Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Bite-sized Reads by Literary Giants

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Rabeea Saleem

Staff Writer

Rabeea is a Karachi-based writer. Her two vices are cricket and literature. Book critic for various international publications including Chicago Review of Books, Irish Times and The National. She can be reached at

Do you ever feel insecure about not having read the works of our greatest contemporary writers? Here’s a quick fix. The brand new Vintage Minis series features the creme de la creme of the best writers of our times, writing on the experiences that make us human. The sleek and gorgeous covers doesn’t hurt either!

This new series comprised of 20 pocket-sized books encompasses the whole spectrum of lifefrom birth to death, and everything in between. Selected from previously published fiction and non-fiction, these books are named after specific human experiences by people who know the most about it. From Eating by Nigella Lawson to Race by Toni Morrison and Death by Julian Barnes, this collection is economical but addresses themes which are relatable, profound and make for good reads.


Liberty by Virginia Woolf

If you are a big Woolf fan like me, you will love this inspiring collection of essays selected from  A Room of One’s OwnThe Waves and Street Haunting and Other Essays. From disenfranchisement and anarchy to freedom and feminism, her writing explores the different facets of the word liberty.

Jealousy by Marcel Proust

This painfully candid book Marcel Proust looks straight into the green eye of every lover’s jealous struggle. Selected from his book In Search of Lost Time, there is no greater chronicler of jealousy’s darkest fears and destructive suspicions than Proust.

Race by Toni Morrison

A young black girl longing for the blue eyes of white baby dolls spirals into inferiority and confusion. A friendship falls apart over a disputed memory. An ex-slave is haunted by a lonely, rebukeful ghost, bent on bringing their past home. Strange and unexpected, yet always stirring, Morrison’s writing on race sinks us deep into the heart and mind of our troubled humanity.

Desire by Haruki Murakami

The five weird and wonderful tales collected here each unlock the many-tongued language of desire, whether it takes the form of hunger, lust, sudden infatuation or the secret longings of the heart.


Love by Jeanette Winterson

This book is a brilliant anthology of Winterson’s writing on love and her criticism on her work. Love in all its forms has been an abiding theme of Jeanette Winterson’s writing. Here are selections from her books about that impossible, essential force we call Love.

Depression by William Styron

This unabridged text of Styron’s bestselling Darkness Visible:A Memoir of Madness is a candid and gripping account of his depression. He describes an illness that reduced him from a successful writer to a man arranging his own destruction. This hopeful and edifying book will make a healing gift to people suffering from mental illness.

Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley

This is my favourite collection of the lot. In 1953, in the presence of an investigator, Aldous Huxley took four-tenths of a gramme of mescalin, sat down and waited to see what would happen. When he opened his eyes everything, from the flowers in a vase to the creases in his trousers, was transformed. Excerpted from The Doors of Perception this is his account of his experience, excerpted from The Doors of Perception and his vision for all that psychedelics could offer to mankind that has influenced writers, artists and thinkers around the world.

Calm by Tim Parks

How do we find calm in our frantic modern world? Tim Parks – lifelong sceptic of all things spiritual – finds himself on a Buddhist meditation retreat trying to answer this very question. Selected from his book, Teach us to Sit Still, he tackles one of the great mysteries of our time – how to survive in this modern age.


Drinking by John Cheever

In each of the stories in this collection, alcohol affects the chain of events.What’s the worst another drink could do? John Cheever pours out our most sociable of vices, and hands it to us in a highball in these stories suffused with beauty, sadness, and the gathering storm of a bender well-done.

Eating by Nigella Lawson

From the undisputed Queen of the Kitchen comes this collection which comprises of writing from her books How to Eat and Kitchen. Nigella Lawson sets out a manifesto for how to cook (and eat) good food every day with a minimum of fuss.

Home by Salman Rushdie

Writing with insight, passion and humour, he looks at what it means to belong, whether roots are real and homelands imaginary, what it is like to reconfigure your past from fragments of memory and what happens when East meets West.

Language by Xialu Guo

This book includes text from Guo’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary. This is a heartwarming insight into a non-English speakers confusion, anxiety and fear after arriving to London from China.


Babies by Anne Enright

Anne Enright describes the intensity, bewilderment and extravagant happiness of her experience of having babies, from the exhaustion of trimesters to first smiles and becoming acquainted with the long reaches of the night. Everyone, from parents to the mildly curious, can delight in this funny, eloquent and unsentimental account.

Fatherhood by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Excerpted from  A Man in Love, Knausgard contrasts moments of enormous love and tenderness towards his children with the boring struggles of domesticity in this deeply personal account of a father.

Motherhood by Helen Simpson

Motherhood : a land of aching fatigue, constant self-sacrifice and thankless servitude, a land of bottomless devotion. These honest, sharply funny, humane stories selected from Simpson’s short story collections Dear George, Hey Yeah Right Get a Life and Constitutional are must-reads for all mothers.

Sisters by Louisa May Alcott

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are four of the most famous sisters in literature, and these stories, selected from Little Women and Good Wives depict the joys and heartaches they share are a touching celebration of the special ties of sisterhood.


Summer by Laurie Lee

This book makes one nostalgic of those seemingly neverending days of boundless joy and peace. Here is an evocation of summer like no other – a remote valley filled with the scent of hay, jazzing wasps, blackberries plucked and gobbled, and games played until the last drop of dusk. Lee’s joyful and stirring writing captures the very essence of England’s golden season.

Swimming by Roger Deakin

This is a joyful swimming tour of Britain, a frog’s-eye view of the country’s best bathing holes – the rivers, rock pools, lakes, ponds, lochs and sea that define a watery island. A charming, funny, and inspiring celebration of the magic of water – this book will indeed make you want to strip off and leap in.

Work by Joseph Heller

In this darkly satirical book, Joseph Heller takes us for a turn on the maddening hamster wheel of work. Heller’s workplace is a cradle of paranoia, bravado and nauseating banter, forever shadowed by that perennial question, who’s really running the show here?

Death by Julian Barnes

When it comes to death, is there ever a best case scenario? In this disarmingly witty book, Julian Barnes confronts our unending obsession with the end. He reflects on what it means to miss God, whether death can be good for our careers and why we eventually turn into our parents.