So - I hear you ask - what did Seamus choose to read while he was away on holiday? What? No one really wants to know? Sorry. But hey, I might as well continue with this thought now that I've got myself all fired up!
Did I sit down and nut out a logical, inspired collection of books to take away with me? Did I follow this year's advice on "the best novels to take away on holiday"? No! It was actually quite a random thing. I was running late - I am always running late - and the plane had already started her engines. I ummmed and ahhhhhhed in front of the bookshelf, my eyes almost turning inwards from all the pressure. I had wanted to read a non-fiction such as The Blair Years but then decided against it. In the end, these were the four books that fortified the corners of my suitcase:
Praying Mantis by André Brink. This is quite a departure for Brink. It's the story of Cupido Cockroach, a "drunk fornicator" raised on a Dutch farm deep in the African Cape in the late 1700s, who becomes the first ever Hottentot missionary. The writing is beautiful, full of what one reviewer called "African magic realism". I'm almost near the end.
Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson, an author based in New Zealand. This is the UK/US version of her book originally titled "Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs". It's a gem of a novel, which examines an unlikely friendship between an elderly recluse and a young writer struggling to get her life back on track after losing her partner.
Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan. I absolutely loved this one, probably because the story I'm working on is also about a priest. Here a young priest goes off the deep end, mixing in with a young, rebellious crowd after being posted to an isolated parish in Scotland. There is humour amongst the tragedy and this certainly had page-turning power.
The Ghost Writer by John Harwood. This was the easiest of my holiday reads. It was a suspense novel that had me guessing. It was perfect for lying on the beach, when I didn't want to have to work too hard or get too deeply involved in the story. The writing was good and the tale well structured.
But is there such a thing as a good holiday novel? Can these be defined as those that avoid the heavy issues and keep us light and fluffy? Or are they books that help us to escape, no matter what the subject? What do you read on holiday? Are you influenced by the newspapers and publishing houses that pump out holiday reading lists?
As I say, I tend to grab books off my shelf randomly at the start of my holidays, often because I'm late for the train or the plane. I should not, therefore, take part in any publishing surveys.