Mmm. Beachside. That’s where we want to be. This summer, as ever, us Brits are taking to the beaches of southern Europe, from Alicante to Majorca, armed with not much more than a pair of shades, sunscreen and some sizzling reads.
And why not? It’s the perfect recipe for a fulfilling summer, even if it’s a simple one. But, as with all simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients is key. Behind every swimsuit lies some serious thought. And the same goes for our holiday reads.
Here are my picks for 2012, from bestsellers to all-time classics, to help you select the finest beach reading this summer:
Everyone’s talking about Fifty Shades of Grey. And no wonder – it’s only Britain’s best-selling book ever. But since EL James’ erotic novel may not be the most comfortable book to take on your daily commute, you’ll want to use your holiday to catch up on the conversation. But if, like me, you prefer a thriller, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is another blockbuster that’s hard to ignore.
Just want nothing on your mind? Unwind with Victoria Fox’s latest (Temptation Island) or Katie Price’s (In the Name of Love).
Pick a winner
My sister uses her holidays to work her way through the Booker Prize longlist (she’s a speed reader). For one great Booker-endorsed beach read this year, I’d suggest skipping straight to Skios, by the very funny Michael Frayn. It’s even set on a Greek island. Perfect!
Catch up on the classics
Time expands on holiday, so why not use the opportunity to read some of the books you’ve always wanted to? Pick PG Wodehouse for classic humour (The Code of the Woosters ideally) and Paul Theroux for timeless travel writing (try The Great Railway Bazaar). Or, if you want a moving story that entertains too, pack A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth or The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
Ditch the paperback?
To eBook or not to eBook? It’s not a straightforward question. On one hand, going digital gives you incredible choice without excess baggage (and, with a Kindle, you’ll even be able to read in the sun). Then again, exposing any kind of digital device to a sandy environment is a bad idea – and the paperback is uniquely suited to the rigours of seaside life. Perhaps pack a paperback for beach days and save your Kindle for your city break?