Summer Reads: Five Books to take on holiday

With summer holidays around the corner I’m looking forward to indulging in one of my favourite activities: catching up on all the reading I haven’t had time for during the year! 

The problem is I’m SO out of the loop with the world of books, I found myself standing in the bookshop the other day with no idea what to choose.

Luckily I knew I could call on my mate and fellow book-lover  Lara from This Charming Mum to steer me in the direction of some excellent recommendations.

So if you are in need of some great reads for the holidays check out Lara’s list for some quirky page-turners that will keep you interested from the first page to the last…


Top 5 Summer Reads from This Charming Mum  

Ah, 2014. It was the best of books, it was the worst of books.  Actually 50 Shades of Grey is still the worst book I’ve ever read, so technically 2011 was the worst of books.  By that logic, 2014 might be the worst of films instead!  So if, like me, you prefer a good book to a bad film, here are 5 diverse and interesting titles that stand out from my year in reviews.   Whether your summer reading will be done on a plane to some exotic locale, poolside with the kids, or simply commuting to work in shorter sleeves than usual, there’s something you’ll love in this Top 5!

LaraCG guest post Our Town Brisbane

Scandalous Story

Mistress by Matthew Benns & Terry Smyth – Random House Australia RRP $34.99

Like a tabloid trash mag with excellent researchers, Mistress walks a fine line (in heels!) between salacious sagas and a fascinating social history of Australia.  The book begins in 1786 with colonial star crossed lovers, George Johnston – a First Fleet marine lieutenant – and Esther Abrahams, the 16 year old convict girl he fell for.  Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and – surprise, surprise – men in power are still stomping all over moral mores with extramarital affairs, paid liaisons, love and loss;  think Kerry Packer, Michael Hutchence, Tony Mokbel and Bob Hawke to name just a few whose sordid tales appear in this who’s who of scandal.  All of these stories are public knowledge, but many of the finer details will still surprise you.  You’ll have water cooler conversation up your sleeve ‘till Autumn.


Paperback Meets E-book

Hotel Alpha by Mark Watson – Pan Macmillan Australia RRP $29.99

Best known as a stand up comedian, British author Mark Watson is behind this darkly comic story that sees mild mannered Graham become head concierge at London’s finest, most exclusive hotel in the swinging ‘60s.  He’s taken under the wing of flamboyant visionary hotel owner, Howard York, an amateur magician with a flimsy grasp on the difference between illusion and reality. The hotel setting lends itself neatly to stories that unfold in snippets – glimpsed through keyholes and whispered through walls.

Once you’ve finished the book, you get to peek through a few more keyholes by visiting the website Hotel Alpha Stories. There you’ll find 100 additional snap shots from the hotel’s history, including ‘deleted scenes’, back stories for minor characters and even more secrets revealed.  A gift of a book that keeps on giving and easily my favourite in 2014.


Food for Thought

3. The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss – Harper Collins RRP $29.99

Will your summer reading happen in a hipster café, rather than by the pool?  This is the thinking person’s holiday read; intelligent and thought-provoking without being too lofty to enjoy.  Moss shares anecdotes from her fascinating and complicated life, and slots them in amongst academic theory, carefully researched statistics and popular cultural myths to shake up some of our most deeply ingrained assumptions about female identity.  It’ll open your eyes to new views on everything from modelling to motherhood, and particularly about Moss herself.


Weighty Matters

The Weight Escape by Joseph Ciarocchi, Ann Bailey and Russ Harris – Penguin Australia RRP $16.99

If you’re using the summer break to plan your New Year’s Resolutions, put The Weight Escape on your poolside reading pile. This book takes a fresh view of the struggle so many of us endure with weight loss, healthy living and generally being happy in our own skins.  It posits that weight loss – along with many other goals – is more likely to be achieved using kindness and compassion, rather than rules and regulations.  It embraces the philosophies of mindfulness and ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ to suggest we throw away the scales and start enjoying life NOW, not in 5 kilos’ time. It also includes some great techniques for improving self esteem and goal setting across personal and professional life.


Light Reading

Alphabet Soup by Melissa Doyle – Allen & Unwin RRP $29.99

And finally, the obligatory bit of Light Summer Reading.  Melissa Doyle is best known to Australians as the former co-host of morning news and views show Sunrise.  I think many readers were hoping Doyle would dish the dirt on her Sunrise years in this book, but it is not a celebrity tell-all.  Rather, Alphabet Soup focuses on the quest for work/life balance as a working mum. A for ‘Absent Notes’ sets the scene, with a story about the time Melissa missed her daughter’s ballet concert due to work commitments.  Z for ‘Zzzzz’ covers nanna naps and the disappearance of Sunday morning sleep-ins once kids enter one’s life.  Melissa obviously places great value on family, and in some ways this book is a celebration of the wider pit crew who’ve allowed her to race along in a full throttle media career.

Have a great summer, whatever and wherever you’re reading!  

Got a hot tip for summer reading? We’d love to hear it! Share any books on your summer reading list in the coments 🙂

Rachel - Ed

About Rachel

Thirty-something Brisbane lover, trying to find the balance between FOMO and YOLO. Semi-retired party girl who loves planning itineraries for big nights out. Often found dragging 3 boys around your local farmers markets or attempting to sneak out for dinner with my husband, The Chef.

Sign up for the Our Town Brisbane newsletter and never miss another event!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *