The Twenties Club’s Summer Reading List ’18

23.10.18

A list of all the books you might enjoy reading this summer. It’s a mixture of the ones I’ve already devoured, the ones I’ve got lined up next, and a few recommendations from the cutest bookworms I know: Claudia, Alex, Harriet and Bean (my girlfriends!).

Harriet described it as “a really sad but fascinating story of a gay man growing up in Ireland in the 1940s. The book chronicles Cyril Avery’s life from birth to death, and all the people and places that shaped his identity.”

I’ve grown to love short stories this year, and this book is a collection of seventeen wonderful short stories written by one of the world’s most beloved actors. Who knew he was such a good writer?

In the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, he received over 10,000 letters a day. He read ten of them before bed every night. This book shares some of the most powerful, devastating, inspiring and hopeful letters he received, as well as his moving replies. Alex said, “It’s so good, but also tinged with sadness when you compare it to the United States’ current political climate.”

I was inspired to read Sally Rooney’s work after hearing Pandora and Dolly rave about her on The High Low podcast. Rooney’s debut novel ‘Conversations with Friends’ is set in Dublin and follows the unlikely relationship best friends (and ex girlfriends) Frances and Bobbi form with a married couple. It’s a hard book to describe, it’s about nothing and everything at the same time. And I didn’t realise I liked it until it was over.

Described by Claudia as “an emotional whirlwind that will touch you deeply and make you reflect on human nature”, the novel follows the lives of four young men who move to New York to chase big careers. The Guardian described it as, “dark and traumatic…a modern-day classic everyone should read.”

Described by The Irish Times as “a sharp and engaging tale of a millennial woman making her way in the world.” Caroline O’Donoghue’s debut novel follows Jane Peters who – after finding herself newly single and very drunk on her 26th birthday – hurls herself into an affair with her much older, married boss. I’ve heard this book described as addictive, dark and perfect for fans of ‘Sweetbitter’ and ‘Conversations with Friends’.

This bestseller was recommended by Harriet for anyone who loves war novels. The novel follows the inspiring true story of Italian teenager Pino Lella who, at age 17 in 1943, began a two-year war-time experience. His courage and resilience during that period inspired the author Mark Sullivan and Lella is still alive today at age 92. 

‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ is a quietly moving novel about Anthony Peardrew who, consumed by grief after losing his fiancé, decides to dedicate his life to reuniting lost things with their owners. Claudia said, “I liked all of the twists and turns it had, the way it pulled on my heartstrings, and that it reminded me that what is a meaningless object to one person can be intrinsically sentimental to someone else.

Recommended by my friend Bean who said she stole her sister’s copy, ‘Between A Wolf and A Dog’ is uniquely set over the course of one rainy day in Sydney and follows a family therapist, Ester, who spends her days helping others find happiness but is still navigating her own complicated relationships. Bean said, “Perfect for a day at the beach (or in bed!), the book is spiked with conversations about sisterhood, motherhood and plenty of thought-provoking character analysis.” Good Reads said, “Ultimately, it is a joyous tribute to the beauty of being alive.”

There’s a good chance you’ve either already read this book or it’s next on your list. It’s a polarising read: some people have raved, others have said they just didn’t care. Ng’s story starts with a raging house fire – before swiftly travelling back in time in order to start at the beginning, following the chain of events that led to such a tragic conclusion. Reese Witherspoon has also already lined it up for a Big Little Lies-style adaptation.

This memoir, recommended by Harriet, takes readers on the author’s journey from growing up in a “survivalist” family in Idaho (no formal education, no doctors or hospital visits, no connection to modern society at all), to teaching herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University and go on to study at Cambridge and Harvard. The New Yorker said, “Westover examines her childhood with unsparing clarity, and, more startlingly, with curiosity and love, even for those who have seriously failed or wronged her.”

Recommended by Claudia and based on the extraordinary life of it’s author, ‘Shantaram’ is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of Bombay, India to start his life over again. Like Lin, author Gregory David Roberts was a former heroin addict and convicted bank robber who escaped Pentridge Prison and fled to India where he lived for ten years.

One of my favourite reads of 2018. I started ‘Normal People’ after loving Sally Rooney’s debut novel ‘Conversations with Friends’ featured earlier in this list. It traces Marianne and Connell’s friendship from childhood, it tackles class difference and family violence, it tackles love and intimacy. And it made me cry.

Described on Good Reads as, “a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.” Bourne’s novel follows Tori Bailey who is 31 years old and, after experiencing huge success in her twenties with a self help memoir, finds herself in an early mid-life crisis and in desperate need of taking her own advice. Tori becomes consumed by society’s expectations of what a thirtysomething woman should be – and how it looks on Instagram.


Header collage by The Twenties Club