20 Brilliant Holiday Reads 2016 - Plus Book Author Q&A

Peak holiday season is rapidly approaching, so it’s time once again to stock up on books to take with you on your trip. We've put together our official top 20 holiday reads to help you choose and, as an additional bonus, we've also asked the authors to tell us their favourite memories of their own holidays. So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Charlotte Street – Danny Wallace

DANNY WALLACE IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and en.wikipedia.org

Jason Priestly lends a hand to a girl on Charlotte Street. They share a moment, but then she’s gone – accidentally leaving him holding her tatty disposable camera. He develops the photos and takes a look, which is when he spots something rather odd…

What makes it a good holiday read?

Everyone likes a good belly laugh on holiday and this book will provide plenty of those.

Danny, what's your favourite holiday memory?

"My favourite holiday memory is of riding an unhelpful camel around the pyramids in Cairo. He had his own ideas about what I should see that day, and it was mainly camel food."

Buy the Book

2. Want You Dead – Peter James

PETER JAMES IMAGE
 images from peterjames.com and telegraph.co.uk

Bryce and Red’s relationship dwindles thanks to his deceitfulness and Red wants nothing more to do with him. But he's become obsessed with the intention of destroying everything and everyone she loves…and then destroying her.

What makes it a good holiday read?

Fast-paced and thrilling, it will keep you on your toes throughout your entire holiday.

Peter, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“I was eighteen and me and some mates went to Benidorm for a camping holiday. We rented a car and went out driving in torrential rain, returning to the camp site around 2.30am.  As we drove across in the pitch darkness the car started slowing down. When we got out we could hear angry shouting behind us; it was a sealed tent inside which there were two German chaps.  The rear bumper of our car had somehow caught one of their ropes as we drove past and we had dragged them, in their tent, for half a kilometre across the site!  They did eventually see the funny side, and we became good friends.

Buy the Book

 3. Meatspace – Nikesh Shukla

NIKESH SHUKLAR IMAGE
images from nikesh-shukla.com and reviewbookshop.co.uk

Social media VS real life. Do you spend too much time on your social media accounts? Meatspace examines what can happen when we take our online personas too far away from reality.

What makes it a good holiday read?

This will help take your mind off your next status update and encourage you to actually enjoy your holiday; hopefully.

Nikesh, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“I had an unfortunate incident in Marrakech where I ended up having to share a hammam with my wife and in-laws. None of us realised that you don't wear clothes in a hammam. So we did the classically British thing of keeping calm, carrying on and not addressing the elephant in the room - all the nudity!”

Buy the Book

4. Museum of Extraordinary Things – Alice Hoffman

ALICE HOFFMAN IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and alicehoffman.com

In this mesmerising tale of a young girl, Coralie is the daughter of a sinister boardwalk ‘freak show’ owner in early twentieth century New York. Hoffman takes us on a moving journey of magic, romance and drama.

 What makes it a good holiday read?

This book is perfect for kicking back in a coffee shop and escaping into the depths of New York City’s vibrant history.

Alice, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“In Florida, I was at a pool overlooking the Gulf of Mexico with my rowdy children making too much noise. A woman was giving me annoyed looks because she wanted to finish her book and was reading one of my novels! I quickly gathered up the children and gave her peace, but was too embarrassed to tell her she was a reading a novel I'd written.”

Buy the Book

5. All Fall Down – Jennifer Weiner

JENNIFER WEINER IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and 1000kitap.com

Allison sees her pills as a way of getting through the difficulties in her life, but it's possible they could become her biggest problem. This is the story of Allison’s slow descent into prescription drug addiction and her struggle to find her way back up and out again.

What makes it a good holiday read?

Poignant yet comedic, making it an ideal read for easy-going afternoons in the sunshine.

Buy the Book

6. Adam – Ariel Schrag

ARIELSCHRAGmain
images from arielschrag.com

Adam is an awkward teenager, but he gets drawn into a whole new world when he goes to stay with his sister in New York. The events that follow cause him to question his ideas of love, sexuality and morality.

What makes it a good holiday read?

A romance with a twist; it makes for a great holiday talking point.

Ariel, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“Me and my Girlfriend met in New York, but her visa expired a month later (she's Scottish) and she had to return to the UK.  We later reunited in Paris and on our first morning ran all the way (her ahead, me trying to keep up) from our hotel through the streets of Paris to Susan Sontag's grave in Montparnasse.”

Buy the Book

7. Weirdo – Cathi Unsworth

CATHI UNSWORTH IMAGE
images from list.co.uk and cathiunsworth.co.uk

A private investigator in a small Norfolk seaside resort investigates a cold case from the 1980s; a 15 year old girl convicted of the ritualistic murder of a classmate. It seems that she did not act alone…

 What makes it a good holiday read?

