LitList Books

August 24, 2015, by Sunita Tailor

Summers & September Reads…

This blog post was written by final year American Studies and English student, Radhika Chond from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies.

Summers are normally that expanse of time that we Uni students travel homeward after a strenuous year, only to pack another bag and travel off to another edge of the world. Whether it’s flying to a different country or embarking on a train and commuting to a different city, everyone’s Summer encompasses some sort of travel… and with it here is my LitList (my recommended reads):

Grab your coffee, snatch a copy, sink back and delve into another life and world:

Lonesome in London?

Sink into Nairn’s London; (Penguin) this is a gem of a read. Whereas these days we have the internet and blogs to voice our opinion, here you delve into Nairn’s entries of every sector of London from the 1960s. Perfect to read whilst commuting to your desired stop – I’m sure you’ll find Nairn had something to say about it & you can marvel at how different or remarkably similar the city seems now.

Nairn's London

Quickly zooming through or hopping from one station to the next, pick up ‘Poems On The Underground’ an anthology devoted to London, also published by Penguin and easily accessed if you look up at the Tube adverts – many are posted in between all those loud and annoyingly informative adverts.

Want to read an outsider’s perspective on this city? Fall into Chris Cleave’s Little Bee and see for yourself how this particular opening resounds throughout the novel and stays with you long after the last page is turned: ‘Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming. Maybe I would visit with you for the weekend and then suddenly, because I am fickle like that, I would visit with the man from the corner shop instead…’

Journeying to Japan?
Whether your summer plans include travelling to Tokyo or you just wanted to know more about the Japanese culture and marvel at Murakami (whose work really will blow you away without a doubt) there’s no time like the present!

Murakami has been a constant throughout my summer, I couldn’t help but fall in love with his storylines and intricate events that shape his work. Norwegian Wood is where I started my Murakami obsession, it’s a great place to start. Take my word for it!

Norwegian Wood

Braving Backpacking?

Then be sure to take this particular read as your literary companion: Alex Garland’s The Beach. And this way you can backpack on the beach! Follow a British backpackers’ search for paradise on earth who helps inspire gap year students to value the limitless value of travel and venture out to the Far East.


Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana. Not one that is widely known, this sneaky find can be our little secret. As you haul that backpack over as much land as you can, these diary entries are considered to be the first example of great modern travel writing. Journey along with Byron during 1933/34 as he ventures through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Teheran to Oxiana – the country of the Oxus, which formed part of the border between Afghanistan and what was then the Soviet Union. If you’re looking for an insight into this region of the world then this gripping yet humorous account of his adventures and episodes will safely transport you there and back!

Going Greek?

Okay one of my all-time favourite reads, even after studying it during A-Level has to be Louis de Bernières Captain Correli’s Mandolin. Not many texts, once you’ve studied the essence out of it, can be recalled fondly. But this one can, whether you’re going to Greece, staying at home, or simply want to escape the life you’re in now and trade it for a 1941 Grecian feel, then this is for you. Escape to the war-stricken-remote-island of Cephallonia, laughout loud , fall in love unresistingly and cheer for Corelli as he steals your heart and becomes the hero of the island.

Riding watery waves?

If you find yourself on a body of water this Summer, whether you are boating on a Lake, on a cruise, kayaking with friends or simply on the way to the pool then these water adventures are perfect for you.

Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, because who doesn’t want to join Pi’s unintended adventure on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with just a Bengal tiger for company. Also, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a timeless American must for anyone venturing out to America this summer and in particular for those of you skulking around Mississippi Valley and the river. His relentless taste for adventure easily puts me in the mood for grabbing a raft and just seeing where the eddying currents will take me…probably capsized and flicked by fishes but hey, it’s the drive for travel and adventure  that counts here!

Huckleberry Finn

Interested in India?

India really is an incredible hub of activity, adventure and awe-inspiring wonders. Whether or not you’re physically venturing out there this summer, grab a glass of freshly-brewed and steaming Masala Chai and recline with one of these:

Gregory David Roberts’s  Shantaram – written in beautiful prose, Roberts masterfully creates a love story between Lin and Karla which will incite sentiments of affection for both the country and your everyday surroundings in a surreal way.


Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series – Holmes encounters many mysteries attributed to India and the East. Escapism, travel AND a mystery to uncover? What a spicy mix!

For those who want to read something of an intricate value, uncover Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis where narcotic drugs and especially opium transport you to the hazy streets of Bombay in the 1970s. Thayil offers an extremely gentle insight into this other world replete with hazy encounters and sudden vivid recollections. Definitely a Summer time read!

Sarah Macdonald’s Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure is an ABSOLUTE must read! Whilst ‘holy cow!’ is one of those popular colloquial terms that is thrown around easily these days, it really is an amazing situation to be in when the prophecies of an airport beggar become true!! Using India as her centre, she throws herself head-first into this kaleidoscopic country and begins to question her own fragile mortality and inner spiritual void. “I must find peace in the only place possible in India,” she concludes. “Within.” Thus begins her journey of discovery through India in search of the meaning of life and death.


Summers are all about saying yes!
I don’t believe in regrets and the only way around that is by embracing the excitement of life with a resounding affirmative. So take a leaf out of Danny Wallace’s Yes Man and say ‘yes’ more often than you normally would – who knows where a simple journey can take you! From Australia to Amsterdam, Barcelona to Singapore, this brilliantly funny book shows just how far a ‘yes’ can go.

[Featured images from:
Nairn’s London:

Norwegian Wood, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:


Posted in Student Words