This summer's looking to be a fantastic one with some amazing events lined up, but we know that sometimes you just want to get away, relax and read a good book. This month we've got something for everyone as we put together our four favourite reads for the summer, and one to read until the sunny days begin!
Without further ado let's get started.
If you like something different... Delirium by Lauren Oliver
"Amor Deliria Nervosa" or the Delirium Is What Love Has Become. In an alternate, post-apocalyptic world where a government indoctrinates the population to recognise love as a disease. A surgical cure for the delirium has been developed and is mandatory for citizens 18 years old and over. The main protagonist; Lena, has looked forward to the procedure for years believing that the "horrible disease" must be destroyed from mankind's system. However as she comes closer to her scheduled procedure she falls in love with an "Invalid" - a person who has not taken the cure and is ostracised from society.
The story develops from there into a tale of an alternate society that demands conformity and will not accept difference. The novel is written at a fantastic pace with the story being told from Lena's first-person viewpoint helping continually immerse you in her experiences.
Essential Travel Rating: 9/10
If you like something powerful...The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East by Alistair Urquhart
A story of the hidden human ability to overcome enormous obstacles - Alistair Urquahart reached No.1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list with this stunning true story. A Gordon Highlander from Aberdeen, Urquahart was captured in Singapore and forced to labour on the Death Railway and the notorious bridge on the River Kwai. Urquhart recounts his chilling tale of working for over three years. Barefoot and near naked as a slave, his starving body covered in sores and ringworm, he endured fearsome beatings and torture. Then his story took a turn for the worse.
In September 1944 he was packed in the hold of a hellship bound for Japan. The ship was torpedoed by an American submarine in the shark-infested waters of the South China Sea where he drifted for days. He was close to death until eventually recaptured. From there his story continues in Japan where he was taken as a prisoner of war. The forgotten highlander is told clearly and concisely with limited dramatisation which adds heaps of authenticity to the story. The reader learns that despite the horrific things humans do to each other, the human spirit will always triumph as the prisoners continue to live their lives and keep a constant belief that life goes on.
Essential Travel Rating: 9/10
If you like something thought provoking... The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
On a snowy evening in 1964 a doctor delivers his own twins and discovers that one of the twins - his daughter - has been born with Downs Syndrome. The doctor, David, recalls the possibility of heart complications, and thinking of his sister who died very young due to a heart defect, decides that the baby girl will be placed in an institution to spare his wife the suffering his sister's death caused his own mother. He decides to give the daughter away to a nurse to take to the institution and tells his wife that the baby died. However, the nurse raises the daughter as her own. The Memory Keeper's Daughter moves through the years, showing how one decision affected every part of two families' lives.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a really powerful story that you become engrossed in the life of two very different families dealing with tragedy and celebration at the same time. In just the first few chapters the powerful portrayal of David's wife feeling neglected and misunderstood as she deals with the sadness of losing a child, but the happiness of gaining one is simply brilliant and from there the novel goes from strength to strength. A must-read.
Essential Travel Rating: 8/10
If you like something inspiring.. Pole Dance by Tom Avery
Pole Dance is the true story of a British expedition led by Tom Avery to the South Pole. The book comes in the format of Tom's diary from the expedition where he aimed to follow in the footsteps of his hero Captain Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to the South Pole. Captain Scott's expedition to the South Pole was a direct attempt to be the first people to reach the South Pole with Scott being quoted as stating his aim was "to reach the South Pole, and to secure for the British Empire the honour of this achievement".
It's clear to see why Avery was inspired by this man and went on to undertake his own expedition with his own goals. Tom sets out for the expedition with the aim of becoming the youngest Briton to complete the perilous journey to the South Pole (aged just 27) and to do so faster than any other team in history. With revolutionary new methods developed to propel the team across the harshest climate in the world; including the use of state of the art kites to power them across the ice, Avery's story is inspiring and sets him apart as an individual who strives to achieve amazing things.
Essential Travel Rating: 10/10
If you'd like something to get you in the holiday mood... The Ten-Letter Countries by David Jenkins
David Jenkins is the "Alphabet Traveller". After visiting all the countries in the world with names made up of four letters, Jenkins has taken things to the opposite end of the spectrum and he is now off to explore 12 countries which all have ten letters in their names. With a hugely diverse list of countries ranging from the Seychelles to Tajikistan, The Ten-Letter Countries really does offer something for everyone.
The concept of only visiting countries based on their names and not endless reviews and meticulously studied weather patterns offers a really unique perspective to this book. It gives Jenkins the freedom to go out and explore these countries on his own terms. And the best part? You find out about some amazing places that you'll have never considered visiting - but by the end of this book you'll be itching to get amongst them and experience some of the things Jenkins has.
Essential Travel Rating: 9/10
And there you have it - our first ever book guide to the summer. Have you read any of those on the list? Anything that's caught your eye? Any suggestions for others we should add to the list? Let us know in the comment box below!