The Reading Room

Best Holiday Reads

What Retroculturati will be reading on holiday…

The Far East beckons for Retroculturati and a hotel renowned for its colonial charm and elegance. Whilst my presence will do little to maintain, let alone improve upon that reputation my choice of reading matter might well do.

Holiday reading is as important as mosquito repellent and your passport, a holiday is not a holiday without a memorable read during that glorious period that is the late afternoon sun, just before a ‘sundowner’ or two in the residents bar. Truth be told, I have spent more hours agonizing over my choice of books than I did the destination and accommodation! Any self-respecting English bachelor must fly the proverbial flag in the Far East with at least one Graham Greene novel. But which one? This is the kind of dilemma your host finds himself in.

My choices have changed as often as the stormy winds which have battered England of late, James Fenton was a firm favourite but is looking increasingly as though he might be substituted, Eric Hobsbawm’s memoirs have been relegated for now. In comes Malcolm Bradbury and his classic, The History Man along with something a little more recent, ‘An Englishman in Madrid’ by Eduardo Mendoza.

I have travelled to South East Asia many times and I have always read a spy novel by a certain David Cornwell but this year he looks odds on for relegation. Somerset Maugham was a regular visitor to my hotel of choice so he may well get a ‘wild card’ into the suitcase. Below are four which have (for now) survived the chop, there will be additions. This is serious stuff, I shall read one in transit (it’s a thirteen hour flight to Singapore and another hour to the final destination) and another on the return leg which requires a degree of consideration. The return must surely be of an invigorating nature to lift my spirits as I descend into the grime and fog of Heathrow at sunrise.

There is a serious side to this, a holiday should be about a break and if your job demands more of your time than you would like then a holiday is often the only chance to take in a good read and switch off from those every day pressures. So I want to get my choice right, I want a selection which, combined, will tick all of the relevant boxes.

So if you have any recommendations then be assured they will be most welcome!


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