Five good holiday reads

Current activity: Holidaying in Sicily

Daily occupation: reading

Blog inspiration for the day: a combination of the above.

Seems apt.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

This was a total punt based off what my kindle suggested for me and within the first few chapters gave me faith in their recommendation engine.

The story follows four friends who grow up together in New York, each with quite different backgrounds but close as brothers nonetheless.

The boys are all mid twenties but there’s a coming of age like feel to the book in way their characters develop, driven largely from the very challenging subject matter faced by one of the main characters.

It’s on the heavier side for holiday reading (and by heavy I mean emotional-feel-like-you’ve-been-hit-by-a-bus heavy) but it’s easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. Very raw, confronting but beautiful.

Also, at 75 pages it’s not a one dayer. However, if you can get past those two caveats, it’s worth packing.

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

My reading of this book spanned two holidays and definitely lends itself to longer reading sessions.

The narrative follows a girl called Ursula who, unbeknownst to her, is reborn into the same life every time she dies. Normally these kinds of story lines annoy me because of their sheer implausibility. However, the butterfly effect/sliding doors style it is pulled off perfectly here.

Set against a backdrop of World War Two, it also a terrifyingly real portrayal of what London would’ve been like during the German air raids.

The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follet

Forgive my unoriginality with this one, but the 1000+ page epic is a holiday reading rite of passage.

The idea of being more interested in a story about a Catherdral being built in the early 20th century than visiting real life ones in Mexico seems absurd, but when travelling through Central America in 2014 that was my exact preference.

I’m yet to find a book where I feel so deeply invested in the triumph and downfall of fictitious characters. Still gives me the creeps.

The story is brilliant and the perfect read for a long holiday – but you’ll want the kindle version not the hard copy.

Big Brother – Lionel Shriver

I'm a fan of Lionel Shriver’s challenging yet easy to digest style of writing. In this book she explores the obesity epidemic in the US through the eyes of a sister watching her brother’s spiral into morbid hugeness.

It’s utterly believable and entirely nonsensical at the same time; an iconic stamp of Shriver’s books. The twist at the end (another classic Shriver manoeuvre) is thought provoking, infuriating and impressing.

It’s also perfect for a holiday in that you can blitz the whole thing in a day if you’re not doing much else.

We Are All Absolutely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

Admittedly, this book took me a while to get into. Largely because Fowler intentionally doesn’t reveal a very key detail of one of the main characters until you’re about 1/4 of the way into the story – and it’s hard to say much more without revealing what that detail is.

However, this book is one of those unique windows into a world you’d be unlikely to think even existed. And as such, leaves you with a whole new perspective on relationships, moral judgement and the definition of a sibling.

If you feel a bit thrown in the first few chapters, push on. It’s the type of book you’ll want to read up on and discuss afterward. And again, owing to its mid page count is a good one to know you’ll get through on holiday.