Sunday, 7 June 2015

Summer Holiday Beach Reads

Tove Jansson's 'The Summer Book'. 30 SPF suncream: £11.05, Vichy

I'm not as good at reading books as I used to be. All that social media, instagramming and emails seems to have gotten in the way. And I spent far too long reading long, boring books through my English degree to ever persevere with a book I don't enjoy (3 courses of 'Paradise Lost'! It killed me). 

I'm going to be honest now, I don't read much at all anymore, I carried the Goldfinch around in my bag for entire YEAR before getting to the end. But that's not to say I didn't love it, I just rarely catch moments to read where I'm not working, replying to someone, writing letters, planning blogposts, compiling moodboards for clients etc etc.

But I have been told by a few people that my book recommendations are good - I think a holiday book is also different to a life book. I'm currently reading 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' - it's brilliant but I wouldn't recommend to take it on holiday.

Re-reading Harper Lee's wonderful 'To Kill A Mockingbird', looking forward to the release of the new title  'Go Set A Watchman'
A holiday book needs to be a good length, so you don't need to take 5 in your Easyjet 23kg luggage. It also needs to transport you to another world, transport you to a far off place (but not too distant to detract from your holiday), so you can immerse yourself and truly relax. A great holiday book is one you want to talk about over lunch, and can't wait to dive back into after a relaxing swim (pun completely intended).

Some of my all-time favourite reads - a book well-read is a book enjoyed
They're probably not mind-blowing and most of you have probably read them (and this is obviously edited - I could go on but that would make far too lengthy a post). Please also note that none of them are particularly recent (I'm not good at being very current with my reading). But these are books that made memorable holidays, I remember exactly what I was doing when I read them and if I could re-read just 5 books, it would probably be these.

Here are my TOP 5 holiday reads:

'The Woman In White' by Wilkie Collins - NERJA, SPAIN 2001
Oh, this was a glorious holiday, and what an amazing book. I honestly couldn't put it down - the first mystery novel of its time and the first book to use different people's perspectives, the fascinating story of a mysterious woman in white, seen by the protagonist Walter Hartright, whose story is unravelled throughout the book. It is just a must read, everyone who I have ever recommended this to has adored it - and it has, in my opinion the best villain ever - Count Fosco (whose accomplices are his pet mice).

'The Summer Book', Tove Jansson - BARCELONA, SPAIN 2013
You might want to take another book with you as well, as you will finish this in a day. A friend bought this for me after I fell in love with Finland - it's written by Tove Jansson, the creator of The Moomins and is about a girl and her grandmother, set in the Finnish Archipelago. It's almost a book of fables - little stories. But is endearing and wonderful - quite childlike - and totally calming.




'Valley of The Dolls', Jacqueline Susann - KORCULA, CROATIA 2011
This book may go into my all-time favourite reads ever. I love the social scenes it depicts of New York in the 1960s, hanging out at El Marocco, the views towards women in the 60s - plus the characters and sensational storylines are as addictive as those 'dolls' they take - every woman should read this book. Tip: I have the Barbara Hulanicki special edition cover, as it looks chicer (the other covers, I think, make it look trashier than it actually is).

'The Beach', Alex Garland - LIMASSOL, CYPRUS 1998
I remember reading this before finishing my A-Levels and it really made me rethink my travels. Such an interesting perspective on the dark side of travelling - and needless to say, so much better than the film.

'The Robber Bride', Margaret Atwood - PENANG, MALAYSIA 2000
I am huge Margaret Atwood fan, anyway, she is the only writer whose novels I have read in their entirety. The way she depicts women, and their awkward relationships, and the way she threads a story together, is compelling. The story starts at the funeral of Zenia, who was a compulsive boyfriend stealer - and what happens next just has to be read to be believed.

What are your all-time favourite holiday reads?

20 comments :

  1. Lovely list! I have a pile of books waiting for my holiday, but I think the one I am looking forward to reading most is In Tearing Haste - letters between Deborah Mitford and Patrick Leigh Fermor. I'd also highly recommend anything by Laurie Graham - especially Gone With The Windsors and My Humble Companion. The covers really do not sell them at all but they are funny and fantastic reads.

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    1. How fabulous, I really enjoyed some Nancy Mitford last summer - and will check our Laurie Graham (and I know what you mean about bad covers - has sadly put me off so many books x

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  2. Don't reread The Beach. I made that mistake a few years ago thinking it was SO GOOD in the 90s when I read it. It's not. It's kind of bad and has not aged well. I adore Valley of the Dolls. I would also add Scruples by Judith Krantz for that special kind of holiday trash that is actually stonkingly good. And of course, Jilly Copper's Riders!

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    1. Really? My husband read it last summer and enjoyed...maybe it's the impression of the film has had on it...
      I have also never read Jilly Cooper - maybe I should?!

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  3. Too many to mention! I read the Goldfinch on holiday and loved it. My guilty pleasure is Jo Nesbo. Kindles are a godsend on holiday - I can get through half a dozen books on a beach holiday! Plus you can download whatever you're in the mood for.

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    1. I've seen so many people reading Jo Nesbo, will have to investigate. I know Kindles are amazing, but I love books. They're heavy and expensive but I think, for me, buying a kindle it's like admitting that the publishing industry I've been working in for 10 years is extinct - I'm too proud!

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    2. Apart from they're just publishing on another platform. The content still needs to be edited etc! Plus we have no more room in the house for books...

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  4. Recently read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - a brilliant holiday read!

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    1. Never heard of it - will check out! I have read The Secret Life of oscar Wilde -that was interesting!

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  5. Thanks for the recommendations, valley of the dolls has been on my must read list for years. Will remedy that now!

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  6. Great post Alex - I read English in Uni too and had a good few years off ( and blogs started to fill the void). Recently bought a kindle (sorry!) and it's helped get me back into the swing...
    Partner LOVES Jo Nesbo, I read Girl On A Train on holidays, really easy to read and addictive. Plus lots of references to South London which makes it feel more real for me!

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    1. Not enough good books reference South London! I used to like Angela Carter for that x

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  7. LOVE all of Margaret Atwood & also Valley of the Dolls. Enjoyed The Goldfinch too - all great reads. If you like those, I'd recommend everything Donna Tartt has written, Lolita (it's more amusing then you may think) and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - a story about an elderly American couple. Its not a light read, but an 'epic' about a family, their relationship and their foibles. One for a long plane journey.
    Ooh and the old classic 'I capture the castle' - back to childhood!

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    1. 'Secret History' is one of my faves as I actually studied English and Classics at university - and have got I Captured The Castle but just never got round to it -next holiday!

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  8. I just bought Valley of the Dolls - thank you for the recommendation! Can't wait to get started - planning it as in Ibiza holiday read. Laura x

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    1. I am so excited for you - it's like anticipating someone who hasn't started Game of Thrones yet - you're in for such a treat x

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