I loved Akhil Sharma's novel Family Life (Faber) because it feels emotionally true. I also loved Daughters Who Walk This Path by Yejide Kilanko (Pintail), a debut novel set in western Nigeria, which on the surface is about a young woman coming of age, but is really an exploration of social taboos, gender and family. I have just started reading – and am really enjoying – Lily King's novel Father of the Rain (Atlantic); it's so well done.
First I am going to read John Williams's Augustus (Vintage Classics). His "campus novel" Stoner was last year's rediscovery, but the epistolary story of the first Roman emperor looks even better. I shall also be packing Edith Hall's Introducing the Ancient Greeks (WW Norton). Great to see how a feisty woman does the "introduction".
Berlin: Imagine a City by Rory MacLean (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Berlin vies with London, currently, as the coolest city on the planet. MacLean's wonderfully knowledgable overview of the city's history helps explain the place's enduring fascination. Hollow Mountain by Thomas Mogford (Bloomsbury) is the third novel in a highly original and compelling Mediterranean noir series featuring the resourceful and all-too-human Gibraltar-based young lawyer Spike Sanguinetti. Tremendous atmosphere, rich characterisation and ideally complex plotting. I Knew the Bride by Hugo Williams (Faber): it's rare that a book of poetry exhibits "grace under pressure" with such laconic aplomb. Williams's superb poems about his visits to a dialysis ward pull off a near-impossible balancing act: a haunting memento mori leavened with wry, worldly amusement.
I recommend two novels that have just been published – Neel Mukherjee's The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus) and Philip Hensher's The Emperor Waltz (4th Estate). The former takes place in Bengal in the 1960; the latter in the Bauhaus in 1920s Germany and 1970s London, with brief visits to fourth-century Rome and a present-day hospital ward. Both novels are splendidly thought out and extraordinarily readable. And then I'd like to add Jane Gardam's collection – The Stories (Little, Brown) – full of wit, unexpected turns of events and splendid writing. Every summer I bury myself in one author I read avidly late at night – this year it is Alan Furst, whose compulsive thrillers are just as exciting when revisited.'Eleanor Marx: A Life' is a wonderful book … Shami Chakrabarti. Photograph: David Fisher/Rex Features
I've just finished Eleanor Marx: A Life by Rachel Holmes (Bloomsbury) and have already given copies as gifts, for holiday reading. It's a wonderful book: part biography of a great woman of letters and activism; part family drama and whodunnit. Feminism began in the 1870s not the 1970s and Eleanor Marx's progressive internationalism as translated by Holmes is so relevant today. A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury) is my holiday novel as I love Shamsie's beautiful painting with words. I've enjoyed her previous books for the way that the sweep of human history touches and turns the intimate lives of her characters. Unsurprisingly, this book, like the Eleanor Marx biography, has already achieved widespread critical acclaim.
For those with the luxury of late post-school-holiday breaks, there are some really exciting offerings out in September. I am looking forward to The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse (Orion), Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (Macmillan) and Women in Dark Times by Jacqueline Rose (Bloomsbury).
As I am a Man Booker prize judge this year, my summer reading list consists of 160 new novels that I can neither name nor (currently) endorse, although in late July my fellow judges and I will announce a longlist recommending 12 or 13 novels for everyone's summer reading lists. Then, once I have reread the longlist, I am immensely looking forward to catching up on some non-novels, including (after a surfeit of 600-plus-page tomes) several short-story collections: Lying Under the Apple Tree by Alice Munro (Vintage), Tenth of December by George Saunders (Bloomsbury) and Bark by Lorrie Moore (Faber). I also crave the astringency of some non-fiction, and am especially eager to read Jill Lepore's Book of Ages (Knopf), the story of Benjamin Franklin's sister, Ian Leslie's Curious (Basic), and Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses (Penguin). Once I can face a novel again, I look forward to being the last reader in Britain to finally begin Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle (Vintage).
