15 Books That I Will Be Reading On Holiday - 2019
I absolutely love reading. Before I had my children, I read at least a book a week. And I didn’t just read the book once. Six months later, I’d go back and read it again. My shelves were filled with well thumbed volumes, spines peeling and pages folded over (I’ve never quite got the hang of a bookmark), often stained after being placed on a water splashed floor by the pool whilst lying on my front sweating on a sun bed. When I met Joe, he had never actually read a book, bar the huge study volumes from University which he refuses to get rid of for sentimental reasons. Our bookshelves are still crammed with enthralling titles such as International Marketing, Organisational Behaviour, Managing The Multi National and the intriguing yet deeply non appealing Exploring Corporate Strategy. Over the years, he’s received countless books as birthday and Christmas presents from family members who never have any idea of what to buy him. I’ve said before that if you asked Joe what he’d like as a gift, he’d say ‘a Rolex’, an endlessly irritating reply which sends me immediately off to M&S to buy him socks as punishment. As a result of his lack of gifting feedback, our shelf also contains various well meaning missives including, but not limited to, such gems as Sir Clive Woodward, Mohammed Ali, Alan Sugar, David Attenborough, Tony Pike and Adrian Moorhouse. Never knowingly lacking in biographies.
Our second holiday together, back in 1999, was to Bali. Back in those days, he was still trying to impress me and was much more inclined to do as I asked him to unlike nowadays, when he appears to have no idea of where the washing machine is or, indeed, how to open the dishwasher. I handed him Come Together, a book jointly written by Emilyn Rees and Josie Lloyd which told a love story from two sides, and forced him to read it. To be fair, he really did enjoy it. In fact, he still talks about his one heady venture into the world of literature today. Spurred on by my success, I followed it up on the following holiday with Mr Nice, the story of drug baron Howard Marks, a book that remains unfinished by his bedside to this very day. Every year prior to holiday departure, I present him with a new novel - past attempts have included How To Think Like Steve Jobs and The Venture Capital Handbook to try and entice him - with, to date, no success whatsoever. At this point, a weaker woman would give up. Not me. I’ve bought him a Kindle and uploaded a selection of suitable books (ie, non demanding) and am intent on success.
Next weekend, we are departing for Greece to a villa where I intend to do absolutely nothing all week bar lying on a sun bed reading. Oh, and eating halloumi and drinking cold pale rose wine. But what to read? Time is limited, I don’t want to get it wrong. Last year, I canvassed opinion and collated my Top 15 favourite recommendations for holiday book choices (you can see them here) and I’ve spent the last year working my way through them all. I’ve received lots of requests for the same list again this year, so once again I’ve headed to the only source needed for good suggestions - my Instagram following. I’ve scoured Amazon reviews, investigated the hundreds of ideas that were sent to me and narrowed it down to the 15 that most appeal to me. Note: I haven’t read these yet so the blurbs are duplicated from the website, but I’ve picked the ones that were most popular in the poll so I’m counting on them being winners. All are linked to Amazon via either paperback copy or Kindle edition so it should be clear. Enjoy!
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End Of Days. The Government didn’t know she existed; no birth certificate because she’d never been registered, no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.
Just My Type
Hannah Doyle - Kindle £1.99
The story of Jasmine, quirky/cool photographer to a superstar blogger with a less than picture perfect life, whose best friend Mila decides that she needs a new ‘type on paper’ after a long dating history of less than perfect matches.
Tell No One
Eight years ago David Beck was knocked unconscious and left for dead, and his wife Elizabeth was kidnapped and murdered. Dr Beck re-lived the horror of what happened that day every day of his life. Then one afternoon, he receives an anonymous email telling him to log on to a certain website. The screen opens on to a web cam - and it is Elizabeth's image he sees.
Where The Crawdads Sing
For years, rumours of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life - until the unthinkable happens.
Queenie Jenkins can't cut a break. Well, apart from one from her long term boyfriend, Tom. That's definitely just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Stuck between a boss who doesn't seem to see her, a family who don't seem to listen (if it's not Jesus or water rates, they're not interested), and trying to fit in two worlds that don't really understand her, it's no wonder she's struggling. She was named to be Queen of everything so why is she finding it so hard ruling her own life?
One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper. To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime? So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.
My Sister, The Serial Killer
When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other.
Mercury And Me
Jim Hutton - Paperback £7.16
As someone who has watching Bohemian Rhapsody five times, when I saw this on Megan Ellaby’s feed I knew I had to order it. The moving, remarkable story of the relationship between Freddie Mercury and his longtime partner Jim Hutton, as explored in the major, Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated film.
An American Marriage
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Until one day they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Devastated and unmoored, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the love that has been her centre, taking comfort in Andre, their closest friend. When Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns home ready to resume their life together.
Are We Nearly There Yet?
Alice is turning thirty and is stuck in a rut. Her friends are all coupling up and settling down, while she's still working as a temp, trying (and failing) not to shag her terrible ex, getting thrown out of clubs, and accidentally sexting her boss. She decides to throw caution to the wind and jets off on a round-the-world adventure to #FindTheFun and find herself. Of course, she's no more likely to find the answer to true happiness on the beach in Thailand than she is at the electric beach in Tooting, but at least in Thailand there's paddleboard yoga. Can Alice find happiness on her travels? Or is she more likely to lose herself all over again?
People aren't sure what to make of Susan Green. Family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand - but Susan makes perfect sense to herself. Age 45, she thinks her life is perfect. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a steady job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan's greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. And things can only get worse - at least in Susan's eyes.
The Salt Path
Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.
The Tattooist Of Auschwitz
In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale - a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer - it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.
When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it. Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all. But then Kate meets Callum again.
Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my call for suggestions - it’s always brilliant to get recommendations. I’m off to Greece at the end of the month and am planning to read as many as possible so I’ll keep you updated with reviews as and when via my @_lisa_dawson_edits account so please follow. And make sure you let me know if you read them and enjoy. Let the summer book reading commence!