‘If you have a story that seems worth telling, and you think you can tell it worthily, then the thing for you to do is to tell it, regardless of whether it has to do with sex, sailors or mounted policemen.’
– Dashiell Hammett
20 Killer Holiday Reads
On holiday, I go for fast-paced, gripping and downright unputdownable books. Lounging by the pool (or on a secluded beach) with cocktail in hand and said book in the other is the best way to feel at one with the world! As the holiday season thrusts itself upon us, don’t wonder which books to take with you. See my 20 Killer Holiday Reads to help you make the right choice!
- Megan Abbott – The End of Everything, 2011.
Who remembers being thirteen? No doubt you had a best friend you saw every day. You shared everything with them, right down to core. Well, that’s part of what happened, but the most sinister part is that the friend disappeared! And how…
- Joanna Briscoe – Sleep with Me, 2005.
The thrill of the dreaded threesome. A torrid extramarital affair. Not quite menage a trois but penetrative to the bitter end!
- Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist, 1988.
The quest of a Spanish shepherd boy, Santiago, on his adventure to discover the soul of the world. Basically, the universe listens and responds to our dreams. Wonderful!
- Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho, 1991.
Wall Street businessman and part-time serial killer, Patrick Bateman is a psychopath with a penchant for 80’s music. Thrilling!
- Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl, 2012.
The perfect marriage on the outside. One day the wife goes missing and all fingers point to husband, Nick. Where is she? Is he guilty? Fantastic twists and turns.
- James Herbert – The Rats, 1974.
It’s in 1970s London. Rats run amok in the wake of the Blitz. Most memorable scene is where Harry (art teacher) makes out in the bushes and ravenous rats participate!
- Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner, 2003.
The backdrop is Afghanistan. We chart the unforgettable bond between two boys from different walks of life. Amir, the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, and the other is Hazara, from a despised lowly caste. Extremely gripping!
- Marlon James – A Brief History of Seven Killings, 2015.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize, 2015. Masterful story crossing three decades. Original language, great rhythm with dark, challenging and engrossing moments.
- Mendal Johnson – Let’s Go Play at the Adams, 1974.
Barbara, the babysitter wakes to find she’s being held captive. Lovely, innocent children have chloroformed, gagged and abused her. She is totally at the mercy of their new found power. Ain’t no fun when rabbit’s got the gun!
- Yann Martel – Life of Pi, 2001.
The fantastical adventure of a young Tamil boy from Pondicherry and how he survives after 227 days after shipwreck on a boat with ‘Richard Parker’ a Bengal tiger. Wow!
- Terry McMillan – How Stella Got Her Groove Back. (Also read Disappearing Acts, 1989 & Mama, 1987).
After a failed marriage and a string of dead-end relationships, Stella takes herself off to sunnier climes, Negril in Jamaica. She meets a handsome young man, half her age… enough said!
- Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye, 1970.
Complex, thought-provoking emotional rollercoaster. Investigates ideas of beauty in its relation to black and white notions. A social commentary very much relevant today and beyond.
- John Niven – Kill Your Friends, 2008.
Music industry A&R man, Steven Stelfox lives a life of reckless hedonism. Not dissimilar to American Psycho in pace or toxicity of character.
- George Orwell – 1984, 1949. (Also read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1932).
The original Big Brother that precedes our contemporary Big Brother! Say no more!
- Chuck Palahniuk – Choke, 2001.
The story centres around the life of Victor, a sex addict whose mother is in a nursing home. He tries various ways to make money, one of which being to go to restaurants, choke, see who comes to ‘save’ his life by correct application of the Heimlich manoeuvre. Then he manipulates ‘Samaritans’ who ‘save his life.
- George Schulyer – Black No More, 1931.
Based on black lives in the Harlem Renaissance era. A time when scientific discovery became the solution to race relations. What if everyone was white? Magical writing for period…
- Lionel Shriver – We Need to Talk About Kevin, 2003.
Essentially about a high school massacre. Eva finally falls pregnant but finds that she struggles to breast feed, the baby doesn’t sleep well, he cries an awful lot. There’s a general lack of connection with the infant. The distance grows, it gets worse. AND worse!
- Alice Walker – The Color Purple, 1985.
Set in Georgia in early 20th century. A black woman, Celie, survives extreme abuse from her father who marries her off. We see her transformation over the next 30 years of gruelling life.
- Matt Whyman – Boy Kills Man, 2004.
Based in the gang ruled streets of Medellin, Columbia where young Sonny becomes a child assassin, making a good life for him and family. Unforgettable!
- Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890.
A rich, hip young man’s desire to stay young forever is granted. He has a portrait painted and, instead of him aging, the portrait ages showing the evils in his soul!