Books for your beach bag

Mireille Harper


There’s no better time than a summer holiday to get lost in a book or two. For many of us, it’s the one time of the year when we can truly switch off and escape. Whether you’re heading to a dazzling tropical island in the Caribbean, a hidden bay in the Mediterranean, or setting off towards the English coast, why not immerse yourself in a great read? For those sun-soaked days when you want nothing more than to lounge about, here are our top literature picks.

Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola (Headline £16.99)

What’s better than a love story? This debut from London-based writer and self-declared lover of love, Bolu Babalola, is the ultimate beach-side read. From magical Nigerian folktales to ancient stories of South Asia and homoromantic Greek myths, Love in Colour showcases and celebrates the variety and diversity of love in its many forms. A compendium of fifteen love stories from all over the globe throughout history, you’ll dive into different worlds and meet an array of interesting characters, from high-born Nigerian goddesses to modern-day businesswomen. Bolu’s writing is vivid, detailed and utterly addictive as she guides you through differing narratives, lands and genres. Prepare to fall head over heels. (Headline)

A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes (Canongate £14.99)

Lauded as ‘captivating from the very first page’ by the bestselling author, Jennifer Egan, A Tall History of Sugar follows Moshe Fisher, a man “born without skin” in rural Jamaica during the 1950s. At a time when racism, colonialism and class divides are rife and the lingering legacy of slavery hangs over the small island, Moshe’s sheer existence mystifies and perturbs all in equal measure. Facing rejection and ridicule from his peers, he finds solace in a kindred spirit, Arienne Christie, who makes it her duty to protect her beloved. This epic love story traverses different worlds, from their innocent childhoods surrounded by lush greenery, sunny climates and stunning coasts in pre-independence Jamaica, to modern-day Britain. Forbes’ writing has been compared to literary greats Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, and it’s an absolutely absorbing read.

No Filter by Sarah Frier (Penguin Business £20.00)

Are you a happy snapper on holiday? Constantly updating your stories? If so, Sarah Frier's inside look into the world of Instagram and how it has shaped ours, is a must-have for your beach bag. The award-winning Bloomberg reporter rips into the social media’s alluring and attractive exterior to reveal the dark reality that lies within its algorithms. In No Filter, Frier explains just how Instagram took over the social media landscape, creating a new age of digital influencers and Instamodels, and why its founders decided to sell the company to Facebook following its explosive global growth. The phenomenon of Instagram has never been researched in such great detail, and this book reveals just how much this platform has shaped and redefined our culture, behaviour and consumption. Gripping and engrossing, this book will make you question just how much of your life you share online. (Penguin Business) 

The Whole Picture by Alice Procter (Cassell £16.99)

Should museums be made to give back their worldly wares? Can we really ‘decolonise’ our galleries? For the holiday-going art enthusiast, this is a must-read. The art world’s colonial history is one that is slowly but surely coming to light, and with recent calls for artefacts to be repatriated to the countries from which they were stolen, this book could not be more timely. In The Whole Picture, art historian and creator of the Uncomfortable Art Tours, Alice Procter discusses art’s historical role in colonialism, imperialism and propaganda, while shining a light on contemporary artists and activists who are disrupting the industry through their work. A necessary critical look at the history of art. 

Low by Jeet Thayil (Faber £14.99)

From the Man Booker-shortlisted author of Narcopolis comes this heartfelt story of a whirlwind weekend of self-destructive grief. Low follows Dominic Ullis, a recent widower who, following the death of his wife, heads to Bombay in search of oblivion. What follows is a misadventurous weekend full of heartbreak and hedonism in equal measure. On the lookout for a dangerous new drug by the name of Meow Meow, Dominic encounters odd characters, strange situations and experiences unforgettable moments that take him from the dark depths of grief towards ‘obliteration - and perhaps, epiphany’. Thayil’s writing has earned him critical acclaim and with this read described as ‘daringly poetic’ and ‘unmissable’, we expect this book will be one to lose yourself in too. 

F*ck Being Humble by Stefanie Sword-Williams (Quadrille £12.99)

Want to go return to work with a spring in your step? Seeking advice on re-inventing your career? If so, this is the book you need to be reading on holiday. Whether learnt through our upbringing, the media we consume or within our working environment, being humble is something that we have been taught is ‘essential to our professional success’. But, what if what we’ve been taught is actually all wrong? In F*ck Being Humble, advertising account director and founder of F*ck Being Humble (an event series, website and consultancy that specialises in self-promotion), Stefanie Sword-Williams debunks the myths around being self-effacing. A pro at self-promotion, Stefanie teaches you how to stop hiding, become a pro at networking, manage your emotions at work and much more. If you want to take charge of your success and develop your confidence, this is the book you need.

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