to enjoy as well as old favourites here.
If you’ve enjoyed this selection, you can check out my Twitter feed @OnTheShelfBooks to see me chatting about lots of other great reads. Have a fantastic summer and if you’ve loved any of these books, drop me a tweet.