I’ve done you, you’ve done it and your mum has definitely done it.
You’ve spent all your time washing all your summer clothes, throwing away all the left over salad leaves in the fridge and wrestling with the cat to get him off to the cattery. Is it any wonder that we arrive at the airport tired, wired on nasty 6am coffee and grab the first fat tome we see on the shelves in WHSmiths. And any more of a wonder that we open it once, realise that it’s not for us and then leave it in the hotel lobby bookcase when it’s time to go home.
This summer, why not get prepared with a reading subscription to the Rare Birds Book Club. Female founder, Rachel Wood, started the flexible subscription service to shine a light on the joy of reading and also to get more young female authors out there in the wild.
We had a chat with her and asked her to share some of her top tips for your beach bag this summer. No excuses now.
Rachel: “Hey #TeamCoco! Supporting female writers is at the heart of the book club, and it came about pretty organically; my favourite books are all written by women, and since they all had that in common, it felt like a good place to start. I was reading so many great books that weren’t getting the attention I thought they deserved, and with Rare Birds Book Club I had the opportunity to celebrate female writers and put them front-and-centre.”
Here are Rachel’s top picks for your summer read, all are available to buy at rarebirdsbookclub.com/bookshelf
I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland
Get ready to step behind the glossy façade of RAGE Fashion Book, the most powerful magazine in the world. Its editors are competitive, smart, savvy, and polished to perfection – even the one found dead in her office. Cat Ono doesn’t really believe her friend Hillary starved to death. And when a (disturbingly handsome) detective named Mark Hutton turns up at her office asking questions, her suspicions are confirmed. But as Cat launches herself into the investigation and goes undercover, she quickly finds she’s in way in over her head. What starts as wildly entertaining whodunnit filled with glamour, sex, drugs and lies evolves into more. It’s a brilliant satire about women’s work and women’s bodies, which manages to skewer everything from high-fashion to Instagram celebrities with wit and flare. Perfect for fans of the Devil Wears Prada and Valley of the Dolls.
Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes
Take the fashion of the eighties and mix it with the historic spires of Oxford, then add posh parties, colourful characters, secrets, rivalries, and the unexplained death of a glamorous socialite to the mix, and we’ve got the makings of a highly entertaining murder mystery. Party Girls Die in Pearls tells the story of wide-eyed country girl Ursula Flowerbutton as she arrives at Oxford University in 1985. She plans for a quiet year studying history. Instead, on the morning of her first tutorial she finds the body of a socialite on a chaise-lounge. Together with her new friend, American heiress Nancy Feingold, the two must piece together the mystery and find the killer living amongst them – all while chasing future Dukes, attending society balls and squeezing in late-night study sessions in the library, of course. This is a whodunnit to enjoy with a glass of bubbly in hand – there’s plenty of over-the-top decadence and intrigue to be had here, and the detailed descriptions of fashion make it all the more fabulous.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Take a creepy, crumbling house in the middle of nowhere, suspicions of witchcraft and a 200-year-old diary, and you have a gothic ghost story so subtly heart-stopping you’ll want to sleep with the lights on. After her husband’s unexpected death, Elsie Bainbridge trades the glittering lights of London for his family estate to see out her pregnancy. Life seems rather dull until the discovery of an unsettling painted wooden figure in a locked room sets off a chain of events that threatens to consume the whole household. It’s as thrilling as it is unexpected.
The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden
Medieval Russia in the dead of winter is a dangerous place, especially for a woman. But for Vasya it’s the only option. With the help of her enchanted horse Solovy and a haughty winter demigod, she sets out on a life of adventure living as a boy. Things get even more complicated when she joins forces with the Grand Prince of Moscow to outwit a gang of bandits roaming the countryside. There’s magic, intrigue, superstition, love, loyalty, royalty, betrayal and plenty of atmosphere. It’s a grown-up fairytale that perfectly suits the season.
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
Graham and Audra are chalk and cheese. Audra is, to put it mildly, a force of nature; she knows everything about everyone, makes friends wherever she goes, and seems to have a limitless supply of energy. Graham on the other hand, is quiet, ordered – and 15 years Audra’s senior. After a chance encounter brings his ex-wife back into the picture, Graham has never been more aware of their differences. From courting other parents for playdates to the predictable (and unpredictable) ups and downs of marriage, Standard Deviation covers family life with tender wit and heart.
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
At a time when she’s meant to have it all figured out, Ruth’s has never felt less together. Her career is at a standstill and her fiance has left her for another woman. When her mother asks her to move back home to help care for her father, a brilliant but difficult history professor who’s recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she can’t find a reason to say no. What follows is a charming novel about family and how even when things don’t go to plan, life can still surprise and delight you in ways you didn’t expect.