Usually in this blog, I write about luxury furniture, designer sofas and high end interior design. Today, as the company bookworm, I have been asked for a post on recommended holiday reading for this summer. My idea of a holiday is to lounge by a pool, a tower of books by my side and a sneaky mojito, only putting my book down to make sure the children aren’t drowning. I devour as many books as I do tapas on holiday. So much so that I had to invest in a Kindle (Paperwhite so I can read it in bright sunshine, with backlight so I can carry on reading into the early hours without Mr J tutting about having the light on). It was that or leave most of my clothes behind. Having always said that nothing could replace the feel and smell of a good old paperback, now I don’t know how I ever lived without my Kindle.
Holiday Reading Recommendations
Now, my taste in books tends towards the grim and gory – Scandi noir, and the darker the better. And I love to get my teeth into a gripping box set so that as soon as I’ve finished one book, I can pick up the next and just carry on. I realise that many of you are probably looking for something a little more light-hearted, a spot of escapism, romance or humour to pick up and put down whenever the mood takes you. I also think it’s time I broadened my own repertoire so, as well as my own choices, I have asked friends, family and colleagues for their favourite reads this year. I have them all downloaded and ready to go. I hope we all enjoy them – do let me know how you get on.
Wuthering Heights : Emily Brontë
Classic English Literature
One of my favourite books of all time. Set on the wild and wuthering Yorkshire moors, it tells the story of Catherine Earnshaw and her fierce friendship with Heathcliff, a feral orphan from Liverpool, welcomed into the family by her father. It is a tale of passion, betrayal, despair and revenge. It is superbly atmospheric. Even on your sun lounger, you’ll be able to feel the menace of Heathcliff’s dark and brooding temper, and the wind howling round your ears. This year sees the bicentenary of Emily Brontë’s birth, just in case you need an excuse to read her one and only novel.
Morgue Drawer Four : Jutta Profijt
Crime Fiction but not as you know it
Nowhere near as macabre as it sounds. This is a gently humorous crime novel with a memorable but reluctant detective. Martin Gänsewein, a coroner in the city of Cologne, spends his days in peace and quiet with his latest intake of dead bodies. That is until one of them starts talking to him, insisting that his death was not an accident but murder. As Martin is the only living person he can communicate with, the dead Pascha turns Martin’s quiet, somewhat dull life on its head, dragging him into Cologne’s red light district and a dark German underworld. This is not a new book so you won’t find it in any of this year’s book club lists. It has substance without being heavy-going and is, in my opinion, just right as a holiday read.
The Note : Zoë Folbigg
An Uplifting Romance
Based on Folbigg’s own true story, this is a beautiful romance, showing how taking a chance can change everything. One ordinary morning, Maya Flowers spots a new commuter on her train and knows immediately that he is The One – but he never seems to notice her. Inspired by a friend, she plucks up the courage to give him a note, asking him out for a drink. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? So begins an inspirational, life-affirming story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine : Gail Honeyman
Thought Provokingly Unpredictable
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch, and buys two bottles of vodka to get her through every weekend. Her life is solitary, friendless and predictable. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself, dragging her reluctantly into the world that everyone else navigates effortlessly and takes for granted. It took me a while to warm to Eleanor, her repressed personality and her stilted life but once I got into this book, I loved it. All I can say is, give Eleanor a chance. She’s worth it.
Pretty Little Things : T M E Walsh
Serial Killer Thriller
I couldn’t resist putting just one dark thriller on the list. I haven’t read it yet, I’m saving it for my holiday. Having nearly lost her own life, Charlotte is determined to keep her daughter Elle safe. When local girls start to go missing, it is her worst nightmare. As local DI Madeleine Wood digs deeper into the lives of the missing girls, their friends and neighbours, she uncovers secrets more terrible than anyone ever imagined. We are told this is a nail-biting thriller with a shocking twist in the tail. Reviewers say it is a well written, gruesome page turner with plenty of guts and gore. Sounds grim, even for me. You have been warned.
People in the Room : Norah Lange
A 20th Century Voyeuristic Masterpiece
A young woman in Buenos Aires sees three women in the house opposite. As she begins to watch them, she makes up fantasy lives for them; as accomplices to a crime, players in a mysterious affair, troubled spinsters contemplating suicide. Lange conjures up a claustrophobic world of women, full of ambiguity, mystery and hallucinations. It has been described as frustrating, never coming to any satisfactory conclusion. If you like a happy ending, this is not the book for you. Lange, however, is a supremely skilled writer and was a key figure of the Argentinian avant-garde. This is an Argentine classic, published for the first time in English. I shall be giving it a go this summer and will let you know my thoughts. I hope you’ll join me.
This is Going to Hurt : Adam Kay
The Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you. This is Going to Hurt gives a no-holds-barred account of Adam Kay’s time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. I have seen this on every bookshop’s bestseller shelves this summer – and it’s recommended by Stephen Fry so it must be good.
Start with Why : Simon Sinek
When your Business needs a Boost
Subtitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone”, this is a global bestseller, and the TED Talk based on it is the third most watched of all time. Simon Sinek is an unshakeable optimist. He believes in everyone’s ability to inspire others. Start with Why explores why some people and organisations are more inventive, pioneering and successful than others. It analyses leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Steve Jobs, and discovers that they all started by asking why, rather than what or how. He explains what it takes to truly lead and inspire others – and how anyone can learn to do it. If you’re planning to read this one over the summer, just warn your colleagues beforehand. They might not recognise you when you come back.
Boxsets To Get Your Teeth Into
These are my favourite thriller and crime series, all well-written with compelling characters, page-turning stories but not stomach-churningly gory. Always start with the first in the series – there is nothing more frustrating than reading a boxset out of order and realising that you can work out the ending because you’ve previously read the next book.
Scarpetta Series : Patricia Cornwell
Start with Postmortem
Temperance Brennan Series : Kathy Reichs
Start with Déjà Dead
Shetland Series : Ann Cleeves
Start with Raven Black
Hillary Greene Series : Faith Martin
Start with Murder on the Oxford Canal
DCI Ryan Mysteries : L J Ross
Start with Holy Island
Department Q Series : Jussi Adler-Olsen
Start with Mercy (UK) or The Keeper of Lost Causes (US)
There are many, many more books that I could recommend as holiday reading. I haven’t even mentioned Camilla Lackberg, Viveca Sten, Val McDermid or Henning Mankel, all of whom are perennial favourites. If crime fiction is not for you, give Kate Atkinson, Barbara Kingsolver or Anne Tyler a go. I have tried to give a broad range of genres and writing styles that should suit the most eclectic of readers. If you do get the time to read any or all of the above recommendations, do let me know what you think. If you have any other ideas of books we absolutely must read, please contact me. I would hate to think I was missing out on something really good – and I have two weeks’ holiday coming up.
If you are wondering what has happened to our luxury furniture posts, don’t worry. Like the rest of us, they are having a short summer break. Rest assured, luxury furniture and designer accessories will be back in a couple of weeks, with a sneak peek at some fabulous signature pieces on their way for the autumn.
In the meantime, make the most of what’s left of the summer – and happy reading!