A few friends have already asked me for ideas for books for their summer holidays, so I thought now might be the time to come up with a proper set of recommendations for holiday reads. It is a tradition in our family that you get a holiday book – this was started by my mum back when I was small and I have various books on my shelves with neatly written notes in the front from my mum telling me which holiday she gave them to me for. My sister and I have continued this as grown-ups – The Boy thought it was weird at first but I now have him so used to it that he starts to offer suggestions for what he’d like me to get him. I have terrible trouble deciding what to take to read on holiday (thank goodness for the kindle) so I’ve tried to include a range of options.
The One that Everyone’s Reading
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison – I know. It really is everywhere. But I read this on our trip to Rome earlier this year and laughed so hard that people on the plane started staring at me. It has had a lot of hype, but it is very, very good. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but watching Don Tillman hunt for love is properly funny – and in places you’ll want to read through your fingers as you cringe at his mistakes. I’m already looking forward to the sequel.
The One if you like “Chick Lit”
I guess this could be considered my home genre (unless you count historical novels. Or cozy crime), anyway I read a lot in this sort of genre. So I couldn’t just pick one. Books I’ve recently really enjoyed are The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (which is definitely a holiday read – it’s set in Cornwall by the coast!), Trisha Ashley’s Every Woman for Herself (which has a full review here) and Sinead Moriarty’s Mad About You (although I think I’d have liked it more if I had read the other books about the characters) which all should be available in the sort of multi-buy offers you get at WH Smiths and the Supermarkets.
The One if You like Cozy Crime
It’s not really new, but try Manna from Hades by Carola Dunn if you like the sort of cozy crime that’s set in the past – this is in 1960s Cornwall where Eleanor Trewynn has retired to after a life working for charity abroad. It’s as readable as the author’s Daisy Dalrymple series. If you like your cozy crime modern, I reviewed Jenn McKinlay’s Death of a Mad Hatter a few weeks back which is fresh on the market – or you can’t go wrong with Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series – Death with Peacocks is the first one and as it came out 10 years ago, you can get it for cheap second hand.
The One if you like Non-Fiction
This is a tough one for me – because I’m very behind with my non-fiction pile. Of books released recently, I enjoyed Neil McKenna’s Fanny and Stella which is the story of two young men who dressed as women in Victorian London and the scandal that ensued when they were caught. Apart from that, all my recent non-fiction reads have been published some time ago. I hesitate to recommend anything I haven’t yet read, but the excellent Helen Rappaport has a new book out (in hardback sadly) – Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses which has been picked out as a recommendation at various places. If you haven’t read her Magnificent Obsession (about Queen Victoria’s relationship with Prince Albert) that is available as a paperback and is well worth a look – as is her Beautiful Forever which is about a cosmetician and con-artist in Victorian London – who coincidentally also gets a mention in Fanny and Stella.
The One if you like Thrillers
A Delicate Truth by John le Carré – I got given copy of this a month or two back – you can see the long review here. Its pacey, suspenseful and disturbing. If you haven’t read any le Carré, go get yourself some of the Smiley series and try them out – they’re Cold War and this is modern, but all the ones I’ve read have been very, very good.
The One that’s a Kindle Bargain
Vintage Girl by Hester Browne – This was 56p when I wrote this blog – which by any standards is a bargain, let alone when it’s as fun as this. Valuer Evie gets sent to Scotland to asome heirlooms – romance, family secrets and Scottish Dancing ensues. (NB previously published as an e-book called Swept Off Her Feet – so don’t buy it twice!)
The One(s) if you want a series to start
The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters. I have a terrible habit of starting a series and keeping going with it, ignoring all other claims from the to-read pile. E-readers make this so easy and if you’re a quick reader, you may need more than one book for your week at the beach (hell I need more than on book for a DAY at the beach). Amelia is a Victorian feminist who sets off for Egypt to do a spot of archaeology. I can’t come up with the words to do her justice, but’s like a funny female Indiana Jones. There are 19 books in the series (more than you could read on one holiday surely!) and the later ones feature various members of her family too – her son is a scream!
So there you are. I hope there’s something for everyone in the list – I think most of them should be easy to find and in some cases as available in multi-buy deals. As usual most of my links are to Foyles – because I like independent bookshops and the name of their loyalty scheme Foyalty. And if you’ve got any recommendations for books I should be reading this summer – please do put them in the comments below!