Let’s be honest. Despite the progress with vaccinations, this year too feels like last year in terms of travel. Some of us have also had to deal with difficult personal and professional challenges. The pandemic makes the days blur. Despite all this, I still find reading the best form of escapism. I have read some wonderful books in the last few months. Although, I have been moving from Scotland to England, and I have been busy.
To share my joys, I thought I’d compile some summer reads here for you all –
This is one of the finest pieces of travel lit I have read in a long time. Baker’s prose is evocative and atmospheric. He writes about the remote and forgotten places in my dear country Scotland. And every chapter will take you on a journey through the pages ad reams of time. I found myself thinking about this book long after I had finished reading it. And I can also see myself re-reading it a number of times. If you want to switch off from the world and are happy when your mind is wandering, do read this.
2. Things I have Withheld – Kei Miller
This is for non-fiction lovers. It is also a book I’d recommend if you want to learn more and participate in the race discourse. Through a collection of essays, Miller explores what it is like to navigate the world as a black man. But it is not just another book on the subject. Miller’s work is unique in that he writes about the things he has stopped himself or been stopped from saying. And there is a lot of that. Race is a topic of nuance, and this is a book that respects that and does not shy away from it.
3. Empty Nest – Carol Ann Duffy
If you cannot concentrate on reading for too long as the stresses of the pandemic are too high, then I recommend this slim volume of poetry. Duffy’s seletion includes poems from a wide range of poets, who all explore the concept of their children leaving. It is, however, a very emotional read. If, like me, you have been forcibly separated from your family during the last 15 months, then this is a book that you will be phoning them about. It is as immense as it is small.
4. The Oak Papers – James Canton
For nature loves, this is a thoroughly delightful and unique read. Canton celebrates the oak tree, one that is central to the British isles. And he does so by picking a particular one dear to him and visiting it for a whole year, through all the seasons. What comes out is a wonderful read about the healing power of trees, the sense of entwinement with the natural world, and some introspection. Recommended read for a sunny afternoon in the park.
5. The Good Neighbours – Nina Allan
If, by some magic, you are travelling, then this is a book for you to take on holiday. Set on the Isle of Bute and with its murder mystery backdrop, this is a great read. The female protagonist is easy to relate to and her seach for the truth amongst the horrors in her past will keep you hooked. You can dive in and out of this, you can read and move on, or you can linger. Your choice!