You can't beat the magic of finding a good book. It's that brilliant feeling when a plot grips, twists and excites in a way you'll remember for a long time. 

Whatever your tastes, you know when you’re onto a winner because it reminds you instantly that reading is one of life’s great pleasures.

With that in mind, we proudly present to you our 2020 Summer Reading List - a collection of the best page-turners which we think will captivate and entertain, providing the perfect tonic to today’s social challenges.

From French food frolics to Scottish murder mysteries, and children’s tales to adult fiction, we think there’s something for everyone. 

A lot has happened since Angela Burdett-Coutts donated a thousand books to our staff library in the 1850s, but her literacy legacy still burns bright.  We hope this year’s book recommendations showcase the very best of the Coutts family today, capturing the diverse tastes of our clients and colleagues alike. 

“‘Literature’s ability to offer light and hope is more important than ever in troubling times. I hope our 2020 reading list provides welcome distraction from today’s challenges, and fond memories in the future.’”
Peter Flavel, CEO, Coutts
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    slime by DAVID WALLIAMS

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    A brilliant story for the whole family, whether in lockdown or not.

    Based on the Isle of Mulch, it stars a young boy called Ned who’s up against it in life being surrounded by ‘awful adults’! They’re everywhere he goes, with Aunt Greta Greed the most awful of all. Luckily for Ned he has an awesome superpower, known as ‘slime power’, which might just save the day. If you’re struggling to entertain the kids, then Ned can definitely come to your rescue.

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    For exciting activities to keep boredom at bay please visit

    World of David Walliams

  • ONE MORE CROISSANT FOR THE ROAD by FELICITY CLOAKE

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    Ideal for foodies and anyone looking for some tasty escapism this summer.

    If you’ve never read Felicity’s ‘How to cook the perfect..’ newspaper column, then this book is a timely introduction to a food writer at the top of her game. Here she embarks on the trip of a lifetime, cycling 3,500km across France in search of the definitive versions of classic French dishes. It will leave you quite literally hungry for more, as she offers her own take on the ‘perfect recipe’ for each mouth-watering dish she encounters. Moreish writing indeed!

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    GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER by BERNARDINE EVARISTO

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    Award-winning adult fiction that deals with big issues.

    As you might expect from the title, this book explores topics including gender, feminism and identity. Heritage and history are front-and-centre of a plot revolving around 12 characters with contrasting fortunes and lots of questions about life. The grammar is unconventional, with sentences flowing into each other – but then again, life can be unconventional can’t it? It’s brave and it’s different. Winner of the 2019 Man Booker prize.

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    The Peak Project, as supported by Bernardine Evaristo drives inclusion, human connection and education through reading. To find out more about their work please visit Peak Project.

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    An American Marriage by tAYARI jONES

    A powerful story of love and loss. Obama raved about it – need we say more?

    Winner of the last Women’s Prize for Fiction award, this is a story which delves deep into the American Dream. More specifically, into the fallout as that dream is shattered for one married couple. When the male protagonist, Roy, is falsely accused and sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit, it smashes his marriage to Celeste into pieces, leaving her facing some tough life choices. This will pull at the heart strings, and has a big ending that you’ll remember for a long time to come.

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    The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley

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    A novel that’s been described as ‘gripping and sinister’. Brace for the unexpected…

    In the aftermath of a fatal car crash, the guilt-wrecked driver seeks out his victim’s wife. But – there’s always a but with these type of nerve-testing books isn’t there?! – will his efforts to ease his conscience go too far? Drama, tension and every possibility you’ll find it hard to put down. Maybe don’t read it alone late at night!

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    THE DEPARTMENT OF SENSITIVE CRIMES by ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH

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    It’s ‘Nordic noir’ with a difference, by the author of the popular No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.

    Based in Sweden and starring Detective Ulf Varg. He’s called upon to investigate a bizarre attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may or may not exist, and the affairs of a variety of young female students whose relationships with one another leave a great deal to be desired. Intrigued? Then why not take a trip to Malmö to see what it’s all about?

