My lovely pal Hannah Swindon (who also creates the equally lovely teabreak blog) is the assistant online editor for Litro Magazine, a fab and free monthly literary magazine. She asked me to put together a list of book recommendations for the summer. Here’s my pick, and the post went live on the Litro Blog on the 28th April. The only one I am yet to read is the Mad Mad book, which I will undoubtedly gorge over once I get my grubby hands on a copy.
Ah summer. The time when it is perfectly acceptable to sunbathe with your head in a book for hours. The time when you finally devote a week to that pet project you have been planning to start since January. The time when trashy thrillers are acceptable because they are the only thing stocked in WHSmiths at the airport. Hopefully these summer reads will entertain you longer than the typical British summer will.
Tik-Tok by John Sladek
A short and sweet sci-fi with a big dollop of satirical dark humor. The novel follows Tic-Tok, once a mild-mannered and gentle robot, as his path takes him from scrap heap to Vice-President. It is a science-fiction award winner from 1984 that draws inspiration from Isaac Asimov’s iRobot short stories, exploring the themes of artificial intelligence and free will. Almost 30 years later the book has aged well, with a lead character whose antics would make Futurama’s Bender gasp with horror.
Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is As It Seems – Various
Mad Men fans are going to have a dreary year waiting for the 5th season to air, but reading this spin-off compendium may keep you entertained until next year. It serves as an introduction for philosophical thinkers who discuss subliminal but integral themes to the show, and will make you think differently about the main characters and how they behave. When Matthew Weiner’s wonder does air again, you will have some very impressive trivia to show off on your next trip to the water cooler.
Just my Type by Simon Garfield
Fonts are so fashionable right now. Whether you are a design geek that knows your News Gothic from your Neutraface or like the rest of us you go crazy whenever you see a restaurant menu written in Comic Sans, this enjoyable book will entertain as much as it informs. However, it is much more than a whistle stop tour of the history of type; it explains how the printed word can say so much more.
Story by Robert McKee
For anyone looking to break into screenwriting, or any kind of writing, this is a must read. Robert McKee is a creative writing instructor to no less than 26 Academy Award winners & 125 Emmy Award winners, and this book is their bible. He enlightens you to the principles of screenwriting, explaining that construction is more important than story itself. It is a bit of a beast, but the audio version is great for getting those creative juices flowing.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
If you are looking for a romantic can’t-put-down novel then this will appeal to your classier side. It has everything a Marion Keyes novel doesn’t; nuns, porn stars, burn victims, stonemasonry, schizophrenia, as well as being set in both the present day and medieval Germany. Your heart will race as the pages turn, and then melt with the deeply descriptive mythical tales of everlasting love and redemption. If it doesn’t, then you should stick with Jackie Collins.