The books that make our readers feel like they're on holiday.

Mica Murphy/Penguin

The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

We say: H.E. Bates' The Darling Buds of May – the novella behind the TV show of the same name – reads like a daydream; a wistful memory of summer spent in rustic, rural Kent. Much like central character Mr Charlton, you'll quickly find yourself converted to the Larkin family way of life.

You say: Always the Larkin saga – every book from The Darling Buds of May onwards is a holiday for the mind and heart, and a balm to the soul. You can taste the strawberries, feel the sun and smell the hedgerows.

@MelanieHewitt61 on Twitter

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

We say: Colombian Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez had perfected his particular brand of poetic magical realism by the publication of his 1985 masterpiece, Love in the Time of Cholera. The heartfelt tale of unrequited love, spanning half a century, will transport you to the 'steamy, sleepy streets' of the South American city, Cartagena.

You say:  Love in the Time of Cholera, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Brideshead Revisited and The Aspern Papers — all these paint such beautiful pictures of their surroundings and always put me in that perfect summer lounging mood, despite their varied plots.

@hassantl on Twitter

The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley

We say: Mary Wesley was in her 70s when she wrote her breakthrough novel, The Camomile Lawn. Set in war-torn Britain, it's remarkably fast-paced and avant-garde, following five cousins and the seductive, carefree world they inhabit in their last summer together.

You say: Opens with the cousins journeying to Cornwall where they spend their summers – the same journey I take every year.

@MrClark26 on Twitter

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

We say: Opening on a scorching, sun-drenched beach in the French Riviera, F Scott Fitzgerald's final completed novel follows a beautiful young starlet and her blossoming friendship with the Divers, a wealthy, magnetic, older couple. This is Fitzgerald at his best; acute social observations rendered in beautiful prose, a nostalgic tragedy that will stay with you for a very long time afterwards.

You say: Fitzgerald's book is so evocative for me that I can no longer tell if my strong pull towards the south of France comes from my own holidays there or from the way he made me feel reading this book.

@gould_reads on Twitter

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

We say: If you only want to commit to one book this summer, why not finally lose yourself in Tolstoy's glittering world of Russian nobility? A nuanced, absorbing exploration of love, conflict, free will and fate, there's a reason this novel regularly tops must-read lists the world over – and it's the perfect antidote to the sweltering heat.

You say: Weirdly, War and Peace. First read it in the summer after my A-levels in France, remember the smells, the heat, the languor and total absorption. Have re-read it since. The winter scenes were just refreshing.

@AllyCAllen on Twitter

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Oneworld)

We say: Marlon James' Booker Prize-winning novel fictionalises the little-known story of a 1976 incident in Jamaica when seven gunmen stormed Bob Marley's house; the musician survived, but the gunmen were never caught.

Deftly bringing together a vast cast of characters over different decades and continents, James tells a story that's gripping and inventive.

You say: Jamaica in surround-sound, sight, smell and feeling.

@__melissahall on Twitter

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

We say: Patricia Highsmith's deliciously dark The Talented Mr Ripley is the perfect summer reading, combining sumptuous settings with a sinister edge.

Its infamous protagonist is Tom Ripley, who wants money, success and the good, and is willing to kill for it. When his new life in Europe - his chance to start over - is threatened, he takes swift action...

You say: The description of scenery everywhere he travels is amazing, made me feel like I was there watching. Lots of places from the book made it onto my travel list for that reason.

Janina Westphal on Facebook

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

We say: When it was first published in 1899, Kate Chopin's The Awakening was charged with being sordid and immoral. But a century after the author's death the book, which is the story of a young wife and mother who refuses to be caged by marriage, is said to be Chopin's greatest achievement.

You say: The description of Grand Isle, Louisiana, reminds me of the summertime in my own island. I identify with the feeling of Edna Pontelier while listening to the sound of the waves in the silent beach, feeling the pleasant cool breeze during the evening and, most of all, dancing and chatting with neighbours in the porch after dinner.

Sara Podda on Facebook

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

We say: After seeing a discreet advert in a newspaper, addressed 'To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine' four very different women head to a small medieval castle for rent, above a bay on the Italian Riviera. The downtrodden Mrs Wilkins, the sad Mrs Arbuthnot, the formidable widow Mrs Fisher and the ravishing socialite Lady Caroline Dester find themselves rediscovering joy in the warmth of the Italian spring.

You say: The descriptions are seriously stunning, transporting you to Italy. It immediately makes me want to round up a group of friends and all stay in a beautiful house together to write and read and talk and drink wine!

@theroamingreader on Instagram

The White Album by Joan Didion (4th Estate)

We say: This collection of essays by the legendary Joan Didion is a journey into the America of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The book's title essay begins with the line "we tell ourselves stories in order to live", which would become one of Didion's best known sayings, and which become the title of a 2006 collection by the writer.

You say: The White Album and Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion because these essays get in your head like a soundtrack to California.

Joost Vormeer on Facebook

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

We say: Gore Vidal said of Invisible Cities that "of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvellous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant". We'll try anyway.

In Invisible Cities, narrator Marco Polo is talking to his host Kublai Khan about magical cities, but it soon becomes clear he's talking about just one place: Venice.

You say: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino always makes me feel like I'm elsewhere.

Lewis Williams on Facebook

Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud

We say: Esther Freud's Hideous Kinky, turned into a film starring Kate Winslet, is about two young girls who are taken to Morocco by their mother on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For their mother, it's a chance to escape the conventions of England as well as a quest for personal fulfilment. For the children, it's an opportunity to find something more solid and reliable in a shifting world.

