The Summer List

Our summer reading list celebrates the best books for confidence, truth and fiction, photography, maternity, solitude, beach life and country gardens…

Matrescence: On the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood – Lucy Jones – (Allen Lane)

We all know the transition into motherhood is a life-altering one – but, until fairly recently, no one realised quite how startling the effect is on the mind, brain and body. This radical new examination by acclaimed journalist and author Lucy Jones draws on research across various fields – from neuroscience and evolutionary biology to psychoanalysis and sociology – to shine a light on the emerging concept of matrescence. An eye-opening read, the book reveals that the maternal changes a woman undergoes are far more profound, wild and enduring than we could ever have imagined.

Happy High Status: How to Be Effortlessly Confident – Viv Groskop – (Transworld)

Executive coach and stand-up comedian Viv Groskop offers a powerful – and often hilarious – guide to channelling an authentic sense of confidence in our daily lives. According to Groskop, ‘Happy High Status’ is that moment when everything feels right and life is easy; like the feeling of waking up on your birthday, or completing a run you didn’t want to go on. While this sensation is often fleeting, Groskop is here to tell us we can access it almost any time. Packed with practical tips, this is a game-changer when it comes to harnessing your inner strength.

The Fraud – Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

The arrival of a new Zadie Smith novel is always a highlight on the literary calendar – and, because The Fraud marks her first work of historical fiction, it’s causing an even bigger splash than usual. Based on the real Tichborne trial, which captivated England in the 1870s, the book centres around widowed Scottish housekeeper Mrs Eliza Touchet and the trial’s star witness Andrew Bogle, who grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation in Jamaica. Playing on themes of truth and fiction in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, it makes for a dazzling read.

Lee Miller: Photographs – Antony Penrose – (Thames & Hudson)

Lee Miller is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century and soon to be the subject of a film where she’ll be portrayed by Kate Winslet, so this new book – featuring 100 of her most outstanding photographs – couldn’t come at a better time. Carefully compiled by her son Antony Penrose and featuring a foreword by Winslet herself, this evocative tome collects Miller’s most famous documentary, fashion and war works. The result is a fitting tribute to the seminal photojournalist, war correspondent and surrealist muse.

Hermit: Finding Freedom in a Wild Place – Jade Angeles Fitton – (Hutchinson Heineman)

The word ‘hermit’ often has negative connotations, but this inspirational story of recovery celebrates solitude in the natural world. When Fitton’s partner unexpectedly leaves her, she faces an uncertain and lonely future. But as she acclimatises, she starts to consider what it means to live alone and reaches out to recluses around the world. Through these conversations – and in reconnecting with the salted cliffs and damp forested footpaths of Devon, her childhood county – she discovers the power of being alone.

Beach Life – Stefan Maiwald – (teNeues)

Let’s be honest: wherever we happen to be, nine times out of ten we’d rather be at the beach. This coffee table book is dedicated to that eternal yearning for sun, sea and golden sands, offering up spellbinding photography of some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. It’s also packed full of entertaining tales, such as how Coco Chanel invented summer tanning and where artists like Picasso went to harness extraordinary seaside lighting for inspiration. The only snag is that you’ll be hankering for a holiday as soon as you finish it.

Uprooting: From the Caribbean to the Countryside – Finding Home in an English Country Garden – Marchelle Farrell – (Canongate)

‘What is home?’ That is the central question at the heart of this lyrical book by psychiatrist Marchelle Farrell, and is a notion that has troubled her ever since, many years ago, she left the beaches of Trinidad for life in the UK. As she toils to bring her Somerset garden back to life, Farrell reflects on the troubled legacy of colonialism and her own uprooting, and comes to realise that her two seemingly conflicting identities are more intertwined than she ever realised.

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