Sarah Skarum, Journalist at the newspaper Berlingske Tidende
My very general tip for good reading experiences is to find yourself a great bookshop and support them by not buying your books online. My personal favourite is Thiemers Magasin on Tullinsgade in Copenhagen, and I love to let Rikke, the owner, choose books for me. From just a couple of key words on my reading preferences, she can find books that I don’t know about or would never have chosen for myself. It’s a good way to avoid always reading the same sort of thing, or just reading what everyone else is reading.
Here are Sarah's three recommendations for your summer reading list:
The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
(Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk and At Last)
The Patrick Melrose Novels are five books that deal with a boy’s upbringing in the English upper-class from the 1960s to the present day. The novels describe him at different times in his life – through a childhood with alcoholic parents, child abuse, growing up to become a drug addict. It doesn’t sound very inviting right off the bat, but for me, the books were a great reading experience. They are incredibly well written, amusing, very troubling, and very thought-provoking. And also sad.
The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
Daniel Mendelsohn is a professor in New York, and like many other Jews, he had a lot of relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust in Europe. The book details how Mendelsohn sets out to trace his dead relatives to find out what actually happened to them. The quest takes him around the world, and the book beautifully describes the personal journey that Mendelsohn himself ends up taking. The book also illustrates how we don’t really disappear as long as someone remembers us. In his narrative, Mendelsohn resurrects his relatives in a way that is extremely moving.
It’s a long, thick and very clever book, but it’s enormously readable. It’s the best book I’ve read in years.
With summer reading, you have to remember not to take something that’s too deep. Once I took only Dostoevsky with me to a Greek island, and I ended up wandering around covetously asking people if they were going to be finished with their mysteries soon so I could borrow them. One of the best mystery writers is Agatha Christie. I’ve been reading them since I was 11 years old. During the summer my husband always teases me, saying that I dress like Hercule Poirot’s sister in long, flowing robes. Big hats and kaftans, that sort of thing.
It’s difficult to choose just one Christie, but it might be fun to pick one where the murder takes place on a beach. For example, Nemesis, A Caribbean Mystery or Death on the Nile. These are books that you can read quickly and easily, but they still have meaning. You can find them for almost nothing at a used book shop, and when you’re finished you can leave them for the poor woman who only brought Dostoevsky along for her holidays.