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OX READS: Books for Summery Days


The wonderful Kim Harvey, owner of The Mad Hatter Bookshop in Burford and Creative Director of The Burford Literary Festival shares her reading suggestions on this month’s theme.

It’s that time of year when we turn our thoughts to lazy summer days; maybe with a fluffy jumper if you are in the UK, or maybe you are lucky enough to be jumping on a jet plane and flying off to warmer climates. Whatever your plans, be it snuggled in a deck chair in your garden or stretched out on a sun lounger on the Italian Riviera, a summer holiday would not be complete without a book in your beach bag. Whether you like to sizzle with a Sarah J Maas or prefer something to challenge your intellectual prowess here are a few of our favourites for Summer 2024.

The Glutton by A K Blakemore

A K Blakemore, author of The Manningtree Witches has smashed it out of the park once again with The Glutton. With roots planted in historical fact, it is the grisly story of the life of Tarrare, the man with a bottomless appetite – but is Tarrare medical mystery or marvel? Set in Paris during the volcanic times of the French Revolution, one cannot help but compare Blakemore’s delicious writing to that of Hilary Mantel. Pick up this book and you will be dragged onto an ancient freewheeling fairground ride that will almost certainly make you feel slightly sick but so thrilled you wont want to get off.

The Three Graces by Amanda Craig

This book cannot be anything but a rip-roaring summer success. Set in Tuscany, not only is it art, beauty, and sunshine, it is provocative, romantic and realistic. The Three Graces, Ruth, Marta and Diana, are a trio of elderly expatriates with a total of "four breasts, five eyes and three hip replacements" between them. They are preparing for a wedding when Enzo, a local villager, shoots an illegal immigrant from his bedroom window and triggers a series of events that embroil old and young, rich and poor, native and foreign. Break open the Montalcino and enjoy.

More Days at the Moriaski Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa

This book is so much more than the story of Takako, it is a balm for your soul. Satoshi Yagisawa manages once again to bring us a page turner that also offers the sort of calm you find not only in Japan, but in between the shelves of a bookshop. Following on from Days at The Moriski Bookshop, this time Takako gives her aunt and uncle a trip, promising to look after the shop while they are away. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, but then why is Satoru behaving so strangely? And what does that woman with the red umbrella who has appeared at the end of the street want? How many other stories, emotions, and treasures does the Morisaki bookshop hold?

Back to the Local by Maurice Gorham

This is a gem of a book that raises a glass to the tradition of the London hostelry. Written and illustrated by friends Maurice Gorham and Edward Ardizzone, Back to The Local will take you back to 1949 when pubs in London were slowly returning to some sort of normality after the bombs, closures and beer shortages of post war London. This book is the literary equivalent of good beer and splendid company in the comfort of a charistmatic well-kept house. WARNING: This book will make you want to reach for a pint every few pages.

Bliss & Blunder by Victoria Gosling

Bliss & Blunder is a whip-smart retelling of the Arthurian cycle – think The Green Knight meets Dolly Alderton. Gosling has given us a postmodern collage of myth and modernity as we are introduced to Arthur and Gwen just before Arthurs 40th birthday. This is power, friendship and betrayal at its finest and although this book is pure sun lounger heaven, do not let that title fool you: Bliss and Blunder is an exquisitely written, deeply impressive novel.

Butter by Gayl Jones

Gayl Jones is author of The Birdcatcher and more recently Palmares; she is a finalist for the Pulitzer and a literary giant. Butter delivers a sharply written collection of short stories that are both endlessly inventive and challenge the reader to inspect the fabric of other people’s lives. I am forever left awestruck by Jones’s ability to write so incisively on such a range of subjects; from hyper-realist to mystical reflecting the world in all its diversity.

Whatever you read this summer, may the sun shine and your glass always be full.

Love books, love bookshops.

You can find all these titles at the Madhatter Bookshop in Burford or at our website Next month we will be previewing some of the books by authors at Burford Litfest 2024 27-29 September. Go to for further info.

You can find all these books at The Madhatter Bookshop, Burford or order from our online shop at

The Madhatter Bookshop
122 High Street, Burford OX18 4QJ
01993 822539
Events, Book Club, Subscriptions, Delivery, Great Advice


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