Summer is synonymous with holidays, long weekends and sunny days spent in the garden – all ideal opportunities to immerse yourself in a good book. From long literary reads to travel writing that will inspire even the most adventurous, chilling thrillers to feel-good stories of friendship, here are the best holiday reads of 2019.


Crime & thriller holiday reads

Escape into a gripping new thriller or crime novel this summer. Here are the books that are sure to keep you on the edge of your sunbed.


The Daughter by Michelle Frances

When Kate fell pregnant as a teenager it was certainly a shock, but she was determined to do right by her daughter, and give her the love her own childhood lacked. Her daughter Becky grows up into a tenacious trainee journalist and Kate into a proud mum, but then the unthinkable happens and Kate’s live is forever changed. Could the story Becky was researching be the reason for this cruel twist of fate?

Buy The Daughter


The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

Following the death of her first husband, Alice is finally happy again, with a new husband, successful business and two children. She also has Beth, the best friend she always longed for. Beth is loyal, trustworthy and never judges, so when Alice suspects her husband is having an affair Beth is the first person she turns to. Of course she can trust her best friend, can’t she?

Buy The First Mistake


An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl is the thrilling second novel from the duo behind The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen. When Jessica Farris signs up to a psychological study, desperate for the income, she thinks it will just be a case of answering a few questions. But as the sessions become increasingly intense and the mysterious Dr Shields becomes more controlling, Jessica finds herself entangled in a web of lies and deceit. This page-turner will have you stuck to your sun lounger for hours.

Buy An Anonymous Girl


A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

Told from the perspectives of a father, mother and daughter, the three narratives in A Nearly Normal Family come together in a story of familial love, secrets and lies. What would you do if your child was suspected of murder? How far would you go to protect them? These are the questions at the heart of M. T. Edvardsson’s stunning legal thriller.

Buy A Nearly Normal Family

Read an extract from A Nearly Normal Family


Dead at First Sight by Peter James

Roy Grace, the superintendent created by author Peter James, investigates the dark side of the internet in Dead at First Sight. Two men, in London and Florida, become the victims of a cruel scam as they discover that the women they believed to be their soulmates, actually do not exist. In Brighton, Roy Grace investigates the suicide of a woman and finds there’s more to the case than he first thought. A global empire is at work, and they’ll stop at nothing to protect their secrecy.

Buy Dead at First Sight


Recursion by Blake Crouch

This sci-fi thriller asks: what if someone could rewrite your entire life? A woman’s suicide leads Barry Sutton into an investigation of what the press is calling ‘False Memory Syndrome’. But what if something more sinister and deliberate is causing people’s realities to fracture? His investigations lead him to the work of neuroscientist Helena Smith, who is developing technology to preserve our most treasured memories. Technology that could be devastating if it fell into the wrong hands . . .

Buy Recursion


One Good Deed by David Baldacci

With murder, secrets, revenge and a little romance, One Good Deed is the perfect holiday read for crime fans. This noirish crime novel sees Aloysius Archer arrive in the southern American town of Poca City in 1949, recently released from prison after having served a sentence for a crime that he didn’t commit. Taking a job as a debt collector for local tycoon Hank Pittleman, Archer soon finds himself embroiled in a feud, and when a townsperson dies,  he becomes the number one suspect.

Buy One Good Deed

Broswe all David Baldacci’s books in order


Feel-good fiction and romantic summer reads

From an author dubbed ‘Jackie Collins for a new generation’, to a heart-warming story of second chances, if you like your summer reads with a feel-good factor or a large helping of romance, try one of these brand new novels.


The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake

The Thunder Girls are an 80s pop sensation topping the charts, but when their careers come to an abrupt end, so does their friendship. Thirty years later, their old record label wants to get the band back together for a reunion concert, and there are vast sums of money to be made. But some need it more than others, and there are betrayals in the past that aren’t easily forgotten. And while some begin to dream of new success, someone is already plotting their deadly downfall . . . Don’t miss the debut novel by Melanie Blake, dubbed ‘Jackie Collins for a new generation’.

Buy The Thunder Girls


The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh

When Sarah and Eddie spend seven perfect days together, Sarah falls head over heels in love and is certain Eddie feels the same – until Eddie leaves to go on holiday and never calls again. Sarah’s friends tell her she’s been ghosted and needs to move on, but Sarah is certain that something must have happened to explain his silence. What if she’s right?

Buy The Man Who Didn’t Call


The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

The Spanish Promise is bestselling novelist Karen Swan’s sizzling new summer novel. Charlotte Fairfax is asked to travel to Madrid to assist the family of a dying man who plans to give his great wealth to a young woman that they’ve never heard of. When the woman denies any knowledge of the gift, Charlotte begins to investigate the family’s history and uncovers a dark and shocking story of two people pulled apart by conflict.

Buy The Spanish Promise


Between the Orange Groves by Nadia Marks

This moving story of desire, secrets and forbidden love from Nadia Marks is the perfect summer read. Lambros, an elderly man living in London, shares the painful story of his past with his daughter, Stella. This is the story of two families of different faiths, living among the wild mountains, pine trees and orange groves of Cyprus, whose seemingly unbreakable friendship is torn apart by an unforgivable betrayal. Can a new generation help to fix the damage inflicted so long ago?