You say: Hideous Kinky made me go to and fall for Marrakech.

Sue Hunter on Facebook

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (Atlantic)

We say: Andre Aciman's coming-of-age story takes place during a sun-soaked summer on the Italian Rivera, as 17-year-old Elio falls for Oliver, a scholar staying with his family. Fascinating, heartbreaking and full of emotion, this is an intimate look at first love.

You say: It brings me back to summers in Italy, down to the taste of ripe peaches on the beach!

@imjsmn on Instagram

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

We say: The Grapes of Wrath, which won the Pulitzer Prize, tells the story of America through the Joads, a family of sharecroppers who decide they have no choice but to head to California when drought hits the Oklahoma.

You say: I did a road trip which nearly followed the route taken in The Grapes of Wrath. I love to read his books when thinking about holiday as you can almost feel the heat of the land coming from the words!

@allpraisekimron on Instagram

The Lake House by Kate Morton (Pan Macmillan)

We say: Set over two timelines, this is the story of a country house, Loeanneth, a forbidden love and an unsolved mystery. In 1933, Alice Edevane and her family are preparing for a much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Seventy years later, Alice lives a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Then a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past, and Alice has to face up to secrets she's spent her life trying to run away from. 

You say: I read it on summer vacation in England, and every time I read it I just remember that place and the warmth and that summer.

@dani_lange_a on Instagram

Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber)

We say: In Outline, Rachel Cusk's narrator teaches a creative writing course during an oppressively hot summer in Athens. Through stories of her students and her dinners with other writers, we soon learn that the narrator is a woman learning how to face a great loss.

You say: The way she portrays Greece and its crystal-clear waters is so summerish it hurts.

@emanuelebero on Instagram

Emma by Jane Austen

We say: All of Jane Austen's books make great summer reading, but there's something about Emma that makes it stand out as the ideal hot weather read. Maybe it's the charming yet interfering protagonist Emma Woodhouse, maybe it's the over-the-top secondary characters, maybe it's the (spoiler alert) joyful ending. Whatever it is, we love this for summer.

You say: Emma, Sense and Sensibility, The Mill on the Floss, Vanity Fair. Excellent character descriptions, detailed settings and a fitting story. Readers can find relatable experiences with the characters which are all different yet similar in human aspirations and anxieties.

@chandnanirwan on Instagram

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland (Pan Macmillan)

We say: Get swept away by the story of nine-year-old Alice Hart, who goes to live with a grandmother she never knew existed on a native flower farm that gives refuge to women who are lost or broken. In the Victorian tradition, every flower has a meaning; Alice uses this language to say the things that are too hard to speak. But as she grows older, she begins to realise that she needs to find the courage to take control of her own story.

You say: I read it at the start of the year in Australia. It was the perfect on location read, with its gorgeous descriptions of the Australian landscape. It brings back happy memories of travelling.

@glenjenreads on Instagram

Calypso by David Sedaris (Abacus)

We say: Described as "beach reading for those who detest beaches", Calypso is a witty and comic look at middle age and mortality. When he buys a beach house, which he names the Sea Section, David Sedaris imagines long, relaxing holidays spent lounging in the sun with loved ones. But he soon discovers perfection is marred by the fact that you can’t take a holiday from yourself.

You say: Makes me feel like I'm at a beach house with family.

@amberlimshin on Instagram

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Bloomsbury)

We say: This memoir about Elizabeth Gilbert's search for pleasure, devotion and balance through travel is iconic. From Rome to India to Bali, it's the inspiring tale of searching out happiness from within.

You say: I booked a holiday to Italy (one of the best holidays ever!) just because Rome and the pizza were so well described in the book.

@kajaschuelke on Instagram

Little Beauty by Alison Jameson

We say: Set on a remote yet beautiful island off the West Coast of Ireland, Little Beauty is a story of motherhood, love and the courage it takes to survive. Alison Jameson’s book follows Laura Quinn, desperate to leave the island so her life can finally begin. A year later, she's back with her new baby, Matthew, and some decisions to make.

You say: I still think of the images it captures of an island in the west of Ireland, a wonderful story.

@farah.abu.1 on Instagram

A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

We say: If one of the things you'll miss most about going on holiday is the chance encounters you have with strangers, then dive into E. M. Forster's A Room with a View, which is full of curious characters. Lucy's rigid, middle-class life is given a jolt when she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte and meets flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson, and his passionate son George. Torn between England and Italy, Lucy must learn to follow her own heart.

You say: The pages just feel sun soaked. I love the sudden bursts of romance set against the beauty of Italian architecture. Then the move back to the perfect British summer, discovering hidden gems in forgotten woods and sophisticated men regressing into children's games. 

@marytaylorlewis on Instagram

All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou (Virago)

We say: In the fifth volume of her autobiography, Maya Angelou emigrates to Ghana, where she comes to a new awareness of love, friendship, civil rights and slavery.

You say: The story highlights the warmth shown by the Ghanaian people and the rich cultures and traditions held there. It was transportive and perfect for a read in the sun.

@bookstagramthoughts on Instagram

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

We say: Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Christopher Bland Prize, The Salt Path is the extraordinary story of a couple who make a brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path.

It's a remarkable journey, one that is a test, but also life-affirming and healing, two things more needed than ever in 2020. 

The Salt Path was also shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award and the Wainwright Golden Beer Prize 2018.

You say: Such a beautiful and astonishing book about triumph, hope and despair. It reminds me of all the amazing holidays I spent on the South West Coast.

@dottiefennellyhunt on Instagram

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