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My Holiday Booklist for 2014

Updated on September 13, 2014
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What I'll Be Reading On Holiday This Year

This is a top ten list of my favorite holiday books for 2013. What can be better than having a great book to read by the beach or in the park, letting yourself fully relax! This list is quite girly - holiday reading for women rather than men, but it's all down to personal taste really.

What makes the perfect summer reading list? The best holiday read for me is one that immerses me into another person's world, with originality and imagination. I like a variety of genres, but the most essential factor for a great book is one that I will read again and revisit like an old friend.

I love reading books on holiday that are set in another country, as you will see from my list. There's a mixture of old favorites on my summer booklist and newer reads here too, I hope you will enjoy

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

The title sounds cute, but believe me it isn't!

I bought Little Bee because, firstly I liked the cover (I am fickle like that) and secondly there wasn't really any information in the blurb on the back as to what this book was about. Intrigued I bought it and read it in a day, it is absolutely brilliant.

So, as the book cover gives very little away, I won't either! All I will say is that it follows a Nigerian girl who is an illegal immigrant in the UK, it is an interesting insight into the lives of immigrants. Little Bee is touching, funny, sinister and you will be mulling it over for weeks after finishing the book. Read it!


Riders by Jilly Cooper

A classic 80's "bonkbuster"!

I just had to feature a Jilly Cooper novel here, as she writes ultimate girly holiday book, and what better than her first "bonk buster", Riders!

First published in 1985, this book became an immediate best seller and is still very popular today as it is gloriously retro but not dated.

In a nutshell the book is about the glamorous world of show jumping, and the people who compete to a high level in this sport and all the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes! The main character is the roguish and handsome Rupert Campbell Black, but you will find that the plot doesn't just focus on him but revolves around many other characters too like the mysterious Jake and the feisty Fenella.

Pure escapism and fun! Click here to read my full review of Riders!

The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle by Vilar Esther

A Quirky Love Story

Set during the days of JFKs presidency, the Seven Fires of Mademoiselle is written through the eyes of Carlota, the daughter of the Argentine ambassador in Washington DC.

Her nanny is "Mademoiselle" a stunningly beautiful woman who attracts any man she meets, but is not interested in any of them.

At Christmas, Carlota's homemade decorations catch fire, and the fire brigade is called. Mademoiselle could have had her pick of all the hunky firemen, but it is the short bald fire chief that she immediately falls passionately in love with.

He shows no sign of reciprocating her love for him, and so Mademoiselle and Carlota embark on fire raising adventures to capture his heart. This is an enchanting and beautifully written story, which will change the mind of any love cynics out there!


Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

Bygone Summers

Cider with Rosie is a beautifully poetical book and was first published in 1959, it is an autobiography of the Laurie Lee's childhood, the first in a trilogy of memoirs. The reader is transported into the nostalgic and evocative memories of Laurie Lee growing up in small village in Gloucestershire (UK) just after the First World War.

Cider with Rosie is written in such a richly descriptive and expressive way that you feel part of his childhood too. This particular line from the chapter "Summer and Winter" should be enough encouragement for you to go and read this book immediately!

"The grass was June high and had come up with a rush, a massed entanglement of species, crested with flowers and spears of wild wheat, and coiled with clambering vetches, the whole of it humming with blundering bees and flickering with scarlet butterflies." From Page 150 of Cider with Rosie.

A Quick Poll!

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Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Romantic Italy

The heroine in A Room with a View is Lucy Honeychurch, who travels on a "grand tour" for the first time to Florence, Italy with her overbearing cousin Charlotte. In Florence she meets George, an Englishman staying in the same hotel. The story takes us on a journey of Lucy's self awareness, reflecting the social changes of the period from the repressed moral values of the Victorians to the more liberal Edwardian age.

This book also has one of the best kisses in literature - I won't spoil it for you, it is undeniably romantic!


A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Dryson

Gentle Humour

This book is not a guide book to ornithology in East Africa! The story follows Mr Malik, a quiet widower who has been in love with Rose Mbikwa, the leader of the weekly East African Ornithological Society walk in Nairobi.

