I loaded up my Kindle with about a dozen or so books before I left on holiday – more than I’ll need, I expect, but you never know! I haven’t used my Kindle in ages (it took me about two hours to find it – hidden in the bookshelf – and another half an hour to locate the charger) because this year I’ve had a bit of a return to proper books. I missed the papery feel of them and the fact that I could turn the corners down to mark my page (which my Mum tells me off for) and the way that I could slide them, once finished, onto the shelves to sit with the others. There’s something incredibly satisfying about building up a book collection, all of those colourful spines, all of those words sitting there waiting to be read.
But twelve hulking great hardback novels don’t travel too well, especially if your toiletries and beauty products already weight about ten kilos, so for holiday reading, Kindle it is. Here’s what I’ve downloaded…
1) The Swimmer by Joakim Zander. Amazon reviews call this a “thrilling debut”, an “absorbing chase thriller” – all of the words I want to hear when I’m choosing a holiday novel. It’s £4.79 at Amazon here
2) The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. I have a sneaking suspicion that this one’s going to be incredibly upsetting – if you’ve ever read Time’s Arrow you’ll know where I’m coming from. But this is getting very good reviews, so I’m going to buckle down and push on through it. Probably not the best holiday read, if I’m truthful, but at least I have plenty of more upbeat options to soften the blow! I was going to buy this in hardback, pre-holiday, but on the Kindle it’s a much more purse-friendly £6.64. Find it here
3) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I haven’t read any Lockhart, but she has been recommended to me a number of times and this is her latest novel. Let me know if you’ve read any of the others – you can find We Were Liars here, it’s £2.99
4) History of the Rain by Niall Williams. This was on the long-list for the Man Booker Prize 2014. I quite often choose my reading books by just ordering everything from the long- or short-list; I love the variety and there are always some real surprises on there. I’ll let you know how I get on with this one – if you want to take a look then it’s on the Kindle Store here.
5) The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, who’s J.K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym, as I’m sure you know. I’ve already read the first Cormoran Strike detective book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and I thought that it was really good. Not amazing, but good enough that I spent a whole weekend tucked up in bed with it, dipping in and out of the story in between bits of video editing and website admin. This second “Cormoran” book is far better, I think; I’m about two-thirds of the way through and the plot is tighter, the characters are fuller and the whole thing is just more engaging. I have to be honest and say that I rarely think about an author when I’m reading a book; it’s the narrative voice I’m listening to, and if it’s a good book then I’m too absorbed in the world of the story to even spare a moment’s thought for the writer. So I couldn’t really give two hoots whether it was Rowling writing it or not; it’s just a really great read and that’s that. You can find it here – it’s £6.99 on the Kindle or £9.99 in hardback, should you want that papery feel and the option to lend the book out once you’ve finished reading.
6) The Paying Guest by Sarah Waters, £7.99 here. This one pained me, as it was only a penny cheaper than buying the hardback and I would always prefer the real deal! But I’m really looking forward to ploughing through it, I loved Night Watch and The Little Stranger.
7) The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory – I have finished this one already. It follows the life of Margaret Pole, a Plantaganet who spent her whole life trying to protect her family and not get her head chopped off. I have read every single one of Philippa Gregory’s books and I do a little scream of joy when a new one comes out. I would say that they have become a little formulaic, but she writes so engagingly about a historical period I love (the Tudor times) that I just lap up every word. It’s clever, I think, that she chooses characters with very little historical information about them so that she has a little bit of flexibility and artistic licence when she portrays them. Her books are part bodice-ripper, part educational but mostly just un-put-downable. Find The King’s Curse here – again, the Kindle edition is barely any cheaper than the hardback, so I’d go for the actual book unless you are off on your hols.
8) The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt. Another Man Booker long-lister, but I have read two of Hustvedt’s novels before (The Blindfold and What I Loved) and am looking forward to reading another. She’s very intelligent and thoughtful – always writing with a feminist edge that makes you question yourself and your place in the world.. It’s not light reading, by any means, but something to really get your teeth into and savour in your mind for a good few weeks after finishing. Find it here.
9) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler is another long-lister (told you I like to work my way down the list!) but – shamefully, perhaps – it was the bright cover that caught my attention when I was scrolling through the Kindle store. The reviews on this are excellent, many of you have probably already finished it – let me know what you thought of it if you have. It’s on Amazon here.
10) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think that Adichie is a superb writer – I was so moved by Half of a Yellow Sun, I started to read Purple Hibiscus on the same day, without stopping! I can’t imagine that Americanah will disappoint. Watch this space… It’s £3.66 on the Kindle here.
11) The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman has been on my Kindle for ages but I can’t seem to get past the first chapter. Has anyone read this? Please give me some kind of sign that it’s worth persevering with!
12) Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil – again, been on my Kindle for a while (almost two years) and I can’t seem to start it. Sometimes I do think that if you can actually hold a book and see the lovely cover, it encourages you to read it more than if it’s just endless numbered pages on a Kindle… As before, if you’ve read it and liked it, please do let me know in the comments below.