9 Classic Books To Read On Your Holiday

HuffPost readers and writers recommend old favourites to take away with you.
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Browsing for a new book in the airport bookshop can be rather overwhelming –the charts might not reflect your own taste, you’ve still got to get your toiletries, and your flight is about to board. Nightmare.

So, we asked HuffPost readers and writers to share the old favourites they read, recommend and return to – and whether cosied up at home or basking in some sun somewhere.

Let us know your classic holiday reads in the comments below.


Chosen by Jess Brammar, Executive Editor, HuffPost UK

Someone gave me A Suitable Boy to read on a holiday to India a few years ago, but it’s the kind of totally absorbing story you would get lost in wherever you are. It’s a long novel, perfect for whiling away hours by the pool or (in my case, when I read it) on trains – I struggle to get into very long books in my normal life, snatching the odd 20 mins of reading on the bus home or before I fall asleep, so I save them for when I am away and can really indulge.

Set in India just after independence, A Suitable Boy is a sweeping, epic tale of Indian society in those first few years of the modern country’s birth, but told through very relatable characters – a young women whose mother is trying to find her a “suitable boy” to marry, and her three potential suitors. I love the way that tumultuous time is brought to life through experiences everyone’s had: falling in and out of love, and trying to please your family. I’ve given this book to a couple of my close friends and I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone else.


Chosen by Jamie Klinger, HuffPost UK reader

This book is perfect for any Italian trip. It takes place in Liguria, Cinque Terra, and perfectly describes the location, as well as how a mispronunciation (in Italian) can mean you end up entirely in a different place. It’s such a warm hug of a book, charming and very Italian. Every year, I go to Liguria, and almost every year, I read it on the plane. It gets me ready for the food, the sea and holiday.


Chosen by Jessie Williams, HuffPost UK reader

Half of a Yellow Sun is a heart-wrenching novel which illustrates the impact of the Nigerian civil war on one family. It begins with their resilience and hope, and ends with displacement, death, and fragmenting relationships. It’ll make you cry by the side of the pool, but it will also fill you with admiration for their strength. Chimamanda is a literary genius.


Chosen by Nancy Groves, Life Editor, HuffPost UK

I adore a coming of age tale – whatever form it takes – and this is one of the very best. Katherine is our stylish but naive heroine thrown into the chaotic bohemian existence of her university professor Jacob Goldman, his wife Jane, and their six children – all of whom she falls for in different ways. A few chapters in, you’ll be similarly exasperated and bewitched by this family, too. The story follows Katherine to Rome and back again over a decade, and ends in all kinds of sexy ways – I find Trapido’s writing hugely seductive and love nothing more than meeting fellow fans, who hold her characters as closely as I do. And if you’re left bereft when you finish, there are two more books in the series. Joy!


Chosen by Jasper Jackson, HuffPost UK reader

This is perfect for a long haul flight as it’s about 1,000 pages. I read it on the way to Cuba. It’s actually five books in one – Bolano asked for it to be published as separate books, to maximise revenue for his wife and daughter when he was dying. His executors ignored him and it became a literary bestseller.

Anyway, that’s the background. The story itself begins with a group of academics in search of a mysterious poet in Mexico City. The five interlocking novels progress through the life of a fixer and his daughter in a fictional city called Tijuana (modelled on Ciudad Juarez). From some gruesome murders in the city, it moves to a man hiding in the deep winter of the battle between Germany and Russia, before returning to the academics and their role in catching a serial killer.


Chosen by Nicole Barbosa, HuffPost UK reader

Food writer Rachel Samstat is seven months pregnant when she discovers that her husband, Mark Feldman, is having an affair with Thelma Rice – a woman who ‘has a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb.’ Heartburn is a fantastic book filled with delicious recipes and Nora Ephron’s hilarious and clever lines (this the same woman who wrote When Harry Met Sally). Every time I read it, I cheer on Rachel and Nora for having the last laugh.


Chosen by Victoria Richards, Parents Writer, HuffPost UK

I can’t believe it took me almost 38 years to finally knuckle down to du Maurier’s gothic classic. Since doing so, I’ve read it twice – and will undoubtedly read it again, because it’s so eerie and intoxicating. It opens with the famed phrase, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” and soon transports the reader to the south of France, where the mysteriously unnamed heroine meets, and falls in love with, handsome widower Maxim de Winter.

Winter proposes, she accepts – but on arriving at Manderley, his isolated estate in England, finds herself living in the shadow of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca. She’s also confronted with the dreadful Mrs Danvers, a creepy housekeeper determined to preserve Rebecca’s memory at all costs. Read it and shiver.


Chosen by Tori Dance, HuffPost UK reader

This follows a group of young expats as they cavort across Europe in the mid-1920s. Leaving post-war Paris and journeying to the bullfighting rings of Pamplona, the characters while away their days travelling, fishing, boozing and bickering. It might be almost a century old, but Hemingway’s debut novel has everything you need from a holiday read – romance, debauchery, illicit affairs, questionable morality, pitchers of rum and ‘damned good-looking’ characters.


Chosen by Natasha Hinde, Life Reporter

This is more of a recent one that I’ve only just finished reading myself. I love that it centres around a pool (mega holiday vibes) but has a really important message behind it about loneliness and friendship, which many of us can relate to.

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