There are two very different types of travelling. One where you’re going to be spending most of the day lounging at the beach or poolside and the other where you’re constantly on the move, exploring new places and doing exciting things. For the first, you need a book immersive enough to get stuck into, but not so thrilling that you can’t put it down to enjoy the water, or get out of the sun before you get severe sunstroke. To avoid your brain cooking in your skull, try Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautifully-written Never Let Me Go, a thought-provoking look at the lives of people who are cloned for organ harvesting. Don’t let the sci-fi themes fool you: the novel is more about the fascinating, tenuous relationships between people existing to save others. If you’re going for the latter, however, Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults are ideal reading. Utterly chilling to the bone, Dahl’s gripping tales will have you preoccupied while on trains, planes or even buses (for the nausea-resistant) but be short enough for you to finish them before you arrive at your destination. If The Roald Dahl Omnibus is too daunting to lug around, try Skin or Kiss Kiss.
I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up
Whether you’re at an internship that’ll look good on your CV or slumming away at a less-than-ideal job just for the money, catching up on reading is always a good idea. For the latter, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle is the funniest, most intelligent apocalyptic novel you will ever read. The book delivers fascinating binaries of religion and science as humanity’s elusive silver bullet, perfectly packaged with Vonnegut’s darkly humorous acerbic wit. For those at internships, try The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The clear, plaintive and no-nonsense prose is Hemingway at his best. Though easy, light reading, the novel is powerful in its simplicity, making for a good book to pick up over the summer. In fact, what could be more appropriate while working towards your uncertain future than a story about a fisherman wrestling with a giant marlin? If that isn’t symbolism for struggling with ambitions and the crushing reality of the working world, I don’t know what is.
You’ll forget it when you’re dead, and so will I. When I’m dead, I’m going to forget everything – and I advise you to do the same.
Now, if you’re stuck at home with absolutely nothing to do over the summer and feel like cracking a book instead of binge watching a series a day of some TV show, you’re going to need a book you can’t put down. Although Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita might not seem like the obvious choice because it doesn’t take you to a particularly exotic country to travel vicariously through while reading, it is incredibly engrossing. Nabokov’s synesthetic writing is almost hypnotic, drawing you into the depths of human nature to marvel at complex power dynamics present in the book. The narrator, Humbert Humbert (no, this is not a typo, his surname does match his first), is imaginative and sinister at the same time, making for one of the most compelling characters in literature. For those who have just graduated, James Joyce’s A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man is the book to read on the cusp of adulthood. Existential yet accessible, I would ask you to give Joyce another chance, throw away your frustrated copy of Ulysses and try Portrait of an Artist.
I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita