Art & Lifestyle

The Best Books to Take on Holiday This Summer

As you begin to map out your holiday destinations for the warmer months ahead, don't forget to spare your reading selection some though as well. Here are our picks for the best novels to pack in your carry-on, from the thought-provoking to the indulgent.

by Gavin Yeung

5 Jun 2019

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

A poignant and timely commentary on the immigrant crisis of recent years, Mohsin Hamid’s work of fiction is centred around a couple residing in an unidentified Middle Eastern country as it breaks into civil war and insurgency. One day, when rumours start circulating in text messages about ordinary doors that gain the ability to randomly transport whoever walks through them to other countries, our protagonists find themselves thrown into a world order gone amok, as conventional borders become meaningless overnight. Tinged with hopeful undertones, Exit West is a thought-provoking look through the lens of magic realism at the state of the increasingly fragmented world we live in today. $96,

Circe by Madeline Miller

Following the hugely successful The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller continues her formula for rewriting Greek myths with a sympathetic modern eye in Circe. The eponymous sorceress, first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, is painted by Miller as a much more relatable character, an outsider among gods who turns to the world of mortals for companionship. We see Circe fend off sexual predators, fight off inner demons, as well as undergo the complex mix of emotions that comes with becoming a mother, in the process revealing herself as a fully fleshed out person and a feminist icon for the ages. $174,

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

As wife of the second-richest person in the world, Melinda Gates is uniquely positioned to effect widespread and positive change on a global scale thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Inspired by the larger conversations happening in the wake of #MeToo, Gates recounts the lessons she has learned in her 20 years of criss-crossing the globe on humanitarian missions and listening to women all over the world tackle the same issues over and over – maternal and newborn health, family planning, girls in school, unpaid work, women in the workplace. An enlightening read from one of the foremost female minds of this generation. $138,

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Perfect for foodies looking for a delectable read to get their teeth into, this novel follows chef Natalie Tan back to her home of San Francisco’s Chinatown upon news of her estranged mother’s death. There, she discovers that the neighbourhood is a far cry from its vibrant heyday, as well as the fact that she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant. But before she can reopen it, she is told by the local mystic that she must first cook three recipes for the neighbours who cared for her mother in her absence. Sprinkled with real recipes and hints of magic realism throughout, this tale of homecoming makes for a light bite to satiate yourself with. $86,

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Following up to her best-selling The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang tackles a page-turning plot involving dating across cultures and disability in The Bride Test. Khai Diep suffers from autism and as a result finds it difficult to express his emotions, never mind finding a significant other. Fearing that he’ll never get hitched, Khai’s mother heads to Vietnam to find a bride for him, in the process encountering mixed-race single mother Esme Tran, who is struggling to make a living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City. She takes the mother’s offer to head to California to live with Khai for a summer, where the real test begins in the art of seduction. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder herself, Hoang sheds light on a rarely represented segment of society, literally rewriting who is deserving of the leading role in a romantic novel. $113,

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and having made the rounds on social media, Irish author Sally Rooney’s second novel is a love story across class lines. Beginning in Ireland’s County Sligo during the country’s post-2008 economic downturn, the novel follows teenagers Marianne, a loner from a wealthy family, and Connell, one of the most popular boys in their grade yet the son of a single mother who is employed by Marianne’s parents as a cleaner. Though briefly involved in a relationship with each other – kept secret by Connell out of shame – the two characters re-encounter one another as they enter their university years at Trinity College Dublin, where they must contend with sex, power dynamics and the insecurities that come with young adulthood. Illuminated by Rooney’s simple yet poetic language, Normal People is an engrossing read for all, millennial or not. $131,