Buy Between the Orange Groves


Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance by Frances Maynard

Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Frances Maynard’s second novel is an uplifting and heartwarming tale of friendship and the power of the written word. Maggsie MacNaughton is small, dyslexic and has just been released from prison. She’s sure that she doesn’t need anyone but herself, but she soon learns that everybody needs someone sometimes. She just needs to put her trust in the right people.

Buy Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance


Something to Tell You by Lucy Diamond

When Frankie finds a letter from her late mother she’s delighted, until she reads it and finds out the secret of her birth. In search of further answers, she travels to York, home of the Mortimer family, but her appearance shocks them all, and the family has problems of their own. Secrets are revealed and loyalties tested, as the Mortimers face up to some difficult truths.

Buy Something to Tell You


In this episode of Book Break, Emma shares even more recommendations for what you should be reading on your summer holiday:


Historical fiction

Travel back in time, from Victorian London to 16th century France, with riveting historical fiction which is sure to keep you spellbound whether at home or away.


The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Set against the backdrop of The Great Exhibition of 1850, The Doll Factory is a vividly realised portrayal of Victorian London and an intoxicating story of a young woman searching for freedom. Iris, an aspiring artist, is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite Louis Frost. She agrees, on the condition that he’ll teach her to paint in return. But Silas, a collector of the strange and beautiful, has also noticed her beauty, and soon his thoughts turn darker . . .

Buy The Doll Factory

Discover 10 weird and wonderful facts about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Read an extract from Elizabeth Macneal’s The Doll Factory


The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

The Sunday Times bestselling novel The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, full of mysteries, secrets and divided loyalties. In 16th century Carcassonne, Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter reading: She knows that you live. Before she can decipher this message she meets Piet Reydon, a young Huguenot convert who changes her destiny forever.

Buy The Burning Chambers


The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

A story that begins in 1862 and spans the next century and beyond, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is an intricately layered mystery full of secrets and lies. A young girl is abandoned in 19th century London, taken in by a mysterious stranger. As a young adult, she retreats to a beautiful house on the Thames for the summer with a group of artists, and tensions simmer and at last overflow as a woman is killed and another disappears . . .

Buy The Clockmaker’s Daughter


Literary page-turners

Holidays are the perfect time to become engrossed in a long book or to allow yourself to be transported to a different time and place by an immersive novel. These books will certainly fit the bill.


The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati

At 1280 pages, The Catholic School will be the only book you need to take on your summer holiday. Based on the true story of a horrific crime committed by three of the author’s fellow pupils at the San Leone Magno catholic school, the novel is set within the school during the 1960s and 1970s, and exposes the dark underbelly of the upper middle classes. Reflecting on the legacy of abuse, Italian politics and the threat of masculinity, Albinati creates a world of power, sex and violence.  

Buy The Catholic School

Discover more recommendations for big books to tackle on holiday


The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood

Set against the turbulent era of 1920s and ‘30s Germany, Naomi Wood’s atmospheric third novel immerses the reader in the bohemian world of the Bauhaus art school. Six students arrive at the Bauhaus and quickly become friends, but as Paul falls deeply in love with the mesmerising Charlotte, it becomes clear that he’s not the only one vying for her affections. Slowly, betrayals and love affairs break apart their friendships as political tensions escalate and the Bauhaus finds itself under threat. As the Nazis rise to power, a final unspeakable tragedy leaves Paul haunted by the past.  

Buy The Hiding Game


Homeland by Fernando Aramburu

Homeland is a gripping saga of two families torn apart by terrorism and a moving exploration of family, friendship and how countries and communities struggle to come to terms with a violent past. Best friends Miren and Bittori have grown up together and raised their families side-by-side in a small town in northern Spain. The threat of the Basque separatist group, ETA, seems distant until Bittori’s husband starts receiving threats and Miren’s son is recruited by the terrorist group. Tensions rise, loyalties are divided and a violent tragedy is on the horizon.  

Buy Homeland


Travel books that inspire

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next holiday, look no further than these fascinating travel memoirs.


The Bells of Old Tokyo by Anna Sherman

Part memoir, part cultural travel guide, The Bells of Old Tokyo is a love letter to the otherness of Japanese culture and an absorbing meditation on life. Anna Sherman shares her exploration of Tokyo as she searches for the bells of Edo, the public bells that the people of Tokyo relied on to tell the time many years ago.

Buy The Bells of Old Tokyo

Read Anna Sherman’s insider’s guide to Tokyo


The Crossway by Guy Stagg

After suffering several years of mental illness, Guy Stagg embarked on a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem, hoping the ritual would heal him. He hiked alone for ten months, across ten countries and more than 5,500 kilometres. He climbed the Alps in the depths of winter, survived a terrorist attack in Lebanon, stayed with monks and nuns, priests and local families. This is the story of his extraordinary journey.

Buy The Crossway

Find out more about Guy’s amazing journey in his photo diary


Here, Book Break host Emma takes a look at the holiday reads everyone is talking about this summer: