16 Great Holiday Reads For 2022

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Want to make the most of your beach time this year? From gripping psychological thrillers to soon-to-be classics, here are 16 of the best new books to chuck into your suitcase…

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The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

By Jonathan Freedland

In April 1944, 19-year-old Rudolf Vrba and fellow inmate Fred Wetzler became the first Jews to break out of Auschwitz. Under electric fences and past armed watchtowers, evading thousands of SS men and dogs, they trekked across marshlands, mountains and rivers to freedom. Vrba's mission: to reveal to the world the truth of the Holocaust. In the death factory of Auschwitz, Vrba had become an eyewitness to almost every chilling stage of the Nazis' process of industrialised murder. A brilliant student of science and mathematics, he committed each detail to memory, risking everything to collect the first data of the Final Solution. After his escape, that information would form a priceless 32-page report that would reach Roosevelt, Churchill and the pope, and eventually save over 200,000 lives. But the escape from Auschwitz was not his last. After the war, he kept running – from his past, from his home country, from his adopted country, even from his own name. Few knew of the truly extraordinary deed he had done. Now, at last, Rudolf Vrba's heroism can be known. 

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The Premonitions Bureau

By Sam Knight

Premonitions are impossible, but they come true all the time. In 1966, John Barker – a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital – established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate this phenomenon. He would find a network of hundreds of correspondents, from bank clerks to ballet teachers. Among them were two unnervingly gifted ‘percipients’. Together, the pair predicted plane crashes, assassinations and international incidents with uncanny accuracy. Then they informed Barker of their most disturbing premonition: that he was about to die. The Premonitions Bureau is an enthralling true story, of madness and wonder, science and the supernatural – and a journey to the most powerful and unsettling reaches of the human mind.

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Mayflies

By Andrew O'Hagan

Andrew O'Hagan’s novel was shortlisted for the Portico Prize earlier this year. A vivid portrayal of 1980s Manchester, Mayflies is about friendship and epic nights of debauchery during a time of liberation and change. Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life. In the summer of 1986, James and Tully ignite a friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over, they rush towards a magical weekend of youthful excess in Manchester played out against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded. And there a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, the phone rings. Tully has news.

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Death and Fromage

By Ian Moore

Been enjoying Richard Osman’s bestsellers? You’ll like the second book in Ian Moore’s Folle Valley series. Richard is a middle-aged Englishman who runs a B&B in the Vallée de Follet. Nothing ever happens to Richard, and that's the way he likes it. But then a scandal erupts in the nearby town of Saint-Sauver, whose famous restaurant has lost a Michelin star. The restaurant is shamed, the town is in shock and the leading goat's cheese supplier drowns himself in one of his own pasteurisation tanks. Or does he? Valerie d'Orcay, who’s staying at the B&B while house-hunting in the area, isn't convinced it's a suicide. Despite his misgivings, Richard is drawn into Valerie's investigation, and finds himself becoming a major player.

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Portrait of a Thief

By Grace D. Li

This debut novel from Grace D. Li is set to be the thriller of the summer. Will Chen has spent most of his life learning about the West – its art, its culture, all that it has taken and called its own. He believes art belongs with its creators, so when a Chinese corporation offers him a (highly illegal) chance to reclaim five priceless sculptures, it's surprisingly easy to say yes. Will's crew – fellow students chosen out of his boundless optimism for their skills and loyalty – aren't exactly experienced criminals. Irene is a public policy major at Duke, Daniel has dreams of being a surgeon, Lily is an engineering student who races cars in her spare time and Will – the group’s greatest chance at pulling off the heist – is a Harvard dropout turned software engineer. If they succeed, they’ll earn $10m each, and make history. If they fail, they lose everything.

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The Partisan

By Patrick Worral

Patrick Worral’s debut novel is an ode to John le Carré’s spy thrillers. It’s the summer of 1961 and the Cold War is becoming ever more heated. Yulia and Michael, two young prodigies from either side of the Iron Curtain, meet at a chess tournament in London. They don't know it, but they are about to compete in the deadliest game ever played. Shadowing them is Greta, a ruthless resistance fighter who grew up in Lithuania and is now hunting down some of the most dangerous men in the world. Vassily, perhaps the Soviet Union's greatest spymaster, is another key player in the game. He was Yulia's minder during her visit to the West, but even he could not foresee the consequences of her meeting Michael. When the world is accelerating towards catastrophic conflict, what can just four people do to prevent it?

