Looking for a fabulous read, but not quite sure which book to plump for? We’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite reads to get you through those long summer days.
Favourite reads – Joanna Lewis
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is without question one of my favourite authors. I first discovered his books at the Cayman Islands Humane Society Book Loft about eight years ago following a friend’s recommendation. I’ve been hooked ever since. Thank goodness McCall Smith is a prolific writer!
The author of numerous novels and short stories, he’s most famous for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, first published in 1998. To date, there are currently 17 novels in the series, which has won the author the National Arts Club of America Medal of Honor for Achievement in Literature.
The series charts the ups and downs of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s leading, and only, female private detective and are a fabulous, light-hearted must read. Other series by McCall Smith worth checking out are 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions.
The Remains of the Day
Originally published in 1989, this is a novel that I gobbled up in almost one sitting. Written by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, the novel was awarded The Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
The story is told by Stevens, a butler who rivals Jeeves for his dedication to service. Told in the form of a diary, the strait-laced Stevens has been a fixture at Darlington Hall for some four decades, dedicating himself to the loyal service of Lord Darlington. When a new employer takes over the household, Stevens is encouraged to borrow his car and embark on a motoring trip from Oxfordshire to the West Country.
Harking back to a bygone era The Remains of the Day is a dream of a book that is beautifully written and easy to read.
Escape from Camp 14
Ever since I read this gripping book a couple of years ago I’ve been obsessed with first-hand accounts of the North Korean regime and the stories of those who have managed to defect.
Escape from Camp 14 is a harrowing testimony of Shin Dong-hyuk’s life in the gulag, and his daring escape, not just from the camp, but also from totalitarian North Korea. Born in the prison camp, this gripping page-turner outlines Shin’s day-to-day existence and the depth of despair and misery thousands of North Koreans find themselves in.
Shin is reportedly the only prisoner to successfully escape the gulag and find his way to safety in South Korea, where he now lives. He gives talks around the globe about the North Korean regime and his life inside the notorious Camp 14.
Read this and you’ll never moan about your life again.
Favourite reads – Ron Shillingford
Rodigan: My Life in Reggae
David Rodigan with Ian Burrell
David Rodigan is a world-renowned reggae DJ who built his name up in the 70s presenting on various London radio stations. His knowledge and love of reggae is unquestionable. He is revered for promoting the genre not only in the obvious places reggae is widely played like Jamaica, United States and the United Kingdom, but also in the most obscure parts of the planet. He was rewarded for that with an MBE a few years ago. His deep love of reggae stemmed from hearing early ska and rock steady tunes near his home in Oxford as a teenager. Surprisingly, Rodigan is a white man who has promoted what has always been predominantly black.
His autobigoraphy was coaxed out of him by Bob Marley’s son, Damien, who insisted the fun-loving Englishman penned his memoirs. This is a great insight into Rodigan’s life, his struggles, triumphs and anecdotes often involving people’s initial reactions to meeting him for the first time having heard him on radio or hired him for a gig without knowing what he looked like.
Even if you’re not a reggae fan, this is an entertaining account of both his life and how the reggae scene has evolved over the last 40 years.
How They Started Digital
I’m not one for fiction, preferring autobiographies and non-fiction books you can dip in and out of. One of those is this one on how household digital names started and grew into multi-million dollar enterprises.
For example, in 1999 Stephen Kaufer wanted to go on vacation to Mexico but his search on the net was frustrating through lack of detailed and insightful information. He spotted a review of a hotel from someone who had been there and got a better understanding of whether to book it or not. It inspired Kaufer to start his own trip advising site, hence the creation of TripAdvisor. No self-respecting holidaymaker books a trip without consulting TripAdvisor first now.
Each subject in this book is only about 10-12 pages long and includes how Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, eBay, Mumsnet and many more originated and exploded into the giants they are today. Fascinating read if you want some tips on becoming a self-made billionaire.
Favourite reads – Paul Kennedy
Martin Cruz Smith
It’s difficult to believe that Martin Cruz Smith’s novel, Gorky Park, was published in 1981 and the movie of the same name released a couple of years later. It was then the world was introduced to Russian cop Arkady Renko as he investigates a series of murders at a Moscow amusement park.
Fast forward 30 or so years and Renko is still going strong in Cruz Smith’s latest work, Tatiana. Granted, probably a little grayer around the edges, but his dogged pursuit of catching the bad guys hasn’t waned an inch.
What Cruz Smith succeeds in achieving, other than the obvious of keeping the reader gripped from first to last page, is to take you on a journey to places you will never visit but after reading his work feel like you are a regular visitor. Sure, Russia may well have changed considerably since Gorky Park was first penned, but pick away at the politically correct surface of modern day Moscow and you will find an underbelly as dirty as it is corrupt, perfectly captured in Tatiana.
The cold war may be long over, but Cruz Smith has managed to keep the battle as chilly as it was before, and equally intriguing.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web
The phrase “big shoes to fill” has never been more apt in the case of author David Lagercrantz. He was given the unenviable task of writing the fourth book in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, following the death of original author, Stieg Larsson in 2004.
After three successful novels, the first turned into a movie starring Daniel Craig, Lagercrantz was given the job of writing number four in the Millennium series.
So, with this in mind it was with some caution I started the latest book that chronicles the lives of hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikeal Blomkvist.
My fears were unfounded. Within a matter of just a few chapters you quickly forget, and for that matter care, who the author is and are sucked back into the world of deceit, espionage and computer hacking that keeps the reader gripped from start to finish.
The Spider’s Web is also a fascinating insight into modern day journalism, where clicks and likes to stories seem to matter more than the subject written in them and how Blomkvist is considered a dinosaur in the profession simple because he doesn’t have a Twitter account.
But the main challenge for Lagercrantz was to keep up the mystery and intrigue of the hero Salander, which he pulls off with aplomb. Larsson may have died more than a decade ago, but he lives on within the pages of The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
None of the above tickle your fancy?
Here’s some great reads, selected by Books & Books, Camana Bay.
Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins
The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
Dragon Teeth, by Michael Crichton
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
The Little French Bistro, by Nina George