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Beach books - what I read on my holidays

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Reading on the beach is the perfect time to break out the light-hearted reads, and give the frowny part of your brain a bit of a break. Don't get me wrong - I don't mean you should break out part 17 of Jordan's autobiography. But it's not the time for War and Peace, either.
You need something that's light enough, both literally and figuratively - nothing that can take an eye out when you drop it on your own face. I can't tell you the number of times Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows nearly blinded me when I read it in bed.
I’d been saving the final Hunger Games book to take with me to Cyprus, and I found a copy of Room before I left, which I flung into my case. When I finished both of those, I re-read The Liar by Stephen Fry, which was in the hotel.
I've summed all of these up below. But I have a humungous stack of other books I'd recommend, which I'll talk about in another post. Because otherwise you'd be here all day, just praying for an end to it all.

The Liar (Stephen Fry)
Stephen Fry can do no wrong, in my eyes. All I really want in life is to curl up on his knee and have him read me a story. The closest I got to this was New Years Eve this year, when I took to the bed with an explosive bout of gastric flu. Curled up alone and in the dark at 11pm, I pulled out my iPod and had Stephen read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to me. He didn’t cure me, but he did make me feel well looked after.
I read The Liar a few years ago, and adored it. Luckily I’d forgotten enough of it to still be surprised when I read it. Within seconds, it had me roaring with laughter…
'We can thrash it out together. Personally I think it's your habit of dressing up in shorts and prancing about on a field and this bizarre obsession with putting your arms round the other members of the scrum and forcing your head between the bottoms of the back row that is at the root of this insane fixation. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.'
'Let's fucking throw him out,' said Sargent, advancing.
'Now I warn you,' said Adrian, 'if either of you touches me...'
'Yes?' sneered Bennett-Jones. 'What'll you do?'
'I shall sustain a massive erection, that's what, and I shan't be answerable for the consequences. Some kind of ejaculation is almost bound to ensue and if either of you were to become pregnant I should never forgive myself.'
- Stephen Fry, The Liar

You can’t go wrong with Stephen Fry.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
I think I had built this up a little too much. I loved the first (though I really wasn’t a fan of the way they are written, and am still not) and had high hopes for the finale. It did the trick, poolside. I didn’t have to think too much, which is why I have developed a strange dependence on children’s books. If I’d have found a Babysitter’s Club Book, I’d have been in heaven.
Towards the end, I did have to fight the urge to throw the book into the crowds, in protest at the stupid ending. I won’t give anything away, but I will repeat that it is STUPID. My favourite characters were suspiciously absent, and the wrong boy got the girl. Yeah, I’ll say it. Haymitch and Katniss could have been the greatest love story ever told.
I think the reason I (and so many others) fell for the Hunger Games story is the reason we all fall for tales like Lord of the Flies. It's a reason to ask yourself what you would do, in the same situation. God, I love any kind of book that puts me in a life or death scenario. Though in reality, I'd be pretty useless. Irregardless, whenever I board a plane I suss out my fellow passengers, to figure out who I need to make alliances with when we crash onto a desert island.

Room (Emma Donahue)
I’d heard a lot about this book, without really knowing what it was about. I’ll sum it up for you in a style I imagine the New York Times would kill for – girl kidnapped, raped, has kid, lives in a room. So, timely enough after all of the basement family kidnap stories. Interesting enough, I suppose, but… it’s told from the point of view of the child, a four year old boy.
No one likes the sound of a four year old boy talking. No one. So to read a book that ‘he’ has written gets a little bit tiring. Thankfully, it doesn’t drift off too much into the realm of “Ma, why did me Daddy sell me for a tree branch?” territory, in the spirit of the hundreds of childhood abuse books on the market. Dave Pelzer has a lot to answer for. It all gets a bit much, doesn’t it? Whenever I go into a WH Smiths, there is shelf after shelf dedicated to this genre. Who reads them? Maybe the people who are now reading 50 Shades of Grey, perhaps.
Anywho, I finished it in the space of a few hours. It doesn’t take long to get through, and I’m also a really brilliant reader.

Do you have a great beach read for the summer?

1 comment

  1. I've just read two John Irving books on the trot - 'Last Night in Twisted River' and then 'A Prayer for Owen Meaney'. Both brilliant!!! Especially A Prayer for Owen Meaney. The thing with John Irving's books is that the characters are so amazing and complete that you fall in love a bit and it's actually painful when you get to the end. I howled finishing A Prayer for Owen Meaney! Don't let that put you off - I laughed a lot too. Just not at the end.... (this isn't a plot ruiner, but Owen dies!!) Maybe I need a little Harry Potter break to get off the emotional rollercoaster....


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