Swimsuit? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Overly ambitious selection of books for a holiday away with young children? Of course. Even if these days I don’t get quite as many lazy afternoons devouring a book on the sun lounger as I’d like (way too many sandcastles to build and pool bombing competitions to judge), I never go on holiday without packing at least a couple of books. From moving memoirs to moody thrillers, here’s just some of the new reads that made it into my suitcase this year (and I loved).
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death-Maggie O’Farrell
Author Maggie O’ Farrell produces a really powerful memoir with a difference; by recounting seventeen separate near-death experiences that have shaped her life and defined who she is today. From a near fatal childhood illness to a remote encounter with a stranger, these snatches of life and near-misses make for an utterly moving and compelling read, and I found it even more poignant when read in the present day context of her young daughter’s life-changing health condition.
Can You Hear Me-Elena Varvello
Part coming of age story, part psychological thriller, I pretty much finished this short novel in one sitting. Set in a small Italian town during a long hot 1970s summer, sixteen year old Elia’s fairly dull and unremarkable life begins to unravel as his father’s mental health deteriorates and a couple of shockingly violent crimes are committed, rocking his small community. Moody and intense.
Little Fires Everywhere- Celeste Ng
Starting with a house set on fire by a troubled teenage daughter, it soon becomes clear that ‘flames’ of one sort or another are ablaze throughout the community of Shaker Heights in this brilliant book, set in 1990s America. Focussing on two families whose lives become intertwined, I found it a really interesting and engaging read with strong characters, exploring family, race, politics and what it means to be a mother.
The Party-Elizabeth Day
This dark and twisted story of friendship, class, envy and obsession almost immediately reminded me of The Talented Mr.Ripley. From the claustrophobic opening scene, set in a police interview room, I was completely drawn into the story of outsider Martin, and how the events on the night of his best friend’s 40th birthday party have brought him to be here, under police interrogation. Is he the perpetrator or the victim? Despite there being not one likeable character in the whole book (even our narrator Martin is thoroughly unpleasant), it’s a gripping page turner and the perfect beach read.
This is Going to Hurt- Adam Kay
At times properly laugh out loud funny, at others eye-openingly tragic, this is a brutally honest account of working as a junior doctor for the NHS. As someone who is incredibly grateful to the dedicated and hardworking people who have looked after myself and my loved ones over the years, I found it a very humbling read, filled with humanity and emotion, but without being sentimental. Kay has basically written a very funny, very frank love letter to the NHS and all the amazing people who work very hard to hold it together, most of the time. Essential reading
Photography: A Study In Chic | Angello Lopez | Rachel Lees
I’m a writer and content creator, working with brands to create inspiring bespoke content, as well as on my own projects. Having spent 12 years working at Glamour before going freelance, I now spend my time working with a diverse range of mainly lifestyle, health, well-being and beauty brands, on anything from blog writing, website copy, features and press releases, to e-marketing, social media content and campaign management. And while my average working day may not be as glamorous as during my time in the magazine industry, I love the flexibility of working for myself and the daily variety of working with new people and on different projects.
Having given up city life for seaside dwelling, if I’m not busy tapping away you’ll probably find me down at the beach with my young children, with a large coffee in hand, or with my nose in a book. Ideally, all three.