For booklovers, choosing what books to take on holiday can be the most important packing decision. Much more important than clothing, and only a close second to remembering the passports. Get it wrong and you could end up ploughing through something really tedious, or even worse, with nothing to read at all! In this post, we look at some tried and tested ideas to make sure the books you choose are a holiday highlight.

A Recent Bestseller

This is a fairly safe bet. There is always a great range of books coming out pre-summer to vie for a spot on our holiday read list. Newspapers such as The Times or Guardian can be a good place to look for new bestsellers, both have a dedicated section for literature, in print and online. BBC Radio Two often has authors to discuss their newest works. Even just chatting to your friends can bring up a recommendation or two, and they know you, so are less likely to suggest something you’d hate. Or, you could indulge in every booklover’s dream – just go to your local bookshop and pick anything new that catches your eye.

Not So Recent bestseller

There are advantages to opting for a not so recent bestseller. Sometimes you just can’t wait for a new book, but other times, waiting for the paperback is sensible, especially if you are packing it. On the plus side, so many books come out every month that there will definitely be something you missed the first time around. You may already have a mental list of things you planned to read. It’s certainly a good idea to keep a little wishlist of things throughout the year for when you have rare moments of free choice. And should you read the reviews? It depends. Reviews can be helpful, but many excellent books are polarising. If you want to read something, don’t be put off by a negative review. Read it, and make up your own mind.

Enjoyed the Film? Read the Book!

Traditional wisdom says you should read the book first, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes you watch a great new film, and only realise afterwards it was based on a book. Maybe you meant to read the book, but didn’t get around to it. Holidays are a great time to get stuck into a book based on a film you loved. Films can take liberties with plots and character, and books often provide a deeper and more satisfying experience.  You could even take your holiday as the opportunity to read some books coming out as films soon. For example, if you’ve never read Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Goldfinch (2013), now is your chance. A film version starring Nicole Kidman is out this October.

A Massive Classic

If you always wanted to read War and Peace, a holiday is probably your best shot. Books like that are made for ripping through in great chunks, not dipped into a couple of pages at a time. Remember, these sorts of classics were written in a time before television, and when domestic service was cheap. Many original readers probably didn’t have jobs, or childcare, or housework. This surely equated to more reading time if they wanted it. Your holiday epic doesn’t even have to be old. The critically acclaimed A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (1993) runs to 1,448 pages in softback. A holiday gives you a chance to get some momentum back into your reading and tackle something that might not be possible under normal conditions.

A Really Scary Book

Or maybe just try something out of your usual comfort zone. There is something quite thrilling about reading a horror in the blazing sunshine. It can be easier to exert yourself when you are away from home, perhaps because of the change in routine. If you always read British/American books, you could challenge yourself to read something foreign (in translation obviously!), maybe even from the country you are visiting. If that seems a bit too much like hard work, you could always opt for a book set in your holiday destination. A holiday is a chance to take a bit of a risk with your reading, and you never know, you mind find a new author, or even a whole new genre, to bring back home with you.

Been Meaning to Read for Years

Ah, haven’t we all got a few of these? There are usually two reasons why you haven’t read that book you’ve been meaning to read for years. One – you genuinely haven’t had the time. That is very fair. Life is hard. Seize the opportunity, make it your number one holiday read. Two – you don’t actually want to read it, but feel like you should. If it’s the second reason, maybe you should move on. Your holiday reading list should fill you with as much excitement as the destination. If it seems like a chore, let it go. There are too many great books out there. Put it on a serious back burner and treat yourself to something new.

Most of us wouldn’t just stuff a load of old clothes into our suitcase for our holiday, hoping it will be for the best at the other end. A bit of planning, based on the climate, itinerary and duration, is essential. A bit of planning does wonders for your holiday reading too. A trip to your local independent bookshop will furnish you with everything you need to keep you reading from the journey to the destination. Come and see us at Booka before you travel. We are always willing to make recommendations, or just trust your instinct and choose the books you know will make you happy.

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