What's in my beach bag?

Holiday season is upon us and that means time to catch up on all those books you've been meaning to read. Make sure you pack the sun screen!

Time to buff up that beach body and get those paperbacks ready

This is what I will be reading on the sunbed.

The Trouble with Sheep and Goats by Joanna Cannon: a debut novel from someone who did the Faber Academy online course a few years ago. This story is set in England in the legendary summer of 1976. That was the summer when it didn't rain in South West England for an unprecedented forty five days, forest fires destroyed trees and the government appointed a minister for drought. Temperatures over 30°C were recorded for sixteen consecutive days at Heathrow and reached almost 36°C one day in Cheltenham. Although I was a little older than the main protagonists in this book, I will enjoy reliving that long school holiday which I spent singing along to Elton John and Kiki Dee as my friends and I lazed on blankets on the brown lawns of our parents' back gardens.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson: Rosemary Kennedy was subject to a lobotomy to try to help with some mental health issues. It was disastrous and she was permanently damaged. As my novel is set in a mental hospital I am hoping to get some further insight to the treatment of mental illness in the period.

We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman: Amazon offered me a choice of free Kindle versions of soon to be published books on their 'Kindle First' programme. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I chose this one which is about a man who suddenly (and unexpectedly) finds his world turned on its head when his wife leaves him for a paramedic.

The Handfast Wife by Carol McGrath: this is the first of a trilogy of books and is the story of the Norman Conquest told by King Harold's mistress and common-law wife. The author has obviously explored the historical setting in detail and I will be interested to see how this is used to bring the story to life. Carol McGrath lives in the same area of Greece that I spend so much of my time.

Gridlock by Ben Elton: I picked this up in one of the local book swaps. I've always enjoyed Ben Elton's humour and witty one liners. This novel is set in the near future in London. Traffic has reached critical levels and the government knows the whole system is about to breakdown so plans to build a new road infrastructure. This may not be fiction!

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx: this book has been waiting patiently for me to get around to reading it since I bought it some months ago. It won a Pulitzer Prize so I am hoping to learn a lot from it. It is described as a "vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family".

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: this was recommended to me by a cohort on the Faber Academy online Write a Novel course. It is effectively a series or essays about creativity which people have found inspiring in their own creative endeavours.

The Iliad by Homer: I am part way through several translations of this epic Greek poem believed to date from 3000 years BC although it wasn't written down until around 750 BC. It tells the story of the tenth year of the Trojan War. Each Sunday, I meet with a group who are studying this tome and we read one or two of the twenty six 'books' each week.

After the Crash by Michel Bussi: there's been a sample of this on my Kindle for months, ever since one of the other writers on my first Faber Academy online course recommended it. This summer I have promised myself to read it and it's downloaded and ready. Two baby girls are on a plane which crashes killing everyone on board but one baby girl. Set in the time before DNA there's no of knowing if she is the daughter of the wealthy elite or a product of a working-class socialist family.

Everything I Never Told You by Cynthia Ng: this book beat Hilary Mantel and Stephen King to win "Amazon No 1 Book of the Year" in 2011 which is an achievement in itself but all the more remarkable given it was the debut novel of Cynthia Ng. I cannot wait to read this tale of tragedies, resentments and mysteries.

Of course, on top of my 'holiday reading' there will be several books recommended as part of my Faber Academy Work in Progress course.

What's in your beach bag?

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