The 10 books I have read on holiday, and whether you should bother reading them or not


I am currently typing this next to the pool on the 10th day of my 11 night holiday (!!) on the Notes section of my iPhone, like the professional and committed blogger you have always known me to be. One thing that may surprise you about me (well, it always does seem to surprise people, oddly enough, maybe I should take that personally?) is that I LOVE to read. As a child I used to force my nan to take me to the library and get out six books a week. This however petered off when I got into adulthood. 'I just don't have TIME to read!' I complain to people around, whilst refreshing Twitter for the 30th time on my 45 min daily commute or sat at home watching an episode of Four Weddings on Now TV for the fifth time.  

Some people look forward to holidays as they like to travel and see new things. Not me! As I've told everyone who will listen and many who won't, I did all the travelling I'll
ever need to do when I mooched around Switzerland for four days alone once and managed to discover myself in the process (please look forward to forthcoming memoir, Eat Pray Selfie). If I took a gap year I'd honestly rather use it to sit at home and catch up on laundry than do yoga and climb mountains or whatever it is that people who 'travel' like. No, when I come on holiday I look forward to it because I like to a) lie down all day b) drink cocktails and c) READ. One of my few talents in life is that I can read really fast (probably due to my aforementioned insufferable swotty reading habit as a child) so I have so far read TEN BOOKS on this holiday!

I thought about doing a Twitter thread about this but then realised that would probably be annoying and alienate another 11-15 followers and - having recently been charged the £17 a year or thereabouts I pay to host this godforsaken website - thought might as well use it! I am writing this because I always, always ask for book recommendations so thought I would share some of my own. In terms of genre this is a Mixed Bag. So if the three rambly introduction paragraphs haven't bored you to tears already, here they are, in chronological order of when I read them:

1. London by Tube: A History of Underground Station Names, by David Revill

Why did I read this book?: I saw it was the first book I'd ever downloaded on my Kindle six years ago and remembered loving it so much I wanted to read it again. That is correct, I am INCREDIBLY cool and interesting.

What is this book about?: Pretty much what it says on the tin, it is a history of the Underground and various areas of London, broken down into tube station by tube station. No wait come back!!!! 

Did I like this book?: I love this book but that is because I am a nerd and am obsessed with London history. I have now lived in London nine years(!!!) and in this time have developed connections to areas all over the shop so found it very easy to relate to. This is very informative and interesting but also, as extremely important in a non fiction book, Easy To Read.

Should you buy and read this book?: Well I think you should but I am a nerd. Maybe don't if you think it sounds boring but if you think it might be interesting give it a go.

2. The Queen And I, by Sue Townsend

Why did I read this book?: My friend Luke told me about it and I thought it sounded interesting and I also LOVED the Adrian Mole series as a child so thought I'd give it a go. (In retrospect, should I really have been reading the Adrian Mole series as a child? No wonder I developed such a love of complaining).

What is this book about?: This book imagines the Royal Family being forced to move onto a council estate following the election of a Republican Party. It was written in 1992 so not only are all your old faves QEQM, Margaret and my beloved Di all still alive, Di and Charles are still together(!!!).

Did I like this book?: It was pretty funny and also had a lot of smart things to say about poverty and class which sadly enough are maybe even more appropriate in 2017 than they were in 1992. Also, much as I wish I did because of my Diana obsession, I have only the vaguest of memories of Diana still being alive so it was very interesting to see her written about without the Tragic Saint angle. 

Should you buy and read this book?: Well I think you should because I liked it but as a warning, overall the Royal Family do come off well in it - so if you are indeed an ardent republican you might want to steer clear.

3. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

Why did I read this book?: Everyone on Twitter is always talking about it and saying it's good and I like to fit in.

What is this book about?: Four friends in New York City one of whom is deeply troubled and has a mysterious past.

Did I like this book?: Well, I will start by saying I thought the book was *good*. It was beautifully written and I felt like the characters were my own bezzies by the end. 

However, did I *like* it? Not sure. This is the most depressing book I have ever read. Literally. I cried several times while reading this book, and not in a 'Jack may have died, but at least him and Rose found each other and they'll meet up again in heaven!!!' kind of way. In a 'I can't believe things like this happen in the world, and there is nothing I can do to stop it' kind of way. I know not everyone finds it as difficult to compartmentalise as I do, so maybe you won't find this book as difficult as me, but there you go. 

Even though the book was good, I still am finding it upsetting a week and 7 more books later and I kind of in a way wish I hadn't read it.

Should you buy and read this book?: Well it is very good and people bang on about it for a reason but if you want my honest opinion life's too short. (Especially as this book is about 4 million pages long).

However, I do think it is my duty to say think carefully before reading this book if you find any of the following specifically triggering (vaguely spoilery): physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, abusive relationships, child abuse, eating disorders, self harm, suicide.

