H is for holiday reading

Author: Anne

Date Published: Jul 19th 2017, 11:27pm

We're off to France in the next week or so and I am just about to gather together my holiday reading. We're going by car so I can pack as many books as I want as well as my trusty Kindle. It has been fun choosing what to read and I was reminded of my trip to Rome and the blog I wrote about what I read there - I hope to have as many good reading experiences as I obviously had on that holiday !


I have just returned from a few days away and, when packing, was faced with the usual holiday reading dilemma – how many books to take and which ones should they be ? I was going abroad so I definitely needed to be sure that I packed enough volumes as new books might be hard to obtain in English if I ran out. I have a real fear of finding myself without reading material – it has never happened but I didn’t say that it was a rational fear !

Thanks heavens for the advent of the Kindle ! In pre e-reader days I used to pack my suitcase and that of anyone flying with me with a large supply of books, just to make sure that I had enough even though I probably wouldn’t read all of them. This time I made sure that I had lots of books available on my Kindle, that it was fully charged up, and that I had a charger (or two) with me together with the appropriate plug adapter for foreign parts.

I actually took the books I wanted to read on holiday and put them in a special holiday collection on my Kindle. I did this over the few weeks before I travelled as a sort of a treat, looking through my available books and my wish list and choosing what I am going to read is great fun for me. The books I chose for my holiday, which included some newly purchased for the trip, were all books I had wanted to read for a long time, which had been highly recommended, or were in a series where I had already read some. I was away for five days so I placed six books in my special collection although there were others already loaded on my device, just in case.

I also took two paper books with me because, on occasion, airlines do not allow e-readers to be used during take-off and landing, even in flight mode (for no reason that makes sense to anyone). That didn’t happen in this case but I read them anyway.

Finally, I made sure that I had a book loaded on my phone – just in case.

It all seems a bit over the top except that I use holidays and relaxation times for reading and I like to be prepared. I want books that I will enjoy and which will help me relax. I have long given up the idea that a holiday is an ideal time to read something challenging or odd.

Here is what I read while I was away (reviews will follow in due course) :

“Emma” by Alexander McCall Smith – the next in the series of modern rewrites of classic books by Jane Austen. This one wasn’t as good as I had hoped but it was very readable

“Hidden” by Benedict Jacka – the next in his series about magic in London featuring Alex Verus. Very enjoyable indeed

“Joan of Arc” by Helen Castor – a brilliant non-fiction account of the life of this enigmatic historical character

“The Light Years” by Elizabeth Jane Howard – read because my fellow blogger Debra has highly recommended it. I actually found it a bit slow, with a lot of characters, but compelling nonetheless.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St John Mandel – I’m a bit late coming to this highly acclaimed speculative fiction novel. It was worth the wait – great stuff.

“White Night” by Jim Butcher – one of his Harry Dresden novels. As good as any of them. This is a great series

“Reaper Man” by Terry Pratchett – one of the great entries in the Discworld series about what happens when Death doesn’t turn up. Very funny

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple – this tale of a missing women has been recommended to me a lot but I didn’t really enjoy it. I found all the characters unlikeable and the plot unbelievable

So – I had a great holiday and I read eight novels in my five days away which I also enjoyed. As the accommodation had wi-fi I did download the next in the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard because it was only 99 pence on Amazon when I looked and I didn’t want to miss a bargain. I shall read it at some time in the next few months – maybe Christmas.

I also found a café on the banks of the Tiber which was giving away second hand books to anyone who wanted them. Some of these were in English, much to my surprise, and I acquired “We are all Completely Beside Ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler which has also been highly recommended.

I shall remember Rome for its architecture, the history, the stunning amount of graffiti, the pavement cafes, the food, and the books I read there.