The sun filters down through the palm trees, dappled light glancing across my legs. Crystal blue water laps gently on white sand just steps from my feet, sand that tickles my toes when I rub them together absent-mindedly. I can feel the slats of my beach chair underneath my stomach, my chin rests on my hands and in front of me, just inches from my nose, is a whole other world waiting to be discovered. I dive in, leaving the idyllic Maldivian island behind and entering the cold, dark and chaotic landscape of my holiday novel.
I have many fond memories of reading on holiday. There’s nothing better than switching off entirely and losing yourself in another world is there? It used to be a sacred part of my preparations for going away; choosing a new book at my local book shop (remember the days before Amazon?) or browsing the rows of paperbacks at the airport. It wasn’t until I had a new book in my hand that I was truly ready to switch off and relax, the unread novel pregnant with possibilities.
At the moment my memories of holiday reading are just that; memories. With two small children under six there’s not much chance of me being able to kick off my flip-flops and settle back for a couple of hours with a good book. Heck I’m lucky if I get to use the bathroom on my own!
So it’s no surprise that on our recent holiday to Murcia in Southern Spain with James Villas I didn’t bother packing my current hardback in my suitcase. Of course since the arrival of electronic books I don’t need to have an actual book with me to not pick it up – the Kindle app on my phone has a whole library of books that I haven’t got the time to read.
But if I DID have a spare moment by our gorgeous pool to sip some iced water and lose myself in a novel – heaven! – my genre of choice would be a thriller. I’m not a romance kinda gal I’m afraid, historical novels leave me cold, science fiction I don’t mind (I remember reading the original Ender’s Game as a child and absolutely loving it), but give me a thriller and I’m immediately transported to another place and time where danger is more than the chance of stepping on a Thomas train and slip-sliding myself into a hedge.
I’ve had a long holiday-reading relationship with Jeffrey Deaver and his Lincoln Rhyme novels; full of fast-paced action and forensics. Ok, I admit I do sometimes skip a paragraph or two of the more technical details (especially when one of the characters is reminding another what they’ve found out so far) but I like that Deaver’s writing draws me straight into the story, doesn’t require me to concentrate too much and leaves me wanting to know what happens next. I’ve currently got The Kill Room in hardback and The Skin Collector on my Kindle.
If Thrillers are not your thing then let me recommend my two other favourite holiday books of all time – Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I devoured both of these in the sunshine in almost one sitting and just thinking about them makes me smile.
Perhaps that’s what a good holiday book should do, make us smile as much as our newly-travelled-to surroundings.
And while I love the joy and laughter of spending our current holidays with our small children, I’m also looking forward to the time when we’re all knee-deep in a good book, sharing the pleasure of reading in another new and exciting destination.