The Blagger's Guide To...Greatest holiday reads ever

'The best novels can make you shiver in the sun'

"Swallows and Amazons" by Arthur Ransome (Red Fox, £7.99)

You'll want to give this to your children as a window on a time when adventures came from swimming, fishing, camping and exploring rather than in an Xbox, but when you remember what John, Susan, Titty, Roger, Nancy and Peggy got up to in those boats you might think it safer just to reread it yourself and reminisce about that perfect childhood you never had. The best line is when Nancy reveals that she is really called Ruth, but changed her name when she heard that pirates are ruthless.

"Cider With Rosie" by Laurie Lee (Vintage Classics, £7.99)

Set in a forgotten England when lads were lads, girls were pretty and summer lasted for ever, this classic by Lee (right) must be read in a hammock with a cold cider on hand. "Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie's burning cheeks. Never to be forgotten, or ever tasted again ...."

"The Beach" by Alex Garland (Penguin £8.99)

Recently reissued by Penguin in a paperback edition, this is the perfect reading on your paradise holiday island. The moral of the story is: be careful what you wish for, and beware of men calling themselves Daffy Duck.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (Arrow, £6.99)

A 50th anniversary edition of this southern American classic was published last year. Read it somewhere oppressively hot, with camellia bushes, molasses-thick air, and a mad dog lurching down the main street ....

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Penguin Modern Classics, £9.99)

A classic of magical realism in which solitude is all-important and linear time is meaningless can only really be read on holiday. Just make sure that it's a long holiday (and remember that it's not meant to be a guidebook to Columbia).

"One Day" by David Nicholls (Hodder, £7.99)

Nicholls' word-of-mouth bestseller sold its millionth UK copy last week, and the film is due for release in August; Hodder's film tie-in edition is just out. The book is set over 20 years, meeting its two protagonists each St Swithin's Day. Unfortunately, if you want to flee to Paris to catch up with your college sweetheart, you're too late: St Swithin's Day was two days ago.

"A Room With a View" by E M Forster (Penguin Classics, £8.99)

That kiss ... in Florence ... in a field of violets ... go on, you know you want to.

"Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow" by Peter Høeg (Vintage, £8.99)

There's nothing like reading a convincing novel in a place that's completely inappropriate to its setting. Try, for example, Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang in Tuscany, or Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway on a Greek Island. Or read Høeg's delicious, icy-cool, 1992 Scandinavian detective story while sunbathing on a Caribbean beach. We guarantee it will make you shiver.

Comments