Claire’s holiday reading recs

I’m gearing up for literally the busiest work period of the year for me, followed by wrapping up at work and packing before I leave for Melbourne, so I’m not in holiday mode yet, but I know plenty of people who are!

Here are some books I’ve enjoyed that I would classify as good holiday reads. I can’t guarantee they’re all relaxing, but they all kept me glued to the page. A few are recent-ish but most are a few years old.

I hope you enjoy, and tell me if you read anything from this list!

If you like celebrity gossip, cult memoirs and sassy women who take no shit:
Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
The sitcom star and former Scientologist (who donated millions to the church over her life) explores her path through Scientology, her gradual disillusionment and decision to leave, and her life now. Remini has a very distinctive voice and this book is an easy read despite the intense subject matter. It contains SERIOUSLY CREEPY Scientology celebrity gossip and some heartbreaking examples of the group’s effect on families and individuals.

If you’ve dealt with the unpredictability of maintaining a close friendship group after high school and university:

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty
I read this in one evening – a very easy read, relatable characters and an intriguing mystery to solve. Four friends since high school are now in their thirties and on holiday together – as part of a game they each anonymously share a secret. One of the women finds a fifth secret that’s horrifying and changes the dynamic of their friendships. I’ve read a few of Nicola Moriarty’s books and always enjoyed them- what a talented family! (Yes, she is Liane and Jaclyn’s sister, two more amazing authors).

If you’ve ever stumbled upon one of those “In Defense of Mrs Bennett” think-pieces and thought ‘Hey, they have a point!’ (see here for a key example)
Longbourn by Jo Baker
The Downstairs to Pride and Prejudice’s Upstairs takes a sobering, gritty look at the world surrounding the Bennett family. It’s not the most lighthearted novel but it’s engrossing and feels very real to this longtime P&P fan.

If you don’t have a lot of time to read but want to be caught up in a magical, fun new world:
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
This was one of the most-hyped books of the year and since its recent release has hit bestseller charts here and in the States. It’s an absolutely charming kid’s book in the vein of Harry Potter, but it has enough unique characters world-building to be its own special universe. It’s aimed at kids but honestly, if you enjoyed HP then you’ll devour this.

If you want some thought-provoking non fiction that will stick with you:
 The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein
An extraordinary memoir about a woman whose business is cleaning up after unimaginable scenes (murder scenes, hoarding situations and more). Sandra Pankhurst’s early life is juxtaposed with her current career, and the graphic nature of her life and work is explored with sensitivity. It’s not a light read by any means but is compelling and very well written.

If you want something straight up trashy and fun (and still nurture a soft spot for Sweet Valley High’s most amoral blonde, Jessica Wakefield):
Mad by Chloé Esposito
This was an uber dramatic, over the top, salacious beach read. Alvina’s life in London is a drunken, lonely mess, and when her seemingly perfect twin sister Elizabeth (Sweet Valley wink much?) dies, Alvina takes the opportunity to become Elizabeth. Lots of drugs, sex, murder and other BAD decisions. It’s not high literature but it was hard to put down (and yes, I did read this one on a beach holiday).
What classic holiday reads should I add to my list?