4. 1227 QI Facts To Blow Your Socks Off - compiled by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harkin 

Why did I read this book?: It was on my Kindle already (not sure why - it's very Last Minute Father's Day Gift) and I really needed a break after the emotional onslaught of A Little Life, as discussed.

What is this book about?: Literally 1227 random facts.

Did I like this book?: Can't remember any of the facts so can't have been that interesting, but it was, indeed, a good distraction from A Little Life and a good way to pass a few hours.

Should you buy and read this book?: To be honest probably not but I maintain that it's a good emergency Father's Day present.

5. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

Why did I read this book?: My sister told me I would like it so I thought why not?

What is this book about?: Genetics professor Don, who has high functioning Asperger's syndrome, decides he wants a wife so designs a system to find the perfect woman. Hijinks ensue!!!

Did I like this book?: This book is a little problematic in its one-sided depiction of Aspergers, and I wish it had explored this a little more. Other than that, it was a fun beach read, I loved both characters and couldn't help but root for them to end up together. It's a super feel-good book and at times pretty funny.

Should you buy and read this book?: If you fancy something pretty easy to read and feel-good it's as good a choice as any.

6. Himself - Jess Kidd

Why did I read this book?: It was recommended to me by someone from Twitter and I have found some of my very favourite books this way. 

What is this book about?: Sexy 26 year old orphan Mahoney is all grown up and returns to the Irish village where he was born to investigate his mother's murder with the help of a fabulous older woman wearing wigs and a bunch of well meaning ghosts.

Did I like this book?: I refer you to the phrase 'fabulous older woman wearing wigs' (yes I liked the book).

Should you buy and read this book?: I think you should, it's a pretty good thriller with very likeable characters. I saw the ending coming but I think I was supposed to (I'm usually crap at working out whodunnit). Also don't let the ghosts put you off - they mainly are just there to be spooky and well meaning and have almost no bearing on the actual plot. Recommended.

7. The Sense of An Ending - Julian Barnes

Why did I read this book?: It's been unread on my Kindle FOREVER and is apparently good and has won awards so why not?

What is this book about?: Retired man Tony receives a weird bequest in the will of his university ex girlfriend's mother. WHAT COULD IT ALL MEAN???

Did I like this book?: Not ashamed to say bits of this book (aka the reams of pages on philosophy) went right over my head and I still feel like I'm missing what must be the fundamental point of it all, but overall I enjoyed it, particularly the incredibly bitter and petty character of Veronica.

Should you buy and read this book?: It's a pretty quick and interesting read but apparently is now a film starring the incredible Jim Broadbent so maybe watch that instead? I'll get back to you. 

8. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

Why did I read this book?: It was near the top of my recommended Kindle reads and I loved Gone Girl so took the plunge.

What is this book about?: When Libby was 7 years old her brother killed everyone else in her family and has been in prison ever since as a result of her testimony. Now she is in her 30s she is beginning to wonder whether what she remembers is truly what actually happened. 

Did I like this book?: I LOVED this book! A properly amazing thriller with an ending that I did not see coming. I actually thought this was a bit better than Gone Girl.

Should you buy and read this book?: Yes it is very good.

9. He Said She Said - Erin Kelly

Why did I read this book?: It was on special offer. (I have found several incredible trashy thrillers this way).

What is this book about?: Couple Laura and Kit witness what appears to be a rape and testify on behalf of the victim in court. However, years later, the victim starts acting very strangely...

Did I like this book?: I obviously won't spoil for you regarding whether the rape actually happened or not, but I'm getting really quite sick of 'was she raped or is she lying?' presented as if it's a 50/50 question in the media, where in reality, only 2% of rape accusations are false. I think it is pretty irresponsible as a premise and I found myself rolling my eyes throughout all these bits.
However, the rape wasn't the only central question of the book, and what actually happened did turn out to be a massive twist I didn't see coming. Overall though, I found it difficult to get over my disdain.

Should you buy and read this book?: Make your own conclusions based on the above but I wouldn't read it again. 

10. Hot Mess - Lucy Vine

Why did I read this book?: It was number one on my Kindle recommended list so thought I'd try it out.

What is this book about?: Ellie is 29 and single and her friends keep pressuring her to date but she is sick of Tinder. Also she hates her job and has a loveable oddball family etc. You know the drill.

Did I like this book?: This was the funniest book I have read in years. It was just as funny as A Little Life is depressing. I guarantee you if you follow me on Twitter you will also find this funny, except if you only follow me because we've met a few times so you think it would be awkward to unfollow now. But yes! I loved it.

Should you buy and read this book?: Definitely, it is incredible.

So there you go! I hope you have enjoyed this summary of my 'holiday reads' and I hope at least four people care but I know that might be ambitious. At least with every post I can claim to be a blogger for that little bit longer. Ciao for now. xxxx

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