Summer Reading List | The Chuffed Store Summer Reading List | The Chuffed Store
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We’ve teamed up with our wonderful maker Eleanor Dale, also known as The Naked Weaver – who works as a librarian when she’s not busy weaving – to compile a summer reading list. We delved into that cool combination of hers a little further, trying to understand the way in which her two passions may inspire one another, and here’s what she said:

 

‘Sometimes accidental things like the colours of a few books bundled together on the shelves will set off an idea, or an outfit spotted out of the window! I see incredible sunsets from my desk at the library, and the changing colours of the skies are definitely a further source of inspiration!

I think both library work and weaving are similar processes in that I take the chaotic – unshelved books, cones of wool – and create order by tidying books back onto their shelves, or by threading the wool onto the loom and giving it structure and form. It’s a process that I take great pleasure in, and (usually) relaxation from.’

 

So here you have it – our best recommendations for what you should read this summer when lounging by the pool, relaxing in a hammock, travelling by train, or wherever it is you’ll be. Dive into one of these books and find yourself transported to a different world, falling in love with its characters, and hopefully wanting to never put it down. 

 

 

There’s something for everyone on this list, so have a good look and get choosing! 

 

Childhood, Youth, Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen

This brutally honest and raw memoir by the brilliant Danish author Tove Ditlevsen is bound to leave you spellbound by her fierce and fascinating character. Growing up a young woman in the 20s and 30s, Ditlevsen fights the confinement of womanhood and wishes for greater things than what life has laid out for her. She fights until the day she dies. The three short books that make up the trilogy take you on a journey through her life as a young girl, an aspiring writer, a rebel, an addict, a woman, a mother, and a wife. It is in large part a trilogy about addiction; to others’ approval and respect, to love, and to drugs’ slow current through the body. Throughout her life, it is writing – not love – that keeps her alive and off drugs, and she is not shy to admit it. You will weep and you will want to roar. When I had finished this, I wanted to read everything she’s ever written. Claudia 

 

 

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain is the story of Hugh ‘Shuggie’ Bain, a little boy growing up in poverty in 1980s Glasgow, and his mother Agnes; proud, glamorous, and addicted to alcohol. As Agnes struggles with addiction, Shuggie’s older siblings find ways to escape from their mother, leaving him alone to care for her as she swings between alcoholism and sobriety. Meanwhile, Shuggie himself is struggling with the knowledge that there is something different about him, despite his best efforts to be ‘normal’. Douglas Stuart’s first novel is a heartbreaking tale about love, addiction, homosexuality, and poverty. It vividly brings to life the people and places that it describes. I found myself shouting at the characters, desperate for them to make the right choices, and devastated when things went wrong for them. It was my absolute favourite read of 2021, and it has stayed with me ever since I finished it. Eleanor 

 

 

Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin

In this gripping book about motherhood, a mother misses the train and goes missing. In the following search for her, the question of who she is, and was, arises. While her husband and children look for her, the mother’s qualities, abilities and deeds, her care for everything living and everyone other than herself, her experiences, wisdom, talent, dreams and life, is all gradually pieced together in a painful picture as they lose her entirely. Only through her disappearance does the mother finally become visible to the world. It is a poetic, tender and melancholic piece of art, in which the stories of both a past and current South Korea forms the framework for the mother’s story. Claudia

 

 

The Lido by Libby Page

This is the classic, feel-good summer read, guaranteed to remind you why books are good for the soul, and perfect for pool-lounging. This heartwarming novel follows the unlikely and life-changing friendship between two women – Kate, a twenty-six-year-old reporter in Brixton, London, and Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow – who meet at the local lido, where Rosemary has been swimming for most of her life. It is a story about the power of community in times of isolation, and feels especially relevant after recent years. It really is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a bit of a lighter read. Claudia 

 

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon

The Lonely Londoners is a funny and deeply moving portrayal of the life of the immigrant experience in mid twentieth century London. Reading this book for the first time felt like moving through a room of people, catching snippets of conversation but knowing there’s a lot more you haven’t heard. I found myself so drawn into the lives of the characters that I wanted to keep reading and find out more and more about them, and yet I loved that the way Selvon moved from character to character felt like an incredibly realistic depiction of London life, and the acquaintances that drift in and out of your life. Eleanor

 

 

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

A true masterpiece and the perfect summer read if you’re up for a bit of a challenge. Woolf is not always easy, writing, as she does, in a stream of consciousness, jumping from one person’s mind to another, and long, intricate sentences during which you may get a little lost along the way. However, this autobiographical novel, full of rich psychological insight in her characters’ minds and motivations, is a brilliant portrait of the complex inner workings of a family and society on the brink of war and suffering, with a thought-provoking exploration of gender roles that is as relevant now as it was then. The story unfolds on the Isle of Skye with the roaring sea and ever-changing coastline acting as a character in itself, always watching silently from the sidelines, and Woolf paints pictures with words that are as tangible as could be. Claudia

 

Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills by Neil Ansell

I lived alone in this cottage for five years, summer and winter, with no transport, no phone. This is the story of those five years, where I lived, and how I lived. It is the story of what it means to live in a place so remote that you may not see another soul for weeks on end. And it is the story of the hidden places I came to call my own, and the wild creatures that became my society.‘ A transporting account of one man’s extraordinary experience living alone in the remote Welsh countryside. In his stories of walking and working in the wilderness, and of the movement of birds across the countryside, we gain an insight into the rhythms of the natural world. A beautiful and magical memoir. Eleanor

 

 

Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie

Incredibly witty, subtly provocative, and tinted by a strong sense of urgency, this book will stay on your mind. Americanah is a story of race, identity and exile in which we follow a young woman’s diasporic experience in the USA. The book may appear brick-like and daunting, but you’ll find yourself immersed in no time, and unable to put it down. At the heart of it we find a love story, but interwoven into its romantic core are brilliant dissections of modern attitudes to race, stories of intense loneliness, and unsettling comedy. Adichie captures the alienation brilliantly and is an important voice in the world today. Claudia

 

Matrix by Lauren Goff

We meet seventeen year old Marie as she rides through the woods on her way to begin a life chosen for her by another. Too tall and ungainly to be married off, Queen Eleanor expels her from the royal court, sending her across the country to become the prioress of a poor and crumbling abbey, the sisters overcome with sickness. There, to her surprise, she finds purpose in her new life among her sisters, and decides to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. She will bring herself, and her sisters, out of the darkness, into riches and power. Lauren Goff has reimagined the life of the twelfth century poet Marie de France, using the few hints that are left to us to make up a new life for Marie. It is a striking account of the power women can yield, and the bonds of female friendship and love. Eleanor 

 

 

The Highland Falcon Thief by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Finishing off this list with one for the little ones, here’s what your children/nieces/nephews/goddaughters-and sons should read this summer: The Highland Falcon Thief is a breathless train journey full of deceptions, clues, and puzzles to solve. Being the first book in a series of six called Adventures on Trains, you’ll have their reading covered for a good while if you get them hooked on this one. It’ll mesmerise and keep them up all night as they help Harrison solve the mystery aboard one of the world’s grandest trains. Eleanor