Fiona Collins writes an exclusive piece for Female First
Fiona Collins writes an exclusive piece for Female First

There’s something thoroughly seductive about the combination of summer and reading. Scalding days on the beach, shady afternoons in the garden, books inhaled on lilos until their pages curl... Here are five summer reads of my past I feel particularly nostalgic for!

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume

As a shy pre-teen and anxious late developer, I fell with utter relief on Judy Blume books when they came into my awkward life, via my friend, Sarah, who experienced everything before I did - periods, boys, kissing, her mum buying her a bra…

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret was devoured whilst I sprawled on a pink bedspread in my back garden, picking at sun-warmed daisies. Margaret was feeling what I was feeling. Margaret understood all those things I wished for, and Sarah already had. That summer, Margaret made me feel I wasn’t alone.

Polo - Jilly Cooper

The summer before I turned 16, my friends and I spent every afternoon at Chelmsford’s outdoor swimming pool, listening to Radio 1, eyeing up unsuitable boys and reading Jilly Cooper novels. Well, one book, actually, that got passed excitedly between us. It was naughty, you wouldn’t dare leave it lying around at home; it was Polo. Oh, Perdita, you were our heroine!

From public school to polo field, you gave the roguish men in this jolly brilliant book as good as you got, and us giggling girls some delicious passages to read aloud as showing-off boys splashed, and carrot oil smudged the pages. Good times.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back – Terry McMillan

I was 20-something. I was on a sun lounger somewhere hot and exotic, my boyfriend in the sea. Stella was getting her Groove Back; I was just finding mine… and her story - sassy and successful in her 40s, and enjoying a surprising romance on a Jamaican vacation, leading to new vitality and creativity - had me sizzling in my Piz Buin. When I think of this book I think of heat and cocktails and vibrancy and summer romance.

Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud

Matching my reading to my holiday, I took Hideous Kinky, by Esther Freud, with me to Morocco a couple of summers ago. The story of an English mother on a pilgrimage of self-discovery in 1960s Marrakesh - dragging her stability-craving children with her – heightened my anticipation of stepping from the confines of my hotel into the mysterious streets of Marrakesh’s Medina, and its sights and sounds and smells were re-absorbed into the book, making it a wonderfully symbiotic experience.

11.22.63 – Stephen King

I’m not a horror fan, although one summer long ago I read Salem’s Lot at my Nan’s, giving myself the absolute frights, but I returned to Stephen King, in the summer of 2020, because 1) I’ve always been fascinated by JFK and 2) I needed a big fat book to read.

Fat it may have been, but I raced through this book, moving my garden chair into the ever-receding patch of sun, evening after evening, as King worked his magic. 11.22.63 will forever remind me of the lockdown summer of 2020 and how it helped me through it, as books often do.

New book Summer in the City by Fiona Collins is available now, published by Corgi, £7.99.

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