Ask the book buyer: What is the perfect summer read? Part 1


There is a endless and bewildering choice when it comes to choosing a paperback for your holiday, so let me help. Over the next few emails I will help you find the perfect summer read, says Jarrold book buyer Chris Rushby. Here’s part one…

Dear Reader,

Remember all that snow? It seems impossibly long ago, doesn’t it? Suddenly it’s summer, or very nearly so: if you go with the meteorological definition of the season it started on 1 June. If you favour the astronomical version it’s 21 June. Either way, you may well now be gearing up for summer holidays and, whether in the UK or abroad, will be wanting to pack some cracking reads for the beach, the mountains, or the back garden.

The books in this first list are either available already, or published in the next few days. All of them are part of ourbuy one, get one half price’ offer on a wide selection of paperback fiction and non-fiction titles, both instore and online.

Happy holiday reading,


Force Of Nature

Jane Harper


Published 28 June

The best-selling thriller of the summer will probably turn out to be Into The Water, the latest from Paula (The Girl On The Train) Hawkins, but my tip for a cracking read of that type is the new novel by Jane Harper whose The Dry was a brilliant debut a couple of years ago. If I said her new one is Picnic At Hanging Rock meets Gone Girl it wouldn’t be entirely accurate, but there’s a grain of truth in those comparisons and Harper seems like an instantly memorable and dependable creator of what we’ve latterly come to call the psychological thriller.


This Is Going To Hurt

Adam Kay


The author was a junior hospital doctor and his diary of life on the wards is simultaneously hilarious and horrifying. If you’re already concerned about the future of the NHS your worries are only likely to intensify on reading these tales of numbingly long working weeks, impossible life-or-death decisions and stultifying bureaucracy. So why am I recommending this as a holiday read, you may ask? Please just trust me, I’m a doctor bookseller and this IS a hugely funny book, amongst other things; and – however trite this sounds – it also testifies to the power of the human spirit to rise above all that chaos and banality.


The Secret Life of Cows

Rosamund Lupton


A farmer’s observations of the lives and habits of her herd of cows over the course of many years doesn’t sound like something that ought to trouble the book charts, but the author’s recordings are precise, moving and whimsical by turns and the book struck a chord with thousands of readers when published in hardback last year. Alan Bennett had commented favourably in his diaries about an earlier, self-published edition of the book and a keen-eyed Faber editor brought it to a wider public in this new edition, with a foreword by Bennett. You’ll never look at a herd of cows in quite the same way again.   



Robert Harris


Published 14 June

Ever since Fatherland Robert Harris has been turning out historical thrillers of the highest quality: exhaustively researched, skilfully written, well-plotted and satisfying. Even when the author tackles famous situations where the reader knows how things turn out (as with the Dreyfus case in An Officer And A Spy, for instance) Harris manages to keep the tension and suspense at a high level. That’s equally true of his latest, set around the Munich peace conference of 1938. You don’t need an MA in History to know what happened the year after Munich, but that doesn’t stop this book being a genuine page-turner.  


he: a Novel

John Connolly


Published 28 June

The ‘he’ in question in the title is Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy fame. Sometimes I think I’m alone in believing this novelisation of Laurel’s life, by an author normally associated with best-selling crime fiction, to be one of the finest novels published last year. Now it’s about to become available in paperback let me have one more shot at persuading you: Connolly’s reimagining of Laurel’s life, his fame, his many marriages, his frailties and – above all – the warmth of his relationship with Hardy, is a work of rare creative genius.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society

Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows


First published in 2008, the newly-released film starring the likes of Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton has been winning new readers for this feel-good novel. The story of its writing is in some ways as fascinating as the book itself: the American author, Mary Anne Shaffer, came to England to research a book on the wife of polar explorer Captain Scott, but when source material proved elusive she decided to spend some of her time in the UK visiting the island of Guernsey. Stranded at the airport there, she read about the German occupation of Guernsey in World War II and, twenty years later, brought some of that material together in a novel set on the island. At that point the author fell ill and, sadly, died before the final editing and revision of the text. It was taken up and finished off by her niece, Annie Barrows, an established children’s author in her own right. And so a quirky best-seller was born.     



Ask the Jarrold book buyer

Chris Rushby can help you find the perfect book for your summer holidays and for any other time of the year for that matter! Whether you like a romance or crime writing, real life or a tense thriller, Chris can recommend the book to suit your tastes. Come and ask for his advice instore or email 

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