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Whether in the cooling shade or the bright sun, a good book is always great company for the summer. But which book should you grab? If you’ve already made your way through the Twilight Saga, the Harry Potter Chronicles and the Millennium Series and find that the rest of the summer needs something without a franchise, these five suggestions will guide your way.
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
For a proper time-killer, get your hands on Zafón’s mesmerizing mystery novel about love and obsession. Set in post-Spanish Civil War, a boy’s encounter with an old book ends up consuming his young life and determines his fate. Even in English, the words are incredibly well written and especially Fermín, the boy’s friend, a ravenous hedonist with a tortured past, delivers one memorable quote after another. Excitement, intrigue, tears, laughter — Zafón takes you through it all with such passion and crude irony, you won’t be able to put it down.
Africa Trilogy - Jacob Ejersbo
Forget Karen Blixen for a moment. This is the deep end of Scandinavian literature — where happy endings are not in the vocabulary. Ejersbo died of cancer at the age of 40 but his last work is an accomplished critique of civilization. Despite a decent amount of hopelessness, the work delivers a graceful and heartfelt tale of two friends’ coming of age. Set in Tanzania, the story alternates between the viewpoints of Christian from Denmark and Marcus, a local boy, as they explore their common friendship and the good and evil (mostly evil) of their own existence.
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
Known as the ultimate piece of Latin American literature, the story of the rise and fall of the Buendía Family is riddled with intense emotions and tragedy. But it also explores the ultimate expressions of human nature and the destructive evolution of time. The tone is brutal, even tragicomic, but once you get into the mystique of the Family, you realize that their success and failure is not random and that generations are connected by a paradox of time beyond our control. Not for the impatient reader but its strangeness is terribly intriguing.
Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami
Murakami is known for his lyrical themes and titles and Norwegian Wood (a Beatles song) is no exception. The 1987 novel is essentially about clinging to loss and the painful turmoil of love, friendship and death. Carefully constructed around Turo, his relationships with the delicate Naoko and the vivacious Midori lays the foundation for a beautiful and melancholic journey through Japanese youth culture in the late 1960s.
Either/Or: A Fragment of Life - Søren Kierkegaard
Kierkegaard’s work is hardcore philosophy disguised as clever literature. Before you point out the double-mentioning of Danish writers, consider this: Either/Or is everything — a ruthless take on identity, a bible on existentialism, a guide to getting laid and a collection of advice on how to live life without dying of boredom. Kierkegaard is literally a philosophy superstar and this work in particular emphasizes the most encompassing of thoughts: the journey of finding yourself can be a bit of a life-long project.