Leading authors pick their best books to enjoy these holidays.
In the spirit of the Summer Reads trend, The Guardian asks leading authors, including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Taiye Selasi and Aminatta Forna, to pick best reads for this holiday season.
Last year, The Washington Post asked a few writers what book they would be reading for the summer, and two of the featured writers were Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Imbolo Mbue.
Chimamanda chose Isabel Wilkerson’s 2010 historical study The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, while Imbolo Mbue chose six books, writing:
"Naoki Higashida’s memoir of living with severe autism, Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8; Jonathan Dee’s The Locals (it sounds very ambitious and seemingly explores several social issues our country is currently dealing with); Stephanie Powell Watt’s No One is Coming to Save Us; Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s debut novel, Kintu; Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing; and Jim St. Germain’s A Stone of Hope, a memoir which I’ve heard presents an exceptional argument for criminal justice reform."
But that was last year.
This year, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Taiye Selasi and Aminatta Forna gave rich answers for what books they are recommending this summer.
Taiye picks three books. First, Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi for its witty, intelligent and heartfelt storytelling that will delight anyone dreaming of a summer holiday in Italy. Her second pick is Katja Meier's memoir, Across the Big Blue Sea: Good Intentions and Hard Lessons in an Italian Refugee Home, because it "avoids easy sentiment in favour of honesty and humour. The African women we meet at this Tuscan refugee home are fierce, scared, brave, vulnerable — triumphant yes, but human too. A beautifully complex account."
She also picked Akwaeke Emezi's eccentric novel, Freshwater. Speaking on this, she said:
"...I cannot heap enough praise upon Freshwater, a daring, sexy debut. Raw and lyrical, Akwaeke Emezi’s semi-autobiographical narrative takes on sexuality, spirituality, family and more — all with a clarity that belies her 30 years."
Prolific writer Chimamanda also chooses three books:
"Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion (Chatto) is wonderfully dense and wise, a page-turner that succeeds both at character and ideas. It felt true to life.
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A (Bodley Head) by Danielle Allen, a memoir about the loss of a beloved cousin, is unbearably moving. It illuminates the injustice often meted out to young black men by the American criminal justice system.
Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil (John Murray), in which a young Nigerian American comes out as gay, is a coming of age story about the difficult, churning mix of family expectations. It is elegant and elegiac, and evokes Washington DC with subtle power."
"In Calyoso (Little, Brown), David Sedaris’s essays marry meditations on family, suicide, grief and mortality with the hazards of bodily functions and frequent travel for his massively popular public readings. Sedaris is as much standup comic as writer, making this a great audio and one for the car journey.
I’m currently reading The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, highly relevant in this fourth wave feminism moment and quietly gripping. I shall also be packing What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky (Tinder) by Lesley Nneka Arimah, whose New Yorker short stories I have enjoyed. Tsitsi Dangaremba’s This Mournable Body (Graywolf) isn’t out until August, but I shall read it before summer’s end."
What books will you be reading this summer?