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SultanaBun By SultanaBun Published on June 2, 2016

The Sultanabun family will shortly be taking off for their first post-recession holiday. In recent years, I have been putting a tent up in the back garden and instructing my offspring to exercise their imaginations but this year we intend to leave, not just the garden but the country. As the recession still has a clutch on our coat tails we will be travelling with a well known budget airline whose baggage restrictions are uncomfortably tight. Clothes aren’t the problem. We are all content to run around France in our bare and frecklies. It’s the books. How do we bring enough books?

We are a family of six bookaholics : Mum, Dad, Teenage Son (17), Teenage Daughter (15), Middle Girl (11) and Small Girl (4). We require at least three books each.

My solution is the SultanaBun Family Summer Holiday Book Club (we need a better name!). The idea is that we bring one book per person but every book must have the potential to engage three or more family members.

The obvious advantage is that I save money by buying fewer books and avoiding excess baggage penalties. My hope is that we will bond a little over our shared reading. Young Adult literature might serve to remind Husband and I of the triumphs and tragedies of youth. We may impress snooty French waiters with our literary dinner table conversation. Anything would be an improvement on the usual debate on whose flatulence is loudest and smelliest.

My children have always taken pleasure in seeing me pick up their books. It validates them as proper readers. 

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I have polled my offspring for suggestions of books they think are suitable for (a) holidays and (b) grown-ups. They have recommended age guidelines in answer to the question, ‘who would enjoy this book?’

Our Favourite Books For Sharing With Younger Readers.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox. Roald Dahl. Voted our family’s favourite Dahl book, I’d suggest this as an easy read during an airplane journey. Age 3 and up.

The Mother Daughter Book Club. Heather Vogel Frederick. The first in a series, this book is written as a companion to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This pairing makes a neat mini-break selection although I would advise reading the classic original first as the contemporary companion has some spoilers. Age 8 and up.

Biggles Defies The Swastika. Captain W.E. Johns. My son and I read Biggles’ World War 2 adventures by the dozen when he was eight or so. Age 7 and up.

The Giver. Lois Lowry. Middle Daughter suggested I read this and I was blown away. I reviewed it on my blog and several proper grown-ups read and loved it. This is a terrific read for the whole family. Age 9 and up.

Wonder. R.J. Palacio. I know several primary and secondary school teachers who have used this book as class reading material. It’s funny, heart-warming and compulsive reading...perfect for holidays. Age 9 and up.

George’s Secret Key To The Universe. Lucy and Stephen Hawking. This might be the key to looking smart on the beach. Teenage Son insisted I add this to the list as he loved it. Age 9 and up.

Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. For horse-lovers young and older. Age 9 and up.

The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. Read this slim and entertaining volume and pretend you got through the much longer (and quite boring) Lord Of The Rings. Age 8 and up.

From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. E.L. Konigsburg. This is such a beauty. It’s a book about running away, about finding yourself, about Art and truth. It’s short and has a few illustrations. Age 8 and up.

Harriet The Spy. Louise Fitzhugh. A beautifully constructed story, Middle Girl is begging for the next in the series.

Framed. Frank Cottrell Boyce. The photo shows Millions. All of Cottrell’s books are perfect for sharing. Boys, girls, Mums and Dads all enjoy them. Framed is my favourite but I gave it to someone and never got it back (sign of a good book). 10 and up.

Books Recommended By Teenage Son.

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Douglas Adams. It’s totally daft but boys love it.

Nation. Terry Pratchett. You could launch into Discworld but Nation is a perfect stand alone story.

Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly and Apache by Ed Macy. They don’t appeal to this mother but Teenage Son insists that Dads would love them.

The Boys In The Boat. Daniel James Brown. A brilliant book. I’ve been recommending this true story to all and sundry.

Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. Another incredible but true story.

An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth. Chris Hadfield. I'm a Hadfield fan. He's cool. This is best described as a self-help book for space nerds. Husband has recommended it to his Human Resources department as essential reading.

Books recommended By Teenage Daughter.

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I Capture The Castle. Dodie Smith. I’ve no idea how I reached the grand old age of 43 before I read this book. It’s a charming romance, not to be missed.

The Fault In Our Stars. John Green. Bring your box of tissues to the beach.

Codename Verity. Elizabeth Wein. I adore French resistance stories. This is an edge-of-your-beachtowel thriller.

Eleanor & Park. Rainbow Rowell. With credible characters and a compelling plot, Teenage Daughter and I and even Husband gobbled this up.

The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins. Middle Girl read all three in a fortnight. Unputdownable and more than meaty enough for Mums or Dads, these are ideal for reluctant readers.

Catch Up On Classics.

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Two weeks in a screen-free zone might just be long enough to bore your teenager into attempting these. They’ll thank you later (they won’t but it’s no harm believing that they will).

Lord Of The Flies. William Golding. Well, it is a beach read.

Animal Farm. George Orwell. This may be the very best example of a book to be enjoyed in childhood and rediscovered as an adult.

To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. Sales have rocketed in the past year. When I re-read it I was surprised by how funny it is.

Flambards. K. M. Peyton. An old favourite of mine, Flambards falls somewhere between Black Beauty and Downton Abbey.

All Quiet On The Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque. Written about the First World War, this book remains relevant and heart-breaking.

The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton. Written by Hinton when she was just seventeen, this could be a soft start on the classics.

Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. A witty and endearing romantic comedy. If you haven’t read any Austen, I would recommend this as the first.

SultanaBun Family Holiday Book Club 2016.

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Cinder. Marissa Meyer. First in the Lunar Chronicles series.

The Knife Of Never Letting Go. Patrick Ness. First in the Chaos Walking trilogy.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. Neil Gaiman.

Stardust. A second by Neil Gaiman because Small Girl pleaded for it.

Grinny. Nicholas Fisk.

The Girl Of Ink And Stars. Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Those are the six books we are taking on holiday. All come with the glowing recommendation of a trusted bookseller. I shall return to let you know how we get along.

Irish blogger and book reviewer. Official contributor to Bookwitty.com and author of Bookwitty's monthly 'Cooking the Books' feature. Erstwhile microbiologist with an MSc in Food Science, she ... Show More


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