I know that some of you are still to go on holiday. If it’s your case, you may wonder which books you are going to try to fit into your suitcase, and that’s all the point of today’s article. Yes guys, today I’m going to present you my top 5 of the books that I would definitely bring with me to read on the beach. Please note that the order of this top 5 doesn’t matter at all, I would be totally unable to tell you which book would be a better reading than another one.
The Life of Hunger by Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb’s The Life of Hunger is an autobiographical narrative that recounts her childhood and teenage years. Daughter of a diplomat, she had lived in various countries such as Bangladesh, Japan, China or the United States from her youngest age. This narrative focuses on the author’s travels and experiences of cultural immersion, but also on her hunger. Not only does she tell us about her complicated relationship with food (anorexia, bulimia, potomania – compulsive water drinking, yes, it does exist…), she also evokes her “psychological” hunger as a driving desire that should never be totally fulfilled, as well as all her little and more important obsessions as a child and as a teenager. An authentic and refreshing narrative that will make you travel but also wonder about what defines us. I believe that a book that manages to be at the same time deep and light is definitely a must-read and a perfect book for the beach.
Fault lines by Nancy Hudson
This novel recounts a family story over four generations. Each of the four parts of the novel is told by a 6 year-old narrator from this family whose story intertwines with History. The book starts in California during the Bush Junior era, when Sol shares with us his very crude thoughts (hyper sexualisation, selfishness and patriotism are on the programme!) and it ends in WW2 Germany with the words of Sol’s great grandmother. The fate of this family over the decades and continents is absolutely stunning and you can’t put the book down as History is being written and the secrets of the characters unveils one by one. Fault line is a very clever book that allows us to see mankind as it is, with its dreams, weaknesses and paradoxes, while shedding light on one of the least known aspects of the Second World War.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Third novel of a highly-acclaimed author, The Mariage Plot features a love triangle involving three friends from Brown University: Mitchell loves Madeleine who loves Leonard, who is himself too ill to really love anyone. Based on a very classical but efficient narrative theme, this novel is not one of those who change people’s life but it will definitely keep you entertained. Its characters are alternatively touching and dislikeable, but what is sure is that they brilliantly embody young people. A very pleasant read.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
The main plot of this fantastic novel is very similar to The Mariage Plot’s one, but I found Freedom less conventional than the latest, and it deals with the love triangle theme in a very different way. What is particularly interesting in this novel is that it follows its main protagonists (Patty, one of the narrators of the novel, and Walter and Richard, best friends from uni) over decades and shows, not necessarily in the chronological order – which makes things more interesting –, how they deal with and adapt to the events and situations that punctuate their lives. For this reason, these characters seem to have a real depth. This is also allowed by the fact that the second and biggest part of the book takes the shape of Patty’s therapeutic autobiography. Finally, this novel also portrays in a very interesting way the changes that have affected the American society from the 1970’s to the 21st century, and the deeper individualistic ideologies that have always underlain American politics. Highly recommended!
Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda
Last but not least, Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda (remember, this French author that I love?). This book is definitely her best-seller and I can totally understand why. Hunting and Gathering is the story of four people who are, in their own way, “life survivors”. The four of them have been struggling all their lives to get a place in this world. Camille is an artist who works as a cleaner at night. Franck is a cook who is not interested in much apart from motorbikes and girls’ hunting. Paulette, Franck’s grandmother, is getting weaker and weaker but refuses to leave her house. Meanwhile, Philibert sells postcards and tries to make sentences without stammering too much. Of course, these characters’ paths are going to cross and intertwine in the most curious of ways. Funny, moving, authentic: this novel is a summary of life whose characters will become your best friends.
What about you? If you have any books to recommend for a nice reading on the beach, please leave a comment!