Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Holiday Reading

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Holiday Reading

Article excerpt

Holidays are a welcome chance to lose ourselves between the covers of a book, especially for those of us who struggle to find time to read amid the assorted tyrannies of daily life. So the book that ends up in your suitcase had better be a worthy companion.

The disorganised need not fear: you could do worse than grabbing a paperback at the airport. A holiday is a great time to read an easy new bestseller, not least because your friends are likely to have read it, so you can all discuss it over the third bottle of rosé during a long lunch. Just one note of caution: time tells. Many current bestsellers will have all but disappeared within a few years, whereas a classic endures for a reason. So to avoid your reading being too forgettable, for each new book, take an old one, too.

Not only is a holiday a chance to catch up on a classic you've never got around to, it is also an opportunity for the rare pleasure of rereading. Just think how many times you've listened to your favourite piece of music, compared with how few you've read your favourite book; this is the moment to redress the balance a little. Not only do you get to enjoy happy memories of your first encounter, but a gap of however many years means you read through a different lens, and the book is transformed into something altogether new. A recent revisit to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, last read during my post-GCSE summer, was especially fruitful as I fondly remembered feeling so at home amongst her precocious sex-obsessed schoolgirls, while now being more akin to their teacher, Jean Brodie, in her bittersweet prime. …

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