When his arch enemy from his school day appears and starts showing an interest in Mrs Mbika, Mr Malik knows he has to make his feelings clear. This is such a charming and beautifully written book, with heartbreaking hidden secrets revealing themselves slowly as the book progresses. You will come away from reading this thinking "how lovely", and it really is.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

A Coming of Age Tale

Chad Harbach took 10 years to write "The Art of Fielding", which is his debut novel and it quickly became a best seller. Henry Skirmshander is a small and weedy 17 year old with a prodigal talent as a short stop baseball player.

Through strict regime and mentoring he becomes the star of the college baseball team. In a game where there are scouts visiting to watch him, Henry throws one bad ball, which changes his life and the lives of four other people.

You are drawn deeply into the lives of these five very contrasting characters and their relationships, this is such an engrossing book and I was sad to finish it!. This book explores the themes of growing up, the loss of innocence and paths we take in life - it is much more than a book just about baseball or college. And it doesn't matter one bit if you know nothing about the sport!

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

The Most Inspirational Travel Book Ever?

This is one of the best books I have ever read, ever! I read it whilst travelling around India in May last Summer and loved the authors observations of India.

Gregory David Roberts is a fascinating man, he escaped from a maximum security prison in Australia and fled to India. Shantaram is his story of his time in India, where he lived in the Bombay slums, founded a free health clinic for slum dwellers, was imprisioned in a harsh Indian prison, recruited by the Bombay mafia and then fought with the mujaheddin fighters in Afghanistan.

Roberts wrote Shantaram in prison (he was recaptured in Germany and sent back to Australia in 1990) where the prison guards destroyed his two first versions of the book.

This is truly an inspirational and mind blowing novel. Check out Shantaram.com for more information on the author.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

The Loss of Innocence

"Bonjour Tristesse" means "Hello Sadness" in English and was written by Francoise Sagan when she was just 8 years old, in 1954. This novel is about when a 17 year old girl's meddling with her father's love life goes too far.

This version of the book is translated from the French, but you can buy the French edition from Amazon. Set over a sultry summer in the French Riviera, it is beautifully written with a tragic ending.

Click here to read my full review of Bonjour Tristesse

Jamie Does....by Jamie Oliver

Recipes from all over the world!

A recipe book for a summer read can be a great inspiration to cook new dishes, you can sunbathe in the garden and salivate over the photos!

This is a collection of Jamie Oliver's best recipes from his TV series "Jamie Does.." where he travels to 6 different countries - Marrakesh, Athens, Venice, Andalucia, Stockholm and the Midi Pyrenees region of France. With his boundless enthusiasm and passion for great fresh food, there is bound to be a perfect recipe in here for you to cook and eat outside with friends or for a lazy summer afternoon.

What Are You Reading This Summer? - An extensive summer booklist or one choice book?

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    • profile image

      LeleanC 4 years ago

      Has anyone read an ebook called "Dangerous to Know" by Elaine Dex? very good!

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 4 years ago

      The only one I have read on your list is Jilly Cooper's Riders, I did find it difficult to put down once I started with it and I was glad that I had the sequel 'Rivals' to hand once I had finished it.

      I'm not normally a fan of 'chick lit' so generally steer clear of the 'romantic mush' that seems so prevalent these days, I'm currently reading 'The 100 Year OLd Man Who Jumped Out Of The Window And Disappeared' it seems quite promising so far... perhaps I will check out Little Bee, it sounds to be an interesting read.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love the way this list is set out. Great descriptions of the books make it easy to decide if it is something I would like to read.

    • profile image

      latelettings 5 years ago

      So many great books in here - already ordered a few off Amazon!

      We did a similar post a few weeks ago - we'd love to hear what you think of our suggestions?

      Jump over to our blog if you fancy checking it out!

    • profile image

      latelettings 5 years ago

      So many great books in here - already ordered a few off Amazon!

      We did a similar post a few weeks ago - we'd love to hear what you think of our suggestions?

      Jump over to our blog if you fancy checking it out!

    • profile image

      latelettings 5 years ago

      So many great books in here - already ordered a few off Amazon!

      We did a similar post a few weeks ago - we'd love to hear what you think of our suggestions?

      You can jump over to our blog to find it

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      "Dead Beautiful" by Melanie Dugan. It's a a fun retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades.

    • profile image

      clayva 5 years ago

      Just finished "The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo" series - all three books and they were great. I loved the main character, she's inspirational in a psychotic kind of way.

