Ultimate Travel Reading List – Part Two

Part two of my epic summer reading list! Check yesterday’s post for part one.

6. Looking for Alaska – John Green

looking for alaska

John Green (recently responsible for making me ugly-cry for half an hour in a cinema) first caught my eye when I stumbled across his now iconic quote – ‘If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane’. Much googling later, I discovered this quote was from his debut novel, Looking for Alaska. I bought it, read it in two days flat, read it again, and decided that John Green is my kind of author. Although I’ve read lots of his novels since then, and they’re all really good, Looking for Alaska is still my favourite. It’s basically a girl-meets-boy, (the girl is named Alaska and the boy, Miles, is obsessed with finding out and remembering people’s last words), set in Miles’ first year of College, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s really funny, touching, thought-provoking and entertaining, and it’s really, really well written.* I’ve lent or recommended this book to say many people, and I can’t wait to read it again this summer.

*Although I always find it funny that, by John’s own admission, the drizzle/hurricane quote, now synonymous with this novel, was originally ‘If people were precipitation, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane’. Thankfully his editor suggested a slightly more, er… elegant turn of phrase!

7. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

Our Mutual Friend

In my Dickens module this year, I had the most fantastic tutor named Cornelia. She was so knowledgable about, and familiar with, Dickens’ work – she could recite a quote from the middle of Great Expectations or effortlessly pinpoint the page she wanted in the middle of Bleak House. I loved her class because she genuinely loved and enjoyed Dickens’ work, and by the end of the year, I did too. Great Expectations was the first book we had to read, and I’ll admit, I was expecting it to be rather dry. I was, obviously, very, very much mistaken. Dickens is an artist of incredible genius – he captures London in a few words better than I could hope to do in many paragraphs, and he has a certain wry, witty humour which is insanely funny and very clever. It can seem a bit daunting to jump right into a big ol’ Dickens novel – but once you’ve read a few chapters you’ll  be racing through it. Our Mutual Friend is Cornelia’s favourite of all of Dickens’ novels, and she would often quote it at length (and completely from memory) in class discussions. Dickens is always a pleasure to read, so I can’t wait to get started on this one!

8. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Recently adapted into an incredibly popular film (which I have yet to see), Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is full of intrigue, suspicions and uncertainty (according to the back cover, at least), as the investigation of missing Amy, Nick’s ‘clever and beautiful wife’ turns a spotlight onto their turbulent marriage. This novel sounds like a really good psychological-thriller-meets-murder-mystery written by a critically acclaimed author, and recently adapted into a film starring Ben Affleck (who is wildly attractive and I don’t care who disagrees with me) 😉

9. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure

Okay, so I feel like a word of warning is needed here – this is not a feel-good summer read. I haven’t read this particular Hardy novel yet but I’ve been told it’s worse than Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and we all know how that one ended (if you don’t know how it ended, then please continue in blissful ignorance – it’s a great book but oh my gosh it is depressing). I don’t know much about the plot of Jude, apart from the fact that it is, like most of Hardy’s novels, concerned with the ‘everyday lives of ordinary people’ (assuming that most ordinary people are deeply unhappy, of course). I’m keen to read it because I do love Hardy, even if he makes me feel rather gloomy, and I just won’t hold out for a happy ending! This book was once branded ‘Jude the Obscene’ by a contemporary reviewer (oh, the acerbic wit of those nineteenth century critics!), and that tells me that it’s probably the kind of book I’m going to find really, really interesting, and Kati or Abi will probably have to listen to me analysing it in depth for hours on end on long coach journeys or while they are trying to sleep. Sorry guys!

Let me know if you’ve read or are planning to read any of these novels! Don’t forget you can download them to your kindle very cheaply (some of them are free!) or get the free kindle app for iPhone or Android, and avoid having to fill up your suitcase with lots of heavy books!

T-minus eleven days before I’ll be on that plane (probably reading Titus Andronicus and cackling)

PV x