WORDS: CHELSEA HAITH
Some people read the extended works of James Joyce while on holiday. Some people read Mills&Boon. Some people read magazines with hungry women on the cover. Some people read their Facebook timelines and some people read the insides of the eyelids, with a tall glass of something with an umbrella in it nearby. But, for the discerning holiday reader, here is a list of recommended reading, including books that are waterproof, in case, you, you know, accidentally drop it in the pool.
Not terribly challenging holiday reading
- Highland Fling – Katie Fforde
Everything by Fforde is fluffy and light and requires absolutely no mental capacity to take in but her work is wonderfully relaxing for that very reason. It is the finest of the chick lit genre and makes no attempt to pretend otherwise, which is quite refreshing. Fforde also has a wicked sense of humour and this gives her novels a spice that lifts these chick lit prototypes from the vacuous to the cheerfully self-indulgent.
- The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
This is a fun, light read about, as the title suggests, a one hundred year old man’s escape from his retirement home and his many adventures. Pop culture and political references abound as the old boy evades a drug cartel and has a really good time in the process. An ideal gift, though not perhaps for people unhappy with their lot in life. They might also feel the urge to run away.
- Tall Stories – Tom Holt
Holt’s speciality is to take the mickey out of the many global creation myths, all religious organisations, capitalist corporations and the Great British Class System. His bumbling anti-heroes are frequently sent on long quests with little purpose other than to blunder about the globe, fighting off modern incarnations of mythical or fantasy creatures and villains, while desperately missing Mother England. Expect to howl with laughter and be warned, you will want a cup of tea at the end of this as well.
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
Holidays are frequently associated with romance and if you can’t have any of your own the multiple love interests in this novel will fill that gap efficiently without plunging the reader into the chick lit genre. On the downside, your family and friends might suggest you watch the film adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage. The novel is good though.
- Devil May Care – Sebastian Faulks
Writing as Ian Fleming, Faulks’ 2009 Bond novel recreates the world Fleming first designed for his charming secret agent. Fans of Fleming’s work will feel at home in the pages of Faulks’ homage to the great writer’s work as he is true to the brand while giving 007 a particularly human edge without detracting from the essential carnal essence that is Bond. Guns, beautiful women and nice cars are all accounted for, as well as a present-day relevant nuclear crisis. It’s got everything.
Reading that requires some mental effort
- Poolside – Compiled by Melcher Media
This book is waterproof. I have tested it and I can vouch for it. So, if you’re prone to napping while reading in the pool or bath, or you fancy a short story before lunch, this collection of clever and insightful vignettes of life will keep your mind alive while your body goes to sleep beside the pool or beach. It features work by Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike, essentially there’s something for everyone. When you’re done with this one, Melcher Media have also released Beachside, which is waterproof too and filled with tales as dark and interesting as its companion collection.
- On Green Dolphin Street – Sebastian Faulks
Faulks’ work typically poses existential questions and philosophical ponderings about life and the nature of human interaction and this novel does the same while around the reader the skyscrapers of New York in the 1960s loom. They cast shadows of intrigue, adultery, skulduggery during the Cold War and a bit of Miles Davis. Intelligent and gripping, Faulks’ plays out human tragedy, alcoholism and forbidden love in one of the most emotionally fraught periods of world history with touching sympathy.
- Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Holiday reading is about getting around to all of those books you know you should be reading and haven’t yet had the chance. Here’s your chance. This book is particularly good if you’re going somewhere cold; it’ll heat you right up and the intensity of both Florentino’s passion and Marquez’ writing will enliven any long flight or gloomy winter’s day. Expect to blush should you read this in public places.
- Harm’s Way – Celia Walden
Set in Paris in the present day, this coming of age story follows a young and self-assured woman through her first experiences of obsession and sexuality in a new city and takes a look at how love can destroy everything you hold dear. Beautiful and heart breaking, this honest look at relationships and friendship paints Paris in darker tones than you might expect and highlights the intensity of youth in the City of Lights.
- The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
As long as you have no murderous tendencies of your own, this novel is a delightful look into the psychology of one man’s desire to be anyone but himself, while on holiday. It is clever, well spun and the heat of the Mediterranean sparks off the page. You can well believe it’s a lifestyle worth killing for.