Life & Style

Vanessa Branson

Entrepreneur, activist, hotelier and now author, Vanessa Branson has left little off her list of accomplishments. Discover Vanessa's edit of must reads books for the Summer ahead.

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A Note From Vanessa

Having just finished my own memoir I understand the process of deep remembering, of running your fingers through the sediment of the river of your life and seeing what long buried bubbles wobble up to the surface. Memoirs make for terrific summer reads as they tend not only to contain good stories but to remind us of extreme moments of humiliation, terror, happiness and injustice in our own lives. Interestingly many of us have found it hard to concentrate on reading over the past few months, we’ve found books less attractive than fiddling with our phones. That is about to change.

Good Behaviour by Molly Keane

The first memoir that I read that immersed me in another world was Good Behaviour by Molly Keane an agonising read as you live through the experiences of a young aristocratic Anglo Irish girls coming of age.

Don’t Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

This is another memoir that transports you, this time to Rhodesia, East Africa as it transitions to Zimbabwe. When I think of the nights I spent worrying about giving my own children a stable and secure childhood, reading a book about a tough perilous upbringing is quite reassuring.

Red Carpets and other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett

For a lighter bit of fun, Rupert Everett’s brilliant memoir Red Carpets and other Banana skins, perfect for a touch of show biz and marvellous tales of camp misadventure.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

If you didn’t read it in 2018 The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry is a must, I don’t know why I enjoyed it quite so much, maybe it was the unexpectedly liberated Victorian protagonist and of course a cracking good love story is hard to beat.

Wilding: The Return to Nature of a British Farm by Isabella Tree

Summer books should be page turners and the unexpected success of Wilding, The Return to Nature of a British Farm is testament to the fact that conservation is fascinating. To witness in detail how interconnected our natural world is, how self-healing it is if we give it a sporting chance, is thrilling.

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig

And finally, once your concentration has returned I suggest a more serious book this time. We must be constantly on our toes to prevent history repeating itself and this book illustrates the all too insidious nature of any form of discrimination. Zweig began writing this book in his native Austria and as the shadow of Nazism fell he was exiled to London and then on the America. The Guardian described the book as ‘absolutely extraordinary’ and they were right.