I’m lining up two books to begin my summer holiday reading this year.
Since seeing Edmund de Waal on The Book Show I’ve been looking forward to reading his family history told through 264 objects, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. We follow these tiny wood and ivory carvings, called ‘netsuke’, on their journey from Odessa to Tokyo by way of fin de siecle Paris and occupied Vienna. A rich source of inspiration if ever there was.
The other title I’m keen to dive into is Peter Carey’s latest novel, The Chemistry of Tears, just out this week. The premise sounds fascinating: an automaton, a man and a woman who can never meet, and a secret love story. In London 2010, Catherine Gehrig deals with the death of her married lover by throwing herself into work on a special project. She discovers handwritten notebooks from the 19th century man who commissioned the automata she has been asked to bring back to life. Do either of these make your shortlist too?
The Guardian asked writers to share their most memorable holiday reads, and a title that came up more than once was John Fowles’ The Magus. As a fan of holidaying in Greece (I’ve done so for the past 10 years) I’m interested in books set there. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a selection to suit various tastes, from general fiction and literary novels to touching and bizarre short stories.
To find out more about each of the titles, keep reading.
Wicked Whispers by Jessica Callan
Revelations galore about the life of a celebrity journalist from one of the Mirror’s “3am girls”. A fun read full of gossip plus an insight into the workings of tabloids.
The Insider by Piers Morgan
A fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of not only journalism but also the worlds of politics, celebrity and royalty. His follow-ups are equally entertaining.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Cathy. Heathcliff. The Yorkshire Moors. Ideal for teens, but anyone can lose themselves in this intense love story full of passion, betrayal and revenge.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry and Clare’s relationship is no ordinary set-up thanks to his involuntary time travelling. A complex tale of love’s attempts to survive despite the odds.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Be transported to a magical realm where ships fly, witches hunt for eternal youth, princes fight for the crown and a young man searches for a fallen star. Gaiman’s wit keeps this imaginative tale amusing and the ending is an antidote to sentimentality, taking stock of what a happy ever after really entails.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Full of characters that will stay with you forever (from a rhyming giant to a determined fencer), this tongue-in-cheek tale takes classic ingredients and runs head first into a Zoo of Death and a host of evil villains. The framing technique provides a lot of the laughs and the plot will keep you hooked.
Both have spawned film versions which you can watch once you return home: as is usually the case, for both of these it’s far more rewarding to read the book first.
Me Cheeta by James Lever
This ‘autobiography’ from Tarzan’s BFF is laugh out loud hilarious.
Warning: people may stare at you across the sun-loungers as you snort.
Second warning: the opening and ending are surprisingly moving.
Starter For Ten by David Nicholls
This is filed under the squirm-inducing brand of funny. Brian Jackson negotiates the pitfalls of University Challenge and trying to impress the opposite sex.
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