So we’re off for our annual holiday next week (potential burglars, please don’t bother, we have someone staying to look after our needy, emotionally fragile cat) and as always I’ve been daydreaming about what books to take for weeks. In the old days (ie before I had a child) the definition of a holiday for me was basically just ‘reading in warmer climates’. I mean, I think the entire purpose of my holidays up until I had Daph was to read as many books as possible. I usually read at least one a day - and I’m a really slow reader (on that note, I’m going to write a new blog about how much of an issue this becomes when you’re an author! I can’t keep up with my peers at all, it’s so upsetting).
But anyway, on holidays in the old days I’d buy a ton of different books and chomp my way through them while lying on a beach and not really getting tanned because I hate feeling too hot and I hate the sun being on my face. It was bliss. I am ever hopeful that one day I will be able to experience that very simple nirvana again, but for the time being - with a three-year-old who needs constant entertaining - I suspect it is a little ambitious.
Thus for my ten day holiday I have only chosen to take five books. And I’m depressingly pessimistic about the likelihood of me getting through even these. I’m so bloody knackered by the time that Daphne is asleep that I can barely make it through a page, let alone a chapter, without falling asleep. But last year, she did have a two-hour nap every day on the beach, so fingers and toes firmly crossed the sea air wears her out once again…
Anyway I thought it would be nice to share the books that I’m taking with you, and the reasons I’m taking them. In case there were any you hadn’t heard of, or fancied checking out yourself.
These are in no particular order by the way. Here we go…
I’m starting with a bit of a cheeky one, because this isn’t actually out yet (author’s perks). It’s being released in ebook on 16 May, but the author and I share an agent, so I was lucky to get an advance copy. Here’s the blurb:
When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.
Maria is on trial for attempted murder.
She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.
Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.
She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.
You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.
You will be wrong.
I’m really into legal thrillers at the moment - I think I’m just so in awe of anyone who can negotiate all the research and complexity (it does help, perhaps, that the author herself is a lawyer! Even so…). Anyway I love that it’s the woman on trial for killing her husband, rather than the other way round. I’m excited for this one and getting under the skins of the two female protagonists.
This one was recommended to me by a friend (the fab Caroline Hulse - read her book if you haven’t already!). Here’s the blurb:
Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue - in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.
When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest in the family - Hannah - who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.
I’ve never read any of Celeste Ng’s books but I have heard lots and lots of praise, and I love the premise of this - I think it’s exactly the kind of book the old me would have devoured on holiday. It’ll also be nice to read something a bit more literary - I tend to read loads of psychological thrillers so it will be good to have a break and try something a bit different (although the premise sounds very page-turny too which is GOOD for my woefully poor attention span).
I am totally obsessed with Elizabeth Day’s podcast, How to Fail, so I was very excited to hear that she had brought out a book too! Here’s what her publisher says about it:
This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.
If I have learned one thing from this shockingly beautiful venture called life, it is this: failure has taught me lessons I would never otherwise have understood. I have evolved more as a result of things going wrong than when everything seemed to be going right. Out of crisis has come clarity, and sometimes even catharsis.
Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It's a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.
I find her podcast so inspiring - if you haven’t listened to it yet, then get on it, you’re in for such a massive treat. So I’m really, really looking forward to reading this. I’ve become quite the Elizabeth Day fangirl (and I hate that word!). I read quite a lot of non-fiction - I’d say at least half the books I read are non-fiction, and I absolutely adore memoirs, so I think this will be right up my street.
And now for a ‘safe’ read (ie, one I know will be good!). Here’s the premise:
You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.
You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.
That’s when you meet the man next door.
He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.
All the time.
But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.
Or that someone is watching you.
I love Lisa Jewell’s books, and I find her such an inspiration as a writer, so I feel very confident that this won’t let me down. It’s always a pleasure to read books by ‘masters (mistresses?)’ of the craft. I also love that it has a stalking theme, which is kind of similar to my second book Unfollow Me.
Last but not least… I actually bought this in hardcover a while ago but it’s been sitting on the dining room table guilting me ever since. Here’s a bit more about it:
Every parent wants their child to be happy and every parent wants to avoid screwing them up. But how do you achieve that?
In this absorbing, clever and funny book, renowned psychotherapist Philippa Perry tells us what really matters and what behaviour it is important to avoid - the vital dos and don'ts of parenting.
Instead of mapping out the 'perfect' plan, Perry offers a big-picture look at the elements that lead to good parent-child relationships. This refreshing, judgement-free book will help you to:
· Understand how your own upbringing may affect your parenting
· Accept that you will make mistakes and learn what you can do about them
· Break negative cycles and patterns
· Handle your own and your child's feelings
· Understand what different behaviours communicate
Full of sage and sane advice, this is the book that every parent will want to read and every child will wish their parents had.
I’ve heard loads of rave reviews for it (especially from friends) so I’m hoping, basically, that it’s going to transform me as a parent and provide all the answers to the questions that continually drown me (such as how on earth do you get a three year old to get dressed in the morning when they want to do everything BUT?). However, because parenting is definitely not just a mother’s job, I’m keen that Oli reads this too. I was telling a friend the other day that when we first went on holiday together we used to read to each other in bed - I was really embarrassed to admit it but she said she thought it was cute, so… now I’m telling the whole world on my blog. Ha. Anyway, my plan is that we read each other this every evening once Daph’s asleep (and then leave Greece as shiny happy new parents).
So that’s it! I also have a friend’s unpublished manuscript which I’m really looking forward to as I love her writing. I will let you know how I get on with these on social media! You can follow me on Twitter, Insta and Facebook if you’re not already. I really hope I manage to read all five - wish me luck!