26 Recommends

With holiday season in full swing, our members recommend their top summer reading, along with the films, exhibitions and anything else they’ve enjoyed this month.

Summer reading: I love a bit of Gothic whatever the holiday weather and would highly recommend Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions. I also don’t think you can beat Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or Chocolat for a bit of summer lit. Oldies (sort of) but goodies.

Film: Booksmart is whip smart and hilarious. Apollo 11 is proper grown-up storytelling about one of the biggest moments of the 20th Century. Definitely one for cinema viewing if you can find it.

Exhibitions: the V&A’s Dior show really is as stunning as everyone says.

Books: Lowborn by Kerry Hudson. It’s not an easy read, but that’s the point. It is, however, beautiful and devastating and something I think anyone who has been lucky enough to avoid desperate poverty should read.

– Lisa Andrews

My book would have to be Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree because as we grapple with all the problems of the planet it is a beacon of hope.

– Richard Bavin

I recommend the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s on in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square for three weeks in August starting 10th. This year I’m talking about my novels Spanish Crossings and The Good Messenger in an event with novelist Clare Clark (In the Full Light of the Sun) chaired by Jamie Jauncey. Come along, 26ers, and say hello.

Also, two films about singer/songwriters who have been so important in my life. I loved both. Martin Scorcese’s film of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue (on Netflix). Nick Broomfield’s film Marianne and Leonard about Leonard Cohen’s time in the 60s on the Greek Island Hydra, and the life-long influence on his work of his partner Marianne Ihlen (BFI and other cinemas).

– John Simmons

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at the Design Museum is crammed full of the props, promo materials, ideas and insights behind his films – all wonderfully curated. And I was mesmerised by Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens. His glass artworks really need to be seen in person to appreciate the skill and artistry that goes into making them, and Kew is the ideal setting.

For me, the perfect summer read comes in all sorts of forms, but I’d say you can’t go wrong with any of Donna Tartt’s novels. Evocative, gripping, and chunky enough to get you through a good few lazy afternoons (depending on the strength of your willpower for putting a book down). Having said that, I’ve brought the complete collection of Truman Capote’s short stories on holiday with me this time. Less chunky, but oh so perfect.

– Sophie Gordon

One of my all-time favourite holiday reads is Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. I remember taking the first two books of the series on holiday to Minorca (or maybe it was the first three) and staying up all night to finish reading them. For colourful characters and the flamboyance of the LGBT counter-culture in 70s San Francisco as your setting, not to mention twists and turns in the plot to match the roads – these stories are perfect!

On that theme I would also thoroughly recommend watching the new Netflix Series based on the Tales of the City – brought bang up to date for 2019, and with some of the same actors as the original seminal series that first began airing back in the 90s. I binge-watched the lot.

– Lucy Furlong

London’s Wellcome Collection hosts Smoke and Mirrors, a diverting exhibition on magic and the psychology of perception. The brain has evolved in a way that permits deception, which magicians have exploited for centuries. The science is interweaved with classic examples of the glitz of magic – posters, games and filmed examples. And you also get to see Tommy Cooper’s Fez.

Free entry. Late opening on Thursdays. Programme of performances.

– Philip Parker

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