Fabulous travel reads: best autumn books 2016

Summer is over. Booo! But thankfully it means there are adventures to be had with fewer tourists and expenses now it isn’t peak season, right? If you’re looking for a good book to accompany you on a journey or to chill out with on arrival, here are all the new releases I recommend!

Looking for some more options? Check out my previous book reviews here.

Available now:1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage UK publication date: 28th July 2016

66: the year of Black Panthers, Vietnam War protests, mini-skirts and, of course, England winning the World Cup. 50 years ago, the Western world changed dramatically in the space of 12 short months in ways that are too many for me to detail in a book review. Thankfully, the wonderful Jon Savage has put together an epic 672-page review of the year, structured around key moments in music and the social changes that influenced them. It was actually released in hardcover last year but Faber is doing a huge push now with the paperback. It’s a very detailed book, to say the least: if you’re going on an epic train journey and need something to accompany you on the long trip, then this book is your friend. I found it fascinating and wonderfully well-crafted, weaving events in and around iconic characters and songs of the 60s. If you’re interested in everyone from The Supremes to The Velvet Underground to The Kinks, then you will love this book.

The Regulars by Georgia Clark UK publication date: 11 August 2016

The funny thing about the title is that this really isn’t your regular story. A feminist fairy tale that’s pitched somewhere between ‘Death Becomes Her’ and ‘Heathers’ (two of my all-time favourite films), it is one of those books that we really should see more of. Three average New York women in their 20s find themselves privy to untold opportunities when they are given access to a magical drug that will turn them into the most desirable form (according to social standards). We’re talking perky tits, long legs, asymmetrical faces and long luscious hair. Suddenly they discover doors they have spent years trying to open in their work and love lives bursting free for them. But of course, they discover the dark side of the drug (and of life) and have to weigh up what they really want for themselves. Sound a little fat-free for your taste? Don’t worry: this author adds layers of substance underneath this predictable story structure and has you punching the air its fresh take on the fairytale ending.

Darktown by Thomas Mullen UK publication date: 13th September 2016

OK, so I am currently deep in this book but I couldn’t leave it until winter to include it in my books to read list! My original draw to this story was the fact that Jamie Foxx and Sony Pictures Television have optioned it to turn it into a major TV series, so make sure you get ahead of the game by reading it now. Set in Atlanta a few years after the end of WWII, this author pulls no punches when detailing the day-to-day experience of segregation in the Deep South. The appointment of the city’s first black police officers centres the focus of this awful period of history, highlighting how brutally slow (and brutally painful) progress has been. It’s a fascinating read – and a tense one. I’m literally gripping my eReader with concern every time the policeman start a new shift, mainly because their white colleagues are so horrific. This story is brilliantly paced. I can’t wait to finish it!

Available later in Autumn:The Trespasser by Tana French UK publication date: 22 September 2016

Antoinette Conway is the only woman on the Dublin murder squad – and the only person of colour. She’s despised by the rest of the white male squad and, despite being tough as f**k, is plagued by the paranoia that comes from being targeted for being an outsider. So there’s an extreme sense of schadenfreude but also a whole load of uncertainty when all the evidence points to one of her awful colleagues when a young woman is found dead in her flat. The character’s struggle feels very real and I loved the unforgiving way French writes this character – she doesn’t give in to any need to provide some soft edges or an origin story for why Conway is so tough just because she is female. I haven’t read any of the five previous books in this series but this story stood completely on its own without the need for it. If you fancy a bit dark mystery thriller action on your next holiday, you should pick up a copy of this.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang UK publication date: 3rd November 2016

Believe the hype: this book is fantastic. It’s a global financial crisis ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, with a Chinese-American family going on a cross-country road trip as the economy crumbles. Mr Wang has built his own American dream: a cosmetics company that is an industry giant and a household name. His children, softened by a privileged upbringing share none of his determined drive, but will have to find some once their cars are repossessed, their expensive colleges fees go unpaid and Mr Wang arrives to collect them as he flees Los Angeles with the intent of driving to New York state to bunk with the solvent eldest child. The interactions between the family members are perfectly pitched: tense, touching and funny. I especially loved how the siblings communicate with one another and how strongly their position in the pecking order influences their behaviour: the eldest feels responsible for them all, the middle child just wants to opt out of everything (but still have everyone’s approval) and the youngest is so needy for attention and love. I also loved Mr Wang and how his life is finally coming full circle as his children become adults and all his hard work crumbles. This book has such heart: it’s a story that everyone who is from their own funny little family can identify with.

Looking for some more options? Check out my previous book reviews here.

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