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Summer Reading List 2020

The summer holiday season has begun! Heading to the beach, the mountains, or the city, and searching for a book to pack in your suitcase? Staying at home and looking for an exciting literary escape? Summer is always a great time to enjoy a good book, so whether you're into fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, or children's books, have a look at our summer 2020 reading list!


Graphic Books

 

Stay by Hubert Chevillard and Lewis Trondheim (Magnetic Press, 2020)

Roland has the perfect vacation planned for Fabienne – everything is organized, booked, and paid for in advance, with the entire itinerary recorded in a notebook. It’s going to be a wonderful week. But before they can even get their luggage to their rental, Roland is decapitated in a freak accident. Fabienne, in her daze of denial, decides to follow the itinerary as planned, as if the tragedy never happened. She wanders the tourist-filled streets, a passive spectator to the joys of others’ lives. Along the way, she meets Paco, a local vendor with some eccentric views on life and death. Being rather private normally, it isn’t hard for her to lie about the companion that never seems to be there, but Paco soon puts the pieces together. He realizes this woman needs a friend right now more than anything else. A moving and mesmerizing look at life, death, and the many different ways we cope with each. Nominated for two Eisner Awards 2020! Read more

The Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax (NBM publishing, 2020, Tr. by Montana Kane)

In Mali in Africa, a red Mother with Child, a 14th century African sculpture, is saved from the destructive madness of Islamists by Alou, a young honey hunter. In the company of other migrants, sisters and brothers of misfortune, Alou goes all out to reach Europe. His goal and his obsession: entrust the precious statuette to the Louvre Museum! An epic adventure, touching upon the burning worldwide issue of refugees and immigration, in the ever-expanding Louvre collection commissioning graphic novels from leading world artists to spin tales around the famous museum. Read more


Fiction

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin (Europa Editions, 2020, Tr. by Hildegard Serle)

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues—gravediggers, groundskeepers, and a priest—visit her to warm themselves in her lodge, where laughter, companionship, and occasional tears mix with the coffee she offers them. Her life is lived to the rhythms of their funny, moving confidences. Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of Julien Sole—local police chief—who insists on scattering the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear that Julien’s inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette’s own difficult past.
Read more

The Simple Past by Driss Chraïbi (New York Review Books, 2020, Tr. by Hugh A Harter)

The Simple Past came out in 1954, and in both France and Morocco the book caused an explosion of fury. The protagonist, who shares the author’s name, Driss, comes from a Moroccan family of means, his father a self-made tea merchant, the most devout of Muslims, quick to be provoked and ready to lash out verbally or physically, continually bent on subduing his timid wife and many children to his iron and ever-righteous will. He is known, simply, as the Lord, and Driss, who is in high school, is in full revolt against both him and the French colonial authorities, for whom, as much as for his father, he is no one. Driss Chraïbi’s classic coming-of-age story is about colonialism, Islam, the subjection of women, and finding, as his novel does, a voice that is as cutting and coruscating as it is original and free. Read more


Non-Fiction

 

The Most Beautiful Job in the World by Giulia Mensitieri (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020, Tr. by Natasha Lehrer)

Fashion, one of the most powerful industries in the world, accounts for 6% of global consumption and it grows steadily. Since the 1980s it has emerged as the glittering face of capitalism, bringing together prestige, power, and beauty and occupying a central place in media and consumer fantasies. Yet the fashion industry relies significantly on job instability, not just in outsourced garment production, but at the very heart of its creative production of luxury. Based on an in-depth investigation involving stylists, models, designers, hairdressers, make-up artists, photographers and interns, anthropologist Giulia Mensitieri goes behind fashion's glamorous facade to explore the lived realities of working in the industry. This challenging book lays bare the working conditions in the industry, showing that exploitation isn't confined to sweatshops abroad or sexual harassment of models. Read more

Faceworld by Marion Zilio (Polity Press, 2020, Tr. by Robin Mackay)

We have long accepted the face as the most natural and self-evident thing, believing that in it we could read, as if on a screen, our emotions and our doubts, our anger and joy. We have decorated them, made them up, designed them, as if they were the true calling card of our personality, the public manifestation of our inner being. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than a window opening onto our inner nature, the face has always been a technical artefact—a construction that owes as much to artificiality as to our genetic inheritance. In this highly original reflection Marion Zilio charts the history of the technical, economic, political, legal, and artistic fabrication of the face. Her account of this history culminates in a radical new interrogation of what is too often denounced as our contemporary narcissism. Read more


Children

 

The Solar System: Interactive Mazes for Exploring by Pierre-François Mouriaux (Schiffer Publishing, 2020, Illustrated by Jérémie Claeys)

Climb into your space suit, make sure your gloves and helmet are properly secured, and settle behind the controls of your spaceship. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . liftoff! Fly through these 17 mazes and the universe will have no more secrets for you! Discover each of the planets in our solar system, which countries have sent animals into space, and what a day in the life of an astronaut looks like! But beware of traps, distractions, and dead ends... Read more

A Bear Named Bjorn by Delphine Perret (Gecko Press, 2020)

Bjorn lives in a cave. The walls are soft, the ground is comfortable, and just in front there is new grass and a rough tree, perfect for back-scratching.
A Bear Named Bjorn takes us into the forest with Bjorn the bear and his friends. One day the animals have their eye tests and try on the humans’ lost spectacles. Another, they just sit, watching the leaves and playing cards on a tree stump. And on party night the animals borrow clothes hanging on the camping ground line—and return everything carefully in the morning, only a little bit used. Read more

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