For a moving and highly contemporary story full of suspense, take Bernardine Bishop's new novel Hidden Knowledge (Sceptre). If you're going to Italy (or even if not), I recommend a couple of books that illuminate Italian history of the fascist period: Lucy Hughes-Hallett's The Pike (4th Estate), an entertaining biography of the outrageously colourful poet and man-of-action Gabriele d'Annunzio, to be offset by Antonio Pennacchi's epic novel The Mussolini Canal (Dedalus). The latter will make you want to head off at once to the Pontine Marshes.
I can't recommend A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie too strongly – this is her best novel yet, which is high praise to give to the author of Burnt Shadows. A young Englishwoman – an archaeologist in Turkey before the first world war, then a nurse to wounded soldiers – searches for her lost love whom she may have unwittingly betrayed. The narrative moves to the struggle for Indian independence and the boy she befriends, against the custom of culture and class, in a subtle tapestry in which love, history and archaeology all have their place. Exciting and, in the end, profoundly moving, this will solace you during the grimmest holiday. I intend to read Ten Cities that Made an Empire by Tristram Hunt (Allen Lane), believing that his characteristically well researched and lively account of the imperial legacy in Boston, Bridgetown, New Delhi, Melbourne and so forth will serve as a substitute for sitting at airports on my way to visiting these colourful cities.
George Saunders's Tenth of December, which won the inaugural Folio prize has been somewhat overshadowed by the very different but equally wonderful A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar), also shortlisted for the Folio prize and which went on to win several other awards including the Baileys. So I think it should be pointed out that reading both books is compulsory.
I was recently sent an advance copy of H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Jonathan Cape), which is out in August. It's about the author TH White and grief and training goshawks and is, as I promise on the cover, very hard to put down.
I'm also looking forward to reading Letters of Note edited by Shaun Usher (Canongate), a collection of "correspondence deserving of a wider audience" in both facsimile and typescript. Jack the Ripper writes to the chairman of the Whitechapel vigilance committee. Mary, Queen of Scots writes about her impending execution. A telegram is sent from the sinking Titanic. Elvis Presley asks Richard Nixon if he can become a "federal agent at large". If you're not tempted by those four alone, you have a heart of stone. One last suggestion – if you're unwilling to leave the hammock or open your eyes – I'm re-re-listening to Seamus Heaney reading his own translation of Beowulf (Faber). The original poem is one of the great works of literature; Heaney's genuinely thrilling translation will make you understand why – and he was blessed with one of the most beguiling voices I have ever heard.Mohsin Hamid is looking forward to reading Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
The first in my towering pile of books is Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide (Hamish Hamilton), because I think the government spying that he uncovered via Edward Snowden is terrifying and I'd like to know more. And the second is Decoded (Allen Lane), Mai Jia's debut novel about a Chinese secret-service cryptographer, which I've heard is brilliant – and is also, come to think of it, probably not unrelated to the first.
Most of my reading this year is of forgotten or neglected British short stories for a big Penguin anthology. But I'll take a break from Sapper, Stacy Aumonier, Lanoe Falconer and HA Manhood for a couple of special new novels. Early copies of Sarah Waters and David Nicholls look beautifully promising; Waters's The Paying Guests (Virago) is a sumptuously subdued story of making do and getting by after the great war, Nicholls's Us (Hodder & Stoughton) is a wrenching examination of a journey through Europe that goes terribly wrong and a consideration of what it means to be a parent today. Apart from that, it's going to be the usual strategy of alternating PG Wodehouse and Elmore Leonard, their sunny temperaments perfect for the beach.