Whilst embroiled in the mystery of the book, you can sit at the seaside and imagine your own version based on all the people around you.

Cathi, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“I will never forget when my Dad made my brother, my Mum and I climb up Helvellyn in the Lake District in the middle of a storm whilst being lashed by wind and rain. Thankfully, Dad decided it was a bit too dangerous for us to do the rest so we headed back down. Later there was a news report of a man being hit by lightning where we had just been!”

Buy the Book

8. Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman

PIPER KERMAN IMAGE
images from en.wikipedia.org and goodreads.com

After being sentenced to 15 months in a women’s prison for a 10-year-old drug trafficking crime, Piper Kerman tells the story of her experiences on the inside. A rare and detailed insight into the lives of women who are locked up and what happens to them along the way.

What makes it a good holiday read?

A true story makes a fascinating break from fiction and is good chance to really learn something on your holiday.

Buy the Book

9. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

AUDREY NIFFENEGGER IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and exileonninthstreet.com

Clare and Henry are married but Henry’s genetic clock periodically resets itself, throwing him unexpectedly into his past or future. This makes leading a normal life very difficult.

What makes it a good holiday read?

Holidays are perfect for leaving the restrictions of time and normality behind you.

Audrey, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“When I was a young artist I wanted to move to New York City. I went there in January 1983 and I arrived during a garbage strike. I took a bus to Grand Central Station and there was garbage piled twenty feet high along all the streets. I knew right then that I would never live there, and that freed me up to enjoy the rest of the trip."

Buy the Book

10. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

KATE ATKINSON IMAGE
images from lividlili.com and kateatkinson.co.uk

If you got another chance, what would you do differently? Ursula is born and then dies before her first breath. She is born again and lives, then dies a different way. She is born again, and so on. Each time she makes small changes which affects what happens to her in her next life.

What makes it a good holiday read?

What better time to reflect on our past actions and choices than whilst relaxing on holiday?

Kate, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“My best holiday memory is a three week trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.  It’s an astonishing place; the experience is in itself very meditative, something to do with the emptiness and the colour palette – just white, black and blue. And no people cluttering up the place. Bliss!”

Buy the Book

11. The Humans – Matt Haig

MATT HAIG IMAGE
images from harpercollins.ca and matthaig.com

A book about humans as seen through the eyes of an alien. Sent to Earth to erase all trace of a threatening research project carried out by a human professor, the alien witnesses things which eventually make him question his mission.

What makes it a good holiday read?

Going to a foreign country can be strange and disorientating, so what must it be like to find yourself in a completely different world?

Matt, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“My favourite ever holiday was to California when I was eight years old. The best part was going to Yosemite National Park. It must be one of the most incredible places on Earth. I remember swimming with my dad in the cold waters of 'Mirror Lake' and then, days later, at a motel in LA. No holiday since has been as great. I was so excited the whole time I needed a wee every ten minutes.”

Buy the Book

12. Dear Thing – Julie Cohen

JULIE COHEN IMAGE copy
images from Julie Cohen and glowmagazine.me

The story of a couple, Claire and Ben, seemingly perfect in every way. Except for one thing; they cannot have a baby. When Ben’s best friend, Romily, offers to act as surrogate all seems well again…but the situation soon causes her old feelings for Ben to resurface….

What makes it a good holiday read?

This book is emotional and thought-provoking, however ultimately it will lift your spirits. Perfect for a quiet beach read.

Julie, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“I've spent every summer of my life at my family's cottage. I was about thirteen and my friends and I dressed up as knights and wizards—my costume consisted of a bed sheet, a floppy hat and a sword made out of wood and aluminium foil—and set out across the lake in our canoes. The wind came up and our hats blew off - I will never forget trying to paddle across Roxbury Pond with a large fake sword poking me in the stomach and fellow boaters giving us the strangest looks ever.”

Buy the Book

13. Tempting Fate – Jane Green

JANE GREEN IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and webbiography.com

Love, followed by family, followed by temptation and eventually by betrayal. This is what happened when Gabby became restless in her quiet life with her husband and two daughters, and met another young, successful man named Matt.

What makes it a good holiday read?

Temptations and the complexities of the human heart are two things we can all relate to, no matter where we are. Long holiday? Don't forget to check out Jane's newest novel, 'Saving Grace'.

Jane, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“My favourite holiday was two years ago when we went to the Turks & Caicos islands. Every night I watched this incredibly stylish woman and her husband come for dinner. My only regret was not finding out anything about her, and on the day we left, just as the boat was about to pull away, she and her husband came tripping down the path with suitcases - the only other couple to be leaving that same day. We started talking and we didn't stop for two years - they turned out to live fifteen minutes away, and she is now one of my closest friends!”

Buy the Book

14. Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

EMMA DONOGHUE IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and dailytexanonline.com

A novel based on the true story of the unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet in 1870s San Francisco. Her friend, Blanche Beunon, risks everything to bring her murderer to justice amid a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic.

