Tuesday 10 July 2018

What to read on holiday Moira Butterfield

Since the newspapers and bookshops are all coming up with lists for holiday reads, I thought I would, too. I hope you will find something here for you or people you’re going with, and please do add your own suggestions at the bottom. The blog’s not about kid’s book-writing today. It’s for us to share recommendations.  I'm looking forward to reading yours! 

The only problem is that I’ve come back from my holiday just as everybody else is about to go. Doh!

My embarrassingly messy home bookshelves, mostly two deep.
No wonder I go on holiday, basically to live somewhere tidy for a few days. 


The hugely uplifting A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. A Russian aristocrat finds himself under house-arrest in a Moscow hotel and stays there for decades discovering the best way to live life. Feelgood read. 

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Waters. The glamorous world of 1960s Hollywood comes to a peaceful Italian village. Surprising and absorbing. 

The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. An American exchange student falls in love in Italy while eating the incredible food. Read this if you love holiday food. Don’t read this if you’re on Slimming World.

An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay. Following the fictional life of a female artist who finds her calling in postwar Britain. If you enjoy art, this is one for you. Beautifully written and a short read, though it does fall away towards the end. 

I'm currently reading The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley, which is shaping up nicely. The intriguing main character has been sent to Peru by dodgy elements of the British government to steal quinine trees. Sadly I'm not on holiday any more, so I can't read it while dipping my toes in the Ionian Sea. 


Gotta have some crime on holiday! My taste is for the decidedly quirky, so I love the two Auntie Poldi books by Mario Giordana. Their funny feisty middle-aged heroine gets up to high jinks and crime-solving in Sicily. Eccentric, with a great female character. Someone make a telly series, please! 

Bernard Cornwell’s crime novel on Shakespeare’s brother – Fools and Mortals – is a lot of fun. I find his history novels too violent but this was completely different.

I always get the latest Brunetti mystery by Donna Leon, whose detective wonders around Venice, always stopping for a large lunch.

I recently read two cracking crime books by Australian author Jane Harper. The Dry – an atmospheric murder investigation set during a searing drought in an Australian small town. Plus Force of Nature – a company team-building trip goes very wrong in the Australian bush.  Don’t go out on that path alone…..Noooooooo!


I love a bit of Terry Pratchett-type magic. If you do, too, be sure to try The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaranovitch.  His London detective Peter Grant must learn how to solve the crimes of the city’s hidden magical underworld, negotiating with the capital’s personified rivers. Particularly fine on audio, read superbly by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

Try the absorbing Lies of Loch Lamora by Scott Lynch to discover a magical criminal underworld set in a strange city based on medieval Venice. Great on that sunbed if you like a bit of fantasy!


My partner prefers reading non-fiction.  He says he was the same as a boy. So HELLO Waterstones. You didn’t put a single kid’s non-fiction book in your summer picks…Grrrrrrrrrrrr! Here are Ian’s suggestions, plus a couple of mine:

Anything by Ben Macintyre for Twentieth Century intelligence/spy material. Very readable and interesting.

Anything by Richard Holmes for Nineteenth and Twentieth Century conflict. Strong on the experience of soldiers in war.

I enjoy the non-fiction books of Jon Ronson – Always quirky and thought-provoking. If you haven’t read him before try The Men Who Stare at Goats – about the jaw-dropping special ops of the US army in the 60s/70s.

Read White Gold by Giles Milton to discover the true story of the many thousands of people snatched from the UK and Irish coast by Barbary pirates for a life of slavery. It might make you feel a little bit nervous when you look out to sea…

 Over to you. Do you have a failsafe holiday author you always pack?

PS: If you're going on a car journey with school-aged kids I thoroughly recommend the audiobook of Terry Pratchett's Nation, read by Tony Robinson. It should keep everyone quiet. 

Moira Butterfield
Twitter: @moiraworld
Instagram: moirabutterfieldauthor

Moira's latest children’s book is all about the cultures of the world: Welcome To Our World, illustrated by Harriet Lynas and published by Nosy Crow.


Sue Purkiss said...

Some very interesting recommendations here - thank you! I'm glad you like Auntie Poldi - I read the first one on holiday in Sicily last year, which was perfect - we happened to be staying in Poldi country, so that gave it an extra dimension. I think she's a great character - though I don't like the wig!

Susan Price said...

Failsafe author, for holidays or when feeling ill, or tired or depressed -- Terry Pratchett! Always funny but at the same time, always clear-sighted about human nature with all its meanness and cruelty as well as kindness. Always compassionate, always warm -- and with female characters as well developed and fully alive as his male characters. (See Granny Weatherwax and Commander Vimes.)

Pippa Goodhart said...

For anybody interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder, I highly recommend Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser. It fills in the history and geography and true personal story of the Ingalls family, and then tells how difficult unhappy daughter of Laura, Rose, nagged and shaped her mother's writing life to produce the books we love. Its a big fat book, but I found it compulsive and easy reading, and a holiday gave the opportunity to gobble it all in a few days.

Moira Butterfield said...

Yes the wig is a shock! The second book is good. Probs better.

Moira Butterfield said...

Me too, Susan! He’s my comfort read. Make sure you listen to Nation read on audio by Tony Robinson. It’s glorious,

Moira Butterfield said...

Thanks Pippa! Your new book is being delivered today by the way!

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

So much inspiration Moira. I was inspired by the recent TV series to read a very English Scandal which was excellent non-fiction.

Moira Butterfield said...

Great idea! I thought the programmes were fantastic, so I think I will read that book!

Lynne Benton said...

Thanks, Moira - good list! Someone else has recommended "A Gentleman in Moscow", so with two of you telling me how good it is I really must read it now!