Nicholson Baker's Paul Chowder novels, The Anthologist (Pocket) and Travelling Sprinkler (Serpent's Tail), are wonderful: chatty, bizarrely informative, wise, kind, unpredictable and funny. Chowder is a lovelorn, impoverished poet who, in the second book, has hit the Three Fs – Fifty Fucking Five – and is no nearer to achieving financial or emotional stability. He knows a lot, though. The Anthologist is brilliant on the unlikely subject of rhyme (Chowder thinks blank verse is a fascist conspiracy); in Travelling Sprinkler, Chowder tells us about bassoons, cigars, Logic software, Debussy and protest songs. Will Hermes's Love Goes to Buildings on Fire (Viking) is a book about more or less every piece of music made in NYC between 1973 and 1977 – Television, Blondie and Talking Heads, of course, but also salsa, disco, free jazz and the first days of hip-hop. It's as authoritative a piece of social history as you'll come across – Hermes is David Kynaston with a rhythm section. I am intending to read J Anthony Lukas's Common Ground (Vintage), a Pulitzer-winning book first published in the mid 1980s about race and class in Boston. After very strong recommendations from people I trust, I found that I owned it already. This seemed like a sign.
In the early 90s I studied philosophy at Warwick University, at a time when the department was an incubator for radical ideas about the impact of new technologies on culture and society. A number of people from that time have gone on to do significant work in theory, literature and even music. This summer I'm looking forward to books by two former colleagues/fellow inmates. #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader edited by Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian, is published by Mackay's own Urbanomic press, which is rapidly becoming one of the most significant philosophy publishers in the world. "Acceleration" is this year's theoretical buzzword and this collection examines its current usage and excavates its roots, which go back to the 19th century. Mark Fisher's essay collection Ghosts of My Life (Zero Books) faces up to his own experience of depression and links it to wider cultural and political concerns. Someone who wasn't at Warwick in the 90s, at least as far as I know, is Hassan Blasim, who has just won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize for his story collection, The Iraqi Christ (Comma Press), which is also in my hand luggage.
Constantine Phipps's What You Want (Quercus) is unlike any other book published this year, indeed this century: a long verse-novel in rhyming couplets, about, as its subtitle says, "the pursuit of happiness". Dante, adultery, theme parks, psychotherapy – it's all here, but unjokily so, and one of the most moving things about the book is the unusual texture of its melancholy seriousness. Patricia Lockwood's poems, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals (Penguin), funny, dirty and sex-mad, is a book I'll be taking on my summer travels; to get a flavour of her work, look online for the devastating prose poem "Rape Joke". Finally, this season has been unusual for seeing the publication of three very important books about money: Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard), Atif Mian and Amir Sufi's House of Debt (Chicago) and Michael Lewis's Flash Boys (Allen Lane), three very different, but not necessarily contradictory, takes on the great subject of the age.
Two long-awaited lives that I couldn't wait until summer to read were Updike by Adam Begley (Harper) – which gives equal weight to my favourite novelist's life and books and the often eye-watering overlaps between them – and Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life by John Campbell (Jonathan Cape), which achieves an equally impressive balance between policies and peccadillos. Two works that I will read in the summer months are: John Carey's memoir The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books (Faber) and Philip Hensher's novel The Emperor Waltz, which, from flicking, seems to continue his bold experiments with form.
Road Ends (Chatto & Windus) is the latest intricate and thought-provoking story of a remote Canadian community by Mary Lawson, author of Crow Lake. Olivia Laing's To the River (Canongate) is a fine instance of the new school of landscape-writing pioneered by Robert Macfarlane, vividly charting a slice of Sussex. But my find of the year has been Sarah Moss: I revelled in Cold Earth (Granta), a brilliantly tense mix of archaeology and conflicting personalities, and at once sought out her next novel, Night Waking (Granta). More please, Sarah.Hilary Mantel recommends Toby Clement's Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims, 'a savage and tender adventure story'. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims (Century) is a savage and tender adventure story, deeply researched and lightly told: Game of Thrones for real, with the bonus of style and sardonic wit. The climate is mostly chilly in Toby Clement's novel, as his characters struggle to survive civil war in 15th-century England, but the heart warms to his skilful, intelligent fiction. Stranger than fiction but just as gripping is How to Ruin a Queen (John Murray), Jonathan Beckman's masterly exploration of the "diamond necklace" affair, a bizarre scandal that some claim set Marie Antoinette on the road to the guillotine. Well-travelled imaginations will enjoy a jaunt with fiery polymath Christopher Potter; How to Make a Human Being (4th Estate) is a quirky investigation into our deepest nature, and calls on evidence from PG Wodehouse and Marcel Proust, Christopher Robin and Francis Crick, the Book of Revelation and the Worm Breeder's Gazette.
