We’d like to start this post with a confession: we love summer. Why? Because it’s the best time to enjoy café terraces, to go on trips, plus the days are longer, which means we have more free time to do the things we love.
And because books are among the things we love, we need a list of good summer reads. This is the season to get carried away and read more books than at any other time of the year. All of our picks have two things in common: they’re all-terrain books—meaning you can read them on the beach, on the train, or just before taking a nap—and they’re classics, the kind of books you should know and read at least once in your life.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The book became an almost instant bestseller and still holds the record as one of the most widely sold—over 60 million copies—and controversial books.
It is the story of Holden Caulfield, a teenage boy from a wealthy family who gets expelled from school. Instead of going home, he decides to spend a few days alone in New York, where he gets into trouble at bars, with women, and with an old teacher. At heart, Holden’s story is about a very intelligent and clever boy who has trouble relating to others and feels like he’s been born into the wrong time and place.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde’s novel explores a recurring theme in fiction: the search for eternal youth. It all starts with a painter who is captivated by the extraordinary beauty of Dorian, his young model, and a pact with the devil to stay forever young and beautiful.
What makes this book so great, and the reason we’re recommending it as a summer read, is that despite all the time that has gone by, its thematic content remains surprisingly fresh and relevant.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Among the many reasons to read this book, one stands out from the rest: To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, no small feat.
The story is set during the Great Depression and told by Scout Finch, a six-year-old girl who lives with her brother and her widowed father.
Her father, Atticus, is a lawyer who decides to defend an African American man accused of raping a white woman.
A literary exploration of prejudice, racism, parallel trials, and vengeance in traditional American society.
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
The title might sound familiar, perhaps because Hitchcock made a movie out of the book. But even if you’ve seen the film, we highly recommend you read the novel.
Its pages will make you feel as though evil lurks in every corner… In a bedroom, on the road, or in the heart of the stranger sitting next to you on the train. At least that’s the idea you might get from Bruno and Guy’s story, which begins when Bruno suggests they make a pact to kill the other’s “enemy”. Bruno agrees to kill Guy’s wife—who betrayed him and might now hinder his promising future—if Guy kills Bruno’s father, whom Bruno hates. Guy turns down the proposal, but Bruno goes ahead and does his part anyway. Then he confronts a horrified Guy and demands that he do the same…
Emma by Jane Austen
Choosing a single Jane Austen novel is challenging, and even though Pride and Prejudice could very well be on this list, we finally opted for Emma, because of its comedic tone.
The story begins with Emma, the young unmarried daughter of the rich and distinguished Mr. Woodhouse, losing her former governess to marriage and taking a humble girl called Harriet Smith under her wing. Now Emma can pursue her favorite pastime: playing matchmaker among her friends. All her efforts at romantic meddling, however, create a mess of entanglements, misunderstandings, and confusion that puts the entire high society of early 19th-century, provincial England to the test.
This concludes our selection of summer reads, but the list could keep going… After all, few things are more enjoyable than reading outdoors, especially when you add a light breeze and a good glass of wine to the mix.