Five Must-Read Books to Get Lost in This Summer

Summer is finally here, and the sun is blazing hotter than ever. That can only mean one thing—it’s that wonderful time of the year when you can’t wait to squeeze into your swimsuit (hopefully, it’ll fit), grab your 30 SPF sunscreen (more like SPF 300), and head straight to the beach. Basking in the scorching sun is fun, sure until you realize you’ve overdone it, and now, instead of a gorgeous sunkissed tan, you end up looking like a lobster. 

But hold your sunscreen-slathered horses: are you seriously thinking about leaving on holiday WITHOUT packing a book or two? Fret not; we’ve prepared five delicious books that will make your summer escapades even more unforgettable. 

1) Koloseum – Željko Obrenović

We’re starting off this list strong with a thrilling novel about the Serbian Fight Club. No, it doesn’t feature Brad Pitt or Edward Norton, but instead, Obrenović introduces you to three down-to-earth characters that fight, cry, and bleed just as well as the Hollywood heartbreakers. 

The truth is, we haven’t evolved much from the destructive Ancient Romans. The saying “people only need bread and games” is still the best indicator of the state of our society. Andrej is a bouncer at nightclubs, fighting his way through life. Tara is a literature student, but hardcore journalism runs through her veins. Kajica is a criminal on the verge of retirement. All three of them will meet in the Colosseum, but will they all leave? Reading books like Koloseum turns us, the readers, into private detectives who are onto something good. Nothing in this novel is what it seems, and you will have to scratch deep to discover the truth. 

If you ask us, this book is perfect for channeling your inner Poaro while sipping a chilled margarita on the beach.

2) Estoril – Dejan Tiago-Stanković

Imagine being in the company of James Bond. Imagine sitting at a bar in a hotel by the sea, and he chooses a seat right next to you. The band is playing some light jazz, and you chat about Paris in the spring. Imagine the splendor and misery of European monarchs who turned into refugees overnight. The madness of Nazism spreads like wildfire. All that happening in the most luxurious seaside resort of the 20th century. This novel has ‘holiday’ written all over it.

The plot of the novel is set in the fashionable resort of Estoril, not far from Lisbon. The Second World War is raging everywhere but Portugal due to the country’s neutrality, which makes it a perfect meeting place for the fishy activities of the intelligence services of both warring parties and also for refugees from all over Europe. That’s the beauty of Estoril: navigating through dangers, intrigues, exile, and unexpected romance at this upscale resort. You’ll meet poignant guests like spies, fallen kings, writers, Nazis, American diplomats, and Jews without a state while the Portuguese secret police closely watch over them all. 
You may not be traveling there this summer, but this poignant novel is your perfect prelude to Portugal. Whichever beach you find yourself on this summer, turn the pages of Tiago’s Estoril and just imagine the meaty middle-aged man next to you is Bond, James Bond.

3) Ništa Nije Smešno – Bojan Ljubenović

There’s Nothing Funny is a collection of about fifty short stories in which heroes are people from the real world. It describes the (in)famous Serbian mentality, the Great Serbian Tragedy, and the slow and categorical degradation of society. You’ll recognize all the main elements of Serbian life: corruption, extortion, privatization, political integration, social divisions, and misconceptions. You will also meet a man who has lost his mind, a politician who suffers from an unusual addiction caused by a microphone, and a ‘golden’ fish who fulfills only one wish. 

If you’re living in Serbia, you might be wondering why we’re recommending such a sarcastically gruesome collection of stories that depict the rotten bits of ourselves. Because if you’re lying on the sandy beaches of Greece or Turkey—or spending your ten-day holiday anywhere else but Serbia—we don’t want you to forget the essence of modern Serbian society, no matter where you are. Ten days is a long period, and during that time of bliss and relaxation, the actual state of affairs in your homeland may slip to oblivion. 

If you’re not from Serbia, chances are you’ll recognize your own nation one way or another. 

You can read this sarcastic ode to Serbia within two days, but we recommend you stretch that over a week or two. Two days is way too short to swallow such a huge piece of us. 

4) Zanimljiva Istorija Srba u 147 Priča – Momčilo Petrović

Here’s another collection of short stories that will make you laugh. The danger of this summer read is that it will also make you think. Do you know how famous French writers like Moliere and Honore de Balzac once said that you can learn more about French society from books than any historical work? Meet 147 stories about Serbia and Serbian people that paint a better picture of us than any history book ever will. 

Who taught the great Miloš Obrenović how to drink whiskey? Why are trains in Serbia always running late? What did Churchill’s emissaries steal from the Chetniks in WW2? You’ll find intriguing answers to these and many more questions that will shape a more concise image of Serbia. 

This is a no-brainer if you want something juicy and captivating but too comprehensive while you dip your toes in the pool. You may even want to share a story or two with your friends or family members—unless you’re spending your holiday exclusively with children, in which case, this fun trivia will go right over their heads. 

5) Sazvežđe Svitaca – Mirjana Bobić Mojsilović

What makes a good summer must-read list, if not at least one entry from the “belles-letters” genre? This time, we chose the famous Serbian author and the superstar of storytelling, Mirjana Bobić Mojsilović. (You either love Mirjana or hate her and if you fall under the latter, this summer list ended at number four for you.)

The Firefly Constellation is Mirjana’s masterpiece in the amount of emotions she poured into it. The novel is a collection of melancholy, hope, and emotion, which will wrap you tight and won’t let go until nostalgia rushes in. We can’t think of a better book to experience summertime sadness with. Why? In the words of Mirjana Bobić Mojsilović herself, “We are fireflies. Our lives are short, and we ought to make the best of it while we can. And we shine only when the darkness is as thick as grease.” 

This last entry on our list is also a grave reminder that life doesn’t always serve happy endings. Regardless, it also reminds us that hope flickers even in the loneliest corners of the earth.

Truly yours,