Books to pack

29th August 1997 at 01:00
I'm going to Cephalonia, one of the Ionian Islands so, yes, I'll be taking Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Berni

res. I haven't got a clue what it's about or whether it's any good; it's just that every time I tell someone where I'm going they say, "Oh, have you read Captain Corelli's Mandolin?" So I will.

Well, I won't be taking it, one of my travel companions will be. The Holiday Organising Committee (Books and Leisure Section) has decreed that this year, to lighten the general load, none of us is allowed to take books that any other member of the party is taking or has already read. I don't think my Ruud Gullit biography has broad enough appeal to make it on to the plane.

Too much relaxation is obviously a bad thing, so I like to stay alert with a crime thriller or two. As anyone who has heard him interviewed will know, James Ellroy is, like many of the characters in his books, completely insane. Mad, but brilliant. In his Hollywood quartet - The Black Dahlia, LA Confidential, White Jazz and The Big Nowhere - he weaves together McCarthyism, racism, the Mob, and corruption in the LAPD. And plenty of mesmerising plots and blood. Simply sit back and feel all that stress just pour out of you . . .

In a lighter vein, donkeys years after the rest of the population, this summer I aim finally to get round to reading Irvine Welsh's Acid House and Marabou Stork Nightmares. Another better-late-than-never selection is Jonathan Coe's political satire, What a Carve Up!, to celebrate the fact that for the first time in 18 years I won't be going home to a Tory government. Treble ouzos all round . . .

Simon Terry is a sub-editor on The TES

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