The Sounder

Papercup's Summer Reads What to read in the sunshine
From no particular period and no particular genre, as chosen by the Papercup team Zeina Bassil (ZB), Rania Naufal (RN), Cyrille Karam (CK), Julia Sabra (JS) and Ramsay Short (RS).

Pink - Kyôko Okazaki
Yumi has a mundane day job but at night turns call girl to feed her ever-hungry pet crocodile. On discovering her wicked stepmother is dating a younger man, Yumi's world starts to get even more twisted. Set in 1980s Tokyo, Pink is Japanese manga artist Kyoko Okazaki's tour de force graphic novel peopled with bold, unconventional female characters, written and drawn in an unorthodox style that revolutionised 80s manga. An incredible treatise on feminism, sexuality and female beauty. – ZB

The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer
In 1974 at a summer camp for the privileged sons and daughters of American intelligentsia, six kids form a gang and call themselves 'The Interestings.' Wolitzer follows their interactions and relationships over the next 40 years creating a great American feminist novel full of sly wit and verbal brio that only a 30-year veteran of family and friendship fiction could manage. – CK

The DancerColum McCann
Biographers are inhibited by facts. Colum McCann in this fictionalised account of the life of Rudolf Nureyev is not. This, coupled with such strikingly beautiful, salty and sometimes shocking prose, makes The Dancer a read you will not put down – even if you’ve never had more than a passing interesting in ballet, or the man himself. Brilliant, dramatic I whistled through it. – RN

Transmetropolitan – Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson
If you read one graphic novel series this year read this one. Ellis and Robertson’s series is 20 years old, set 200 years in the future, and follows renegade investigative journalist Spider Jerusalem on his quest for truth among the corrupt, decadent, and downright fucked up denizens of a New York-esque city. But what’s brilliant about it is its prescience. From Trump to religious terror to unstoppable advertising and digital overload, Transmetropolitan gets it spot on, and in Spider Jerusalem, Ellis and Robertson create the anti-hero of our age. – RS

In Praise of Shadows - Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
In 1933 one of Japan's greatest novelists wrote one of the world's most enchanting essays on aesthetics, a description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age. In the words of contemporary philosopher AC Grayling, Tanizaki "suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especially mindfulness of beauty, as central to life lived well." – ZB

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair - Joël Dicker
Swiss author Joel Dicker's original French novel sold over 1m copies, winning the Académie Française's Grand Prix du Roman in 2012, and the English language version has fared no less well. The breathtakingly-plotted crime thriller moves with incredible, page-turning pace following novelist Marcus Goldman, on a mission to uncover the truth of a 33-year-old murder his beloved college professor Harry Quebert has only now been accused of committing. – CK

Book of Imaginary Beings – Jorge Luis Borges
The Argentine writer, and father of magical realism’s dictionary of mythological creatures is an epic of research and collected knowledge written in crisp, elegant prose. Meet Banshees and Buraks and Goofangs and Gillygaloos and many more beings that have haunted literature and myth for centuries and that continue to fascinate today. – ZB

StonerJohn Williams
On publication in 1965, John Williams's novel did mildly well, but was not acclaimed. Fifty years later it is considered a classic of American literature and when you read it you'll understand why. It tells the tale of William Stoner, an academic, and tackles the themes of work, love, loss and achievement. It is beautiful, written cleanly and softly – aged 42, Stoner reflects that "he could see nothing before him that he wished to enjoy and little behind him that he cared to remember"; and speaks of choices, their effects on one's life, and what it all means at the end. Haunting, brilliant. – RN

White Noise – Don Delillo
One of America’s great writers pens one of the funniest critiques you’ll ever read about modern consumerism and fear of death. Academic Jack Gladney, survivor of five marriages, lives with current wife Babette alongside their brood of kids while obsessing about death. Delillo’s breakout novel, his flair with language paints a picture of a strange world where the holy trinity – “Mastercard, Visa, American Express” – distracts from our mortality. – JS

1Q84Haruki Murakami
It’s not the easiest of Murakami’s novels, and certainly had fans divided on publication in 2011. But there’s something about this grandiose story, that persuades you to wade through its almost 1,000 pages, in a way that only Murakami knows how to do. There’s a slender assassin in our heroine Aomame, little people who emerge from the mouth of a dead goat and say “Ho ho”, and a copy-editor called Tengo who is Aomame’s love interest… eventually. Oh and Tokyo has two moons. You’re unlikely to be satisfied at the end, so many threads are left hanging, but you’ll be thinking about it for a long time afterwards. – RS

1913: The Year Before the StormFlorian Illies
This fascinating book by German journalist Florian Illies tells the story of 1913, the last year before the Great War, through a series of anecdotes and snapshots from the lives of artists, scientists, inventors and politicians at the time – while managing to stay away from darker events. The detail is mesmerising. Imagine a stray cat getting into Freud's studio through an open window if you will, or Stalin's last chess game with his comrade Lenin. Did you know Louis Armstrong was obsessed with guns as a kid until he was given a trumpet, and his life changed forever. – RN

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers
At 21, Dave Eggers’ parents died just 32 days apart leaving him and his eight-year old brother Toph, to navigate life as orphans. This is his breathless, passionate part-fictional, part-autobiographical account of the pair’s journey to California and Eggers’ sudden transformation into both young adult and single parent at the same time. – JS
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