Whether you'll be lounging poolside or have a long haul flight to endure, we've got your holiday reading list sorted.
If you’re anything like us, one of the main reasons you look forward to a holiday (apart from the cocktails, food, culture, dancing ’til dawn and glorious sunshine, of course) is the chance to bury yourself in a good book.
Buying a holiday read is tricky – you don’t want to waste your precious downtime on a dud, do you? So, we’ve compiled a list of books for your consideration. Some old, some new. Some sad, some fall-off-your-sun-lounger funny. There’s something for everyone and we hope you find your perfect holiday read:
The new must-read book: Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi
There has been much buzz around this debut novel by Oxford and Yale-educated Taiye, and for good reason. Taiye, who is half-Nigerian and half-Ghanaian, has been mentored by Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie. We’re already impressed. Ghana Must Go is a stunning novel about a family being torn apart and then looking to the secrets and lies of the past when attempting to put it all back together again. At the centre of the story is the impact the death of father Kweku Sai has on those he left behind. It’s moving and flawless. A must read.
The classic: A Room With A View by E.M. Forster
A celebrated novel that was given the Hollywood treatment in 1985. The story of a young English middle-class girl (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the movie) who goes on holiday to Italy and catches the eye of two men – George Emerson and Cecil Vyse. But who should she pick? Cecil, who is socially acceptable, or George, who is her soul mate? A classic love story.
The self helper: – What Would Grace Do? How to Live Life in Style Like the Princess of Hollywood by Gina McKinnon
This definitely won’t change your life but it’s glossy, fabulous and one to read while watching the world go by in the South of France. Written as ‘modern-day guide to the classic beauty and timeless style of the Hollywood starlet and real-life princess, Grace Kelly,’ this is full of gorgeous photos and advice on how to channel Grace. Sold.
The ‘can’t put down’ – Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
We managed to read this book in about three days during a busy working week, so expect to whizz through this gripping story during hours and hours of holiday beach time. This is a powerful and realistic account of domestic violence which follows the central character Catherine, who is living alone in London and tormented by paranoia and OCD. We then flash back several years to see her as a bubbly and outgoing young woman with a hectic social life living in Lancaster. That is, until she meets Lee. This is where the story really gets going.
The location – Out of Africa by Karen Blixen
A must-read if you’re heading to Kenya this year, or even if you’re not. It’s the autobiographical story of Isak Dinesen’s life on a plantation farm in the Ngong Hills near Nairobi. She paints a beautiful picture of life in Africa and tells the tales of the country and the natives wonderfully. An aristocrat, she had come to Kenya from Denmark with her husband, and when they separated she stayed on to manage the farm by herself, visited frequently by her lover, the big-game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton. If nothing else, Out of Africa has given us one of the most gorgeous lines in literature: ‘In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: “Here I am, where I ought to be.”‘Can we go to Africa now, please?
The big twist – The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
If you haven’t read this, or seen the Oscar-nominated film adaptation, you simply must. A charming, modern-day classic which begins when the ship in which 16-year-old Pi and his family are emigrating from India to Canada on sinks, leaving him the only survivor in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a seasick tiger. That fact that you get sucked into such a far-fetched story, finding it page-turning rather than unbelievable, is a credit to Martel’s writing and imagination.
Our personal favourite – Footprints on the Sand by Judith Lennox
We found this book discarded in a hotel room years ago, and having finished all the other books we’d brought on our hols, we gave it a go. Fast forward ten years and our copy is so well-thumbed that it’s falling apart. It’s the story of a bohemian family who lead a carefree life travelling through Europe until World War II hits and puts an end to it all. We hope you’ll love this one as much as we do.
Of the moment – A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
This is the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire set that inspired the hugely successful TV series Game of Thrones. The medieval fantasy is set in the kingdom of Westeros and centres around power struggles between families, most notably the Starks and the Lannisters. Unputdownable.
The tear-jerker – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The third novel by Afghanistan-born Hosseini (he also wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) is in equal measures heart-breaking and heart-warming. It’s an emotional story about separated siblings and a father being forced to give his son away, all steeped in Afghan history. If you loved his other two books, then And The Mountains Echoed will be no exception.
Escapism – Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
Okay, so you might want to disguise this underneath a magazine (Marie Claire, natch) while you’re reading it, but there is something so good about this trashy novel. Crammed full of designer-clad women cruising around Beverly Hills in their chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce’s, it doesn’t get more vacuous and entertaining than this. Perfect for the pool.
Learn something – Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick
Gain an incredible insight into what life is really like in North Korea with this new book. It’s written by Los Angeles Times journalist Barbara Demick, who interviewed about 100 defectors, but focused on half a dozen, all from the north-eastern city of Chongjin, which is closed to foreigners. Disturbing, moving and fascinating.
Laugh until you cry – Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
A black comedy about a mother who does a disappearing act and her teenage daughter determined to find her. Written in a very modern format, through e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents and correspondence with a psychiatrist, this is an upbeat, hilarious and witty tale. You will laugh out loud.
Do you have any other holiday book suggestions? Do you disagree with any of our picks? Let us know in the comment box below.