Cruise Holiday Reading: The Best Books of 2016


Perusing your local bookstore for a novel or two to enjoy on an upcoming cruise holiday can quickly turn into a difficult, drawn-out exercise – with the huge array of tomes on offer making the decision incredibly hard. So to help guide you through the hardest decision you’ve made since selecting which Cruise1st deal to take, here we list the best new books of 2016 – and we’ve employed the help of a few industry experts along the way.

The Queen of the Night – Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee’s seductively thrilling story of Lilliet Berne, a world-renowned soprano with shelves full of awards and a past full of lovers. Her one outstanding achievement is an original lead role to make her own, but when one is offered to her – it comes with a surprise. For the role is clearly based upon a part of her life she’d rather was left in the annuls of history. So before accepting the role, she must try and determine who created the part, of the four people from her past who know her dark secret.

The narrative is just as lyrical and extravagant as the theatrical world in which Berne flourishes, as the story winds and weaves throughout the Paris backdrop.

The High Mountains of Portugal – Yann Martel

Cruising through Iberian waters this year? The High Mountains of Portugal released in February from the author of Life of Pi, is the perfect accompaniment for a holiday in this wonderful part of the world. A young man named Tomás finds a journal in Lisbon at the turn of the 20th century, hinting at the location of an extraordinary artefact with the potential to redefine history.

The story continues at various points over the next 100 years within Portugal, giving the reader an extensive tour of the sun-kissed nation.

Cruise Reading - Donnie Ray jones

Emma Petfield of Howling Reviews offers her summer 2016 reading choice.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Costa Book Award Winner 2015, The Lie Tree is a Young Adult mystery with a twist. Faith’s love of science and learning is stunted by the fact that she is a woman. No matter her aspirations, she is always perceived as too inquisitive or stepping out of place. It is only when something happens to her father that Faith’s inquisitive nature gives her the upper hand. Refusing to believe the rumours and lies being spread around her, she stumbles across one of her father’s specimens, a tree that survives on lies and in exchange bears fruit filled with secrets. Frances Hardinge has created a totally unique concept and, combined with Faith’s stubborn and progressive nature, offers a feminist touch. If you read any book in 2016 it should be this one.

American Housewife Stories – Helen Ellis

A side-splitting collection of 12 stories focussed around the most enigmatic of creatures, the American housewife. The hilarious, and often bizarre, stories collected by Ellis include unforgettable characters including one of the world’s best bra fitters, a TV reality contestant and passive-aggressive e-mail combatants.

Queen of Spies: Daphne Park – Paddy Hayes

Following the real life exploits of British Secret Intelligent Service spy, Daphne Park; the novel explores her service to the nation from World War II to the Cold War. Despite the world of espionage being particularly male-dominated in the mid-1900s, Daphne battled her way through to become one of the SIS’s seven Area Controllers – the most senior operational rank in the service. She’s hard as nails, providing the perfect protagonist for a life-affirming and thoroughly enjoyable biographical work.

All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

A dystopian novel set in the hipster capital of San Francisco, two old school friends reconnect as the end of the world nears. Both friends are working with separate groups to attempt to avert the end of days – Laurence is an engineering genius working on technological intervention, whilst Patricia is magically-gifted, and working with other magicians to heal the world.

Perfect holiday reading, All the Birds in the Sky challenges you to suspend belief and get lost in a world of magic and the eternity of true friendship.

Reading - Simon Cocks

My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout

Chronicling a difficult, and often complicated, love between mother and daughter; My Name is Lucy Barton is set in the mid-1980s, and explores themes many of us can relate to. The protagonist Lucy Barton is surprised to find her estranged mother stood at her bedside when she suffers from an unexpected illness – and the story follows her journey from a culture-devoid child to a successful writer.

The story is filled with heart-breaking moments, so make sure you’ve got your sunglasses on if you’re a big softie.

What Belongs to You – Garth Greenwell

An uncompromising love story between an American expat teaching English in a prestigious Bulgarian school and a local prostitute. The novel skilfully introduces and embellishes both the unnamed narrator, and Mitko, the object of his desires. Post-communism Sofia serves as an unusual backdrop for a love story, with Mitko struggling to come to terms with the new ideologies sweeping through the Bulgarian capital – and this is mirrored by the focussed love story, with a happy ending seemingly impossible.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

If you don’t fancy reading an emotional, tearjerker during your holiday this year, then move on to the next suggestion – because When Breath Becomes Air is a real heartbreaker. Paul Kalanithi’s autobiographical story follows his lifelong ambition to become a neurosurgeon, as he faces his own mortality after being diagnosed with a terminal illness in his 30s. The author explores what drove him into the profession, which he could never fully practise before he died at the age of 37.

A poetic voice, Kalanithi studied English literature before turning to medicine; and explains his position without self-pity, immediately gripping the reader with beautiful prose.

The Expatriates – Janice Y.K. Lee

Following the fortunes of three American women who have moved to Hong Kong; The Expatriates is a heart-warming tale depicting the joint protagonists’ struggles and triumphs in a new land. Each of the women are struggling with the Hong Kong perception of true womanhood, whilst also desperately holding onto their own identities, personalities and values.

Lee guides the readers through the lives of the three women, often weaving their stories through one another – demonstrating their similarities in milieu.

The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson

Whether you’re cruising around the UK, or journeying further afield but still yearn for home; Bryson’s latest work is another exploration of what makes the United Kingdom so charming and utterly unique. With his characteristic wit and charm, Bryon explores everything about the island, from the strange to the historical. Undeniably funny and digestible, The Road to Little Dribbling makes great pool-side reading.

Or if you fancy something from before 2016, why not check our list from last year here. Alternatively, if you’ve got the book sorted, but not the cruise deal – check out the great selection from Cruise1st, visiting our homepage or calling our dedicated team on 0808 2746 777.

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Source: Josué Goge, Donnie Ray Jones, Simon Cocks

Cruise Holiday Reading: The Best Books of 2016
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Cruise Holiday Reading: The Best Books of 2016
What are you reading on your holidays this summer? If you need some inspiration. check out the Cruise1st team's pick of the best books of 2016.

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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