Did you know it’s National Book Week this week and BBC4 are running a series of programmes dedicated to the subject.   I was glued to the telly last night, a contradiction I know given the topic, keen to understand more about how to encourage boys to read (not that I have any) when I suddenly thought how I could do my bit to promote the topic.  So here I am today, with my carrot and coriander soup (its lunchtime) all set to muse over what books make good holiday reads.

I mean, it’s a given isn’t it really, that holidays are the one occasion you allow yourself to sit back and relax in someone else’s comfy armchair and lose yourself in a thriller, or a romance, a classic or a sci-fi, an autobiography or if you’re of a tedious inclination a technical manual.  Anything to while away those long hours of unadulterated, exquisitely enjoyable nothingness not usually experienced unless one’s on holiday.  Unless you’re a mother of attention seeking toddlers or pre-schoolers, when you resign yourself to the fact that your literary repertoire for the next couple of years is likely to consist mostly of titles like The Very Hungry Caterpillar , Each Peach Pear Plum and books containing characters with ridiculous names like Tinky Winky and Macca Pacca.

Reading by the fire

I emailed all the staff this morning asking what they are currently reading and what they would suggest as good holiday reads to any guests staying in one of our self-catering holiday houses , castles and cottages.  Most expressed interest by replying and listed below are some light and not so light suggestions for those of you about to embark on a self catering (or any other type of) holiday!

  • Angels in my hair by Lorna Fitzgerald Byrne
  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser, another book about the politics and social history of the English in the 16th century and a book about the reasons behind the Russian revolution
  • Things I want my daughters to know’ by Elizabeth Noble.
  • Judi Piccoult is a very good author and I would say that her books make good holiday reading
  • Dawn French’s autobiography called Dear Fatty
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie. An eloquent and easy-to-read little fable from the great man himself.
  • The White Tiger – Aravand Aringa (sp?)  – latest winner of the Booker prize, a snappy and humorous read about a man turning the rich-poor paradigm on its head in modern India.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude – even without bad weather, you won’t be able to extract yourself from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ masterpiece interweaving the stories of the Buendia family with myth, history, and humour in turn of the century South America.
  • Riders – Jilly Cooper – The ultimate bodice-and-jodphur ripper, a steamy romp through the world of professional showjumping.
  • “Blood River : A journey through Africa’s broken heart” it is written by Tim Butcher who is a journalist and worked for the Telegraph. It is about his trip through the Congo following in the footsteps of Stanley.

I’ve left this particular suggestion un-cut due to the effort put into replying to my brief email by my esteemed colleague:

“One of my favourite books was by an author called Ben Sherman called The Life and Death of Charlie St Cloud – it was lent to me when I went on holiday to Scotland and was brilliant! It is about a man called Charlie St.Cloud who looks after an old graveyard in which his young brother Sam is buried, when his younger brother died he ended up with a sort of gift to be able to see his brother as a spirit and ended up taking the graveyard job to be close to his brother (sounds weird, but it really is good), anyway he meets this woman called Tess who is training to do a round the world solo sailing trip and they sort of hit it off and she goes off on this yacht and there is an accident at sea – can’t say much more as it would give the story away, but it is really heart warming and romantic and sad and lovely, all mixed up together.

It was such a good story that I managed to convince my husband (who is officially allergic to reading) to have a go at it and he finished the book in only ONE DAY!! It even made him say ‘I think I could get into reading’ although, 18 months later, he hasn’t picked up another book – can’t perform miracles”!

And me … well, I tend to have one or two on the go at the same time, so I’m currently re-reading Bill Bryson Notes from a Small Country which I find a particularly funny social commentary on the National character and I think would be a very good holiday read.  I’m also re-reading  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens really only suited to holidays leading up to Christmas (why I’m reading it in February you may well ask).  And I’ve also got a Jeremy Clarkson book on the boil which I dip in and out of when I’m in need of a good laugh and a reminder that political correctness is a deathly dull pursuit of human endeavour (which depending on your point of view would either make an extremely good holiday read, or could spoil the holiday entirely).


Happy Reading everyone!

Books of the Year 2008