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With less than two weeks to go before I depart on my summer holiday I need to decide on my reading material. This might seem like rather a strange thing to be putting so much time and thought into, but you have to take a couple of things into consideration. Firstly, this is my first proper holiday in almost two years, so it is also my first proper chance in quite a while to spend a concerted period of time just reading. And, secondly, I come from a family of rabid readers, so having a good selection of books on holiday is not only a pre-requisite but also a source of much competition!

So, after much deliberation, and having raided my huge piles of unread books, here are the novels that I have selected so far to take on holiday. The only rule was that everything selected had to be a paperback [just to protect my back when I have to lug my bag through the airport].

Dan Brown The Lost Symbol

A summer holiday just wouldn’t feel the same without a Dan Brown novel. I remember when The Da Vinci Code was first published and one copy had to go around about seven family members – there ensued many a heated debate around the dinner table. So, when I picked up my copy of The Lost Symbol a few months ago, did I decide not to read it until my holiday. No! It wasn’t read because it was subsumed into my mound of unread books. But now does seem like the perfect time to finally get around to read it.

Lee Child Killing Floor

The novel that first introduced perennial hitchhiker and vigilante Jack Reacher, and one of the few thrillers from the series that I have not actually read [I’m not quite sure why I have not read it to this point – there’s no excuse!]. Its inclusion in the inaugural World Book Night – where it was one of the few thrillers – reminded me that I had been intending to read it for quite a while.

Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

The first of three books on my list to have been endorsed by one of my literary heroes, Neil Gaiman. It is a bit of a beast, at almost a thousand pages long, and my claim that I am protecting my back by only taking paperbacks seems slightly redundant when taking this book into consideration – it is bloody heavy. But summer holidays do tend to be the best time to read long and unwieldy books – I read Tolkien’s fifteen hundred page epic The Lord of the Rings in a little over two days on holiday when I was eleven!

Erin Kelly The Poison Tree

After finishing – and reviewing – Kelly’s second novel, The Sick Rose, I decided that I really wanted to read her debut book. Luckily for me, I bumped into Erin and her publicist at an event a few days later and was given a copy [I promise, ‘bumped into’ is the right term to use – I’m not some sort of scary stalker-type!].

Add to that the fact that The Poison Tree has been chosen as one of Richard and Judy’s Summer 2011 Book Club and now seems like the perfect time to read the novel.

Liza Marklund Red Wolf

There is no way that I could go on holiday without at least one Scandi-crime novel in my bag and Liza Marklund’s novel is that lucky book. Until now my only experience of her writing was her portmanteau novel The Postcard Killers written with James Patterson. But, of course, that was published under the Patterson name, and you have to believe that Marklund’s writing style will have been tempered to fit to what readers expect from a Patterson thriller. So I am intrigued to read one of her solo novels and see what has made Marklund a bestseller in her native Sweden.

China Miéville The City & The City

My first – and only – attempt to read Miéville came a few years ago when I read King Rat. I had quite a lot of difficulty with the novel, but so many people have waxed lyrical about Miéville’s books to me recently that I think that now is the time for me to re-try Miéville – especially as I am now older and [theoretically] more mature than when I first tried to read him!

And the fact that he this novel has a cover quotation from Neil Gaiman, also enticed me in.

Adriana Trigiani Encore Valentine

The thing with running a crime and thriller blog is that people tend to assume that all I read is violent, gore-spattered books. Yes, a substantial portion of my reading does tend to fit into this category, but I actually quite like to mix up my reading. And, whilst I would probably read it on the tube, I am rather partial to the odd bit of chick-lit! And I’ve never read any of Adriana Trigiani’s novels before, and this has quite a summery-looking cover, so I’m quite looking forward to reading something that is sunny and schmaltzy.

Scott Turow Presumed Innocent

Quite frankly, nine million people can’t be wrong and this is another of those books that I have been meaning to read for an absolute age. And the fact that Presumed Innocent is one of the grandaddy’s of the legal thriller genre [John Grisham’s first novel wasn’t published until 1989 – two years after Presumed Innocent was published] makes this oversight all the more embarrassing. Although, to give me my due, when this was first published, I was just shy of my second birthday!

Gene Wolfe The Book of the New Sun

The final book on my list – and also the third of the books endorsed by Neil Gaiman. I first read this book during my teenage years when I was addicted to Fantasy [but, weirdly, never to Science Fiction!]. I have to say that it was completely unlike anything I had ever read in the genre before and it has been so long since I last read it that I think that it is now time to refresh my memory of it and look at it from a non-teenage perspective.

So, there you have it. The books that will [in theory] be keeping me company throughout my summer holiday. The problem though is that I have an unfortunate knack of reading far too fast and in all likelihood will blow through all of these in the first week or so. Therefore I would love [and actually quite need] any suggestions that anyone might have. Pretty much the only stipulation is that they have to have been published in paperback but, other than that, I would happily welcome anything that people have read and loved and would like to recommend to me…Go on, you know you want to!

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