Summer Reads for 2022/3

A few people have asked me for my summer read recommendations since this is the bit they love most in my monthly newsletters. So, I have broken this down into a few categories so you can just skip over the bits that don’t interest you. Most are available through SmartLibraries in our local library system.

Talking about a Revolution – These are the books to head to if you would like to open up your headspace to a whole new world. Why not start the new year with a fresh perspective?

Four thousand weeks and how to use it – Oliver Burkeman. I adored his Guardian column on how to change your life and this book is top of my summer reading pile. Mr O took about 4000 weeks to read it, but it definitely changed his priority list. Now that I have started it, I am choosing to wallow rather than gobble. I am shaping my new year around these insights.

The Body is not an apology – the power of radical self love – Sonya Renee Taylor. This was the first on my reading list for a course in decolonisation, delving into the fact that our very bodies have been judged, shamed and coerced into fitting the ‘norm”. Taylor writes with some humour and a lot of compassion about confronting topics. Her unapologetic inquiries are a fantastic way to journal or start a conversation with a good friend who does not shy away from the big stuff. A good one to start after Christmas to avoid some heated family discussions….

Pleasure Activism – adrienne maree brown. Another goodie from my course this year. She argues that pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/ or supremacy. What brings us pleasure and at whose expense? Could everyone have a second helping of that pie rather than just a few paltry crumbs? What would your life look like if you made decisions fueled by your purpose and pleasure rather than struggle and duty? My Presbyterian childhood was extremely delighted to read this book!

A small blue thing – Julie Hanify – If you are intrigued by neurodivergence then you will love this memoir by this Wellington teacher, writer and musician. Her adult diagnosis of ADHD and somewhere on the Autism spectrum brings deep understanding and self-compassion as she reflects upon her schooling and teaching career. She recognises that she became a teacher as she never wanted a child to suffer as she did at school. Could you just accept that everybody thinks and processes differently?

On Gallows Down – place, protest and belonging – Nicola Chester. If you love nature writing then you are in for a treat. Chester traces her life long quest to protect the wild spaces and create connection in her community. From Greenham Common to bypasses and complete destruction and finding seeds of hope on the horizon. I loved this book.

Wawata – moon dreaming – Dr Hinemoa Elder. Mr O and I take turns reading this to each other before going to bed each night. Follow the cycle of the moon with stories and insightful questions. One to start on holiday and reread all year.

Whatever happened to….. sometimes a sequel can spoil the flavour of the original. However here are some that you might love. If you missed the first one then you have double (or triple) the joy!

All the broken places by John Boyne follows on from The boy in striped pyjamas. If you ever wondered what happened to Bruno’s family then the wait is over. A beautiful novel about trying to live with guilt and remorse. Can you ever find peace with yourself?

The Red of My Blood by Clover Stroud follows on from My Wild and Sleepness Nights and The Wild Other. These memoirs speak so viscerally of life, birth and death that I gobbled them up in a sitting and then reread immediately to appreciate her language. Stroud reminds you to live and love fiercely.

Landlines follows on from The Salt Path and The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn. Not many people would decide to take on an epic coastal walk when declared bankrupt, homeless and with a terminal diagnosis. Moth and Raynor do just that, defying the odds and creating a whole new life.

Surefire Binge Reads – these are authors that I reserved all their novels to take on holiday over the last few years …Maggie O’Farrell, John Wyndham, Laurence Fearnley, Sarah Moss, Kate Atkinson

Some Pageturners – for those days on the beach or at the bach. Forget the world exists and dive in

The Change – Kirsten Miller. A trio of kickarse menopausal women take on the misogny of the patriarchy in their neighbourhood. Hilarious and sobering all at once.

The Secret River – Kate Grenville. This came out years ago but I finally got around to reading it last summer. You will never be the same afterwards. What happens when you delve into your family history….

What about the FLUFF – we all need some fluff! Some warm fuzzies to gladden your heart for Christmas

An almost perfect Christmas – Nina Stibbe. Anything by Nina Stibbe is hilarious. Her spotify carol playlist and her Mother’s turkey failures are legendary

The Christmas Stocking and other stories – Katie Fforde. If even a Christmas grinch can enjoy these romantic Christmas stories then there is hope for peace on earth

Have a wonderful summer everyone and get your library reserves in early!