What makes it a good holiday read?

A bit of mystery and historical fiction set in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the USA. Put them together and enjoy.

Emma, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“At the museum of immigration in Ellis Island, I tried one of the puzzles meant to determine whether passengers were of the necessary minimum intelligence to be allowed into the United States. Epic fail!”

Buy the Book

15. One Day – David Nicholls

DAVID NICHOLLS IMAGE
images from shortlist.com and zimbio.com

Emma and Dexter meet at their graduation on the 15th of July 1988, then must go their separate ways the next day. But where will they be on this same day every year that follows?  A unique love story with a smattering of brilliant humour.

What makes it a good holiday read?

With this book you can experience two people’s adult lifetimes in a snappy, fast-paced and entertaining manner; perfect for a short break.

Buy the Book

16. Lucky Us – Amy Bloom

AMY BLOOM IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and lareviewofbooks.org

It’s the 1940s. Half-sisters Iris and Eva have left their father behind and are on a mission to re-invent themselves; seeking fame and fortune in Hollywood. Their journey takes them all over the States and overseas, encountering all manner of successes and setbacks.

What makes it a good holiday read?

If this doesn’t make you want to  travel and explore life’s possibilities, nothing will.

Amy, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“In Sicily, my boyfriend and I pretended to be married to please our hosts who 1) didn't care 2) weren't fooled 3) were pretty sure that we were going to hell anyway-but not in an unkind way.”

Buy the Book

17. Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little

ELIZABETH LITTLE IMAGE
images from amazon.com and elizabeth-little.com

Janie is a stunning and clever ‘it girl’ fresh out of prison. Released on a technicality after having been convicted of her mother’s murder, she must now follow the one lead she has to find out what really happened. Trouble is; she isn’t even sure it wasn’t her…

What makes it a good holiday read?

It’s incredibly fast paced and you won’t want to put it down, making it ideal for reading whilst lounging on your sunbed.

Elizabeth, what's your favourite holiday memory?

"Holiday travel is generally a miserable schlep here in the U.S., but one Christmas my husband and I went to visit his brother in Budapest, and that was worth any number of unpleasant airport experiences. Our very first night we went to the Christmas market in Vörösmarty Square, and as I took in the glow of the fairy lights, the crisp scent of fresh fir and the rich, boozy warmth of a cup of mulled wine (well, okay, several cups of mulled wine), I knew it would be a holiday I'd never forget.”

Buy the Book

18. The Lie – Helen Dunmore

HELEN DUNMORE IMAGE
images from writing.ie and independent.co.uk

A World War One soldier, just back from the trenches with an intense load of painful memories behind him, finds himself about to step into the unknown. As well as the mud, barbed wire and terror in his recent past there also lies the memory of the biggest relationship of his life. Can he move forward and escape the consequences of the lie?

What makes it a good holiday read?

The holiday setting of rolling hills and headlands would be the ideal location to immerse yourself in this emotional story of love and memory.

Helen, what's your favourite holiday memory?

“During one holiday in France our car was hit by a drunk driver. The next day was my husband’s birthday, and the children celebrated by decorating our rented house.  They festooned the house with home-made decorations, dangling bunches of balloons and looping toilet-paper garlands from the light-fittings. That afternoon a gendarme called to take statements about the car crash.  With impeccable poise he made his way through the forest of decoration. Only the slightest of smiles betrayed his satisfaction:  his suspicions about the domestic life of the English had been proved correct.”

Buy the Book

19. We Were Liars – Emily Lockhart

EMILY LOCKHART IMAGE
images from goodreads.com and emilylockhart.com

Cady Sinclair is a beautiful, broken liar; raised in privilege and accustomed to spending her summers on her family’s private island. Only the arrival of true love reveals the racism, division and power plays being fuelled by her grandfather. A novel with many twists, turns and shocks.

What makes it a good holiday read?

The best kind of holiday read is the kind that keeps you guessing from arrival to departure. This is that kind of read.

Buy the Book

20. Land of Love and Drowning – Tiphanie Yanique

TIPHANIE YANIQUE IMAGE
images from luxuryreading.com and phillyfunguide.com

Orphaned by a shipwreck, two sisters and their half-brother find themselves with very uncertain futures. All are unusually beautiful and all possess a particular kind of magic. Follow three generations of this family from 1916 to the 1970s,  set against the political backdrop of the Virgin Islands which move from Danish to American rule.

What makes it a good holiday read?

If you’re heading off to an island paradise holiday this is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the history and rhythm of island life.

Buy the Book

Sadly, a small number of the authors weren't able to provide us with their holiday memories due to being too busy with other commitments; however we hope you enjoyed the contributions of those who could. Now all that's left to do is pick a book and get out there!

Related Articles