Summer reads, beach reads, holiday reads … at this time of year, the publishing world works itself into a sweat trying to force its novels into our carry-on luggage, or over the ether on to our Kindles. There are more books sold in the summer than during any other season: the well-established publishing calendar tends to see hardbacks released in the autumn to be given as gifts at Christmas, then repackaged as paperbacks in late spring. As Donna Harrington-Lueker sets out in her history of the beach read, Books for Idle Hours, the summer publishing rush is at least a century old, and has typically aimed “airy and froth-like” books on “young ladies” (the quote is from an 1888 work on summer books by Arlo Bates). The summer fiction market is changing, though, with more and more “serious”, “literary” novels showing up where once there were only thrillers and crime novels, bonkbusters and romances. So it is that Normal People by Sally Rooney is currently piled high on the tables of WH Smith’s Travel alongside Lee Child, Jodi Picoult and Bernard Cornwell. I’m aware of how contentious and porous discussions of genre can be. Generic labels, though, are the terms… Read full this story
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