I couldn’t leave you for the holidays with absolutely nothing to do, so here are some of the best bumper book series. There should be something for just about everyone here, whether you like thrillers, adventure books or serious, thoughtful novels. If you still have presents to buy then you can order any of these until the 23rd and they’ll still get to you in time for Christmas. (If you have Amazon Prime – I’ve had it for years and couldn’t do without! You can usually try it out for free for a month – the page is here.)
Though I usually have a good stock of paperbacks and hardbacks, I mainly only order them these days so that I can include them in photographs or videos, something visual to refer to; 99% of my reading happens on the Kindle. I can highly, highly recommend the Kindle Paperwhite – it’s easy on the eyes, with no glare, and really does feel like reading from a paper book rather than on a computer screen. The battery life is also brilliant, and it’s easy to read the screen in bright sunlight. Now and then I forget to put it beside the bed and am forced to read on my iPhone screen; I really feel the difference! At the moment the Paperwhite is £89.99 rather than £109.99 here. (I wrote about the “Fire” a few weeks ago as I had never tried it. Lots of you recommended the Paperwhite instead, mainly because it’s easier to read and the battery lasts for an age, as detailed above. Anyway, I listened…)
Book Series to see you through Christmas…
The Shardlake Series, by CJ Sansom. There are six books (more than enough to get you through a couple of weeks) starting with Dissolution, which is currently £1.19 here. This is the ultimate thriller/detective series – set in the tumultuous times of Henry VIII, the happenings are truly gruesome and dark and the historical background is brilliantly researched. Don’t be put off if you’re not completely blown away by book one – in my opinion it’s by far the weakest of the lot. Once you get to the middle of the second book, I promise you’ll be hooked!
The Jackson Brodie Series by Kate Atkinson. Have I mentioned these detective novels before? Written by the author of Life After Life, they star a kind of unconventional ex-police detective who manages to get himself into all sorts of trouble. I found them quite addictive – really easy to read in that the writing is just so polished and flawless. You can find them here – the first one is called Case Histories.
I can’t leave the detective genre without mentioning the Cormoron Strike books by Robert Galbraith. Again, the first (of three) is the weakest for me, but still absolutely unputdownable. Definitely enough non-stop reading to take you from Christmas Eve right up to the 27th, if you’re trying to hide from Great Uncle Herbert and his drunken rantings! Find them here.
For teens, may I recommend the Adrian Mole books by Susan Townsend (here)? Ah, how I wish I could go back and read these again for the first time. I still remember whole passages of these diaries – the first one, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, reminds me of Christmas. I think I must have had it in my stocking one year. Do you know, I may actually revisit these books – I bet they’re even funnier as you get older!
I promise you that if you download the Complete Stories of Elizabeth Taylor then you won’t be stuck for something to read for a very, very long time. I just couldn’t quite believe how slowly the “percentage read” counter changed on the screen of my Kindle – I must have been ploughing through for about five years before it finally ticked over to 10%! But this is far from laborious – each little story (by the woman who was blatantly a total master of her art) is perfectly crafted and very thought-provoking. Store it on your Kindle and you will never have a bored moment, whether on the train, in the bath or waiting for late people in cafes. Find it here – £9.99 well spent.
For something lighthearted, laugh-out-loud funny and guaranteed to make you want to pack a little rucksack and set off on your travels, try Bill Bryson. His Notes on a Small Island: Journey Through Britain is just so accurately written and the books on America are superb. I’ve just spotted a couple I’ve not yet read, so straight onto my Kindle they go! I highly recommend Notes From A Big Country and The Lost Continent. He’s written plenty more to keep you entertained.
Oh, I seem to be back to detective novels, but the Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams aren’t exactly typical of the genre. Quirky, funny and a joy to read, you’ll probably whiz through these if you’re a regular reader but they are well worth welcoming into your brain-space. I still recall bits and pieces at odd moments of the day that have stuck in my memory and it’s been about a decade since I last dipped into them. Start with Book 1 here.
That’s enough to keep you reading for the moment, I think – I’m hoping to do a “best of 2015” video next week so there’ll be more suggestions then. Please do add your own recommendations below – I’ve picked up some amazing books after trawling your comments, so do keep them coming!
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