A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
So, I have this weird thing when it comes to reading on holiday. Or maybe it’s not that unusual, but I no one’s yet told me they do the same thing (if you do, shout out in the comments below – yay for sharing reading habits!). While I will usually treat myself to a shiny new book at the airport pre-flight, the books I take with me on holiday – Kindle-fied, obviously, gotta save that suitcase space for cute shoes – are mostly old favourites. And not just old favourites, but old favourites that I’ve read over and over again on holidays past. There’s something so relaxing and cosy about sinking into a familiar book when you’re on unfamiliar soil. Plus points if that comes with major nostalgia, so a lot of these books are ones I read when I was much younger on holidays with my parents.
Here are a few of the repeat offenders and my holiday memories of them …
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Just an all-round favourite of mine – and hundreds of thousands of readers around the world. But the Hitchhikers series works especially well on holiday, with its humour and effortless readability. Plus, the total Britishness of Adams’ writing makes a joyful home-away-from-home. It’s also a fun way to annoy people you’re on holiday with, because you’ll constantly be wanting to read them hilarious excerpts while they’re trying to read the – probably much less fun – books they’ve brought for themselves.
Atonement by Ian McEwan – I stole my mum’s copy when I was 11 years old and read it in batches in the toilet (not even when I was on the toilet – I used to just sit on the floor and read. Top tip kids: it makes a great hiding spot to read books your parents don’t want you to!). I still remember how bowled-over I was by the concept of an unreliable narrator, and more so just the idea that a private, intimate scene could be construed so vastly differently from an outsider’s perspective than to those living inside it. For me, all the elements just come together in Atonement to make as near-perfect a novel as I’ve read. The intensely detailed style of McEwan also works well on holiday, where feeling laid-back and having a bit more time to spare suits his languorous prose.
Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones – Anything by Jones makes perfect holiday reading. I love her unique style of whimsical fantasy, and her books have the comforting lightness but depth of modern classics. I read Hexwood on holiday with my parents in Seville when I was around 10 years old and was totally mesmerised by the weirdness of its reality/sci-fi/fantasy blend. Plus, the looping storyline itself felt suited to the repetitiveness of long summer holidays back during primary school years (what I wouldn’t give for one of those summer breaks now!).
Harry Potter – Of course, the ultimate comfort read for anyone who grew up with Harry and the crew. I used to re-read the whole series at least once a year – often finishing Deathly Hallows and flipping straight back to Philosopher’s Stone. Now I savour them a bit more slowly, but the series is still as magical and vibrant as ever with every revisit. Being an only child, reading Harry on holiday felt a bit like having Harry, Ron and Hermione along with me for the ride. Other childhood favourite series I like to dig out for holidays are Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Edgewood Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
One Day by David Nicholls – Is it just me or do books containing holiday scenes within them just seem to fit so perfectly when you’re away on a trip yourself? Nicholls’ Us might be even more fitting for this (and maybe that’s another reason Hitchhiker’s is such brilliant holiday reading), but I have a soft spot for One Day. It’s a book I revisit on an almost yearly basis, both for educational purposes – it has some of the most brilliant characterisation I’ve ever seen, and the dialogue is effortless – and as a reader. Every time I open the pages I have the sensation of reconnecting with old friends. And each time there’s some new emotional understanding for me to take away.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières – I went to Kefalonia last year, a trip I’ve been wanting to do for years, partly inspired by the gorgeous scenery in John Madden’s film adaptation of the book. It was even more beautiful than I expected – I highly recommend you try and make a visit! And of course I had to read Captain Corelli while I was there. There’s this beautiful scene in the book where Pelagia is watching hunky to-be Greek fiance swimming with dolphins off the shore, thinking about love and lust, which I read on the balcony of our little Bnb in Assos, also watching dolphins play off the shore and falling just a little bit more in love with the island. Magical.
Natasha is YA author of THE ELITES and THE MEMORY KEEPERS, with a love for all things fantasy and sci-fi. She grew up between the UK and Malaysia, where her mother is from, and went on to study for a degree in Geography at the University of Cambridge. She currently lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Alongside writing, she works as a fashion blogger (www.girlinthelens.com) and yoga teacher! She is represented by Taylor Haggerty atWaxman Leavell. Find out more about Natasha’s writing at her author blog (http://natashangan.com/).