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6th March 2024

Summer Daydreaming: Literary escapes from the winter blues

Why not escape winter with these sun-soaked reads? We offer a few recommendations that unveil the warmth of summer reading regardless of the season.
Summer Daydreaming: Literary escapes from the winter blues
Credit: Kader Azra Namuslu @ Pexels

Winter in Manchester has hit hard this year, and the one place I want to be is on holiday in summer. However, on a student budget, you can’t be hopping on a plane whenever you like, because this degree won’t complete itself.  

Books are the perfect form of escapism in any sense, but reading literature set somewhere further than sunny Manchester is a need. A book that specifically pulls you in so deeply that you can feel the warmth of a sun-soaked day, even if you’re just sitting on the bus or wrapped in a blanket. Uplifting and sunny books tend not to be my go-to, however, these recommendations are ones I couldn’t put down and genuinely made me feel like I was somewhere warm. 

Starting with a classic summer read set in a small Italian village, Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman. Aciman’s idyllic language transports you to the 17th-century Italian villa, where you meet Elio and Oliver. Their friendship soon develops into an intense love affair, heightened by the picturesque small village that acts as a backdrop to their developing feelings.  

The 2017 film, starring Timothée Chalamet, popularised the novel and was well received, winning best-adapted screenplay. After loving the film so much, I decided to pick up the book and was surprised by how much more I loved it compared to the film, and I couldn’t put it down. Aciman perfectly describes the euphoric summer that Elio and Oliver share, but also the longing and yearning that come with a summer of love. Although this book centres around romance, it is full of poetic and powerful prose that will transport you away to a mesmerizingly dreamy summer, even if you’re stuck with the winter sun.  

This next book distils the essence of summer with an unconventional plotline following the story of a grandmother and granddaughter. This is The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, set during a blissful summer on a rocky island off the coast of Finland. Each chapter follows a small, insignificant, familial moment but captures the essence of finding beauty in the quiet of nature.  

Jansson’s writing beautifully displays the generational love shared with the reader through their happy and loving moments, which are balanced with a bittersweet edge of sadness as time passes. It’s a book that will make you nostalgic, reminding you of the simplicity of childhood summers. For me, the reminiscence was a reminder of how fast you grow up and change, however, these small memories and moments will always live. It’s a book that needs to be enjoyed slowly to appreciate the joy of noticing simple things. 

It wouldn’t be a complete winter escapism recommendation without the queen of summer romance herself, Emily Henry. You will never fail to find someone on the beach reading one of her books. However, even in winter, transporting yourself into the holiday romance genre can feel just the same. With books titled Beach Read and You and Me on Vacation, Henry perfectly wraps you into romance tropes like enemies to friends to lovers, seamlessly blending them with the picturesque backdrop of holidays.  

Emily Henry’s books never disappoint and encompass the most easy-to-read, feel-good summer romance. Her newest book, Happy Place, holds a close place in my heart when it comes to books, helping me to realise that my happy place is the beach. Set in a cottage on the coast of Maine, you follow a group of friends and two former lovers. Against the backdrop of summer heat, Henry explores both the dynamics of love and friendship and what can happen when old flames are given a second chance. 

Taylor Jenkins Reid is popular for a reason, and I have personally loved every one of her books. Her ability to completely transport the reader into her literary world is perfect, especially in Malibu Rising. Set in the sun-soaked world of 1980s Malibu, it follows the four siblings of the Riva family.  

The story centres around family dynamics, sacrifice, and the interplay of relationships while exploring both the glamour and challenges of Malibu’s carefree lifestyle. Jenkins Reid makes the characters feel genuine and relatable, allowing the reader to invest in their journey. In addition, her immersive storytelling makes you feel like you’re missing out on this Malibu lifestyle, and for me, I immediately wanted to visit after finishing it. In essence, it’s more than glitz and glamour; it’s a pure exploration of family bonds and the sacrifices made to pursue your dreams. 

These books with coastal dreams and sun-soaked views are the perfect way to give yourself hope until summer, whether you’re looking forward to any planned summer holiday or simply to lift your mood. Alternatively, these books make perfect holiday reads for lounging on the beach or by the pool. Each of these books will transport you away to somewhere the sun shines bright, like a proper holiday getaway. 

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