Your poolside plus-one: The best holiday reads for 2018

Racy, riveting, unputdownable… Holiday reads so gripping you’ll forget to jump in the pool.

For comic relief

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins)
Eleanor, like so many, suffers from a deep loneliness, but is pulled back into the world through the kindness of others. You will cry and laugh at this astonishing first novel, which has taken the book world by storm, because Eleanor is one of the funniest characters around.

For pulse-racing eroticism

THE PISCES by Melissa Broder (Bloomsbury)
Literary erotica merges with magical realism and black humour in this extraordinary debut novel about a dejected young woman’s night-time liaisons with a merman. Strong stuff, but it’s spreading quickly through word of mouth, making it summer’s cool read to be spotted with.

For the thrill seekers 

IN THE GARDEN OF THE FUGITIVES by Ceridwen Dovey (Hamish Hamilton)
A tale of power, guilt and obsession as two people stalk each other 20 years after their relationship ended. This psychological thriller examines what happens when the lines between victim and predator, loyalty and obsession become blurred.

For a feel-good boost

THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS by Ruth Hogan (Two Roads)
Heartbroken Laura goes to work as a housekeeper for Anthony, a widower who has been a lifelong collector of lost things. When he dies, Laura fulfils his legacy by returning these items to their rightful owners, rediscovering her trust in humanity and love.

For getting over heartbreak

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
An irresistible tale about modern relationships, unrequited love, infidelity and jealousy. Frances – young, gifted and self-destructive – and her friend Bobbi become enraptured with Melissa, a photographer, and her actor boyfriend.

For compelling storytelling

THE POSSIBLE WORLD by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz (Hutchinson, to be published 12 July)
Three seemingly disparate people – Lucy, a hospital doctor; Clare, a care-home resident with a harrowing past; and six-year-old orphan Ben, marooned in a hospital ward – come together in the most astonishing way.

For rediscovering yourself

CLOCK DANCE by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus, to be published 12 July)
Classic Tyler: she captures the defining moments of love and loss in one middle-aged woman’s life and combines it with the ultimate upbeat ending, proving it’s never too late to live the life you want.

For saga lovers

PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee (Head of Zeus, to be published 3 August)
Hard to believe that a family tale about Koreans fleeing war and poverty to Japan in the 20th century could be so engaging, but this historical novel is an intimate and moving hymn to the struggles of all those living in a foreign land.

For impressing your friends

THE ODYSSEY by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson (Norton)
The original and greatest of all stories in, remarkably, its first translation by a woman. This telling of Odysseus’s epic journey has the same structure as the original Greek poem. Utterly readable and gripping.

Selected by YOU books editor Kate Figes 

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