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Our 2021 Summer Reading List

A list of the most exciting and entertaining books, compiled by our Coutts family

3 min read

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A list of the most exciting and entertaining books, compiled by our Coutts family



We all love curling up with a great book. And summer reading is a special pleasure.

Whether you’re lucky enough to escape abroad or enjoying a break closer to home, you’re probably bringing a book or two with you.

We’ve curated just what you’re looking for – 14 unputdownable books to choose from to enjoy over the Summer.

From a great detective story, to a race against the deadly virus, to a story about a little boy from Stratford-upon-Avon called Hamnet – there is something for everyone on our list.

Your little ones will enjoy meeting Abigail, who is different from the world around her, or finding natural wonders on your doorstep with Nature Trail. And you might be especially moved by the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary work, like one farmer’s heartfelt lament about the changing rural landscape, or the Boglione family creating their own lifestyle destination in Petersham Nurseries.

So grab your beach towel, or put the kettle on, and get transported into new worlds.

“As restrictions begin to ease, I hope our 2021 reading list suggested by our Coutts family will transport you to another world, spark a discussion or offer you the opportunity to unwind. Wishing you a happy, healthy and wonderful Summer.”
Peter Flavel, CEO, Coutts
  • 01 Vaxxers by Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green


    by professor sarah gilbert

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    A race against a deadly virus.

    How to create and release a vaccine in less than a year? And how to do this when the whole world is watching and the stakes are life and death?  For Professor Gilbert and Dr Green, it was with science, hard work and having a great, life-saving purpose.

    It’s a story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. It’s a story of a race against the deadly virus. It’s an urgent and raw account of punishing, exhausting work, colossal challenges and heroic efforts – for a hopeful future.


  • 02 Skyline Garden Cookbook by Peter Fiori

    Skyline Garden Cookbook

    by Peter Fiori

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    From harvest to plate.

    Our ‘from harvest to plate’ Skyline Garden Cookbook, is a celebration of our Executive Chef Peter Fiori’s vision of creating a sustainable garden on our rooftop and his passion for cooking with fresh ingredients. Featuring recipes ranging from ‘ Asparagus, Pata Negra, Crispy Duck Egg & Chervil Mayonnaise’ to ‘ Gnocchi Fontina with Lobster & Shellfish Sauce’ which use the produce harvested from our Skyline Rooftop Garden.  Read more about Peter’s vision here.

    For every book we sell we donate the entire £40 cost to The Felix Project, who provide surplus fresh food to vulnerable people across London.

    If you’re a Coutts client and would like to purchase our Skyline Garden Cookbook, please call Coutts 24 on 020 7957 2424 who’ll arrange for £40 to be paid to The Felix Project from your Coutts Current Account and a copy to be sent to you. If you’re not a client, please contact

  • 03 Fear Less by Dr Pippa Grange


    Fear Less

    by Dr Pippa Grange

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    What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

    We put on brave faces and clench our fists in life – often choosing stress over trust and fear over courage. The result is anxiety, shame, emptiness and perfectionism.

    Dr Pippa Grange, the psychologist who helped transform the England team all the way to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, shows us another way of living.

    The book opens our hearts to fuller lives with less fear. It won’t win you trophies and awards, but will bring a victory from within.

  • 04 The Talented Mr Varg by Professor Alexander McCall-Smith CBE


    The Talented Mr Varg

    by Professor Alexander McCall-Smith CBE

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    A second installment of the bestselling Detective Varg novels as featured last year.

    Detective Varg and his team investigate a notorious womaniser. What skeletons are hiding in the closet of a man who already has mischief written all over his business card?
    But the Department of Sensitive Crimes is known for taking on obscure cases. And this time, the investigations include a new co-detective Anna, testing Detective Varg’s self-discipline and professionalism.

    The new case requires Varg’s full focus – will he follow head or heart?

  • 05 Petersham Nurseries by The Boglione Family


    Petersham Nurseries

    by The Boglione Family

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    An inspiring portrait of a very unique business.

    Over 20 years ago, Francesco and Gael Boglione bought a small plant nursery behind their home, never imagining the adventures this decision will take them on.

    This book is about their journey: it’s a story of Petersham Nurseries, of the Boglione family, of travelling, commitment to nature, family and ethical business.

    Full of stunning photographs, sketches, recipes and joy – it’s a retreat to a different world.

  • 06 Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell



    by Maggie O'Farrell

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    The winner of the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction (sponsored by NatWest).

