Reading group: which novel set on holiday should we read this month?

Whether we’re being taken on vacation by Ernest Hemingway or Esther Freud, this month’s reading is likely to be melancholy, hedonistic or both

This month, the Reading group is asking for recommendations about vacations. Summer’s on the wane in the UK, but that simply makes me want to cling to the last vestiges of sunshine, take one more dip in the sea and feel the warm glow on my skin before the cold sets in. And read or reread summer classics.

Choosing reading material so late in the season works for me because so many of my favourite books about holidays are infused with the melancholy of passing time and deal with pleasures that feel all the brighter because they are brief. In fact, it is often better to read these books at home rather than on the beach, in case they leave you feeling painfully mortal (Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice is an astonishing book – but might also result in you considering walking into the sea and not coming back).

Plenty of other summer classics are also brimming with tragedy. The end of summer in F Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night feels like the end of everything. Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is no party, either. And Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky is possibly the ultimate going-on-holiday-by-mistake novel.

Our book this month doesn’t have to be miserable. There are fierce joys to be had alongside the sadness in books such as EM Forster’s A Room With a View, not to mention the hedonistic indulgence of Alex Garland’s The Beach.

Talking of high-living, if we push the envelope a little, Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas should fit our remit, as does Esther Freud’s journey to Morocco in Hideous Kinky. I also have to give a special mention to the completely on-topic Holiday by Stanley Middleton.

But as always, I’m getting carried away with my own recommendations when really I want to hear yours. Post your tips for books touching on travel, time out and getting away from it all. Let’s take a suitably relaxed definition of “holiday”, so we can pack in as many books as possible. I’ll gather the recommendations in a sun hat in a few days and the one that gets pulled out first will be our Reading group choice for September. Let’s hope it takes us somewhere special.

Contributor

Sam Jordison

The GuardianTramp

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