IMG_2266This week’s Bite Size Memoir Prompt is:

Holiday Reads

Do you read on holiday? If you do, what do you choose? Do you have a genre you prefer for those long, relaxed poolside word-marathons you don’t get chance for at home? Do you read about the places you visit? Perhaps you take a large and tricky tome, knowing it’s the best chance you’ll get this year to finish it! And do you remember the books you have read on holiday? Is there something your holiday reads say about you?

In general, I read anything and everything that informs or entertains me, but on holiday I tend to read pacey fiction. I certainly don’t often choose to take a grinding literary piece or text. I like something that will swallow me up in the moments I grab to relax – Something fairly easy to follow but clever enough to keep me guessing.

Later this year we’re going to Sri Lanka and I’m considering what reading to take. Before I go I’m reading a bit about it’s recent and troubled history and also about its wildlife and geography – all so I might appreciate and understand my surroundings when I get there – at least a little better than a teleported alien.

But I’m still looking for a few perfect holiday reads to enjoy whilst I’m there. I’m not in a particular author’s vein at the moment so there’s no obvious choice. Consequently I’ve been doing a little looking around.

Following your nose on google is sometimes a fabulous thing! Yesterday I came across a Wikipedia page for novels set in Sri Lanka which seems to me a perfect way of continuing to explore the country whilst I’m staying there. I’ll work my way through reviews of each of these and choose two or three. What a fabulous way too, to explore authors I would perhaps never come across otherwise.

Meanwhile, I was reminded of deliberately choosing a novel to read just before visiting a specific place on a holiday a couple of years ago. I think the way we choose our holiday reads and sometimes link them with holiday memories might say something about us.

What do your holiday reads say about you?

(And please don’t panic you bibliophiles! I know we can’t squeeze everything books mean to us into one prompt. Some books haunt us, taunt us, annoy us. Some change our lives and some have one line that stays with us for ever. We’ll definitely come back to books – I have several other prompts up my sleeve..)

I’ve tackled this prompt in two ways as an illustration – If you’re new to this memoir prompt and want to know more, please read here – there’s also a summary below of how you can take part in this  challenge.


10 x I remember statements

I remember Simon reading A Prayer for Owen Meany in a ski chalet and laughing til he couldn’t breath – I never did get it.

I remember wriggling into smooth pebbles on an undeveloped Alonissos beach 25 years ago, to make the perfect head, neck and body support and reading Patricia Cornwall.

I remember reading Meg and Mog over and over to a hot and tired little boy sucking his dummy in Corfu.

I remember a suitcase with a whole series of ‘Beast Quest’ and almost the complete works of Roald Dahl and secretly packing Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone because Max needed to move on in more ways than one.

I remember Simon reading Love, Medicine and Miracles in Elat and suddenly getting the survival thing when he asked “How wrong could they be?” 

I remember stiff shoulders, back and hips after hours of reading Jack Reacher novels on a plastic sun lounger.

I can vividly remember reading Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho drinking coffee in Alpine sunlight on a ski-slope in a picture book mountain chalet, though I don’t know which resort!

I can remember the poolside in Kos where I battled my way through Human Cognitive Neuropsychology by Ellis and Young just before I starting my MSc.

I remember this poolside is where I first came across visual neglect and other visual deficits and was transported back there when Max stopped in his tracks out shopping a couple of years later, describing how half his world had just ‘disappeared’.

I remember running the horrors of potential teenage stroke or aneurism through my mind as the book hadn’t covered the more simple explanations such as migraine!


150 Words Prose

The Island

I had a second hand copy of Victoria Hislop’s, The Island, sitting on a shelf for at least two years before going to Crete at Easter in 2012. Up til then it hadn’t appealed enough and anyway, it was a Richard and Judy ‘Summer Read’. The starting premise seemed poor for what turned out to be a hauntingly good book. 

We sailed grimly across to Spinalonga imagining the one-way journey taken by the inhabitants of the leper colony, closed in 1957. I wandered through ‘Dante’s Gate’ and now familiar but thankfully deserted streets. I peered into surprisingly everyday lives through ordinary shop windows, individual houses with gardens and vegetable patches. I stared, eyes smarting, at the iron bedsteads still in the small hospital. 

I took Hislop’s characters with me. I imagined their pain, physical and emotional and wept for them with the real outcastes buried in functional, unmarked graves.

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If you’re new to the Bite Size Memoir Challenge, this project is designed to help anyone record and share some personal memoir in small manageable bites. I hope you’ll have a go!

I post a prompt every week and welcome contributions from anyone – you don’t have to be a writer. For ideas on how to participate please read the post introducing the challenge here.

Here’s how you join in:


1.Each Friday I’ll suggest a topic by 2pm UK time (BST) via my blog and Twitter (using the hashtag  #BiteSizeMemoir  – You don’t need to be on Twitter to participate.)

2. The challenge will be to write about the topic using


10 x “I remember statements”


150 x words (prose, or poem if you want to stretch yourself)

Either will make you pick and choose your words carefully whilst keeping a tight focus for time’s sake. You might want to write more, to keep at home, but please only submit one option within the limits for sharing (i.e. 10 statements or 150 word prose/poem)

3. The Deadline for sharing your ‘Bite’ will be 2pm (BST) the following Thursday. You can share in either of two ways:

a) Post your response in the comments section of the current topic – I will find it and cut and paste to the compilation of responses. (You may not see your comment appear immediately but don’t worry – I will find and share it)


b) If you have a blog you can post your response on your own blog with a link back to this post, and then also provide the link to me in the comments section. I will then link your contribution back to your post, in the compilation of responses.

4. It would be great if you felt able to include the country the events took place in – I think it provides a significant context for other readers. As an example look at the compilation for “School at Seven”

5. I will aim to compile responses and share them via another post before the next challenge is issued.

 A few rules:

1.If you need or want to be anonymous that’s fine – When you post a comment just put ‘Anon’ or a nickname in the name field. It does ask for an email address as part of spam filtering but only I will see it.

2.Please keep others anonymous to protect their privacy and dignity – change names or use initials etc.

3.If you’ve got an axe to grind, please do it somewhere else.

4.If you stumble across this after the deadline, do feel free to contribute and include your blog link in the comments section of the compilation, so others can read it.

Remember to submit your bite for “10 out of  10” by 2pm BST Thursday 24th July 2014