Best summer reads for a staycation

You’re taking a staycation and the weather is rarely guaranteed. The chances of a sizzler of a day on a sunlounger with a trashy novel are unlikely. So our best summer reads guide you instead across and around home turf. 

Wherever you’re heading on your UK summer holiday this year, transport yourself around the country with these un-put-down-able page turners.

11 staycation summer reads 

On the moors

Northumberland is the setting for 2019 book The Moors on our summer reads list

More precisely, the wondrous landscape of Northumberland is the setting for The Moor by LJ Ross (2019). Tension mounts following a murder and the weight of witness perspective falls to a 10 year old girl. The circus is coming to town. There are long reigning mysteries to unpick. And somehow there’s a link between them all. This is the twelfth book in the DCI Ryan mysteries and he’ll have to work quickly before the killer strikes again…

Settle into our Northumberland cottages


Caught in Kent

Jubilee Park in Bromley

The great British murder mystery began in a great book before it made it to more easily decipherable TV adaptations. And this one delves into the mid 19th century for a historical twist too. When a young woman is found dead, discovered to be pregnant and with a seemingly long list of enemies, Elizabeth Haynes puts Bromley on the murder map. Aptly maintaining intrigue and suspense throughout, The Murder of Harriet Monckton (2018) will sate your appetite for a glass of Kent wine!

Visit a vineyard from our Kent holiday cottages


To the Highlands

Hot tub view of the Highlands one of the places captured by Val McDermott's book in our summer reads list

When a renowned author puts fiction to one side to showcase the real and living beauty of her story locations, we’re in for a storytelling treat. Val McDermid’s My Scotland (2019) takes the reader through many different parts of Scotland including undiscovered highways in the Highlands, peaceful lochs and stirring valleys. Not wishing to lure you away from your chosen holiday destination of the moment, but the 100 or so photographs that accompany her enthralling descriptions will ensure a place for this book on the coffee table back home too.

How about a Highlands holiday cottage?


Capturing Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is the focus for our summer reads book A Year in Pembrokeshire

Many of us have fallen in love with Pembrokeshire thanks to a sunny week on its sands, the glorious Gower Peninsula, the charm of St David’s and the awesome mountains that trail along in the background. Yet in A Year In Pembrokeshire (2018) Jamie Owen and David Wilson capture the county in almost its entirety and over a year. This photographic reflection on rural and coastal life as well as daily aspects of the people who live there will merely strengthen your longing to return.

Stay in our Pembrokeshire holiday cottages


To the Lakes

Lake District cottage with lakeland views

When Solange Berchemin ventured to research 111 Places In The Lake District That You Shouldn’t Miss (2019) her mission was to look beyond the tourist trail. This book showcases the most interesting and most overlooked parts of the Lake District that many tourists might drive past or wander through. So if a Cumbrian cottage is on your holiday wish list, this book should be too – preferably before you get there!

Stay a while in our Lake District holiday cottages


Norfolk calls

Norfolk - the picturesque setting of The Crossing Places

The peace and serenity we so associate with Norfolk is put to the test in The Crossing Places (2016) but once the book is closed and there’s a pint of Woodforde’s in hand, all is restored! 

The Ruth Galloway Mysteries is a series by Elly Griffiths about a forensic archaeologist. In this edition Ruth is asked to help with a case when a child’s bones are discovered on a beach. But danger is just around the corner…

Hunker down in our Norfolk holiday cottages


Bonding in Brighton

Brighton pier at night

Read between the lines as you unravel the bonds, forever made and often broken, of a mother and her daughter living in bonny Brighton. Interwoven between family ties are the fascinating and hilarious characters residing at Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel (2019) who splash this novel with colour and aid the complexity of Tilda’s relationship with her mother.  

Live it up from our Brighton holiday cottages


Yorkshire mysteries

Yorkshire moors

Kate Atkinson’s latest mystery leads us to North Yorkshire, where newly established private investigator, Jackson Brodie, is easily distracted from his current case chasing an allegedly adulterous husband. Big Sky (2019) is a work of breathtaking literary art combining the funny, the sad and the sinister.

Book one of our North Yorkshire holiday cottages


Dawdling in Devon

Devon coastline

As a mum and a runner, I put Jo Pavey on a pedestal of sorts. The Rio Olympics in 2016 was the fifth time Jo, who’s now more than 40 years of age, competed for our country. This Mum Runs is her story of a less than direct route to ultimate sporting prowess and accolade, and how she’s achieved this as a mum of two who happens to find time to fit running into her schedule.

Probably one of the most inspiring summer reads (even from the comfort of a rattan sofa overlooking the sea). And at the time of writing, she’s pounding the streets of Devon aiming for a record-equalling qualification for her sixth Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.

Pack your runners and head to our Devon holiday cottages to get fit!


Sussex stories

Hastings Beach in Sussex is the setting for Lorali our young fiction summer reads pick

If the prospect of Pavey’s autobiography fills you with dread, you might prefer a literary throwback to the gritty and fantastical tales of your teenage years. Alternatively, Lorali by Laura Dockrill is a young adult fiction novel worth packing for the teenagers in your tribe. This is a querying tale of belonging that explores many a teenager’s challenges of modern and youth culture, such as social media, street slang, cool kids and the need to fit in. The wacky part is that it achieves this via mermaid and pirate characters that descend on the shores of Hastings. Retreat to carefree days or delve into the mind of your teenage offspring… And watch out if you’re holidaying on the Sussex coast this summer…

Stay in one of our Sussex holiday cottages

And so to Suffolk

Suffolk - the setting for The Butterfly Room novel by Lucinda Riley

…where Posy Montague has settled upon selling up her childhood home as it ruins around her. She’s content with her decision despite squeaks of rebellion from her sons but isn’t prepared for the return of her long lost love, Freddie. As emotions fly and secrets untangle in The Butterfly Room (2019), Lucinda Riley wends us along an enthralling rollercoaster

Choose from our Suffolk holiday cottages

Don’t forget the kids’ books

Everyone needs a summer read and this is a beautifully crafted and detailed picture book created with toddlers and pre-schoolers in mind, obviously. Yet there’s surely a comic irony in it for sloth-like teenagers and for yourself if your kids wonder where you go when you scrape them off you at the school door! Quite frankly, you can be anywhere you like reading this. It might even inspire a post-holiday career change!

When you’ve exhausted this list of summer reads, or if your literary escapism takes you elsewhere, do let us know how you get on!

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