In our day to days of overtime, long commutes and relentless emails, one of our simplest pleasures is escaping on holiday and into a good book. Whether we’re testing our baggage allowance with a suitcase stuffed with Booker winners or downloading the Waterstones’ top 10 onto our kindles, the only thing more inviting than sipping vast quantities of rum by a sparkling pool is lying next to one, absorbed in this summer’s big thriller.

Holiday books can be much more than just a relaxation tool. Select a book set where you’re headed and you can truly immerse yourself. We’ve come up with a few books to get you in the mood for that moment of liberation when toe dips in pool, hand grasps cold rosé glass, deep breath exhales.

We want you to come back from holiday with deep-set frown lines, refreshingly caused by sun-squinting not stock market sulking. Time is the ultimate luxury here, take it and speed through those books everyone’s been talking about for months, tackle a complex classic, or just relax as beautiful words wash over you like the sea.

Tide by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Watching the sea roll onto shore can be mesmerising. This book is an eye-opening study of how, from the original maelstrom to the D Day landings, our lives are shaped by tides.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

In case the week’s escape has made you feel like a more prolonged getaway, use Elizabeth Gilbert’s mantra as an inspiration.


Mother’s Milk – Edward St Aubyn

A tense family in close proximity in the sweltering heat of South of France and Patrick is facing serious questions about his inheritance and his marriage. One to make that blowout over loungers seem small.

Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin

Black holes are difficult to read about standing up, cramped on a bus. This non-fiction work about Einstein’s final proof is fascinating, however, and well worth a read.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories – F Scott Fitzgerald

These short stories are perfect to pick up when you can snatch a moment. Expect glamour, heat and plenty of intrigue.

The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith

Glamorous young socialites, a con artist and a wonderful representation of the Italian Riviera in its heyday create a lively page-turner of summer entertainment.


The Travellers by Chris Pavone

In a teasing, ever-shifting tale a travel writer is exiled to spook-land, a foreign country where he can be sure of nothing.

The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch

Sometimes it’s important to read about what’s right in front of you. The sea is almost a character in its own right in this novel about arrogant theatre director Charles Arrowby.

Atonement – Ian McEwan

There are few better evoked English summers than McEwan’s sweltering countryside day which lights the fuse on the emotional journey that is Atonement.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

A complicated read which takes the time an ordinary working week does not allow. Larsson’s epic is perfectly thrilling.

The Greengage Summer – Rumer Godden

Taking place during a hot, indolent summer in France, this novel is all about that strange transitional time from gawky adolescence to womanhood.