There’s nothing better than settling down to a good book on holiday, lying on a sun-bed, shaded from the sun and nodding off every so often. Dougie is very good at the nodding off bit, so much so it always surprises me how many books he can get through in a fortnight. We’re not particularly keen on Kindles, preferring to take proper books which you can flop over your face for extra shade or use to whack mozzies on bedroom walls. However, taking lots of books adds to the weight of the luggage so we try to mix and match, choosing titles that might suit both of us and even, if we’re lucky, ones Rory might deign to read too.
So here’s the low-down on the Burgess Book Bonanza this summer.
Rory was always a great little reader when he was younger but then hit the teens and it became very difficult to encourage him to open a book unless he had to for school. This summer we had a little more success and, with some gentle nudging (ok, nagging) we persuaded him to get into the habit again.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
“Can’t I just watch the film?”
“No you can’t. For god’s sake just read the blummin’ thing.”
A success. He read it to the end, we had a decent family discussion about the ending and Rory shrugged, declaring it ‘ok’.
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
A classic we thought he might find interesting and worth a punt as it only has 140 pages. It’s written by a man who, completely paralysed after a stroke, ‘dictated’ this memoir using only one eyelid. Rory appreciated it was a book ‘worth reading’ but he still didn’t enthuse about it.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson.
Dougie and I loved reading this earlier in the year, a bestseller from a Swedish author which is a funny, unusual tale full of potentially believable encounters with characters from history. A cross between Forrest Gump and Voltaire’s Candide. We thought Rory would enjoy this and we were right. A big thumbs up from our lad.
Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace.
Rory’s favourite from the summer. A light read, quite laddish, but with gentle humour about a freelance writer who sees a beautiful girl in the street, happens to find her disposable camera and decides to develop the photos in order to track her down.
“You’ll like this, Mum. It’s got blogging and Facebook in it.” He was right, I did!
The Yard by Alex Grecian
1899. A gruesome story, set in London. Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper.
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
I don’t think I ever finished Tom Wolfe’s most famous novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, but Dougie did so he was eager to get his hands on this one which, he tells me, is a cracker of a read. It’s set in Miami, is funny, satirical and very contemporary, but it weights a ton so it was touch and go whether it would be allowed in the case.
The Bat by Jo Nesbo
This Scandi thriller is the first of the Harry Hole detective series, which Dougie should probably have read first before the others in the set. If he had, he would have realised the detective’s surname is pronounced ‘Hurle’ (try saying it like the Swedish chef in The Muppets) rather than Hole, rhymes with Nat King…
Dougie also read countless thrillers this summer, too numerous to mention and all featuring a 6′ tall, 40-something hero. Wonder why?
Deep Blue Sea by Tasmina Perry
I was sent this book to review and it was a decent, easy read. A cut above some of the usual chic-lit in that it has a thread of suspense running through it. Well-written, set in Thailand, London and the Cotswolds, it was good holiday material.
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
I bought this in the gift shop at the Heinrich Harrer museum in Huttenberg because I wanted to know more about the man whose remarkable life had led to the creation of the museum. A true adventure story of an Austrian prisoner-of-war who escaped internment in India and eventually reached Tibet via endless months of trekking across the Himalayas.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, An Adventure by Artemis Cooper
A biography of man who took off at the age of 18 to walk across Europe in the 1930s before fighting in Greece and Crete during the war. A scholar, a soldier and author, he is quite a character and it’s fascinating to learn about him but, to be honest, I’m getting bogged down in the detail of every part of the journey. My book mark hasn’t moved for a few weeks now and I’m still not even a third of the way through.
The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott
My favourite read this summer. A very clever novel spanning seven decades, using tarot cards as chapter themes. Larry Zagorski, a young science fiction writer in 1941, looks back on that crucial year and traces his place within a web which connects the Second World War, the Space Age, Rudolf Hess and Ian Fleming. A blurring of fact and fantasy. An intelligent read but well worth the effort. Dougie recommends this too and Rory might have a crack at it soon.
What books did you read this summer? Any recommendations?