Your summer reading recommendations

In our recent survey over 25% of you said you find out about great books through recommendations from friends and family. In the same survey over 80% of you said you read over 40 books a year. Who better then to review and recommend the best books by women than YOU our dear readers and friends.

Summer reading recommendations:

The Laughter by Sonora Jha – a tumultuous and horrifying story, told in retrospective fashion by an unreliable narrator. The tension manages to ratchet up through the whole novel, ending explosively — and makes it feels as if you, as the reader, have been an uncomfortably close witness.’ – @annotated.reads

‘I absolutely loved We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman. It’s about a woman caring for her dear friend in hospice. It’s as sad as you might expect, but is also VERY funny and life-affirming. I laughed out loud and sob-cried within the same paragraph more than once. If you read to feel things, this may be just the book for you.’ – @tmitchsk

‘Fourth Wing probably has enough hype, so I’d have to go with another favourite, We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman. Not a big book, but it manages to pack a real punch – it’s about a woman whose best friend is dying, and whilst it is incredibly emotional at times, it’s also hilarious, wise, and totally life affirming. Absolutely adored it.’ – @tillylovesbooks

‘I haven’t been able to stop talking about Monsters by Claire Dederer. It’s such a brilliant and thoughtful exploration of what we do with our feelings about art made by people who have problematic real-life biographies, from figures like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen in the film world to authors like Hemingway and Nabokov. Everything about the way its written invites discussion and debate. It’s also a delight to read, warm and relatable and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. I flew through it and still enjoy returning to it in my thoughts. It would make a fantastic book club read.’ – @bookclubreviewpodcast

Weyward by Emilia Hart. I read while on holiday and loved it. About three different generations of women, the strength they possess and the trials and tribulations they face as women.’ – @tuppenceandpoppy

Garden by the Sea by Merce Rodoreda. Translated from Catalan, the book is a charming mix of The Great Gatsby meets Remains of the Day. It follows a gardener who watches the lives of the family living in the villa he works at each summer as they come and go, documenting their tragedies and schemes. Great for a late summer day by the sea.’ – @the_hostile_acts

Our Hideous Progeny by CE McGill. Mary wants to be known for her scientific mind, but as a woman in the 1850s, this is going to be so much more difficult than it would be for a man. She works alongside her geologist husband, Henry, but without money or connections, their options are limited.

Mary is the great-niece of Victor Frankenstein, who she knows disappeared under mysterious circumstances. But when she discovers some old family papers, she learns the reason for his disappearance but also sees a way for herself & Henry to get themselves known.

A masterpiece of literary writing. I love this type of story, where a woman is battling against society’s norms & expectations of her. Mary is a fierce character. I love the contrast between Henry & herself, with Mary clearly being the stronger in the partnership. Henry typically allows himself to be steered by wealth & notoriety, whereas Mary keeps them grounded by her sense of what is right.

I adored this book. Adored it.’ – @thereadingpara

Gallant by V. E. Schwab. To me, this is the perfect book. V. E. Schwab has just a gift for storytelling and she uses it to create this creepy, spooky, yet startlingly beautiful world revolving around a little girl who cannot speak, a house teeming with secrets and a diary telling the story of her dead mother’s slow slide into insanity. The atmosphere alone makes this book worth reading but there are so many other brilliant things about it. I personally love the orphan girl in a big mysterious house trope, and this one incorporates horror in a totally unique way. So worth reading.’ – @daisymaynard222

‘For me it has to be In Memoriam by @alicewinnauthor, months after reading it I still think about Gaunt and Ellwood. It is a really powerful read, brutal in places but so beautiful. It’s my book of the year and I still can’t get over it being a debut. 💕’ – @bestbookforward

The Unfamiliar by @kirstylogan has been such a stand out for me this year. It’s a beautiful, intimate, harrowing exploration of infertility and queer motherhood. The way Logan carefully and mindfully treads incredibly hard about triggering subjects with such attention and thoughtfulness makes the writing accessible (and yet still incredibly emotional and hard hitting). There is nothing sanitised about the writing – not in any regard. It’s simultaneously a memoir and a horror story. And yet, Logan’s words are a warmth to the reader – an enormous embrace and a reminder that no matter how afraid we might get, how close we come to the dark, we all have our villages to fall back on ❤️’ – @lucyrosecreates

The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd Robinson – an intricately plotted mystery set in Georgian era Bath, London and Cornwall, as orphan Red seeks to claim her inheritance from a family of dangerous aristocrats who have dark secrets they want to stay hidden… Atmospheric, gripping and so elegantly written.’ – @naomikelseybooks

‘I cannot stop thinking about Bellies by Nicola Dinan, it has stuck with me and I finished it over a week ago and have read a handful of books since then’ – @mattietude.reads

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher – inspired by the true story of Sylvia Beach, who opened the original Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris in 1920. It became a locus for the thinkers and writers of the time and there are so many lovely cameos from well known literary figures, while Sylvia’s own story is beautifully told. It’ll make you wish you lived in 1920s Paris literary circles 📚!’ – @helenap17

There are so many great fiction and non-fiction books to choose from in this list, we hope you find something that sparks your imagination. Have we missed your must-read of the summer? Head over to one of the Women’s Prize social channels and let us know what you’ve loved reading this year.

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.