What I read on holiday

I tried to be very restrained with the number of books I took to Hong Kong and Melbourne because girl had a weight limit! Here's what I managed to get through without paying any excess charges to easyjet...


Like a lot of books on my ever-expanding 'to read' list, I added Animal because it had been recommended to me by so many people as 'the kind of thing' I'd enjoy. I had it down as another comedian's memoir and chucked it in my Amazon basket as a light read to take on holiday.

I had this book all wrong! It's such a well researched piece of work, about the sexual history of human beings dating back thousands of years and why men and women are the way that they are. Did you know that straight men only get aroused by straight porn but women get aroused by everything, even if it's monkeys fucking. You know now! Such a great book that there's no photo of it here; I left it with my best friend in Australia. I feel like I'm a step closer to accepting myself as a sexual being, which I know is a common problem for women generally.

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"You already know some of the most intimate details of my life just because I'm buying this book!" I said to the cashier of the shop I bought this book from, in Fitzroy, Melbourne. I'm not going to have bailiffs at the door any time soon but I feel like I've been living from pay to pay for a few years now and I have an overdraft still sitting there from my time living in London and some bits and pieces on my credit card I'd like to start working towards paying off.

The main thing this book has done for me is force me to face my finances head on, rather than ignoring what's going on in my bank account. I've also set some long term goals for myself for the first time ever. I had a crap pay this month so none of the plans have been put into action yet but I'll probably do an update on my first month of living frugally!

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The Lonely City.jpg

When I asked for recommendations on Twitter, Bee came through with a cracker. Again, I thought The Lonely City would be a memoir of the writer's time in New York, and it was to a certain extent. But what the book really is, is a study of extraordinary people from New York (and one from Chicago) who lived incredibly lonely, and sometimes tragically short, lives. 

My favourite story was about Henry Darger who had the worst of all possible childhoods and worked six and a half days a week as a hospital janitor until he died aged 81. When his tiny apartment was cleared out, they discovered all of his artwork and fiction writing. His paintings depict scenes of child abuse in a very surreal and childlike way.

I finished the book on my flight to Hobart and after checking into my Airbnb, I got the ferry north to MONA, a museum on the bank of the River Derwent. When I walked into one of the galleries, I exclaimed aloud. I recognised the pieces immediately as Henry Darger's work. It was very emotional to see art he'd made just after reading his life story. I can't recommend this bok enough. 

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Swing Time.jpg

I picked this up in the airport, remembering that Laura Jane Williams had read an extract from it during a writing course I attended last year. I'm new to the Zadie Smith party but have fallen in love with her.

I don't read a lot of fiction these days (as you can see from this list) but I sailed through this. The story follows two young mixed race girls from North London and jumps back and forth between their childhood and teenage years together and then as adults. The details about their childhoods were just so spot on that if you're a child of the late 80s/early 90s, you'll enjoy them immensely. It also gave me more of an insight into the complexities of being a mixed race child. Zadie Smith's writing is beautiful and descriptive without being overly flowery (my pet hate). I really enjoyed this.

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Like a lot of people, I've seen the Audrey Hepburn film a hundred times, watching it over and over in my bedroom as a teenager. I read the book a long time ago but found it going cheap in a book shop in Hobart and decided to pick up a copy.

If you don't know, Breakfast at Tiffany's is just a short story you can zip through (like I did at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne, as pictured above!). In some ways, the book is incredibly like the film with a lot of the dialogue lifted directly from it. And this isn't a spoiler, because it's in the opening scene of the book, but it doesn't have a Hollywood ending like the film does. Still a perfect little story. 

Also, another fun fact - the author Truman Capote is the real life Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird! 

What have you been reading lately? Pass me some recommendations!

WIBRLauren Aitchison