30-07-2019

BOOK SOME TIME OFF FOR A SUMMER OF READING

Summer’s the perfect time for immersing ourselves in great stories, whether we choose printed books, e-books or audiobooks. Which books will make it into your suitcase this year?

Author: SHIREEN SHURMER

As the mercury rises and I start to count down the days to my summer holiday (Crete, since you’re asking), my mental planning list has several ‘columns’. Where to go? What to eat? What to wear? Closely followed by ‘What to read?’

For me, a relaxing holiday is more or less defined by my reading material. A couple of months before I travel I’m building a small stack by the bedside table of the books I haven’t yet got round to opening, asking friends for recommendations, checking the latest tips on Goodreads. Decisions, decisions…

I’m strongly wedded to the printed book, and happy to take the inconvenience of checking in hold luggage and sacrificing a kilo or two of footwear for the joy of turning the pages of a physical book while on my sun-lounger. Squinting at an e-book is not for me; the touch and smell of the pages of a novel evokes ‘holiday’ as much as Ambre Solaire and mojitos.

Anyway, I think we can conclude that the ‘ebooks vs books’ debate is kind of over. Some of us like one, some of us like the other, some of us like to mix it up a bit, depending on the situation. Even younger generations are ready for a good digital detox on holiday, and to take low-tech refuge in an actual paperback.

Now we also have the happy addition of the choice of audiobooks, for when we’re too exhausted by all that relaxing to keep our eyes open. It’s a format I’m keen to explore this year, and I’m hoping that a good audiobook might also entice The Teenager away from YouTube for an hour or two, especially as it gives him legitimate reason to keep his headphones in.

At least I know I’m not alone in the battle to get my teen to read during the holidays. Depressingly, a recent survey of 2758 students by publisher Scholastic reported that 32% of kids aged 15 to 17 said they read no books over the summer, compared to 22 percent in 2016 (Source: Education Week). No doubt there’s a rational explanation in the sheer number of entertainment options vying for their downtime, from social media, to TV and movies on demand, to YouTube, to gaming apps. But I can’t help but feel they’re losing something incredibly valuable along the way – I still believe that the immersive power of a great book is incomparable.

Anyway, I guarantee that I’ll devour a book at least every two days I’m away, transporting myself to faraway places, burying myself in the past (my favourite genre is historical fiction) and gripped by characters, plots, settings, and the compelling human conflicts and resolutions that are the hallmark of all great stories.

And when I’m done, I’ll spread the joy by passing them on to husband, family, friends or my local charity shop.

Here’s the shortlist so far, with a couple of weeks’ research still to go. All tips gratefully received…

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
  • Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
  • Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
  • Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hanna

Do let us know which books or audiobooks have made your Summer 2019 shortlist, and keep an eye on the AD Twitter feed (@ADComms) to see which books are being packed in Team AD’s suitcase this summer.