I love choosing holiday reads: books that relate to the destination, small, portable books and fast-paced crime thrillers for the flight. Here are 5 current favourites:
The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware
Hal is a young tarot-card reader and receives a large inheritance. She goes to Cornwall – a large creepy house a la Manderley in Rebecca – and meets the family, but realises it’s a mistake and she’s not the real heir. Hal is a sympathetic protagonist, and the mysteries kept me turning the page: why is she named in the will? What is the family hiding? I loved the settings of Brighton and Cornwall. A great, twisty plot and fun read.
Dark Pines by Will Dean – Scandi noir with an interesting, deaf female journalist Tuva – the start of a series which I’m excited about!
Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh – my go-to author for smart legal thrillers. This is the fourth in the Eddie Flynn series and I think the best so far. Un-putdownable.
The Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leon – if you’re lucky enough to be travelling to Venice
The Detective Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny – for a Canadian adventure.
Crudo by Olivia Laing
A tour de force. Kathy, fiercely independent, is getting married. She describes this time of change with honesty and wit: she has doubts, fears becoming mellow, loves her husband but fights and screams at him too. Laing juxtaposes this with world events of 2017. The idea that we fret about climate change but at the same time eat crab for dinner resonates – Laing has spoken about Twitter and the way we switch between the trivial and the unbearably significant. This book is extraordinary, on point and fun. It will keep you on your toes. A must-read.
More short books:
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson: a perfect gem, set in Bolougne and Venice during the Napoleonic wars.
Moonstone by Sjón: a knockout. Beautiful, spare story of a boy’s life in 1918 Reykjavík.
The End by Fernanda Torres, translated by Alison Entrekin
Hedonistic. The story of five old men in Rio reflecting on their friendships and approaching deaths. It’s narrated by each in turn . I enjoyed Torres’ style and humour. The men feel real, if larger than life, and it’s thought-provoking about age and mortality. Also, gorgeous cover and small book. Love it!
Another beach read:
Less by Andrew Sean Greer: a comic novel about a writer who travels the world to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, this won the 2018 Pulitzer prize. Amanda loved it more than I did when we discussed it on the podcast, but we both agreed it would be a great holiday read.
The Riviera Set by Mary S. Lovell
This was recommended to me by Laura Kroetsch (former Adelaide Writers’ Week director) who always has the best book tips! It’s the story of an Art Deco villa on the Côte d’Azur and the people who stayed there from the 1920s to the 1960s, including Winston Churchill, Gianni Agnelli and Rita Hayworth. It sounds fabulous and is in my suitcase for our holiday next week.
Mythos by Stephen Fry: superb, especially as an audio-book, narrated by Stephen Fry himself. The stories are wonderful and highly entertaining. With children aged around 12 and up, this would be great for a road-trip!
New Release vs Classic
The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
Not an obvious holiday choice, but the poetic form is so lively and readable that it’s a page-turner. Perfect for your Greek island holiday. I think it’s still in hardback but perhaps on audio, or when it comes out in paperback, this is a must. I’ve done a full review here.
More New Releases:
We’ve read some fantastic new books on the podcast, including The Shepherd’s Hut and Circe – check out our top five here.
Now it’s time to pack. What are you reading on your next holiday?