I love to read, and have for as long as I can remember. It’s the worst-kept secret in the world. I raced through the library at the end of my street when I was little and dragged my parents to another London borough so I could join a new set of bigger, better book-lending establishments. I worked in a library for several years during university and, now, a trip to the library or an illicit visit to the cavernous Foyle’s on the Charing Cross Road is my favourite and most foolproof way to unwind after a long day at work. Oh, books! In honour of an upcoming thirteen-hour plane ride, I thought I’d share a selection of my favourite holiday reads – books that are inherently readable, engaging without being overly weighty, marked by characters you fall in love with. Please share your favourites with me so I can race to the library/bookshop before my flight to Singapore later this week!
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, Anthony Doerr
The prose is beautiful, and although I found parts of this novel strayed from the historical truth (for example: don’t have your French wartime characters speaking in American slang!), this is a truly readable book that tugs at the heartstrings. I raced through it on a flight to Seattle and may have even sobbed into my seatmate’s elbow.
AMERICAN WIFE, Curtis Sittenfeld
One of my favourite books of all time – a sweeping romantic epic based on the life of Laura Bush. The characters are – perhaps surprisingly for Republicans – sympathetic and charismatic and the setting is so well-drawn that you’ll feel as if you’ve inhabited it yourself.
BROOKLYN, Colm Toibin
Gorgeous prose, relatable characters, a classic love triangle. Make sure you read it before you watch the film (which is also, if not quite as, lovely.)
SOMEONE, Alice McDermott
Set in Brooklyn like the aforementioned, this charts a young woman’s coming-of-age and middle years as she confronts love and loss. I’ve read it twice and not yet tired of it.
THE RULES OF CIVILITY, Amor Towles
A rip-roaring, knees-up hurtle through 1920s New York. It’s light-hearted, sure, but no less enjoyable for it.
GREAT HOUSE, Nicole Krauss
Another favourite book that is so incredibly gripping I first devoured it in a single sitting. One imposing mahogany desk connects a cast of characters and the novel slowly untangles their associations in a style reminiscent of the best thrillers.
MY SALINGER YEAR, Joanna Rakoff
Not strictly a novel, but it reads like one: Rakoff spent a year working at a literary agency in New York and chronicles the highs, lows and Salinger sightings she experienced.
I’m sure this post warrants a part two, and that there are many more I’ve loved and forgotten. In my rucksack for this week’s flight: Fates and Furies (Lauren Groff) and Burial Rites (Hannah Kent). What else would you recommend?