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poco.lit.’s Top 5 Summer Reads

Whether you’re lucky enough to be going away for a summer holiday, or staying home, we hope you find time to get some reading in. We’ve compiled a summer reading list for you in case you’re looking for inspiration.

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

This novel certainly delivers on the sensuous and sensory promises made by the four words of its title placed alongside each other: Butter, honey, pig, bread. Set in Nigeria, Europe and Canada, the entangled stories of three women, Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye, send feelers out far and wide. Along the way, Ekwuyasi offers up a wonderful cast of side characters of all shapes and sizes, tastes and whims. This one will make for a delicious summer read.

Turning: A Swimming Memoir by Jessica J. Lee

In this literary diary about swimming in the lakes of Berlin and Brandenburg, Jessica J. Lee artfully executes the balancing act of combining many different strands and perspectives. She invites us to reflect on the complexity of identities; on what holds friendships, partnerships and families together or what drives them apart; and on the beautiful, inviting landscape around Germany’s capital, which simultaneously speaks of the Nazi era, a divided country, and current right-wing extremism. This book will also give you inspiration which one of the many lakes around Berlin to visit next.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

If you’re looking for a humorous, easy-to-read 500 pages tome that is intelligent despite all the clichés about chick lit, Queenie is just the book for you. The novel is a ride through a truly dramatic episode in the life of the eponymous protagonist. It’s about relationships, sex, girlfriendhood, being black in London and generally a good mixture of a light touch and wokeness – perfect for the beach or an afternoon in the park.

In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh

In this wonderfully strange book, Ghosh gives his readers both the findings of many years of research, and the story of his undertaking that research. He tells the stories of his time living in Laṭâifa and Nashâwy, small villages outside of Cairo, as well as his travels to Mangalore and surrounds, in southern India. And along the way, the book offers several beautifully textured history lessons. The fantastically rich archive of the Cairo Geniza – and its own fascinating history, inflected by colonial appropriation and knowledge-making practices – represents the coming-together of an enormous variety of movements of time and place. If you want to get lost in a good book, In an Antique Land will take you on a journey, whether you’re travelling this summer or not.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book is a letter from a father to his son about living in the United States of America in a Black man’s body. There are moments in this book where the beauty of Coates’ prose is quite breath-taking, and the whole is sustained by an intellectual rigour that allows it to shine all the better. It’s part episodic memoir, part philosophical consideration of the problem of the American Dream and its fundamental constitution in the exploitation and plunder of Black bodies. Though that might sound a bit heavy for holiday reading material, the way Coates writes it, it still makes for a beautiful reading experience.

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