My Holiday Reads (If I Can Sit Down Long Enough)


So the holidays are near enough now to think about things like insurance, currency, airport parking and…reading!

This is the FIRST YEAR in SEVEN that there is a faint possibility my husband and I may be able to sit on a pair of sun loungers and ACTUALLY READ A WHOLE PAGE, nigh perhaps even a whole book, while on holiday. Our younger son just left the baby stage and I have sold my soul to many devils this past year, taking on work I don’t feel great about to pay for swimming lessons.

This is the year – THIS IS THE YEAR! – when my boys will be able to paddle in the shallows and leave us the fudge alone. For five minutes a day. I am so looking forward to it.

So with that in mind I have been typing book titles from reviews I’ve read into a little sticky on my desktop for months. There was a time (college) when I read two or three novels a week. I have managed two in the last year. So depressing.

Anyway, here is what I’ve gathered – I wonder if you’re heard of, read, or fancy any of it too? Share your thoughts on any you’ve dipped into in comments.

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‘Yes Please’, by Amy Poehler
If, like me, you read and loved ‘Bossypants’ by Tina Fey, you’ll be into this. They regularly team up to host awards ceremonies, the funny gal pals. Amy Poehler – and her book – is also owner of one of my favourite quotes, the theme of this Cup of Jo post.

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‘The Goldfinch’, by Donna Tartt
Yeah, yeah, I know you’ve probably all read it, particularly if you’re into Donna Tartt. This is a woman who wrote what I believe to be the perfect book in ‘The Secret History’ and then took 10 years to write her next, The Little Friend. I devoured the first whole (probably back in those two-books-a-week days). I have high hopes for this one. I also love anything set in New York.

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‘Dear Lupin: Letters to a Wayward Son’, by Roger Mortimer and Charlie Mortimer
I am very fond of the idea of this book. Roger Mortimer and his son Charlie have collaborated to publish 25 years of letters the former wrote the latter. The part I’m most looking forward to is the analogies for all the scrapes that Charlie got himself into. Roger was clearly quite the missive writer – there are two other books, ‘Dear Lumpy: Letters to a Disobedient Daughter‘, written with his daughter Louise, and ‘Dearest Jane‘, in which his eldest daughter Jane Torday shares her father’s life and letters.

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‘All the Light We Cannot See’, Anthony Doerr
It took 10 years for Anthony Doerr to write this book, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It’s about a blind French girl whose father builds her a model of their Parisian neighbourhood so she can get to know it with her fingers, but who has to flee the German occupation of the city and settle in Saint-Malo with her agoraphobic uncle. The story, really, is about when her world collides with that of an orphaned German boy whose fascination with radios has lead him to become a master tracker for the Resistance.

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‘Dept. of Speculation’
Jenny Offill 
oanna Goddard of Cup of Jo called this ‘A beautiful, arresting book’, and it seems The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune,, Electric Literature and Buzzfeed all agree (not to mention The Guardian, quoted on the cover). The New York Times writes it up as ‘charting the course of a marriage through curious, often shimmering fragments of prose’. The Guardian: ‘From the point of view of an unnamed American woman, it gives us the hurrahs and boos of daily life, of marriage and of parenthood, with exceptional originality, intensity and sweetness.’ It also says the fragments are ‘like memories that float in when you’re trying to think about other things.’ I love it already.

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‘Not That Kind of Girl’, Lena Dunham
A collection of personal essays whose theme is pretty much explained on the cover. LD is every kind of awesome and I worship her. My husband is also getting this on audiobook to listen to – he thinks she’s awesome too. Plus, this quote: “If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile.”

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‘Still Alice’, Lisa Genova
A tragic, but much-lauded exploration of early-onset Alzheimer’s and what Alice does to save herself from forgetting her loved Christmas pudding recipe, losing her way in her back garden, and failing to recognise her own children. An important book that reminds us to live in the moment.

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What I Know for Sure’, Oprah Winfrey
Every year on holiday, I seem to pick a ‘strong woman’ tome – last year it was ‘Lean In’, by Sheryl Sandberg. We all need a boost sometimes and I think this collection of columns that Oprah penned for her O magazine over 14 years is just this. More for dipping in and out of, I imagine, than reading straight through, it’s packed with life lessons and insights from one of the world’s most powerful and thoughtful women. It also comes as CDs, so I’m going to search for an audio version in the Kindle store. I think Oprah has a lovely, reassuring voice. 

P.S. If you need five more recommended reads, here are some good ones by Caroline Donofrio, an editor at the oft-mentioned-here, Cup of Jo blog.

P.P.S. Marilyn Monroe was a massive reader – who knew?

Disclosure: These books have all been picked by me as the titles that I’m planning to download on to my dreaded Kindle (which I only believe in using when on holiday so save my luggage weight allowance for shoes). There are affiliate links to Foyles for Books within this post. 

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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