A few people have asked me recently for ideas about what to take with them on holiday for some gripping, relaxation-aiding reads.
So, here are my top five for you to pack or download ready for some getting-away-from-it-all literary joy. Links to my full review of each in the titles.
Especially amongst people that know me well, the most frequent plea I get when asked for book recommendations is “No death… not something horrible.” Which initially has me scratching my head with puzzlement. But this is a book that fits the bill.
Not one I would normally have picked up for myself, this was a book club read that I ended up loving. Easy to read, lighthearted and funny – this should satisfy even the most revoltingness-averse readers.
Okay, so the first choice was as far as I can go without any death. Sorry.
A Study In Scarlet is a stunning book though, and provides the literary equivalent of holiday escapism in bucket loads. This is the first ever Sherlock Holmes story. Our narrator, Dr Watson, moves in with an unorthodox, obsessive and egotistical stranger to 221B Baker Street, and hears news of a mysterious corpse inside a locked room. The rest is history.
This is an extraordinary story of madness and tension set over one long, hot summer when the devil comes to stay with a young boy and his family in smalltown America. Not exactly a laugh a minute, granted. But this is gripping stuff, and will have you glued to that deckchair for at least a couple of days of reading bliss.
A book set in the last decades of slavery in Jamaica may not be your idea of a holiday read. But do give this one a chance. The tone is nowhere near as heavy as the subject matter suggests. Levy pulls off an absolute magic trick in this book, which is engrossing, entertaining and even funny, while still leaving you questioning everything.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. And if you think about it, a summer holiday is actually the ideal time to read a horror book. There are fewer hours of darkness in which to get spooked, and there’s often a lot of company, in case you need someone to accompany you to the loo.
There is so much more to this book than horror. Ward gives us as much EM Forster and Jane Austen as Arthur Conan Doyle, Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley. Rawblood is a superbly written book telling a first class story. It absolutely blew me away.
Just because. Imagine lying back with this book in one hand and a pina colada in the other. Life doesn’t get much better. Even you’re holidaying in a soggy tent in England.