Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Staycation Reading


I’ve been trying and failing to link to an article in the Times Online on staycation fashion – lots of impractical but elegant slouchy outfits. If I’m going to be finger-painting (ta Ladyfi!) and bike riding, then I’m not going to be wearing silk pants and artfully arranged scarves, thanks very much. However, I do think one of the most important aspects of a good staycation – apart from fabulous food – is reading. I am gathering a pile of books that I can’t wait to dive into. Here they are in no particular order:

The Hour I First Believed – Wally Lamb

I am a big fan of Wally’s and am looking forward to this novel, which has been long in the making. Source: a shopping accident in a Burg bookshop only this morning.

Perfect Match – Jodi Picoult

Holiday reading. Source: last night’s book club.

The Art of Travel – Alain de Botton

How can I not read this while staycationing at home? I love de Botton’s prose – the first chapter deals with the vast abyss between what we anticipate about travel and what we find we get there. His succinct answer is: ourselves. We get to the tropical island and find that we have taken ourselves and our own leaky, needy body with us and paradise is somewhat lost. Looking forward to more, and I may be forced to share some jewels here. Source: clever husband.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I have to fess that I was greedy and have already read this, but I can recommend it for anyone else’s holiday reading. It is light but not fluffy, and a sweet story. Source: present from my mother-in-law.

Walking in the Shade 1949 – 1962 – Doris Lessing

Part 2 of the mighty Doris’s autobigraphy. Here’s something that felt cutting: “First novels, particularly by women, are often attempts at self-definition, whatever their literary merits.” I look forward to more such insights. Source: book club.

The Women – TC Boyle

I loved Boyle’s Talk Talk and also Drop City, so I hope this measures up. Source: clever husband.

The Children’s Book – AS Byatt

I have read this already, but have to include it because it’s looking to be my book of 2009. I hope Byatt wins not only the Booker Prize, but many medals and much adoration for it, because it is such an achievement. I may pull myself together and write a book review, but if I don’t and if you have loved anything she has ever written, then go and read it immediately and be pleased that you did. Source: very clever husband.

Snow – Orhan Pamuk

I am halfway through this and finding it chewy. I particularly love the perspective – it’s told in third person by a practically invisible first person narrator who surfaces only occasionally – and am regarding it as an exercise in how to write. Source: Amazon a good two years ago, so it really is time to crack on.

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

Mantel never seems to put a foot wrong, and I am looking forward to reading her novel about Thomas Cromwell, whom the Guardian in its review refers to as a “beefy pen-pusher and backstairs manoeuvrer”. Source: my lovely au pair girl (aka mother) arriving shortly from England.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

30 thoughts on “Staycation Reading

  1. oooh, love Wally Lamb, didn’t know he had a new one out! yay!

  2. So, when your staycation if over there are a couple of them that I would like to read.
    I brought back new books from the States, so when you are ready you can come over and raid the bookshelve again.

  3. What a great list of books. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about them. I need a travel book for someone who is basically a homebody. I like the experience of being somewhere new best when I’m back home.

  4. Lots of lovely reading tips!

    Have you read last year’s winner of the Booker Prize: The White Tiger? Great book. I’ll be posting up a review of it shortly.

    I can also highly recommend the debut novel of Steve Toltz – a wonderfully rich and quirky novel called: A Fraction of the Whole.

    Oh – and have fun with the finger painting. Best done outside with old or no clothes on…

  5. I also found ‘Snow’ by Orhan Pamuk very chewy. But I loved its bizarreness, the vague German connection, its monochrome setting, and the unrequited love story. After finishing it, I wanted to read it all over again. I am now reading some of his essays; also very chewy..

  6. ps. Thanks for all the other lovely reading tips – I haven’t read any of those! And don’t worry about Doris’ comments – she can be a bit uncompromising. Hell, you have to write about what you know – and it applies as much to her as to anyone else. The Grass is Singing was not far from her life. And I know you have more books in you anyway. xxx

  7. Those are lovely books – I particularly enjoyed the Lessing, and must get hold of the Hilary Mantel. Oh and I thought of another staycation activity for you – treasure hunts and scavenger hunts! I was thinking back to the games I used to organise for my son and his cousins when they were all young and on holiday together. They always loved them.

  8. I’ve been circling the Lamb since it came out but haven’t yet pounced… and I just chose a Mantel – Beyond Black – for next month’s book club. I’ve not read any of her stuff before but I am really looking forward to it. Is Wolf Hall a newbie?

    Husband looking very clever indeed – enjoy!

    • Yes, this is Hilary’s latest and it is also on the Booker shortlist with AS Byatt and JM Coetzee’s as yet unpublished latest novel. How does that work?

      • Hmmm, neat trick, Coetzee… I really don’t know how he managed that…

        All roads lead to Mantel at the moment: I opened up my email from the TLS and there was an essay of hers. The universe is clearly nudging me in her direction, and I shall comply!

  9. By the way, your blog stats are deeply intimidating.

  10. Lots of great titles here — I loved de Botton, and “Guernsey.”

    Please share what you think of “The Women” when you’re done. I don’t want to bias you so that’s all I’ll say.

  11. I got the Wally Lamb book in Heidelberg some weeks back. I haven’t started reading it yet, but can’t wait to do so. I’ve never read anything of his before. Would love to trade up with you and Emma and any others in the area on some other books, though. This book buying habit is a killer for my account!

  12. Good haul of books there. Sounds like a good recipe for a staycation. I’ll be looking out for reviews of the Byatt and am also being nudged towards Mantel. Funny how she went from outsider to favourite in 48 hours.

  13. I’ve just started Shantaram.. Have you read it? I’m hooked!

  14. Well, I haven’t read any of them, so I’m looking forward to hearing your take on them, that is, if you can be bothered while staycating.

  15. Pingback: Arriving Late to the Party « DoctorDi

  16. Hi Charlotte. Thanks for the reading suggestions. I think I’ll pick up a copy of your AS Byatt recommendation and also ‘The Art of Travel’ because the thoughts you mentioned about travel from his writing are things I’d previously thunk and I think I’ll enjoy reading more of his thoughts…
    I can highly recommend ‘Gilgamesh’ by Joan London, this might be my book of 2009, but I haven’t read your suggestions yet.
    Jenne x

  17. I have the Guernsey Society book on my TBR shelf, and I really want to read Art of Travel and The Children’s Book. Excellent choices for a staycation, Charlotte!!

  18. Charlotte, your recommendations always lead to purchases. I read Sea of Poppies based on your comments during my away-cation and loved it. Now onto Brothers by Yu Hua. But my pace is obviously much slower than yours…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s