Summer Reading – what books are writers taking on their holidays?

When I was considering holiday reading my thoughts naturally turned to writers for advice.My three interviewees know how to write a compelling story and they can recognise one too.


Sarah RaynerSARAH RAYNER, seen here at the launch of the international bestseller  One Moment, One Morning ,was travelling in Italy when she sent me this message.

Sarah_39_s_readingMark Haddon bookKent small

I’m three quarters through ‘Girls on Fire‘; whilst I wouldn’t describe it as *enjoyable* – it’s too disturbing for that – it’s eminently readable, and well written. It’s a sort of ‘Heathers‘ meets ‘Heart of Darkness‘; visceral, cruel and captivating. And it makes me thankful my female friendships no longer burn with the intensity of adolescence; not that I was *ever* on fire like these girls.

Also in my suitcase is Mark Haddon’s ‘The Pier Falls’ and Kent Haruf’s ‘Eventide‘, second in the beautiful ‘Plainsong’ trilogy. I ‘discovered’ him belatedly through his last novel, ‘Our Souls in the Night‘.

As a novelist, Sarah is known for tackling difficult subjects such as bereavement, infertility and mental illness with empathy and insight, but her latest books are non-fiction. ‘Making Friends with Anxiety’ is a little self-help book written to help enable people who panic and worry to regain confidence and control. The series now includes ‘More Making Friends with Anxiety’, ‘Making Friends with Anxiety: A Calming Colouring Book’ and ‘Making Friends with the Menopause’.

One moment



Justine writes: Being partial to good, gothic, psychological horror and ghost stories I was rooting around in Kemptown Bookshop for something spooky to read during my imminent sailing trip exploring the south coast of Devon and Cornwall in my boat. Happily, I came upon the beautiful and atmospheric cover of The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley.

Lonely small

The cover hooked me, the blurb on the back ensured the money was out of my purse and the book was in my bag within minutes. Reviews for this debut novel have been wonderful, and I can’t wait to get stuck in and scared during dark nights bobbing around at anchor.

JUSTINE is a novelist, poet and sailor, who can be found either tearing about the woods with her dog or sailing her boat along the South Coast. Her debut novel, Advice for Strays, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2010 and shortlisted for The Guardian’s “Not The Booker Prize”. She has recently been funded by Arts Council England to research and write her second novel, Bite Marks, which is nearing completion. Things that make her happy: being outdoors; dark forests; gentle hands; creating worlds with words; being out of sight of land; making photographs; baby goats; the colour orange; clouds; her dog; her fella; the word shenanigans; any combination of the above.

Advice_for_Strays JPEG


 Here’s Jane (in the middle) at the launch last week of her latest book Woman of the Hour Jane At my launch with lesley and sinnet

Jane has a very clear plan for her summer reading: I came late to John le Carre and decided to spend the summer reading his novels. I started with his first two written in the early 1960s which are more like detection of murder novels with George Smiley as an amateur sleuth: Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality. I enjoyed these both.

His first full blown espionage novel was The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. This is brilliant but very bleak.

Tinker tailor Call for the DeadThe spy

Next I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and this is the one that blew me away. George Smiley is a wonderfully achieved character:

‘Small, podgy and at best middle-aged, he was by appearance one of London’s meek who do not inherit the earth.’

But George Smiley has a brilliant mind and he sets out to unearth the mole at the heart of the UK’s secret services. The book kept me entranced from first page to last. And I’ve just embarked on the next in the series The Honourable Schoolboy.

JANE worked in TV for 15 years and her third novel Woman of the Hour is an insider’s account of life at a London TV station with all the monster egos and drama that entails.
Her second book After the Storm has been described as Marine Noir as the story revolves around a young couple who say yes when two strangers offer to sail them to a paradise island. The boat owners have secrets and this is no dream holiday!
Her first novel The Lie of You  is a psychological thriller.
Jane calls herself a sea-lover, star gazer, film and football fan. After television she moved to the British Film Institute as Deputy Director, did one year as Chief Executive of BAFTA (miserable) followed by seven years at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (interesting). She is now a full time novelist.

woman of the hour

What books or ebooks have you packed away? Do tell us about them in the comments section below

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