Newspapers and magazines are always awash with ‘what to pack’ and the ‘perfect holiday wardrobe’ articles at this time of year.  I’m afraid that they are wasted on me because my clothes budget tends to get blown on books and maps.  Before the days of the Kindle half my luggage could easily be devoted to books.  Not sure what to read?  Let me offer you some suggestions for Summer Holiday books 2017.

Summer Holiday Books 2017

ESSEX SERPENT by Sarah Perry

Victorian gothic novel but written in the twenty-first century.  The recently widowed Cora Seaborne heads out to coastal Essex where rumours of a serpent swirl around amid the sea frets.  Love, loss, identity, ambition and belief (both Christian and older more animistic ones) thread through the gothic wonderfulness.  All that wrapped up in one of the most beautiful covers that I have seen for a long time.

Published by Serpents Tail
Paperback £8.99, Kindle £2.84


Everybody knows an Eleanor.  They are odd, not nasty, just odd.  They wear clothes that might have been fashionable once, they don’t come to the office party and they put loose change in the leaving collections.  Eleanor is fine with all this and the snide comments that she knows happen behind her back until one day a random act of kindness starts to change everything.   This is a wonderful, wonderful book about being lonely and about coming to terms with being different.  Oh and it makes you laugh out loud in places too.

Published by Harper Collins
Hardback £12.99, Kindle £7.99

GUSTAV SONATA by Rose Tremain

Gustav and Anton have been friends since kindergarten but they come from very different backgrounds.  THE GUSTAV SONATA tells of how their parents differing experiences of the Second World War affect both their lives and how love and friendship are more important than ambition.

Published by Vintage
Paperback £8.99 Kindle £4.99

THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood

If you have been gripped by THE HANDMAIDS TALE on TV then delve into another of Margaret Atwood’s novels.  THE BLIND ASSASSIN is not a vision of a dystopian future but rather a novel within a novel.  We start of in the present day with our narrator Iris Chase remembering the events and people of her childhood.  She and her sister Laura grew up in Southern Ontario, well-off but motherless.  Laura dies young having written a novel ‘The Blind Assassin” which we also read.  Suffice to say that they book had me on the edge of my seat and that the twist in the tale came from nowhere and yet made perfect sense.

Published by Virago
Paperback £9.99 Kindle £5.99

GREATEST HITS by Laura Barnett

GREATEST HITS provides you not only with something to read but something to listen to as well.  It tells the story of Cass Wheeler and singer songwriter in the mould of Joan Baez or Stevie Nicks.  Each chapter begins with song lyrics, not being hugely musical I usually struggle at such literary moments but this time it is different as author Laura Barnett has collaborated with Kathryn Williams who has put the songs to music and has an album out as well.  Clever concept and a very well told tale.

GREATEST HITS – SONGS FROM THE NOVEL by Kathryn Williams as  CD or available to download click here for details
Published by Orion
Hardback £12.99 Kindle £6.99

HIMSELF by Jess Kidd

Mahony is an Irish orphan bought up by nuns and the Himself of the title.  We watch him arrive in Mulderigg, a small Irish coastal town and begin to shake things up.  First of all the dead keep on appearing, not in a spooky zombie type way more of a magic realism type of way.  Secrets are hidden deep in Mulderigg and Mahony digs and delves until the truth is known.

Published by Canongate
Paperback £8.99 Kindle £4.08

GOLDEN HILL by Francis Spufford

Golden Hill is set in November in eighteenth century New York.  Mud and snow cloak the small colony and nobody knows who the mysterious Mr Smith is or whether the bill due to be paid in sixty days that he had presented to the bank is real.  GOLDEN HILL is a glorious romp of a novel, you a drip fed crumbs of information and when the final twist is turned everything is very satisfying and yet totally unguessable.

Published by Faber and Faber
Paperback £8.99 Kindle £3.79

Finally this summer is a very exciting reading summer for me because two of my friends have had novels published.  I was a bit worried when I started to them in case they were rubbish and I would have to smile politely, but I can honestly say that they are both excellent.


Carrie and Evadne are half sisters living in 1920’s Manchester.  On the eve of Carrie’s wedding it is revealed that her father far from being a hero was a deserter.  We watch the two sisters cope with stain of being deserter’s daughters.  Shell shocked soldiers and awful tales of those ‘shot at dawn’ are woven round the girls quest for a new life.

Published by Allison and Busby
Hardback £19.99 Kindle £10.04


Lottie has lost everything; home, partner, friends and money.  Luckily she has one loyal friend and a straight talking much married sister.  The friend offers her a place to live in the form of a remote Devon cottage in return for doing the place up, whilst the sister provides red wine and wise words.  Next door lives a handsome man, will Lottie find love?  THE SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES had me snorting out loud at some of the whip smart one liners, all in all a heartwarming rom com made for the sun lounger.

Published by Avon Books
Kindle 99p

What will you be reading in on your holidays?

Oregon Girl Around the World


  1. July 20, 2017 / 1:31 pm

    I like to read travel & romance books during the summer:) #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      July 20, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      Good choice, I like to have at least one novel written or set in the country I am visiting

  2. July 20, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    A woman after my own heart 🙂 Some fabulous choices (many I would also recommend). I’ve just sent my sister-in-law back to America with Eleanor (she’s on a ship for a week so should be able to read it in one go) 🙂 #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      July 20, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      Perfect on board read!

  3. Clare Thomson
    July 20, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    I really need to meet you one day, Catherine, so that we can have a proper chat about books. All of these sound like the sort of books I love reading. I agree that The Essex Serpent is a beautiful cover – and book covers matter to me. I was given a hardback copy of it for my birthday in March and have been saving it. Not sure I should take it on holiday though and get sun cream all over it! The Blind Assassin is an absolutely wonderful book. Loads of my friends have recommended the Francis Spufford book and I love the sound of Eleanor Oliphant. Thank you so much for sharing these on #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      July 20, 2017 / 3:12 pm

      We will have to make plans!

  4. July 20, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    Have you actually read all of these? If you could just recommend one which would it be? I’m so busy these days I don’t want to risk wasting time on a mediocre book – I’m getting so fussy in my old age! 😉 #farawayflies

    • Catherine
      July 20, 2017 / 7:13 pm

      I have, what kind of books do you like?

  5. July 21, 2017 / 1:15 am

    Oh, this is my kind of packing post! I love that you didn’t just choose flimsy throw-away “beach reads”, like so many other “summer reads” lists – just because I’m on holiday doesn’t mean I don’t want to sink my teeth into some quality writing!

  6. July 22, 2017 / 8:41 am

    Like you, books are the most important and most thought about part of my packing. I often choose books set in the area I’m visiting. In fact this morning I’m about to head to a local bookshop to pick up two i’ve ordered for a trip in a couple of weeks. Happy holiday reading! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      July 22, 2017 / 10:27 am

      Now I’m curious what are the books?!

  7. July 22, 2017 / 8:50 am

    Thank you! Summer reading list sorted 🙂 The kindle is a genius invention don’t you think – there is nothing worse than running out of reading material on your holidays #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      July 22, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Although I do enjoy the randomness of reading books left behind by other holiday makers

  8. July 24, 2017 / 1:42 am

    Oh how I love this! I’m in desperate need of some new book recommendations for the summer – currently reading The Girls – AND I’m hosting next book club so this is perfect! Pinning! #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      July 24, 2017 / 7:24 am

      Always nerve wracking making the book club selection

  9. July 26, 2017 / 9:04 am

    Ooooh – good list! Definitely pinning and sharing with my book club! Cheers and thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

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