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This is a bit of a diversion from the blog this week, in honor of my vacation to Koh Samui that I’m currently enjoying. You’re unlikely to find me outstretched, sunburnt lobster, with a pina colada and the latest chick lit that I picked up for $5 at the aiport.
So instead of books about Bangkok, I’m going to reveal my favorite books to get stuck into when you find yourself stretching out on a tropical island. But you see that girl outstretched, sunburnt lobster, with a pina colada and a 900-page biography of Chairman Mao in her hand? For me, the beach represents time to get totally embroiled in a new tome.
I love the escapism of fiction, but nowadays you’re more likely to catch me getting stuck into a book on history, psychology or politics, with a little notebook at my side to catch anything I find particularly interesting or inspiring. Anyway, here are a few of the best books I’ve been reading at the beach.
This is genuinely one of the most incredible history books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Just as the title denotes, this is a chronological history of the city of Jerusalem, from its earliest history founded under King David to the iconic religious epicentre it is today.
Montefiore draws on ancient texts, modern scholarship and even his own family history to piece together the jigsaw of Jerusalem.
Reading it helped greatly in my understanding of how the ancient past has influenced the present and will go on to shape the future in the Middle East, and really lit a fire in me to find out more about the incredibly complex relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
It’s worth saying that while I identify as an atheist — despite a brief and inevitably doomed flirtation with Christianity in my early 20s — I’ve always held an appreciation for religious history and culture, whatever side of the cloth that happens to be cut from.
I knew little about Jerusalem going in when I started this book but came out with a much richer understanding of the city, its history, main characters and its global positioning.
HIGHLY recommended — for the beach or frankly anywhere. I’ve just finished — a collection of short stories centred around Thailand — and I was blown away by the rich story-telling and intricate linking between what looks like, at first sight, seemingly unrelated stories.
Not only is this a good book to read on a beach; it’s a good book to read on a beach, being as it’s set in our fine Kingdom.