The quest for the perfect holiday read


Lunettes de soleil et livre fond plage exotique

Choosing a book to take on holiday with you is serious business. Without proper preparation and research, you might end up making a fatal error which could lead to emotional distress, divorce or even imprisonment. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Which is the best type of book to take on holiday?

A classic

See: Anything that you wish you had read in high school, or anything written in the last few years which has received a major literary award.

Pro: When else are you going to get the time to lose yourself in a great work of literature? How good will it feel to come back from holiday feeling as though you have used your time off work to truly achieve something?

Con: You might develop uncontrollable book envy as your friends devour one whizzy beach read after another as you battle through 975 pages of Anna Karenina, leading to slowly simmering resentment that will create cracks in the foundations of your friendship that will only deepen over time.

Something ‘light’

See: any chick lit or mass market thrillers which aren’t too strenuous on the old mind cogs.

Pro: What better time to give your brain a rest and enjoy life’s simpler pleasures?

Con: Define light? How do you know that your frothy and silly retro romp about three beautiful and morally flexible young friends trying to make it in Hollywood (Valley of the Dolls) won’t end in tragedy of Shakespearean proportions (and for real, Shakespeare could’ve learned a few things from Jacqueline Susann. If there is one thing his plays are missing, it’s really great wig-pulling fight scenes set in women’s toilets).

That book everyone’s talking about:

See: Gone Girl, The Dinner, Inferno, How To Be a Woman, How Should A Person Be?

Pro: It’s bound to be worth the hype, right?

Con: Sometimes books become hits that everyone wants to talk and write about because some people find them fist-shakingly rage-inducing. If someone you know is desperate to talk about one of these books, it could be to share their joy with others, or equally as likely to purge themselves of the horror of That Ending (yes The Dinner, I’m looking at you).

A book that is universally beloved

See: The Hunger Games, Good Omens, The Fault In Our Stars, The Book Thief, Ender’s Game

Pro: Well, surely you can’t go wrong? You know you will love this book. Everyone loves this book. It won’t make you angry. It won’t ruin your holiday. It won’t make you want to throw your Kindle into the sea.

Con: What if it’s too good? What if it’s so unputdownable that every hard-earned penny you have paid for your trip away has been in vain, as you eschew sightseeing and going to the beach in favour of spending seven straight days in District Twelve with Katniss?

A bonkbuster:

See: Fifty Shades of Grey, Bared To You, Hollywood Wives, Riders, Lace

Pro: Obvious.

Con: What if your real life partner fails to match up to Christian Grey? What if your eye starts to wander past the person that you came on holiday with, eventually leading to the irrevocable break-up of your relationship? What if you suddenly become a sex maniac and get thrown in a harsh foreign prison for public lewdness, and request to use your one phone call to get in touch with Jilly Cooper and ask her to bail you out because it’s all her fault?