    A stunning fictional account of Shakespeare's real son, Hamnet, who died aged 11 in Stratford-upon-Avon. A few years later, Shakespeare wrote one of his greatest plays, giving its tragic hero a variation of his dead son’s name.

    But this is not a story about Shakespeare. It’s a story – reimagined – about Hamnet’s mother, his twin and this family, who could be any family. It’s a story about grief, written in devastatingly exquisite words. This book will captivate you completely.

  • 07 All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle


    All the Lonely People

    by Mike Gayle

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    Are we watching life or taking part in it?

    Widowed and retired, Hubert Bird tells his daughter he is living life to the full. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s harmless, really… Keeps his daughter happy, plus she’s far and can’t know he is telling a lie. Until the day she decides to fly out and visit him!

    Hubert is now working hard to create this new life, one where he has friends and fun. And along the way, he finds the unexpected.

    It’s a funny, life-affirming story that will fill your heart with warmth.

  • 08 English Pastoral by James Rebanks


    English Pastoral

    by James Rebanks

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    One farmer’s lament about the changing rural landscape.

    How do we balance the need to make a living with our duty towards the future generations? This challenge is very real to James Rebanks as he is creating ways to farm sustainably while not collapsing financially.

    And he writes about it beautifully. It’s a heartfelt family story. Three generations of work on a small farm in the Lake District with a changing landscape that they love and want to protect.

    Rebanks’ pursuit is relevant to all of us.


  • 09 Making It by Jay Blades


    Making It

    by Jay Blades

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    Jay Blades’ inspiring autobiography.

    Jay Blades is wonderfully honest in his autobiography – reading this is like having a conversation with a very good friend. A friend who, by his own example, encourages you to stay positive and kind even in the face of adversity.

    Unfailingly inspiring, this memoir is a treasure chest of valuable lessons in courage, second chances and humility for all of us.

    Put the kettle on and enter Jay’s world – you’ll enjoy his company!

  • 10 The Street Party by Claire Seeber


    The Street Party

    by Claire Seeber

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    A psychological thriller filled with heart-in-throat moments.

    Make sure to clear your plans before you open this book as it’s pretty unputdownable.

    We never know what’s going on behind the closed doors. Claire Seeber masterfully interweaves a web of secrets, drama and tension as her trio of female narrators take us on a thrilling journey.

    A movie-like unfolding of one twist into another, it’ll leave the readers hopelessly hooked.

  • 11 Sunset by Jessie Cave



    by Jessie Cave

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    A heartrending comedy about siblinghood, grief and second chances.

    Despite their many differences, Ruth and Hannah share an inherent bond – they are sisters. Every summer they go on a cheap holiday, where it’s a tradition to squabble, make up and laugh about it later. But when something bad happens, their relationship is changed forever.

    Sunset is an ode to siblings, friendship and grief. It’ll make readers laugh and cry, and by its heartrending beauty, it’ll shine a ray of hope from its pages.

  • 12 A Different Sort of Normal by Abigail Balfe


    A Different Sort of Normal

    by Abigail Balfe

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    A beautiful account of growing up with autism.

    Told by Abigail with honesty, charm and empathy, this is a very important and informative book about autism. Abigail didn’t know she was autistic until she was ‘an adult-sort-of-person’, even though she was always different from others in her class. It’s a true story of her navigating the confusing and mysterious world of ‘normality’.

    With its wisdom and wonderful illustrations, we need this funny & serious book as adults as much as our children.


  • 13 Nature Trail (Picture book) by Benjamin Zephaniah


    Nature Trail (Picture book)

    by Benjamin Zephaniah

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    An ode to nature, perfect for reading aloud with children.

    The beloved poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah celebrates the natural wonders on our doorstep. From flowerpots, to pavement, to underneath the log – there are wonders everywhere, if only we take a closer look.

    Packed with beautiful illustrations, it’s a timely reminder to engage our imagination and pay more attention to the creation around us. Adults and children will enjoy reading aloud and seeing a familiar world in a new light.


  • 14 Belonging by Owen Eastwood



    by owen eastwood

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    How to be a better leader and team player.

    Whakapapa is a Maori notion that indicates our need to belong. Belong to an unbroken chain of land and ancestry that is bigger than us.

    Over the past decade, Owen Eastwood has worked with the England Football team, the South African cricket team, teams at NATO, elite ballet and the British Olympic team.

    Whakapapa is at the core of Owen’s method. And for the first time, in this book, he reveals his secrets to coaching teams for long-term success.


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