by Isabelle Kenyon
I don’t know about you, but I was born for the summer. Holiday planning is one of my favourite things to do. Whether you are on holiday somewhere beautiful in your own country, trekking around with all your worldly possessions on your back, staying in glamorous apartments abroad or are still searching for travel inspiration this summer, I have put together the ultimate list of ten books which you shouldn’t be without this summer!
The Summer Book
By Tove Jansson
The Summer Book is a fresh, vivid and magical novel about seemingly endless summers of discovery. If you want a book to warm the cockles of your heart this summer, this is surely it.
An elderly artist and her six-year-old granddaughter while away the summer together, on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland, their solitude disturbed only by migrating birds, sudden storms and an occasional passing boat. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, foibles and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that engulfs not only the summer inhabitants, but the very island itself.
This is a book for readers with a quiet, dry sense of humour and a strong love of family!
On The Road
By Jack Kerouac
This is a classic, and a breathless, exuberant ride back-and-forth across the United States. Expect drinking, sex, drugs and jazz, pushing the boundaries of freedom and following that all elusive American dream. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.
By Jean Shannon
You can bring a sense of sophistication to your travels with these poems and prose. It is a hybrid collection, exploring the beauty of the natural world. Employing imagery that is vivid and frequently surprising, the author addresses subjects that include the natural world (especially the plant kingdom), art and music, the dreamlike regions of memory, and the mysterious– the “dissolving forms” that tell us the world is stranger than we might suppose. Jean recollects early life in 1940s south-western Virginia– so if you’re headed to the States or you are a nature lover, this one’s for you!
The Enchanted April
By Elizabeth Von Arnim
The discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed ‘To Those who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine’, offers a small medieval castle for rent, above a bay on the Italian Riviera. Four very different women are drawn to the shores of the Mediterranean that April. Here is a book to transport you to a bay on the Italian Riviera and immerse you in the life of four different women – the dishevelled, the sad, the formidable and the ravishing socialite! It’s full of magic and laughter, as well as the fiery heat of Italian sun.
In SatNav We Trust– A Search For Meaning Through The Historic Counties Of England
By Jack Barrow
If a comedic travelogue appeals to you, Barrow’s six-week exploration of every single historic county in the UK will whet your appetite! This travelogue is philosophical in tone, exploring belief, rationalism, science and religion. A personal journey, both physical and mental, of life’s big questions using historic architecture, humour, heritage, history and engineering, to explore concepts of science & belief. For someone like me, who finds themselves incapable of following a SatNav direction or a map, this book made me laugh out loud but also made me think– traveling on your own inspires a lot of introspection and philosophical thinking, and I found Barrow’s thought process very interesting!
Travels With Charley
By John Steinbeck
With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck sets to the road to discover ‘the real America.’ Along the way he dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers. This book appealed to me instantly because John travels with his dog, Charlie, exploring the United States in a pickup truck to rediscover his native land, and to avoid losing touch with humanity in his 60s. If anything, this book spoke to me because it encouraged me to take an adventure at any age!
The Life Of Pi
By Yan Martell
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orangutan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. If you’re off on a boating adventure, you can only hope that your adventure won’t end face-to-face with a Bengal Tiger in the middle of the ocean. If you want to think about what that might be like however, as a worst-case scenario, this is the book for you! Everyone needs a sense of danger on their holiday relaxation.
Like Water For Chocolate
By Laura Esquivel
If one of your favourite things about travelling is a new exotic cuisine, this tasty piece of novel is for you. The youngest daughter, Tita, has been forbidden to marry and by Mexican tradition, is set to look after her mother indefinitely. She falls in love with Pedro, who falls in love with her and her cooking. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister in order to stay close to her, forcing them both to live with unconsummated passions. Is there any way that fate can bring them together still? Prepare for the tragedy and heartbreak!
Minnow On The Say
By Philippa Pearce
What about a discovery novel? Take yourself away from the everyday and immerse yourself in a mysterious hunt for lost treasure, after the discovery of a canoe at the end of the young boy’s garden. David’s discovery takes him travelling the river by boat, determined to discover a legendary lost treasure, but he soon discovers he is not the only one searching for this treasure, to dangerous consequences.
By D. H. Lawrence
A woman rediscovers her sexuality in the absence of her husband, away on business. By daylight, she is free to express her newfound sexuality – or as D. H. Lawrence suggests, it is the power of the sun and the summer which gives her this freedom. A short read at 41 pages, but an exciting one, full of confidence and sexual intrigue.
Isabelle Kenyon is northern poet and the author of Digging Holes To Another Continent (Clare Songbirds Publishing House). She is the editor of Fly on the Wall Press. Her poems have been published in poetry anthologies by Indigo Dreams Publishing, Verve Poetry Press, and Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her book reviews, articles and blog posts have been published in various places such as Neon Books, Authors Publish, Harness magazine and Five Oaks Press.