Books to pack

When I said I was going to Cornwall in June with a group of friends in their twenties, I was asked whether I was going to try surfing. It certainly seemed more exciting than sitting on the beach in the rain. Unfortunately, the Atlantic was as calm as a municipal swimming pool during what was a rare hot spell.

With no real waves I ploughed through Walking on Water by Andy Martin. The book is a humorous account of a young Cambridge don's love affair with surfing and is the perfect self-mocking antidote to the macho hype surrounding many adventure sports. Martin tells a little of surfing history as he recounts his failure to pull off some of the more complicated manoeuvres.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby left me chuckling to myself as bemused friends looked on. The resemblance to any one of us was hilarious although no one would have admitted to recognising Hornby's record shop-owning hero who suffers an early mid-life crisis after a series of failed relationships.

Wild Swans by Jung Chang could not be farther from the world of Nick Hornby but it made fascinating reading in the run-up to the hand over of Hong Kong. The book gives an incredible insight into the changing lives of three generations of women in the same family before during and after the communist takeover.

What's more, reading Wild Swans lasted longer than the holiday, which could not be said for the good weather.

Allen Edwards is a freelance reporter

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