It's time to pack your holiday reading. While you want to keep the suitcase light you might not want your reading to be lightweight. As well as biographies of Paul McCartney and Prince to keep music fans happy, there is also an unsettling and minutely detailed dissection of Hitler by Volker Ullrich to get your teeth into.

And there are notable thrillers, including the eerie Try Not To Breathe, plus a fascinating history of genetics. We've gone through books by the yard so that you don't have to - so read on for IBTimes UK's pick of the best summer reads.

summer 2016 holiday read

Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Fourth Estate)

An epic novel centred upon north America's forests and ranging over three centuries of family history

Proulx follows the family trees of two French immigrants from the end of the 17th century almost to the present day. Her epic novel foregrounds mankind's relationship with north America's forests and at its heart is a warning about our despoilation of nature. Proulx does not exert enough grip over her sprawling cast, but the results will please her fans.

summer 2016 holiday read

Prince: The Man and his Music, by Matt Thorne (Agate Bolden)

This is the definitive biography of a mysterious performer who had some dubious habits

Thorne offers a minutely detailed account of his diminutive subject. Fortunately, the author is not star-struck. He tells us which songs to avoid and doesn't shirk from informing us about the musician's more dubious habits. If Prince ultimately remains enigmatic and out of reach, Thorne approaches him more closely than other biographers.

summer 2016 holiday read

The Gene, an intimate history, by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Bodley Head)

Genetics is a relatively new science but already there have been many gripping breakthroughs

Mukherjee's highlights include, naturally, Crick and Watson's discovery of the structure of DNA. More moving is the story of hippy scientist Herb Boyer and his unlikely partnership with unemployed banker Robert Swanson. Their biotech business produced synthetic insulin and saved millions of lives. Mukherjee offers a series of absorbing tales from this nascent discipline.

summer 2016 holiday read

The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry (Serpent's Tail)

The Victorian era and rural myth collide in this ambitious literary novel set in the Essex marshes

Perry's eerie story is set in the Essex marshland during the 19th century. Cora Seaborne travels to the fictional village of Aldwinter where she becomes intrigued by the vicar, William Ransome. And soon she becomes aware that the village is the hunting ground of a monster. Perry interleaves fable and history in this ambitious literary novel.

summer 2016 holiday read

The Crime Writer, by Jill Dawson (Sceptre)

What would have happened if one of our most famous thriller writers turned to crime?

Patricia Highsmith was one of the great thriller writers. She was also caustic, alcoholic and eccentric. Dawson imagines Highsmith hiding away from a stalker in Suffolk and then sliding into crime herself. Dawson's plot manages to be both entertaining and disturbing, and her portrait of Highsmith is strikingly convincing.

summer 2016 holiday read

Hitler: A Biography, by Volker Ullrich (Bodley Head)

We cannot console ourselves by thinking Hitler was nothing like us, because he was all too human

Hitler could be charming, he enjoyed a conventional romantic life with Eva Braun and he had a sense of humour. So the horrible truth is that the evil architect of mass destruction and genocide was not so different from the rest of us. Over 1,000 painstaking pages, Ullrich uncovers the human being behind the myths.

summer 2016 holiday read

Try Not To Breathe, by Holly Seddon (Corvus)

In this gripping thriller an alcoholic journalist investigates why a woman has been brutally attacked

Amy Stevenson has been in a coma for 15 years after being attacked by an unknown assailant. Journalist Alex Dale wants to investigate but she has her own problems, not least alcoholism. Seddon's debut novel aims to be the sequel to Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train. They are hard acts to follow, but Seddon's thriller grips hard.

summer 2016 holiday read

Zero K, by Don DeLillo (Picador)

Cryogenics and immortality are the poignant subject matter for this classic slice of late DeLillo

Mortality features heavily in DeLillo's latest novel – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the US literary giant is 79-years-old. The narrative concerns itself with cryogenics, as pursued by a religious cult called The Convergence. Zero K has an engaging intimacy lacking in DeLillo's recent works and may restore the fall-off in his reputation.

summer 2016 holiday read

Paul McCartney by Philip Norman (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

A mammoth account of the diplomatic Beatle's life before and after the band above all other bands

Of the two acts of McCartney's life - before the Beatles and after - the first will always dominate. Fortunately, that's around half this mammoth volume. There are novel revelations, notably McCartney's liking for having his leg hair combed after gigs. If there's scant analysis of the music, we can sit back and enjoy this tale of truly exceptional social mobility.

summer reads

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions)

This story about the friendship between two Neopolitan women continues to gain new fans

Praise for Ferrante's quartet of Neapolitan novels continues to grow. They are: My Brilliant Friend; The Story of a New Name; Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay; and The Story Of The Lost Child. Together they comprise an extended narrative about two women which becomes a riveting exploration of the complexities of female friendship. With a TV adaptation en route, now is a great time to take the plunge into all things Ferrante if you haven't already discovered her.