Independent Bookshop Week could not have come at a better time. The birds are singing, the sky is blue, the sun is shining (for now), summer is finally upon us. What better way to spend your summer days than reading books that you can buy from independent bookshops. Here are some books that we recommend you indulge in the next time you sunbathe in your garden, go for a picnic in a park or take a long train ride to a new city.
Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun
Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
If this book cover does not catch your eye, the stories inside will definitely capture your imagination. This delicate book is perfect for taking with you on your travels and for reading on shorter journeys, and being only 80 pages long, this book will surely invigorate your mind. Thirteen Months of Sunrise tells the stories of contemporary Sudan, exploring a bounty of emotions. From mourning the loss of a loved one, to a starving woman saved by an unlikely good Samaritan, the stories in this book will present to you the everyday life of Sudanese people in an authentic and poetic way.
The Book of Havana
Edited by Orsola Casagrande
Due to the pandemic, there are still some hinderances on where you can travel to, but not to worry, you can bring the country to your lap with the Reading the City series of books, perfect for imagining you are on a summer holiday. Forget about the classic cars, the colourful buildings and the salsa dancers, this book is the side of Cuba that is seldom seen but needs to be. This book explores Cuba, a country still suffering from its political past and trying to recover from its economic circumstances. The Book of Havana will take you through different neighbourhoods, the lively nightclub strip where locals flock to have a good time to show you a dazzling culture.
Refugee Tales IV
Edited by David Herd & Anna Pincus
Every summer there is a walk hosted by Refugee Tales, an organisation that stands in solidarity with refugees, asylum seekers and people who have been held in immigration detention. Walkers get to bask in the nature of Kent and Canterbury, as well as listen to stories told by refugees themselves. Whether or not you are able to participate in the walk to show support for those who have faced injustice under this system, reading Refugee Tales IV will enlighten you to the unfortunate fates of these people. It will show you the horrors that they have managed to escape from, the loved ones that they have left behind, the aspirations they have for the future and the basic human rights of freedom that they have been denied. Refugee Tales IV will be available in all good bookshops on July 28th.
Buy here: Refugee Tales: Volume IV (bookshop.org)
Swallow Summer by Larissa Boehning
Translated by Lyn Marven
Summer is included in the name so of course we had to mention it. This book is a gentle read, perfect for the summer days when you want to relax. The book is about different experiences of change, how life doesn’t always go to plan and how it can pull you in so many directions, but within all the displacement you grow and find yourself. Summer is a season where we seek out adventure more, we wish to try new things and meet new people, we feel more liberated, and this book is an ode to that, but also the genuine mistakes that can be made along the way.
Buy here: Swallow Summer (bookshop.org)
The Stone Thrower by Adam Marek
If you like books that are whacky, strange but undoubtedly gripping then this is the summer read for you. Adam Marek’s book is futuristic, but it still follows themes that we can relate to at present like a parent’s instinct to protect their vulnerable child. For fans of JG Ballard and David Mitchell, and unique, off-the-wall fiction.
Buy here: The Stone Thrower (bookshop.org)
The Book of Tokyo
Edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hanks & Masashi Matsuie
This beautiful book, pink like the cherry blossom flowers native to Japan, tells stories of a side to Tokyo most people do not know. Tokyo is known for its advanced levels of technology, for its skyscrapers so tall that extending your neck to watch them will result in aches albeit awe. Tokyo at night is a city of fluorescent neon almost intergalactic light, but there’s much more to Tokyo, as these short stories will tell you. Plus we’re looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympics, hopefully taking place later this year!
Reading is great all year round, but there’s something special about reading during the summer and with the longer days and shorter nights you have even more time to lose yourself in these beautiful stories.
By Khadisha Thomas