Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Help Me, Drunkards!

I'm sorry, this isn't a review. I have several reviews in my head at the moment that I keep forgetting to write due to time/exhaustion etc. but this isn't one of them - as such, Redcap, please feel free to delete this post if it doesn't fit the drunkard ethos.

In the meantime, I'm after some help from all the Paper Drunkards out there - namely, I need reading suggestions.

See, in a couple of weeks I'm taking off to one of those 'tropical island paradise' thingamys. There will be no TV and no interwebs and just lots of sun and lounging and a bit of drinking. While I'm a big fan of the sun and the lounging and the drinking, I also get bored easily, so ample reading material is a big fat must.

Sadly when I hit up my local bookshop the other day, everything seemed either too heavy for beach-reading, or so light it would fly away in the slightest on-shore breeze.

The holiday read is a peculiar beast - it has to be something that will keep you happily occupied for a few hours at a time, but not something so engrossing that you're skipping fun stuff just to keep reading it. It can't be too dark or depressing, but nor can it be so cloyingly light and bright that it makes even lying on a beach in the Pacific seem crappy. If they're too short and/or too easy, you finish them too fast and don't have anything for that last day when you're totally sick of the ocean - if they're too hard or too tedious (there really is no such thing as too long in my world) you're likely to give up on them halfway through and go waste your money on cheap airport novels.

So, with that criteria out there - I ask you, Drunkards, if you were heading off to an island for a week, what books would you take with you, and why?

Your assistance is much appreciated.

31 comments:

davey said...

At the risk of being ridiculed by those more highbrow in the audience, I would take "The time traveller's wife" by Audrey Neffenegger. I was given this book by a dear friend before I left for a week in Thailand, and became completely obsessed with its story of all consuming love existing within fantastical circumstances. Numerous moments when I re-read the same paragraph just because I wanted to enjoy it a second time round.

redcap said...

Depends on what you're in the mood for, Chesty. I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on holiday and found it a most diverting read. But you've probably already read that.

If you feel like some fantasy, Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy is particularly good. He writes for young adults, but it's good cross-over fiction. Try Sabriel, the first one, which is about a teenage girl who is forced to take on her father's role as necromancer-protector before she's ready for it. It can stand on its own quite well - you don't need to read the other two if you don't want to.

If it's a murder mystery you fancy, I just finished a cracking Australian one called Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland. I'd planned to post a review fairly soon. It's set in the Northern Territory in remote Aboriginal and mining communities and the writing is fantastic. There's also a really cool Aboriginal heroine.

If you feel like chick lit that isn't too cloying, try Running in Heels by Anna Maxted. I've recommended this book to half a dozen people and they've all loved it.

African adventure? Grab a Tony Park book. Safari or African Sky are both stacks of fun. There are shoot-outs with poachers, lots of animals - perfect holiday reading.

Bad Bridesmaid by Siri Agrell is quite funny. It's a collection of true stories about outrageous things that brides have demanded and the bridesmaids who've wanted to kill them.

Of course, what not to read is much easier - don't pack anything by JM Coetzee, Ian McEwan or Martin Amis, unless insomnia is likely to be an issue >:)

eleanor bloom said...

The best light reads - and it's very light - I've enjoyed this year have been Janet Evanovich's 'Plum' series. I think the first one is 'One for the Money' and the rest follow along with the numerical theme. I know quite a few rather intelligent people who enjoy reading about this female bond agent character. It's all very tongue in cheek and keeps up a good pace. (I do believe a movie is being considered with Sandra Bullock in the title role; that should give you a good idea.)

And if you like fantasy I recommend George R R Martin's 'A Song of Fire and Ice' series (still going). First book's 'A Game of Thrones'.

And of course, Terry Pratchett for fantasy satire (get the earlier Discworld ones if you've yet to read them, they're better, a chuckle a page).

They're all the light ones I can think of.

(Now I'm going off in search of Time Traveller's Wife I reckon, and may have a squiz at Garth Nix...)

The Blakkat said...

Possibly this one will come under the 'too light' category, but I'm in the middle 'Love Struck' by Melanie La Brooy(it's a naff title and I was put off for the longest by this fact alone). It's pure chicklit but it is set in Sydney which makes it kind of fun because there's some pretty good observations about living in said town and the people that inhabit it. The reason I'm recommending it though is because it is genuinely funny and I've had a few laugh out loud 'I can relate to that' moments travelling on the bus to work. It's easy enough to put down though, should a bit scuba diving or something takes your fancy instead.

The Blakkat said...

Other than that, what about Bill Bryson. I reckon he's perfect for a spot of holiday reading.

kiki said...

mao's last dancer
joe cingue's consolation
my sister's keeper
the outsider
fear and loathing in las vegas
anything by chuck chuck palahniuk

kiki said...

chuck palahniuk

killerrabbit said...

I recently read American Gods by Neil Gaiman and that was pretty good holiday reading. Engrossing, interesting story and long but not too long.

Or anything by David Mitchell as he is my new favourite author at the moment.

Milly Moo said...

They're all good suggestions, Chesty.

