Five of the best holiday reads

As thoughts turn towards the annual week in the sun, here are five great books that are worth sacrificing your baggage allowance for

By Evie Prosser

Ah, the annual summer holiday. A moment to draw breath, relax in the sunshine and recharge your batteries. A chance to reconnect with friends and family, rediscover your passions and attend to your soul*.

To help with the last two aspirations, though not necessarily the first, here are five great books to keep you occupied on the sun lounger.

1) The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Not another book about walking the South West Coast Path? Surely that topic’s been done to death? And anyway, who could ever top Mark Wallington’s magisterial Five Hundred Mile Walkies?

Raynor Winn takes a rather different approach from the witty Wallington, even while naming his book as an inspiration. She and her husband Moth chose to walk the route after losing their farm and business, and discovering he had a rare degenerative disease that the medics said would kill him within six years.

Not the most obvious basis for a book that is by turns laugh-out-loud funny, courageous and beautifully eloquent. The Salt Path has it all, making it one of the non-fiction books of the decade and a worthy addition to the Costa Book Awards shortlist in 2018.

2) The Spy and the Traitor by Ben MacIntyre

No one tells a real-life story with quite such poise as the journalist and historian Ben MacIntyre. The Spy and The Traitor is one of the best he’s written.

    The scene describing Gordievsky’s questioning at the hands of KGB interrogators is outstanding.  

Oleg Gordievsky was a senior KGB officer who became an MI6 informant at the height of the Cold War. He was subsequently smuggled out of Moscow when his cover was blown.

In this mesmerising book, MacIntyre tells the story of Gordievsky’s defection, his astonishing bravery while working as a double agent, and his escape.

It’s nail-biting stuff, but delivered with a lightness of touch that makes the book eminently readable. The scene describing Gordievsky’s questioning at the hands of KGB interrogators is outstanding. Like his subject, MacIntyre rarely puts a foot wrong. Out in paperback now.

3) Testament by Kim Sherwood

Kim Sherwood is one of the most promising British novelists of her generation, whose debut work has drawn admirers from across the literary world.

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, Testament tells the story of a young woman’s journey into the mysterious past of her grandfather, who survived the Holocaust and became a famous artist.

Literary in tone, Testament showcases Sherwood’s outstanding talent, weaving a narrative that is sure to keep you transfixed.

Show the world you’re in the know and buy Testament now. Pretty soon, everyone will be talking about it.

4) Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to familiar ground with her latest novel. Those Who Are Loved is set in Greece during the German occupation and subsequent civil war. It tells the story of a family divided by political differences.

    ...the author’s deep knowledge of her subject matter and profound sense of compassion shine through on every page.  

Like Hislop’s breakout blockbuster, The Island, much of the action centres on an island for exiles and social outcasts. As with all of her novels, the author’s deep knowledge of her subject matter and profound sense of compassion shine through on every page.

Hislop writes with an easy style that belies the depth of her plotting and characterisation. Those Who Are Loved is likely to be the go-to holiday read this summer. A good case for following the crowd.

5) Past Tense by Lee Child

It is said that a Jack Reacher novel is sold every nine seconds, such is the popularity of the series. Author Lee Child has certainly hit upon a winning recipe: his books follow a familiar narrative arc, and his hero can always be relied upon to triumph over the bad guys.

For all that this may seem achingly formulaic, there are few finer ways to lose yourself than in the pages of a Jack Reacher novel. It doesn’t matter what order you read them in, but Past Tense is the latest (it came out in paperback April). So if you’ve been keeping up with the series, it’s the obvious place to go next. And if you’re new to the Reacher world, it’s as good a place as any to jump in.

We should sound a note of caution, though: picking up this book on holiday may make you poor company, at least until you reach the end.


*Disclaimer: the author acknowledges that this description of a holiday will not ring true for parents of small children. Your week will be spent nurturing resentment towards fellow beach-dwellers who are blissfully toddler-free, engaging in passive-aggressive arguments with your partner about whose turn it is to attend swim club, and generally mourning the passing of your carefree youth. But hey, you may get five minutes to read, once the kids have gone to bed and before a combination of sleep deprivation and Retsina knocks you out…

Published: 31 May 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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