Your Essential Holiday Reads

Getting your read on for the holidays? 
If you are mostly into literary fiction, and not easily swayed by the seductive “popular beach reads” section at the airport, this reading list is for you.
I have never quite seen the point to filling one’s head with trivia, and am justifiably angered when being casually handed poorly written novels by friends on holiday.
So, in the spirit of community, here is my, personally curated, selection of novels befitting a holiday under the sun (and the shade provided by a stylish wide-brimmed hat). Adventure lurks around every corner in these five tried and tested classics:

  1. The Sun Also Rises/Fiesta – Ernest Hemingway
    But of course, I hear you think…Hemingway’s perfect novel about a group of friends travelling from Paris to Spain in the 1920s. There is drama, love complications surrounding a beautiful woman, the Pamplona bull run, a devilishly handsome and heroically naive young bullfighter, the jaded EasyJetSet of the time, and an American named Jake Barnes to fall in love with.

    Ideal if you’re on a group holiday in Spain with a mix of your artistic and minor-European-royal friends. They all drink too much, suffer from a variety of mental dysfunction, and engage in badly thought through interpersonal entanglements that spell disaster. You’re there to restore everyone’s sanity through your devoted friendship, romantic disposition, and deep understanding of the Human Condition.

    To purchase this title click here

  2. Journey by Moonlight – Antal Szerb
    Join anti-hero Mihály in his efforts to escape his wife on their honeymoon in Italy (set in pre-war Europe with Fascism on the rise). This novel is surprisingly- and endlessly funny, sometimes sentimental, has beautiful imagery and descriptions, a series of dynamic off-key characters, and will leave you eager to read everything Antal Szerb has ever written (a good idea, he is truly wonderful).

    Fitting if you’re an intellectual snob travelling alone through Italy. All you want to do is look at ancient basilicas and fantasise about The Grand Tour during the Age of Enlightenment. People constantly interrupt your solo adventure, and you resign to the fact, that you will never be as alone as you long to be.

    To purchase this title click here

  3. Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
    You’ve watched the film, now read the book. Karen Blixen’s riveting tales from her time in Kenya. “I had a farm in Africa…” and that wonderfully untameable beau, Denys Finch-Hatton…

    Perfect if you’re in East Africa, and your trophy husband has abandoned you to jet off on a hunting expedition with a foxy big game huntress. You run into a dashing Englishman (the unemployable second son of Lord Whats-It), who is able to step into the deepest corners of your soul, and help bring out your hidden genius. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and a new start for you…

    To purchase this title click here

  4. The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig
    Fancy spending your holiday not committing to anything too long or strenuous? Then Zweig’s collected stories might be the thing to sink your teeth into. Nostalgic, witty, and sentimental. 20th Century literary fiction at its finest.

    You are on holiday somewhere by a Mittel-European lake of historical and social importance. Lean back and devour the stories by Zweig one bite at the time, on a smart hotel terrace facing the stillness of the lake. Preferably at dusk with an Old Fashioned in hand, and nursing a broken heart that needs to be understood.

    To purchase this title click here

  5. Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan
    The trials and tribulations of carelessly scheming Seventeen-year-old Cécile, who is spending the summer on the French Riviera with her father and his new love, Elsa. Everything goes horribly wrong. A thrilling, and so very triste little read.

    No, just no. Do not go there!

    To purchase this title click here


Image: Photograph by Vogue Photographer Cliff Coffin of Model Jean Patchett & Ernest Hemingway at Finca Vigia 1950 

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