Mine are:
King Rat - James Clavell
About a boy - Nick Hornby
Notes from a small island - Bill Bryson
The Manchurian Candidate - forgotten who
Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier
Anything autobiographical by Clive James

Ariel said...

I just read Ann Patchett's new book 'Run' in an afternoon on the couch and would highly recommend it. There's definite darkness in it (sorry!) but it's beautifully written and it's shades of grey, not black.

'The Low Road' is a literary thriller by a new Australian author about a doctor-turned-drug-addict on the run with a shady character he meets in a dodgy motel. Supposed to be brilliant.

And I'd agree with Redcap on 'Diamond Dove' And Eleanor Bloom on the Janet Evanovich series. Or anything by Nick Hornby.

Rita said...

Agree with blakkat and milly moo about Bill Bryson. His "The Lost Continent" is the book I really regretted taking on holiday with me - I made such a dick of myself belly-laughing at the mental images he painted! When I want something easy, light and genuinely amusing, I turn to Bill's travel books. Re-reading still provokes the same responses as well - such good value!

davey said...

-- fear and loathing in las vegas

Are you serious keeks? For a holiday read? Did she mention that she's not smoking crack in harlem or surveying the poppy fields of Afghanistan?

R.H. said...

Fear and Loathing would be the weakest comic book trash I've seen. But impressive for wide-eyed naivetes from nice suburbs who'd otherwise watch cop shows for a thrill.
Mental illness with all its hallucination delirium terror and euphoria is no joke, but bullshitting hacks like Thompson, Burroughs etc, have seen glamour in it to the extent of swallowing chemicals to pose that way themselves. Don't admire stupid people like these.
Narcotics won't make you better at anything whether it's writing verse or driving a nail into a piece of wood. Grand things are done solemnly

Hot Lemon said...

Good grief, EVERYTHING i read falls into one of those "to be avoided" catagories: either it's weird, stream-of-consciousness, meta-novels or just plain engrossing and strange. That leaves me with no other suggestions better than Dr. Suess.

Chesty LaRue said...

Wow! So many ideas .... Where to start?

Davey - I loved the Time Travellers Wife the first time I read it. Sadly ... it didn't really hold up to a second read for me. But if I hadn't read it, it would have been perfect. Thanks.

Redcap - I may have to borrow the chick lit suggestion. It's been a while.

Eleanor bloom - I've never considered the Janet Evanovich books, but I might now. Cheers.

The Blakkat - both good suggestions I'll have to check out. At this rate I won't have time to do anything BUT read.

Kiki - An interesting selection. But I will be avoiding the Chuck Palahniuk. He makes me all stabby.

And that's all I'm saying about that.

KR - Ooh. Is David Mitchell worth reading? His book covers look so naff.

Milly Moo - thanks! I LOVE About A Boy ... it's probably one of my favourites.

Ariel - it can't be that dark if you can read it on the couch in an afternoon. Might be worth checking out. I love my Nick Hornby too ... there are a couple I've missed that I might use this opportunity to indulge in.

Rita - I've not read a lot of Bill Bryson but everything I do come across I enjoy. Thanks :)

Davey - well ... there might be cocktails. But no, no poppy fields or crack-smoking.

r.h - now now ... let's not fight.

Hot Lemon - Eh. I can take or leave Seuss. I'd love to hear your suggestions when I'm not in holiday mode though.

R.H. said...

I'm against the idea it's smart to damage your brain, that's all. Fear and Loathing is a dirty book.

phishez_rule said...

Personally I'd take a sudoku puzzle book. But I'm addicted to those things. yu can waste hours doing them!

As far as books go...

Don't get anything by Matthew Reilly. His books are action packed and absolutely fantastic. You can't put them down. I took one of his on a holiday. It should have lasted me a week and I read in a day and a half.

Apart from that, I've got nothing. Hope I helped though.

redcap said...

Ba ha ha! Chuck Pah... Pahau... oh fuck it. The Fight Club guy makes me all stabby too. I read one of his short stories online a while back. It was "Guts" the one about the kid who sits on a pool filter. Nuff said ~vomits~

I have to admit that I didn't care for Fear and Loathing either. I read it because I thought I should and I am prone to using the quote about being in bat country, but I really just thought The Good Doctor was a bit of a try-hard wanker. And Johnny Depp or not, I absolutely loathed the film. It was even worse than the book. Bletch.

Cold Mountain, on the other hand, is one of my top five books. I thought the writing was simply beautiful. I wouldn't take it on holiday, though. And really, let's not start talking about the film though or I'll have to stab my Nicole Kidman doll with a roofing nail. Again. Man, that doll's in shreds.

phish, don't you think that if you want to go Matthew Reilly, you should go early? Contest was great, Ice Station was hugely entertaining, but by the time we hit Temple, we were perilously close to "I'm taking 20 pages to describe what would be 30 seconds of film" territory. Boy needs to go to film school and start writing scripts instead of books.

Oh, and I do like a Bill Bryson, but I can't really eat a whole one. A bit like a Clive James. I read a profile piece a few months back and realised that I'm not the only person in the world who can hear him talking in my head when I'm reading one of his books. Much as I worship at the altar of The James, this is Off-Putting. Sometimes writing like you talk is not that great an idea. (Ben Elton, I'm looking at you. You wanker.)