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      I'm going to take up most of your suggestions, apart from Jamie Oliver, that is.... :)

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

      Love your recommendations! Very professionally written. What else would I expect though from a professional. Thanks, be back soon.

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 5 years ago from Texas

      Haven't heard of any of these books or authors, but am looking for something new to read this summer. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      My summer reading starts this week...thanks for the recommendations! I just added many of these to my list. :)

    • Ellen Mitchell profile image

      Ellen Mitchell 5 years ago

      Appealing list. Your reviews of these books are beautifully written. I want to read A Room With A View. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      Oh, what a nice list. I am definitely going to check out Little Bee, that sounds fascinating.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 6 years ago

      Just finished Smokin Seventeen and waiting on the new Lee Child novel from the library. (I have a videoshowcase lens here on Squidoo about Mr. ChIld). Was not disappointed in #17 and newest Evanovich book.

      Blessed today because I am browsing for reading suggestions and your lens has excellent reviews. Thanks for featuring my lens about the novel The Help in your sidebar.

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Kim 6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      Vampire Academy & Norse Myths

    • Have2Cruise LM profile image

      Have2Cruise LM 6 years ago

      Great selection of books! I saw Riders there and almost flipped out. I read that book years ago and as I read your review it made me want to go and read it again. I'm looking forward to reading some of your other recommendations too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi! I just published a lens for a Quest, called Great Beach Reads, and this lens popped up as a related lens in the sidebar, so I had to visit. Great selection! I've read and enjoyed some of these, too. There's nothing like a little light fiction for summer vacations and the beach. Wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      There's some interesting books here. I love books, thrillers, horror, the classics. This summer I've alternated between Henning Mankell's "Wallander" novels and Tom Sharpe's. I just adore his books. Thankyou for your kind comments on my I of W lens.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Wow! I am thrilled to say I haven't read any of these books yet so I can add them all to my "must read" list. I am so glad Kim reviewed this lens and directed us all to it. Most Excellent!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      On my second Lawrence Sanders in a row. Sometimes you just need it light. ...Gracious, you make these selections sound good. Would love to be on the beach reading them all!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'm so grateful to Kim for suggesting this wonderful article about summer reading lists! Your reviews of each book makes me want to read them all! This is a most entertaining list!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thanks for an interesting reading list. I've lensrolled to my book club lens.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      Featured today at Squidoo Lens Reviews - http://blog.growwear.com/lazy-summer-reading/#comm...

      Stop by to pick up a badge if you'd like.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wonderful book reviews with fabulous presentation. I am ordering The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle as soon as I finish your page. Can't wait to read it! And it's not even a book I would typically choose for myself. Oh, I am an AVID fan of Stephanie Plum! Love everyone of those books. Marvelous lens!

    • profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Excellent collection and very well presented. I love to read books that I wouldn't normally choose. Blessed by a book-lovin' Squid angel :-)

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      Wonderful lens! I have not read any of the books you listed which is always intriguing to me, since I am an avid reader, usually 2 or 3 on the go at any one time. I did read the Help and would recommend it to anyone. Would be a great summer read. I too loved the pictures you added. Very nice touch.

      Lensrolled to my Booklist 2010.

    • ScientificHomes profile image

      ScientificHomes 7 years ago

      Nice work; I love the photos you included! I'm reading The People of the Earth currently, book three in the long historical fiction series written by Kathleen Gear, but I typically have several books going at once, ranging from non-fiction reference to classic novels. Great work!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I love book lists! One I recently finished and recommend is Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin. I'm looking forward to reading more of his books. Nice job on the lens. Love how you included pictures of the locales of the books. Great idea!

    • nickupton lm profile image

      nickupton lm 7 years ago

      I am reading "the Help" right at the moment. This is a very nice lens and I am lensrolling it to some of my book lenses.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      An excellent review lens. I hop around quite a bit on what I read, anything from self improvement to a good mystery.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh so many to choose from! I usually read some light stuff, often in a delightful setting, in the summer and at least one more serious novel. I've read The Lovely Bones so I won't be reading that again this summer, although maybe I'll check out the movie!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      I've enjoyed 2 or 3 of your picks already and will look out for some of the others. Enjoyed your reviews of this selection of summer reads!

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 7 years ago

      Great lens and love the sound of some of these! I'll be reading my way through the massive pile of books I seem to have accumulated over the years and never read! I'm really tempted by "One Day" though.