For November, The Barefoot Bookseller has taken over affairs for Ultimate Library, so our top ten list this month looks at her favourite holiday reads, giving us a glimpse into the sort of thing she recommends to guests at Soneva Fushi. We hope these titles will allow a little escape from the cold streets of London! Over to Chrissy…

“There really is nothing better than taking some time off work and spending a few days with only your book for company. Whether it’s a sun lounger on a sandy beach or a country escape where chapters are interspersed with long walks and mugs of tea; – there’s nothing like a holiday read. When I’m on holiday, I love spending time in an immersive setting. Here are ten books that I think fit the bill, whatever sort of reading you like to do on holiday.”


1. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves – fingersmiths – under the rough care of Mrs Sucksby and her ‘family’. But from the moment she is born, Sue’s fate is tied to that of another orphan growing up in a mansion not too far from her. Fingersmith is a jaw-dropping, rip-roaring romp through Victorian England.


2. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

‘History has failed us, but no matter.’ So opens this multi-generational epic, spanning eight decades and four generations of one Korean family living in Japan. It’s an incredibly heartfelt tale about family, immigration, and the impact of racial rejection on communities and individuals.


3. Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

When a distinguished doctor runs over a man on the way home from a nineteen hour shift, he knows he has killed him. Weighing up the impact of reporting his crime, knowing the man cannot be saved, and leaving him in order to save himself, he makes a decision that will change his life forever. It’s full of moral complexity that cuts to the bone of the human condition.


4. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne are from different worlds. Despite knowing each other all their lives, Connell is popular and Marianne a loner. But a life-changing connection is formed over the course of an afternoon that shapes their lives. Sally Rooney manages to shed new light on an age-old tale with her incisive understanding of her characters.


5. Outside the Gates of Eden by Lewis Shiner

Two teenagers meet in the summer of 1965 and, inspired by their hero, Bob Dylan, decide to form a band. The novel follows them through the next five decades, into the Summer of Love, the hope of those years, and the disillusion that followed. Described by George R.R. Martin as ‘A brilliant requiem for our generation and all our dreams’, it’s an epic about music and friendship, with a phenomenal soundtrack to boot.


6. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Lonely and unsatisfied with life, the narrator decides to escape by entering into a self-medicated sleep. Interrupted by trips to probably the worst psychiatrist on the planet, visits from the narrator’s troubled best friend, and unconscious nocturnal excursions, this is a darkly comic and surprisingly gripping novel. Funny, moving, and surreal, this novel is perfectly suited to your own time of rest and relaxation.


7. The Wych Elm by Tana French

Recovering from a terrible accident that has broken his body, and his confidence, Toby goes to live with his dying uncle in his grandparents’ former home, a magical place where he and his cousins spent summers as children. When a human skull is found in the hollow of the wych elm tree at the bottom of the garden, a shadow is cast over the house. If you liked The Secret History, you’ll love this.


8. How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran

Dolly has finally escaped her bonkers family and moved to London, where she is pursuing her dream of being a music journalist. But nothing ever goes smoothly for her, especially when she gets involved with a notoriously smarmy comedian who threatens to tear her dream apart. Journalist and author Caitlin Moran is known for her intelligent wit, and this novel has it in spades.


9. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Reminiscent of the story of Fleetwood Mac and told through revelatory interviews with band members, friends, and producers, Daisy Jones and the Six charts the rise and mysterious fall of the world’s most popular band. It’s full of the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but it also interrogates the unhappiness behind the glamour and the people behind the icons.


10. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Pinch is the son of a great but troubled artist, Bear Bavinsky. He is one of his father’s many children, but as his eldest son he has his neglectful father’s favour. Pining for his father’s attention, Pinch attempts to follow in his footsteps, first as artist, then as his father’s biographer, before his need to secure his father’s love leads him to make a terrible decision that will affect his father’s legacy forever.