Helena’s summer reading - the 2012 edition


With midsummer lurking just around the corner, it is high time to start talking about summer reading. In fact, I strongly suspect it may be time to start reading those piles and piles of books that keep calling my name, going"hey, Helena, let’s hang out this summer! Pick me, pick me!". Here are my top contenders.


2012 – aka the Summer of Hand

Yes, the rumours are true: the fabulous Elizabeth Hand will be appearing at Uppsala English Bookshop during this year’s Culture Night – and I, ever the humble fan girl, will have the tremendous honour of interviewing her! In preparation of this event, I will be reading lots and lots of Elizabeth Hand this summer, including her newest effort Radiant Days and some of her back catalogue that I have yet to read. Regardless of what other books and authors will make the final cut of my summer reading list, I think it’s safe to say that the summer of 2012 will be all about Elizabeth Hand.

Radiant Days - Elisabeth Hand Fevre Dream - George R.R. Martin The Next Best Thing - Jennifer Weiner

Vampires on steamboats – yes, please!

While the rest of the world is either watching the HBO adaption of George R.R. Martin’s Songs of Fire and Ice saga (beginning with A Game of Thrones), reading the books or both, I remain, at this point in time, a George R.R. Martin virgin. Not for long, though: when I learned that one of Martin’s previous books is a vampire novel set in a steamboat in the 1800s, I immediately picked up a copy of Fevre Dream. (1800s, steamboat, vampires: knee jerk reaction.) I must confess that I am somewhat of a Scully (aka skeptic) when it comes to epic fantasy, but ever since my tender Huckleberry Finn years, I have been a sucker for literary depictions of steamboats. My vampire hang-up has been alive and kicking for almost as long. A must-read, for sure.

Books that go really, really well with beaches, sunny front porches and glasses of chilled rosé

Some chick lit is more or less mandatory on any summer reading list, yes? My picks for this year include Jennifer Weiner, whose smart, funny, sharp, and deeply relatable novels have continued to keep me entertained and gasping for more for more than ten years now. She also, conveniently enough, has a new book out in July called The Next Best Thing. (No relation to the godawful Madonna flick, I hope.) I will also be keeping Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl and Jane Green’s Girl Friday in mind for those long, lazy evening spent on (hopefully) sunny porches, glass of chilled rosé in hand.

Flicker - Theodore Roszak Twenties Girl  - Sophie Kinsella Girl Friday .  Jane Green

I know too little about this book to come up with a witty title (and that’s how I like it until I’ve read it!)

Theodore Roszak’s novel Flicker was initially published in 1991 and has since then received somewhat of a cult following. Now that it is in print again, I can’t wait to read it. I know next to nothing about it other than the fact that it deals with cinema and all things shadowy, weird, and unexpected. Oh, and that it’s supposed to be great. Reliable sources (hi, Jan!) tell me that it’s just the right way to approach Flicker. 

Hello, Lisa Unger, my new(ish) friend

I thoroughly enjoyed Fragile, Lisa Unger’s first exploration of The Hollows, a small, seemingly idyllic town in upstate New York where nothing is as it seems. Therefore, I was pleased to learn that the second book in the Hollows series, Darkness, My Old Friend, is out in paperback now. Unger is definitely a thriller writer to look out for, especially if you like suburban thrillers with vividly dysfunctional characters and plenty of unexpected plot developments (and who doesn’t?).

Darkness, My Old Friend (Hollows #2) - Lisa Unger Broken Harbour -  Tana French Tess Gerritsen -  Last to Die

OMG, it’s a new Tana French novel!

Ever since having read Into the Woods, deeming it one of the most well-written, stylish, and gripping thrillers in recent history, and then finding out that the sequels The Likeness and Faithful Places are even better, I have been an avid fan of Irish crime novelist Tana French. I particularly love how her novels, while dealing with the same circle of people in various ways connected with the Dublin Murder Squad, take on new main characters in each book. The characters have always been there in previous books, sometimes in the periphery, sometimes in the very centre of things, but the protagonist and thus the key focus is always a different one. In French’s fourth book about the Dublin Murder Squad, the spotlight is on Scorcher Kennedy. Can’t wait to see what French has come up with this time! 

OMG, it’s a new Tess Gerritsen novel!

While "stylish" may not be the first word I’d pick to describe Tess Gerritsen's thrillers, I have a few other, equally alluring, in store. Compulsive. Fast-paced. Gory. Morbid. Increasingly trippy (and I mean this in the best possible way). Yes, I have a massive soft spot for Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles, and throwing myself at the latest Rizzoli/Isles mystery has become something of a summertime tradition. This year’s Gerritsen fix, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Rizzoli/Isles mysteries, is called The Last to Die and is due out in August.

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin Lisa Unger - Fragile (Hollows #1) Lisa Unger - Fragile (Hollows #1) 12 Monkeys  - Elisabeth Hand