Chesty LaRue said...

I liked Fight Club a lot. I love the movie and I did like the book. To me, Chucky P. is like the Tarantino of books. He showed up and everyone kept going on and on about how edgy and cool he was and he started to believe his own hype. Each book became edgier and more twisted until he'd just crawled so far up his own arse that they became unreadable.

And I am also taking a sudoku book. And a killer sudoku book. Just in case.

I've never had any interest in reading F&LILV. The movie made me fall asleep. MrL is ciurrently reading another Hunter S Thompson and loving it - which is a sign that I probably won't, because we haven't both liked the same book yet - and it's been four years. The closest we get is one of us loves it and the other thinks it's 'ok'.

R.H. said...

Stupid cops, rednecks, dumb waitresses, and other non-hip characters, had already been ridiculed (shaded by heroic honourable drug-soaked road bums) in a series of films like Easy Rider before Fear and Loathing dug them all up again.

I don't know why Americans hate waitresses so much. Or why there's never been a Fear and Loathing in Kings Cross.

Maybe it's not worth the trouble.

Helen said...

Buy a couple of Carl Hiassen's novels. (Crime section) They're splutteringly funny. Also, Peter Hoeg, author of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, has a new novel out!! The Quiet Girl. Want!

Funny that, I'm not really a crime reader but recommend the above highly.
If you love gritty but readable novels about human interaction and relationships, Lionel Shriver's The Post Birthday World is pretty good.

R.H. said...

I should have said: Fear and Loathing in Brisvegas.

Now there's a town!- sociology capital of the world!

kiki said...

davey,
FALILV is possibly the funniest movie and book ever
truly hilarious.

a great light-hearted read

Ariel said...

This may be a bit off topic, but Hunter S. is actually a great political writer. I'd read 'Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in 72' or 'Better Than Sex' (on Clinton) over FLLV anyday.

Chesty, I'm kinda with you on Chuck. I really liked 'Fight Club' (book and film) but nothing else of his. He's a one trick pony and the trick was only good once.

Yes, I second Carl Hiassen as GREAT holiday reading. Really funny, clever crime. And I'm not normally a crime reader.

Chesty LaRue said...

I've heard Carl Hiassen as the American Christopher Brookmyre - and I LOVE Brookmyre with all sorts of irrational crazy love, so I've meant to check him out for a long long time. But I'm so very lazy. Might have to actually do it. He will probably lose points for not being scottish, but I'm prepared for that.

I've also had a few people recommend Lionel Shriver - but they tend to recommend 'We Need to Talk about Kevin' - the premise of which ... doesn't grab me. Maybe The Post Birthday World will be more my thing.

davey said...

I love this thread. :) How GOOD are books?

Keeks:
Not dissing the doctor. Anyone who demanded to be shot out of a canon when he died has my vote. I just think that Fear and Loathing is a bit of a mind bender -- not so much for lying around in the sun reading. But have read his other stuff and really enjoyed it. His mind is unique.

Chesty:
Have you given any thought to the Indian new school? I finished 'Such A Long Journey' by Rohinton Mistry a while ago and thought it was beautiful. These guys are master word-turners, despite the form being their second language. It's not for everyone, but I think they're magic -- Mistry in particular.

Haven't read fight club you guys, it's been on my to-do list for ages. Worth it?

Love Nick Hornby. About a Boy, High Fidelity, 33 Songs... all wonderful.

Chesty LaRue said...

I liked Fight Club. Probably not as much as I liked the movie, because David Fincher created such an awesome visual and aural backdrop for the story and Ed Norton and Brad Pitt were amazing. And: Meatloaf!

But - yeah, the book is worth reading. It's not too long or difficult. And well written enough.

Man, I'm like the worlds least-well-read person ever. Because I'd never even heard of the Indian new school. Might have to add it to my list. Cheers.

R.H. said...

Well I don't go for Movements in the arts. Postmodernism for example: a word screeched by a monkey and heard by a professor, who turned into endless discussion. Thompson was a snob, insisting how cool he was -compared to riff-raff bouncers, cops and waitresses. Listen to him sucker them, with rubbish a six year-old wouldn't believe.

"Screamingly funny". Oh yes. Landlord's nightmare. Tenant from hell. Today Tonight. A Current Affair. Abbott and Costello. Miller and Burroughs...Goodness me.

This crap should have ended in the sixties.

davey said...

Chesty:
I just made up the term, so don't worry! Referring to writers such as Mistry, Yann Martel.. (although I just found out he is Canadian!), Salman Rushdie (not that you'd call him new!)

So I guess your least-well-read is matched by my least-well-researched!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Writing_in_English

R.H. said...

Kiki, Joe Cinque's Consolation is a good read, and I think I've already mentioned Fear and Loathing; your others I don't know about, but I'm sure they'd be good.

phishez_rule said...

Red - yeah. He is like that. I'm reading Temple again now. And loving it. I devour Contest and Ice Station. He manages to pack so much into one book. But yeah, he does tend to drag on a bit.