I am a notoriously bad holiday book packer; I tend to panic and bring, say, Hard Times. This year I want to read: Michael Cunningham's The Snow Queen (4th Estate) because he's my favourite writer; Sarah Waters's The Paying Guests (Virago), because she's also my favourite writer; the Maudes's translation of War and Peace (Oxford), because it's the best novel in the world; and enormous amounts of very bleak Rendellesque crime fiction.
A robust translation programme in India is finally making the richness and diversity of Indian fiction accessible to a broader audience. I am looking forward to reading Hangwoman (Hamish Hamilton) by KR Meera, an acclaimed novelist in Malayalam. Other books on my list are Bilal Tanweer's novel The Scatter Here Is Too Great (Jonathan Cape), Rüdiger Safranski's Romanticism: A German Affair (Northwestern University Press), an account of one of the most influential, intellectual and literary movements of the modern age, and Hisham Aidi's Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture (Pantheon).
Meteorologists are predicting a hot summer so I'll be reading books designed to keep me from feeling too sunny: Pete Ayrton's weighty anthology No Man's Land (Serpent's Tail), featuring accounts of the first world war by 47 writers, some of them combatants, many of them from other parts of the world; Marion Coutts's memoir The Iceberg (Atlantic), which describes the three years between the diagnosis of her husband Tom Lubbock's brain tumour and his death; Hugo Hamilton's novel Every Single Minute (4th Estate), about two friends, one of whom is terminally ill, spending a weekend in Berlin; an early proof copy of Epilogue by an English-born, US-based writer called (no kidding) Will Boast (due from Granta), which recounts the deaths of his mother, father and brother; and a battered paperback of Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons (Oxford), with its portrait of youthful nihilism, thwarted love and parents grieving for absent children.Andrew Motion recommends Sigrid Rausing's Everything Is Wonderful.
Everything Is Wonderful, by Sigrid Rausing (Perseus), may not be exactly a typical beach read, but it is – because and in spite of its severities – a marvellously interesting piece of writing. An account of her time on a collective farm in Estonia in the 1990s, all brought back with compelling and melancholy accuracy. Damon Galgut's new novel Arctic Summer (Atlantic) is also preoccupied by varieties of sadness – but is so crisply written, with a deceptive simplicity and directness, that it feels full of affirmations. And then there's The Odyssey, which I reread every year, this time accompanied by Adam Nicolson's intriguing account of his own Odyssey addiction, The Mighty Dead (William Collins).
Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel (Doubleday). Having recently acquired a meadow, I'm eager to learn from someone who knows not only all about the different kinds of life in such a place and how they all fit together, but who can also write so vividly. I've enjoyed Philip Hensher's previous books so much that I'm greatly looking forward to The Emperor Waltz (4th Estate), which is satisfactorily hefty. And I'm going to reread Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks (Vintage Classics) to marvel again at how a 25-year-old could have the impudence to take on such a huge subject and the genius to deal with it so majestically.Ian Rankin 'can hardly tear himself away' from Linda Grants Upstairs at the Party. Photograph:Rex Features
Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine (Faber) – cumbersome title but a terrific read. Two sides of a record, with side one being the birth of punk and rise of Albertine's band the Slits, and side two comprising her life afterwards, filled with huge challenges. Gripping and moving. I've just started Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant (Virago) and can hardly tear myself away from it. Grant always writes with incisive elegance and here paints a compelling picture of 1970s England in a plot that revolves around the disappearance of a charismatic student. She's been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize before, and this is shaping up to be a stunner. The Secret Place by Tana French (Hodder & Stoughton) isn't published until August, but I've managed to snatch a prepublication copy and will be taking it with me on holiday. Her previous novel, Broken Harbour, was a clever and compelling mystery set in post-crash Ireland. No idea what this one's about but that doesn't matter – Tana French always delivers.
I don't much like the word "thriller", especially when it's applied to serious, thoughtfully written novels such as Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard (Faber), the first of her books I've read. It's about a passionate love affair but has its own extraordinary originality. Since I read a lot, I like to be able to say that I've never read anything like it. Much the same applies to the very different Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey (Viking). Maud is very old and aware of the slow coming of dementia, while her daughter does her best to control her impatience with her mother's vagaries and what she sees as absurd assumptions. Yet, as the tension mounts, the reader knows Maud is right. A novel I've just read for the second time but look forward to reading again is Edward St Aubyn's Never Mind (Picador), the first volume in his brilliantly written nightmarish sequence. I have already read the other four in the Melrose Family box set, but will read them again, ending with At Last where Patrick hopes that, with his parents gone, he may find freedom at last.
Sabrina Mahfouz is one of the most original, smart, and interesting younger voices in the UK, and The Clean Collection (Bloomsbury Methuen) brings together her plays and poems. There's no shortage of first world war material around, but for me the most surprising and affecting remains Indian Voices of the Great War – Soldiers' Letters 1914-18, edited by David Omissi (Palgrave Macmillan). And Tobias Hill's What Was Promised (Bloomsbury Circus), which tells the stories of three families of Londoners from 1948-88, is as textured, beautifully written and ultimately gripping as anyone who knows his work would expect.Lionel Shriver was immediately hooked by James Lee Burke's Wayfaring Stranger. Photograph: Richard Saker/Rex Features
I'm not a big crime reader, but James Lee Burke is unusually literary, and his novel Wayfaring Stranger (Simon & Schuster) is unusually literary even for him. The first couple of pages hooked me right away. Besides, he wrote a lovely note to me this year, though we'd never crossed paths, and he seems like the nicest man in the world. (Writers are all too rarely spontaneously generous with other writers.) I always like Amy Bloom's books, and Lucky Us (Granta) entails a complex relationship between two girls that becomes an even more complex relationship between two women. Finally, Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (Hodder) – something old and borrowed; why, part of the cover is blue! Strongly recommended by a reliable friend, and bound to take me back to my buried southern American roots.
Don't go on holiday without Lorrie Moore's Bark, short stories remarkable for their sharpness of wit and depth of feeling. I'd also pack Elizabeth McCracken's Thunderstruck & Other Stories (Jonathan Cape), her first collection in 20 years and well worth the wait. A grippingly unputdownable novel for the beach is Thomas Mann's family saga Buddenbrooks, to which Birgit Vanderbeke's The Mussel Feast (Peirene Press), written just before the fall of the Berlin Wall around the figure of a tyrannical father, provides a darkly funny chaser.
I am reading Roy Foster's Vivid Faces (Allen Lane), which, on the basis of the early chapters, will change the entire way we see the 1916 Rebellion in Ireland. He has explored the social, intellectual and sexual lives of the revolutionary generation, man and women, and thus created a vivid picture of a world much more various and daring than previously seen. By widening the scope of the study of the rebellion, he has created a template for future historians. On the subject of sex and generations, I have also read Peter Stamm's Seven Years (Granta), in Michael Hoffman's translation. With his delicate touch, his way of using the minimum of means to suggest the maximum of emotion, Stamm has been a big discovery for me, I am looking forward to his new book All Days are Night.
The Vagenda by Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Coslett (Square Peg) is a brilliant expose of women's mags and marketing – laugh-out-loud and painfully funny. This gives me hope for women and for feminism and for fun. Five hundred pages at the beach may seem like a lot but Eleanor Marx: A Life by Rachel Holmes is a well-paced, well-written biography: clever, moving and a joy to read. Kamila Shamshie's A God in Every Stone has strong storytelling and is a page-turner that is also a literary delight. Mrs Moneypenny's Financial Advice for Independent Women (Penguin) should be in every woman's beach bag and it will help you to pay for the holiday.