Political upheaval, the distant threat of nuclear war, the Royal Wedding, Love Island coming back. Doesn’t it feel like we need some cultural distractions more than ever this summer? Happily, the sunny season will duly oblige.

The slate is packed with intriguing blockbusters, big music drops, holiday reads and binge-ready TV. Below are our picks for the best diversions from reality. We’ll see you in the autumn.

What To Read

21 Lessons For The 21st Century

Making yourself smarter is no bad thing, and Yuval Noah Harari is back with new tools for doing just that. The historian and thinker is filling in the gap between his mega-sellers Sapiens (all of human history) and Homo Deus (what mankind does next) by tackling the here-and-now. Harari’s books are of the rare sort that serious critics rave about and supermarkets pile high on the cheap. Potent stuff. Out at the end of August.

Buy Now From £9.99

Also On Our Radar

Anthony Horowitz prequelling all of Ian Fleming with Forever And A Day (May 31), telling how James Bond earned his licence to kill; in Epic: A 30-year Search For The Soul Of Sport (Jul 30), former Times chief sportswriter Simon Barnes does his greatest hits, misses and in-off-the-crossbars.

What To Watch

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World was an enormously entertaining retread of the original Jurassic Park, and those who felt there weren’t enough throwbacks to that 25-year-old classic will be delighted to see Jeff Goldblum retuning in the sequel as chaos-theory guru Ian Malcolm. He co-stars with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and new beast, the indoraptor. This is one of two dinosaur adventures this summer, since there’s also 55-year-old Tom Cruise in the sixth Mission: Impossible film, bless him.

Also On Our Radar

Sicario 2: Soldado (Jun 29) – Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro reteam to make the drug wars even dirtier; BlacKkKlansman (Aug 24) – based on a no-way-but-yes true story of a black cop infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan.

What To Binge

Luke Cage

Alongside the planet-straddling success of the Marvel movies are less bombastic but grittier TV series, including this film-noir-western mash-up with just a smattering of superheroics. Mike Coulter is the seemingly invincible Luke who, after saving himself and Harlem in his debut season, goes deeper into his own problems and those of his neighbourhood for the follow-up.

Also On Our Radar

Succession (Sky Atlantic, Jun) – media-tycoon drama from a writer of Peep Show and the director of The Big Short; GLOW (Netflix, Jun 26) – a second season of 10 episodes for the very funny 1980s lady wrestling show.

What To Stream

Rival Consoles, Persona

Electronic music with heart and soul to which fans of Jon Hopkins and Nils Frahm will bob their heads in approval (and rave to the big tracks). Rival Consoles is Ryan West from Leicester, and his orchestral synth tune mastery was confirmed when he was commissioned to make original music for Secret Cinema’s Blade Runner event this year. After a US tour in May, he can be seen across the UK at festivals and smaller venues this summer.

Also On Our Radar

Love Everything by Kanye West (Jun 1) – he really is talking tripe at the minute, but the music remains a cut above. A week after his eighth solo album, he has a second team-up, Kids See Ghost (Jun 8) with Kid Cudi; Essential by Soulwax (Jun 22) – super-talented Belgians are back with aptly titled long-player.

Where To Go


Two hours on the plane from London to Bastia, and you’re on a Mediterranean island that is part of France but also in large part Italian, since it’s about equidistant from both. Stay in the north, away from the overpriced, yachts-and-yahoos in the capital, Porto-Vecchio, and you’ll have your pick of terrific beaches, mountain villas, amazing restaurants. All of it unspoiled but welcoming to tourists. If hiking is your thing, there’s some of Europe’s best here, too.

Also On Our Radar

Faroe Islands – the North Atlantic cluster of 18 islands is possibly the most peaceful place on the planet. Get there before the crowds do. The bustling little capital, Torshavn, has also become an unlikely foodie mecca; Grenada – lesser-known Caribbean enclave with rainforests, awesome beaches and now several direct flights a week from NYC’s JFK.

What To Consume


One side effect of the recent gin boom – sales rising to £1.3bn in the UK in 2017; a doubling in the number of distilleries, to 315, since 2012 – is a boost in the fortunes of its sweeter pal. In 2017, rum sales shot to the billion-pound mark for the first time, helped by two UK-distilled tipples: Old Salt Rum from Essex and Dark Matter from Aberdeenshire (other UK rums use Caribbean rums as bases). Sip the good stuff like whiskey or brandy. If you want something other than a mojito, just add fresh lime and sugar syrup to make a daiquiri.

Buy Now: £29.00

Also On Our Radar

The Beyond Burger – plant-based patty that ‘bleeds’ (beetroot juice, not bovine claret) is due in the UK any time now; Red Ale – a mini-boom in the Irish malty kind, not the sour Belgian brew, is a craft beer trend worth following.

What To Listen To

The Habitat

Up a mountain in Hawaii, the NASA-funded HI-SEAS experiment puts volunteers into a ‘Mars analog habitat’: the closest on-Earth recreation of life on the Red Planet. In August 2015, a crew of six began a year under these conditions. Their audio diaries and post-experiment interviews form the basis of a terrific seven-part podcast that will definitely make you decide one way or another if you want to be among the chosen ones to continue human life in the universe.

Listen Here

Also On Our Radar

Slow Burn – the Watergate affair from unusual angles and with evocative archive footage; The Rewatchables – old movies given a fresh spin by smart folks who rise far above standard podcast bantz.

What To Follow


There was a time when fake news wasn’t bringing down civilisation and was instead the magnificent output of The Onion, a spoof media outlet that was, for a while, the funniest thing on earth. It still manages to raise a chuckle, but its newest spinoffs promise a return to hilarious past form.

Patriothole mocks rightwing websites, while Resistancehole knocks both Trump and his liberal opponents with genius satirical attacks. Chuckle along @resistancehole.

Also On Our Radar

@inversedotcom – sparking curiosity about the future with tech news, hard science and nerd culture missives; @wirecutter – new gear and kit reviewed by people who actually use stuff properly, for ages, before passing judgement.