There are a lot of awesome summer reading lists around the web, and I’m adding my reading recommendations to the pile. Most of these are books I’ve already read, but some are books I want to read. And yes, there is lots of awesome speculative fiction on this list, but some other literary fare as well.
If you have a taste for science fiction, then the Nebula Award winning Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor is a must-read. It’s a highly original and brilliant science fiction novella (two sequels are forthcoming as well!). (Read my review.) I also really want to read several other books by Okorafor, including Lagoon,Who Fears Death, and Akata Witch.
Witches, magic, and shape-shifting is a big part of the story in Angela Slatter’s enchantingly awesome Of Sorrow and Such (read my review). Slatter is one of my favourite authors right now (her short fiction is spectacular – check out Bearskin in a recent issue of The Dark, for example). I’m also looking forward to reading her debut novel Vigil whenever it becomes available.
I am also looking forward to reading Lament for the Afterlife, by Lisa L. Hannett. She is another one of my favourite short story writers at the moment, and Lament for the Afterlife is her debut novel. I’m hoping to finally get around to reading it this summer.
If you want a dose of both Slatter and Hannett in the same book, check out the most excellent short story collection Midnight and Moonshine, written by the two of them together (read my review). Old Norse mythology and fantasy blend together into something totally original.
Mort(e), by Robert Repino is a book that I just want to jump up and down and tell everyone to read. It’s a crazy book, about a war between humanity and the ants, dogs and cats walking on two legs and taking over the world, and a lot of other things that sound absolutely insane. It’s also a spectacular read and one that will make you think about society, how we treat animals, and a lot of other things. Read my review.
If you haven’t yet read Updraft, by Fran Wilde you must do so now, because you want to be ready for it when the sequel ‘Cloudbound’ comes out later this year. It’s a fantastic fantasy read that is just as good for adults as for the YA crowd. (Read my review.) For more Wilde, check out her novella The Jewel And Her Lapidary. (Read my review.)
If alternative history, fantasy and the Roman Empire tickles your fancy, then The Shards of Heaven, by Michael Livingston is a must-read. Cleopatra, Juba, Mark Anthony… they’re all here, but things don’t exactly go the way the history books might tell you. (Read my review.)
Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound, by F. Wesley Schneider is a terrific fantasy/adventure – with vampires! It’s a great story and the characters are fantastic: definitely a good one to keep handy while you’re chilling in the shade or hanging at the beach. (Read my review.)
Classics well worth re-reading any time:
I finally read Octavia E. Butler’s classic Wild Seed (The Patternist Series Book 1) last year, and it is now one of my all-time favourite books. A must-read for fans of speculative fiction.
Another couple of classics I highly recommend are Gene Wolfe’s: Shadow & Claw: The First Half of ‘The Book of the New Sun’ (“an utterly insane and brilliant book”); and his stunning Soldier of the Mist. (I reviewed that book here). As always with Wolfe: prepare to have your noodle scrambled in a delightful way.
Earlier this year I re-read Red Shift, by Alan Garner. I read it as a teen, and it made a huge impression on me then. It is so good and so unique: definitely a great way to get into Garner’s writing.
And hey, if you want to get some laughs and go seriously old-school, read Voltaire’s satire Candide. It was banned for offending pretty much everyone in it’s time, so it’s well worth checking out.
Memoirs & auto-biographies:
Ron Perlman’s page-turning, hilarious, and inspiring memoir Easy Street (the Hard Way): A Memoir.
Malala Yousafzai’s exceptional I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll, by Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart.
And the immensely quotable Life, by Keith Richards.
For the kids:
Another great read for kids is the Spirit Animals series of books from Scholastic: this is a seven book series, with another series linked to it called Fall of the Beasts (the latest book in the series is The Return. The books in the series are written by different authors (including Victoria Schwab, Brandon Mull, and Shannon Hale), and my 9-year old absolutely LOVES it.
If you’re looking for a classic read for kids, check out the A Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. I’ve been reading this recently with the kids, and it’s fantastic.
For some coming-of-age mixed with the paranormal, read MYSTICAL HIGH (The Desert Series Book 1), by Lisette Brodey. A highly enjoyable read that mixes the real world of high school, family, relationships, and coming-of-age, with an original paranormal twist. It’s part one of a trilogy, so this one can last for a while this summer!(Read my review).