I like to be immersed in another world so thoroughly that I lose track of the present (dinner time already?). I feel a twinge of melancholy when finishing a really good book. So, this summer I will once again re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Penguin pound;7.99). Thanks to the richness of the 1982 Nobel Prize winner's descriptions of emotions, I've never felt such a strong empathy with literary characters.
The intricately woven storyline with a multitude of characters is initially off-putting, despite a useful family tree of the Buendia dynasty in the foreword. The power of the prose insists on persistence, however, and you soon find yourself lost in Latin America in a time when "many things lacked names".
A lighter alternative is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Thorsons pound;6.99), a classic adventure with a driving narrative and a wicked twist at the end.
An Andalusian shepherd boy is taught the mysteries of the universe by the alchemist whom he meets en route to distant lands in search of treasure. This is good holiday fodder with its treatment of realising dreams and determining your own fate. Once you've picked it up, you'll read it in a day.
Rather different values, but another great story, in Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? (Allison amp; Busby pound;8.99), set in the Hollywood of the 1930s as Sammy Glick rises from newspaper office boy to film mogul, with not a lot of talent on the way. Interesting as a character study in single-minded ambition, juxtaposed against the life and thoughts of the less ferocious narrator.
The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice's sequel to Interview With The Vampire (Futura pound;6.99), offers an even more extravagant "life" story, spanning many centuries, all corners of the world and both mortal and immortal existence. Lestat is handsome, charming and enigmatic, and the tale of his path from aristocratic human beginnings to a career as a rock star and blood-sucking supremo is filled with colourful scenes and characters - and poignant observations. A vampire's lot is not a happy one, it seems.
Sam Friedrich is a picture researcher on The TES