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Watergate: A New History

By Garrett M. Graff

Half a century after the events that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency, Watergate remains a byword for political corruption and scandal. But what really happened in the corridors of power all those years ago? Bestselling author Garrett Graff draws on newly released documents and recent revelations to tell the full story of a dark moment in American history. This page-turner shows exactly how Nixon’s win-at-all-costs mentality – and some intrepid journalists – ultimately brought everything he’d built crashing down.

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The Octopus Man

By Jasper Gibson

A deeply moving story about family, friendship and mental health, The Octopus Man was partly inspired by true events. Once an outstanding law student, Tom is now lost in the machinery of the British mental health system, talking to a voice no one else can hear: the voice of Malamock, the ‘Octopus God’ – sometimes loving, sometimes cruel, but always there to guide him through life. The pressure builds for Tom to take part in an experimental drugs trial that promises to silence the voice forever. But no one, least of all Tom, is prepared for what happens when the Octopus God is seriously threatened. A poignant and tragi-comic, The Octopus Man takes us into the complex world of voice-hearing in a grand literary performance that asks the fundamental questions about belief, meaning and love.

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Snow Country

By Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks’s latest novel is set during the First World War and in the looming shadow of the rise of fascism. It’s 1914 when a young Anton Heideck arrives in Vienna, keen to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. Thirteen years later, the narrative shifts to the story of Lena. She leaves behind her drunken mother and moves to Vienna to take a menial job at a snow-bound sanatorium, Schloss Seeblick. Another five years later and Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss. There, two people will see each other as if for the first time.

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Mother's Boy

By Patrick Gale

Laura, an impoverished Cornish girl, meets her husband when they are both in service in Teignmouth in 1916. They have a baby, Charles, but Laura's husband returns home from the trenches a damaged man, already ill with the tuberculosis that will soon leave her a widow. In a small, class-obsessed town she raises her boy alone, working as a laundress, gradually becoming aware that he is some kind of genius. As an intensely private young man, Charles signs up for the navy with the new rank of coder. His escape from the tight, gossipy confines of Launceston to the colour and violence of war sees him blossom as he experiences not only the possibility of death, but the constant danger of a love that is as clandestine as his work. Mother's Boy is the story of a man being shaped for a long, remarkable and revered life spent hiding in plain sight. But it is equally the story of the tireless mother who will continue to shield him long after the dangers of war are past.

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Open Water

By Caleb Azumah Nelson

Two young people meet at a pub in south east London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. They fall in love, and even though it seems they’re destined to be together, any couple is at risk of being torn apart by fear and violence. At once a beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a label, and how to find safety in love.

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Prefer Something A Little More Classic? Here Are Five Timeless Winners To Choose From…

The Beach

By Alex Garland

Forget Leo DiCaprio’s film, it was Alex Garland’s novel that first transported us to a seeming utopia in south east Asia. When Richard is given a map of a remote beach in Thailand, what he finds is more breath-taking and extraordinary than his wildest dreams. But how long can paradise survive here on Earth? 

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The Lady In The Lake

By Raymond Chandler

Iconic private investigator Philip Marlowe is hired to find a missing woman – a wife who ran away to Mexico to get a divorce and marry a hunk named Chris Lavery. Or so the note she left her husband says…

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Klara And The Sun

By Kazuo Ishiguro

The great Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel prize tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities who – from her place in a store – carefully watches the behaviour of those around her. 

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A Murder Of Quality

By John le Carré

In his second George Smiley novel, le Carré moves beyond the world of espionage to reveal the secrets at the heart of another particularly English institution: a public school. Smiley investigates when one of the teachers’ wives is found dead.

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Body Surfing

By Anita Shreve

Brothers Ben and Jeff fight for the affection of their sister’s tutor in Anita Shreve’s novel, set in a wealthy area in New Hampshire. The trio are caught up in a destructive web of old tensions and bitter divisions as the family is torn apart. 

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