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    Finn the Fortunate Tiger Shark and his Fantastic Friends BY GEORGINA STEVENS

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    Offering an irresistible combination: An environmental message for kids and profits to charity

    This is a humorous (and practical) short story about a popular tiger shark who gets into a spot of bother from eating too much plastic, and is saved by his friends thanks to their ingenious plan. And if that sounds good, wait until you see the A-Z of ideas for children to reduce their own use of plastic. It’s a story of our times, and offers a route to a brighter, cleaner future.

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    For inspiration on how you can get involved please

    visit Keep Britain Tidy and Georgina Stevens

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    The Crown Agent by Stephen O’Rourke

    If historical detective is your genre of choice, then we’ve got a treat for you...

    It’s 1829 and disillusioned young doctor, Mungo Lyon, is recruited by the Crown to investigate a mysterious murder and shipwreck off the coast of Scotland. His adventures lead him on a pursuit across the Scottish countryside, to kidnap and treason, an unwanted trip to the West Indies, an insurrection and love. We might not be travelling anywhere fast this summer but ‘The Crown Agent’ will give you a thrilling adventure to beat away your lockdown blues.

    Video player requires JavaScript enabled. You can download this video here: /content/dam/rbs-coutts/coutts-com/Video/Stephen%20ORourke%20Coutts.mp4

    Tumbling Lassie as discussed by Lord Waldegrave and Steven O’Rourke is a Scottish appeal, raising funds and awareness for anti-slavery and anti-trafficking charities. To find out more please visit Tumbling Lassie.

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    Coronavirus – a book for children BY AXEL SCHEFFLER

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    We already loved Axel Scheffler and then he went and illustrated this amazing book.

    Designed for young children (5-9 years old), the book is free for anyone to read on screen or print out, and focuses on the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. And it’s seriously credible, with experts like Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acting as a consultant. The publisher also took advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist. It’s the ideal way of explaining today’s complex problems, in a simple and sensitive manner. Bravo to the team behind it.

    Supporting our NHS - should you wish to make a donation please visit

    NHS Charities Together

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    The Wolf Wilder BY Katherine Rundell

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    Teenage fiction with adventure, revolution and you guessed it…wolves!

    Feodora and her mother live in Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, Feo is a wolf wilder in training , which makes them both the opposite of animal tamers – they teach animals to fend for themselves, to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. She learns to stand up for the things she loves and to fight back.

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    Beyond Happiness BY Sir Anthony Seldon

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    Has there been a better time to focus on our happiness and wellbeing? 

    Sir Anthony Seldon could be described as an early trailblazer in the area of wellbeing, having famously introduced happiness, or well-being, lessons when headmaster of Wellington College.  Fast-forward to today and his thought-provoking book distinguishes between pleasure, happiness and joy. It also offers an original 8-step approach on how to make our lives far more meaningful and rewarding. With 2020 being the year of the lockdown, this is a very relevant and rewarding read.

    Sir Anthony Seldon and Terry Waite CBE recently joined us for Coutts in Conversation in Mental Health Awareness week. Click here to find out more

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    The Stand-In BY David N Robinson

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    Espionage aplenty with a truly international flavour

    A fast-paced spy thriller playing on the historical tensions between the UK and Russia. When a stand-in teacher first locks eyes on the wife of a top Russian spy target, the scene is set for a nail-biting race to uncover the truth, after she’s attacked. Prepare to go on a breathless and exhilarating trip across Istanbul, London, and Venice.

    Stay Safe

    We hope you’ve seen at least one book on our list that you’ll love reading. Take care this summer and we look forward to seeing you again soon

About Our Summer Reading List

Every year Coutts works to curate a reading list that represents the best of suggestions from across the Bank, shortlisted with great care to bring to clients the upper echelon of interest and intrigue.

Explore Our List From Last Year