Try-something-new holiday reads

Try-something-new holiday reads

Daniela Soave mixes and matches the perfect books to suit your tastes and offers tips for fresh discoveries to keep you entertained on the beach and by the pool.

In a fast-paced world, it’s the ultimate luxury to bury your nose in a book. But even rampant bookworms agree that holiday reading is a different beast.
Light and funny might appeal while you would normally opt for something more serious. Conversely, plunging into a more challenging read can be just what the doctor ordered, while in everyday life it would be a chore.
Take a peek at my top holiday reads – some old, some new, some that might push your boundaries a little bit further. Feel free to add your recommendations – your fellow readers will thank you for it!


If you enjoyed… the multi-million selling One Day by David Nicholls (Hodder), which chronicles the relationship between Emma and Dexter over two decades, you’ll love:

  • The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (W&N) – ‘The Versions of Us’ offers three different possibilities for every scenario involving Eva and Jim from the end of the 1950 until the beginning of the 21st century.
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Arrow) – Switching from post-WW2 England to eighteenth century war-torn Scotland, Claire Randall tumbles through time while on her second honeymoon and meets the love of her life. This is no run-of-the-mill bodice ripper: here the heroine rules.


If you enjoyed … Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (W&N), which through a web of lies thrust its central character, Nick Dunne, into a murder charge, you’ll love:

  • Disclaimer by Renee Knight (Black Swan) – The plot evolves through a different set of untruths. TV executive Catherine Ravenscroft’s charmed life is challenged when she is sent a disturbing manuscript that threatens to destroy her life.
  • I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh (Sphere) – Jenna Gray walks away from everything she knows when she is involved in a devastating accident. Building a new life in a remote Welsh cottage, happiness seems within her grasp until her past catches up with her. You won’t see it coming.


If you enjoyed… Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (Penguin), about a dysfunctional rural family, you’ll love:

  • The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell (Penguin) – This brings together Durrell’s classic tales of a childhood island paradise. Set just before WWII, he recounts the adventures of his very English family who decamp to the sun-soaked island of Corfu, with hilarious results.
  • Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie (Bloomsbury) – Theresa escapes her domineering daughter and her obnoxious grandchildren to start a new life in Bellevue-Sur-Mer in the south of France. But nothing is quite as wonderful as it first seems, as Theresa soon discovers…

Personal stories

If you laughed, cried and fumed at How to be a Woman (Ebury), Caitlin Moran’s hilarious and provoking account of 21st century feminism, you’ll enjoy:

  • Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (W H Allen) – While the author seriously tackles important questions about women and work and power, she’s also direct, funny and accessible.
  • Out of Time by Miranda Sawyer (Fourth Estate) – Journalist and broadcaster Sawyer has taken a very personal look at the point when you realise you have more years behind you than in front. She writes about the midlife crisis with thoughtfulness, insight and humour.

Sci-fi and fantasy

If you got lost in The Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage), Margaret Atwood’s dystopian vision of 21st Century America (written in 1985 but eerily believable), try:

  • The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue (Vintage) – A seven-year-old boy is kidnapped by changelings, destined to remain seven-years-old forever. In his place is left another boy who assumes his identity. Each boy searches obsessively for his old life, but can either get back?
  • Sleeper’s Castle by Barbara Erskine (Harper Collins) – It’s 2015 and Miranda moves to the Welsh mountains to start a new life. Soon she is haunted by vivid dreams of a young woman begging for help, and finds herself connected to that girl and a war that raged six centuries before…

Classic fiction

If you enjoyed Wilkie Collins’ Victorian mystery The Woman in White (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform), you’ll love:

  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tale) – The Woman in White was first published in 1859 but this gothic tale is newly written. Set in 1893, it is a chilling mystery that touches on love, friendship, science and religion – a book, as one reviewer put it, that is reminiscent of Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker.
  • Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (Hogarth) – In a reworking of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the celebrated author asks whether an independent woman would ever sacrifice herself for a man. Funny, modern, offbeat and warm, this is Tyler at her best.

Short stories

A happy medium, if you can’t make up your mind, is to pack a collection of short stories. Here are three of my favourites.

  • Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories (Penguin) – Dahl picks spine chilling stories written by 14 of his favourite writers.
  • A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchey (Orion) – This is a collection of the very best of Binchey’s warm, insightful stories.
  • The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume II – This is great if want variety. It includes contributions from PG Wodehouse, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan and Penelope Fitzgerald among others.


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Mary 07/09/2016

Diana Gabaldon has written the most wonderful series of books, starting with Outlander, you will be transported to another world when you read it. All my friends loved the book.

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