I’ve seen a few requests on social media for recommendations for books to take away on summer holidays, so thought I’d share some of my favourite reads.
The kind of books you want on your holiday are, I think, ones with page-turning stories, interesting characters, and plots that are gripping without being too complicated (and therefore taxing on the old brain).
Some of my recent favourites that I think deserve a place in your suitcase (and if you’re not going away, they’re excellent choices to read in the park or garden too) are:
The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes
People are reading Me Before You, and After You in their droves on account of the recent film – I read and enjoyed them both.
I finished reading The Girl You Left Behind only yesterday, and I galloped through it at a good rate.
The novel focuses on two strong women, Sophie and Liv.
It’s a fascinating story that starts in a small village in northern France during World War One. The village is occupied by the Germans – the remaining inhabitants are enduring the associated privations while their husbands, sons and brothers are facing unspeakable horrors in the trenches.
The story also takes us to present-day London, and involves a painting, love, loss, restitution, fairness, ethics, rights and wrongs.
Only Forward – Michael Marshall Smith
I can’t believe I have only recently discovered this author (the book was originally published in the early 1990s); I stumbled upon the book and thought I’d give it a go, and am glad I did.
This is a book that defies genre – it’s futuristic dystopian sci-fi while also being a satire, with a bit of psychology thrown in. It’s imaginative, original, creative, insightful, funny, and cheeky. If you love Terry Gilliam films you should love this.
I don’t know how to describe it without giving too much away, so I’ll steal the blurb:
Stark is the private investigator who goes to work when Something Happens to you. And when a Something happens it’s no good chanting ‘go away go away go away’ and cowering in a corner, because a Something always comes from your darkest past and won’t be beaten until you face it. And that’s not easy in a city where reality is twisting and broken, a world in which friends can become enemies in a heartbeat ― and where your most secret fear can become a soul-shredding reality.
And the worst of it is, for this nightmare you don’t even have to be asleep…
Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
This is another book I devoured in a matter of days. To be honest, it’s one of those that while being excellent and difficult to put down, in places it is an uncomfortable read, sort of like Room.
Like Room, the discomfort is worth enduring for a fascinating story very well told.
It starts in the long hot summer of 1976 – eight-year-old Peggy’s dad is a ‘retreater’, someone who believes the end of the world is nigh and has built a bunker filled with supplies in their cellar. One day, he takes Peggy on an adventure to ‘Die Hutte’, a cabin in a forest in a remote part of Germany where he tells her the rest of the world has ceased to exist. He and Peggy are, he says, the only two people left alive in the whole world.
Peggy tells the story in a first-person narrative. Through her we explore a little girl trying to make sense of the domestic world around her before the leave home, and then when they are living in Die Hutte a tough life of isolation.
It’s engrossing, beautiful, warm, brutal, and suspenseful. It plays with your head a bit and makes you work to figure out what is real, or fantasised or imagined…I won’t tell you any more but will leave you to read it yourself.
The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett
I included this book in an earlier reading round-up; I think it’s a perfect summer holiday read so thought I’d include it again here.
This debut novel has a kind of Sliding Doors theme, except with three alternative realities. I got a bit confused at times – the book lacks the visual clues as with Gwynnie’s varying hair length in Sliding Doors – but I soon got in to the flow.
The characters are flawed and make mistakes (so they’re human, basically!), there is humour and there is sorrow. The alternative reality tool lends extra pathos because as things go well in one possible timeline everything falls part in another. I raced through it, highly recommended.
What books would you add to the list?
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