Summer reads: the best books for…parents!

Yes, we have thought of parents too! For those of you whishing to practice your English with a good book, here is a list of recommended readings divided by genre.
Enjoy!

Classic Fiction

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 

To Kill a Mockingbird is both a young girl’s coming-of-age story and a darker drama about the roots and consequences of racism and prejudice, probing how good and evil can coexist within a single community or individual. To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression. The protagonist is Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch, an intelligent though unconventional girl who ages from six to nine years old during the course of the novel. She is raised with her brother, Jeremy Atticus (“Jem”), by their widowed father, Atticus Finch. He is a prominent lawyer who encourages his children to be empathetic and just.

bridesheadBrideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh 

The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian Flyte at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognise his spiritual and social distance from them.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Considered one of the greats in American literature, The Great Gatsby is beautiful and bittersweet in its depiction of post-World War One society, famously obsessed with wealth and status. The novel’s narrator, Nick, watches as his enigmatic neighbour, Jay Gatsby’s, infamous parties are attended by many guests who do not know their host. Nick becomes cynically fascinated and transfixed by Gatsby, and their friendship leads to some incredible revelations and questions on the reality of ‘The American Dream’. 

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott 

Little Women is recognised as one of the best-loved classic stories, transcending the boundaries of time and age, making it as popular with adults as it is with young readers. 

The beloved story of the March girls is a classic American feminist novel, reflecting the tension between cultural obligation and artistic and personal freedom.The charming story of these four “little women” and their wise and patient mother Marmee enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England was an instant success when first published in 1868 and has been adored for generations.

Modern Fiction

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Big Little Lies  Liane Moriartylittlelies.jpg

Pirriwee Public is a beautiful little beachside primary school where children are taught that ‘sharing is caring.’ So how has the annual School Trivia Night ended in full-blown riot? Sirens are wailing. People are screaming. The principal is mortified. And one parent is dead. Was it a murder, a tragic accident or just good parents gone bad? As the parents at Pirriwee Public are about to discover, sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal… Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, school-yard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Any Human Heart – William Boyd

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart’s – lived from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century – contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in ’60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full – and a journey deep into a very human heart.

Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

The story begins in Amiens, northern France in 1910. A young Englishman, Stephen Wraysford, is on attachment from London, working in the textile industry and lodging with the Azaire family. René Azaire runs a large factory where Stephen works; his second wife Isabelle is a woman of unfulfilled hopes, ill-treated by her husband. In the stultifying atmosphere of their town house, Stephen develops a concealed passion for Isabelle.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusakbookthief

Narrated by death – this book is a tremendously powerful portrayal of life under the Nazis, especially as it was experienced by German youth. Characters suffer cruel fates but also are great examples of the power of personal sacrifice, heroism, friendship, and courage. This is a tough story told about a horrendous time, so there’s plenty of grief and sadness, as well as violence and cruelty. But ultimately the book is a portrait of the triumph of spirit and humanity.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Henry De Tamble is a young man with a singular disease that makes living life at all, let alone a normal one, difficult.  Henry suffers from Chrono-Displacement Order, a disease that is constantly whisking him away from his life to deposit him in the past and future without a moment’s notice or control.  Unable to travel with money or even clothing, Henry’s life is one of uncertainty and danger.  But throughout his life, one thing remains constant: Clare Abshire, an heiress who has known Henry since her early childhood when his future self came to visit her: his future wife. They struggle throughout their lives to be together, to maintain a relationship when Henry has no control over his whereabouts.

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perryessexserpent.jpg

London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge. 

On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith.

As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both.

Circe – Madeline Miller 

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.

Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

A mesmerising first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Mumbai. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

American Pastoral – Philip Roth

‘Swede’ Levov is living the American dream. He glides through life cocooned by his devoted family, lucrative business, sporting prowess and good looks. He is the embodiment of thriving, post-war America, land of liberty and hope. Until one sunny day in 1968, when Swede’s daughter, Merry, commits an outlandishly savage act of political terrorism and the Levov family is plunged into mayhem. This is the Pulitzer-prize winning novel that confirmed Philip Roth as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century and that still profoundly resonates today.

The Shadow of the Sun – Ryszard Kapuscinskishadowofthesun.jpg

In 1957, Ryszard Kapuscinski arrived in Africa to witness the beginning of the end of colonial rule as the first African correspondent of Poland’s state newspaper. From the early days of independence in Ghana to the ongoing ethnic genocide in Rwanda, Kapuscinski has crisscrossed vast distances pursuing the swift, and often violent, events that followed liberation.

Barney’s Version – Mordechai Richler 

Barney Panofsky—Canadian expat, wily lover of women, writer, television producer, raconteur—is finally putting pen to paper so he can rebut the charges about him made in his rival’s autobiography.  Whether it’s ranting about his bohemian misadventures during the 1950’s in Paris, his tumultuous three marriages, or his successful trashy TV company, Totally Unnecessary Productions, he quickly proves that his memory may be slipping, but his bile isn’t.  But when he’s charged with the murder of his own best friend—caught in bed with the second Mrs. Panofsky—Barney’s version of things might not be enough to keep him out of trouble.

Normal People – Sally Rooney

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home. When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority.

Non- Fiction 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari 

Sapiens retells the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; that the treatment of animals in modern agriculture is probably the worst crime in history; and that even though we are far more powerful than our ancient ancestors, we aren’t much happier.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed 

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithibreathbecomesair.jpg

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Notes on a Nervous Planet – Ma14tt Haig 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE? Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth. ‘I wrote this book because the oldest cliches remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it …Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.’

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius meditations.jpg

Meditations is a collection of 12 books written by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who’ll introduce you to Stoic philosophy, the concept of logic, self-discipline and give you faith that the course the world runs is a good one.

Becoming – Michelle Obama 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerising storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

How to Fail – Elizabeth Day 

Inspired by her hugely popular podcast, How To Fail is Elizabeth Day’s brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong. This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone. Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It’s a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.