Call me a weirdo if you want, but I really love hot, hot weather. There’s something cleansing about sweating through weather like that.
It does pose a couple of problems though, especially for book lovers. Sunscreen in the eyes, sweaty hands on your lovely new books?! Well we can’t help with any of that, but we can help you pick a book to read this summer!
Presenting, the world’s first, “What to read when it’s REALLY hot out” list.
So, what makes a good “hot weather book”? I guess that’s a personal thing, but for me, it’s all about season of the book itself. I like to read books set in the heat, while I’m in the heat (same goes for Winter, so look for that next!). I feel like I can commiserate with the characters more, and like the heat I’m experiencing in real life has a purpose.
Authors use the heat of summer as way of amping up tension in their books. The erotic charge of the soaring temperatures, or the morbid knowledge that even the most brilliant summers must eventually end and give way to fall are incredible atmosphere builders that we see across all genres. I’ve been physically uncomfortable in my home reading a book like The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, and I couldn’t have been happier.
So what should you be reading while sweating it out at the beach?
The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley (1953)
In the middle of a heat wave in Victorian England, a naive boy acts as a go-between between clandestine lovers, delivering love letters for them. The rigid rules of society mean that the lovers will never be able to marry, but they have this one last summer, as long as they can keep their affair secret.
Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)
“I love England in a heatwave. It’s a different country. All the rules change.”
Heavily inspired by the Go-Between, this has become a classic in its own time (plus you’re probably familiar with the movie featuring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan). The sweltering heat of summer, passions and tensions running high lead to life altering consquences.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (2007)
Story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime.
Summer romance that is beautiful, intoxicating and awful.
Skios by Michael Frayn (2012)
Something a bit lighter, Skios is set on a Greek island (perfect!), this book takes all the tropes about what should be in a summer reading book, and twists them into comedy and farce.
Summer by Karl Ove Knausgaard (2018)
Fourth book of his seasons Quartet. A father writing to his young daughter, so that she will understand him when she grows up, recording the meaning in moments, his recollections. “Summer” offers a different view of summer, one that finds meaning in the small moments.
“accompanied by an expectation of pleasure and joy and groups of friends swimming or boating or on holiday and there I sat … while the sun was shining outside and I didn’t know where to go or what to do … it marked me, not just who I was in the eyes of others, but also who I was to myself.”
Not digging the heat? Check out our other reading lists here.
Have any other recommendations we should include? Drop us a line on twitter!