By Vicky Anscombe on 18 August 2015

Whether you’re the kind of holidaymaker who lives for adrenaline or you prefer a more sedate adventure, you’ll need something to read on your travels. A plane journey without a book is unthinkable - and don’t even get us started on a day at the beach without something to read.

Holidays come in many different shapes and sizes, and your reading choices should reflect this. If you’re unsure of what to read, we’ve listed some suggestions below.

Beach holiday

There’s a good chance that you’ll be lounging around on the hot sand for most of the day, thinking idle thoughts. However, that’s no reason to let your mind grow lazy. On the beach, you want something that you can dip in and out of easily - much like the sea - and something which will keep you entertained without overdoing it (no chick flicks here). The Beach by Alex Garland should be on top of your reading list, along with The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and Women by Charles Bukowski (just watch out for the somewhat-saucy content; you won’t like this if you’re easily shocked).

After a challenge? Tackle Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; it’s a bit of a monster, but you’ll be glad you gave it a go.

Skiing holiday

Nobody has much time to read on a skiing holiday, but it’s always good to have something light to hand for the flight and any evenings where you’d like to read for a bit before sleeping off your après-ski indulgences.

The Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend are always a good bet - funny, hugely entertaining and, most importantly of all, can be read in small segments. Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan is set in the sun, but it’s easy to pick up and put down, much like Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie and The Key by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. Nothing too taxing here - and nothing that’ll keep you awake at night.

City break

Much like a skiing holiday, a city break doesn’t leave you with much time to read - maybe you’ll grab 20 minutes in cafes and on buses here and there, but as a rule, you’ll be on your feet all day and out all night.

George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London is always good for channelling that urban vibe; the same goes for his other novel, 1984, although that’s best suited to those exploring London. If you find yourself in Morocco, we recommend Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud. Stay away from anything 50 Shades-related at all costs, even if you’re exploring Washington. Don’t let your standards slip, people.


On cruises, you’ll see and be seen, so it’s important that your reading material makes a statement. Don’t pick anything too obvious or anything that’ll get tongues wagging; this is not the time to sit with your mouth open reading the latest Stephen King or anything with a pink cover and a vaguely insipid title which has been given five stars by Cosmopolitan.

Pick something that has a bit of a kick to it; Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis and The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes’ 2011 offering, are all good fodder for poolside chat. Angus Wilson’s Hemlock and After is guaranteed to make you a few friends around the dinner table; it’s a candid portrayal of gay life in post-World War II England. Let the discussions commence.

Camping holiday

Firstly, be aware that anything paper tends to suffer during a camping holiday, so don’t take your beloved vintage Penguin classics anywhere, and, of course, be aware that your Kindle may take a battering.

You’ll want something funny to amuse you when you’ve been up all night keeping the ants out of the jam. Try The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper, Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn (a bit of background for you here; a shipping container full of plastic bath toys went overboard in the Pacific in 1992. People are still finding the toys on beaches all over the world), and anything by David Sedaris. Me Talk Pretty One Day is our favourite Sedaris novel; however, they’re all brilliant, and will have the rest of the campsite wondering what you’re hooting at.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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