The Nation's Favourite Holiday Page Turners Revealed

What did you read this summer?  Something by your favourite author, one of the latest best sellers, or an old favourite that you've read half a dozen times before?  You know, those books that are like a big paper comfort blanket you can sink into with a happy sigh on your sunbed or picnic blanket.

Although the sun is still shining on this super hot day, summer is coming to an end.  But for savvy sunseekers this is the perfect time to book a last-minute September or October break.  With a cocktail in one hand, there's only one more thing you need on your sunlounger - a good book!

The joy of being on holiday is having the time to relax and have some time to ourselves with no demands and to do lists.  We even have time to read and get lost in a good book.  But what do we all love to read - or re-read on holiday?

A recent survey by UK ferry company Stena Line revealed the top 10 books we all love to re-visit on a trip.  With a distinct spread from highbrow to popular fiction, the list is certainly an eclectic mix.  Did your favourite make the list?  And how many of these top reads have you read?

In reverse order they are:

10. "War and Peace" — Leo Tolstoy

By no means a 'beach read' in the traditional sense, this Russian epic kicks the list off in tenth place.  This is certainly a list that subverts expectations!

Often claimed to be one of the greatest literary achievements in history, Leo Tolstoy’s epic anti-novel War and Peace chronicles the French invasion of Russia in the 19th century.  Despite clocking in at over 1200 pages, it earned the tenth-highest number of votes from those we surveyed.

9. "The Godfather" — Mario Puzo

The greatest crime epic ever to appear on our screens, The Godfather started out as a novel that was soon overshadowed by its film adaptation.

Thanks to Puzo’s authentic insights into the world of the Mafia, the English-speaking world was introduced to Italian words like consigliere and omertà.  Don Corleone would be proud!

8. "A Song of Ice and Fire" series — George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones might have been the world's most-watched TV shows over its original run, but it owes its success to the expansive book series that George R. R. Martin started two decades earlier.

And while the legacy of the TV adaption might have been marred by a lacklustre final season, fans of A Song of Ice and Fire still hold onto hope that Martin can unravel those mistakes when he completes his masterwork.

7. "The Hobbit" — J. R. R. Tolkien

A Song of Ice and Fire is eclipsed by an older, and arguably more enduring, fantasy series.  Tolkien enters the rankings at number seven with The Hobbit, a book he originally wrote for his own kids, which remains beloved by children and adults alike thanks to its imaginative and gripping plot.

A lighter read than Tolkien’s other novels, The Hobbit is the starter book and very popular with our holidaymakers.  It promises escapism and remains a satisfying re-read again and again.

6. "Catch-22" — Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is an odd book.  Still, few have been quite as successful in taking a difficult subject — in this case, the Second World War — and creating a genuinely funny satire.

For that reason, Joseph Heller’s comedy about the trials and tribulations of U.S. airman Captain John Yossarian has a level of popularity among readers that seems only to increase with age.  It’s been adapted several times into film and TV, including a recent outing produced by George Clooney.

5. "It" — Stephen King

The roaring success of Andy Muschietti’s film adaption might have something to do with how well Stephen King’s It ranks in our list.  (Do you notice a TV and film adaptation theme here?!)

Though certainly not a short read (it’s over 1,100 pages long), King’s consistently gripping writing and fast-moving plot lines make It an iconic and irresistible read.  Like The Shining and Pet Sematary, the disturbing story of Pennywise the Clown is one that readers feel drawn back to again and again.  Just make sure you read in the day time - the last thing you want is a holiday where you can’t sleep…

4. "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy — J. R. R. Tolkien

Tolkein makes a second appearance on the list with his epic tale.  Even before the films smashed box-office records and won more Academy Awards than you can count, J. R. R. Tolkien’s seminal book series was beloved by millions of readers around the world.

The epic story of Frodo’s journey to destroy the "one ring to rule them all" is as compelling as it is timeless.  While the mature narrative, complex characters and - let’s face it - massive battle scenes make The Lord of the Rings a slightly more satisfying offering than The Hobbit.

3. "50 Shades of Grey" — E. L. James

A rather surprising entry, maybe 50 Shades made it onto the list because most couples get more, ahem, time together when they're on holiday!

While it can hardly compete with the world-building of The Lord of the Rings or the razor-sharp wit of Catch-22, 50 Shades of Grey offers a different kind of escapism for its readers.  I'm not sure how many people would be self-assured enough to openly read it by the pool or in a cafe, there are clearly plenty of people who like to lose themselves in this adult fantasy from the comfort of their hotel rooms.

2. The Bible

In stark contrast to our last entry, The Bible lands in second place on our list of ultimate holiday reads.  For religious holidaymakers, the time away from the hustle and bustle of life proves the perfect opportunity to reconnect with their faith.

And even for those who don't have any religious belief, one thing’s for sure: no other book has had such a significant impact on Western literature on the whole.  From the reign of King David in the Old Testament to the teachings of Jesus in the New, the stories within its pages are referenced in thousands of books throughout history.  For religious and non-religious people alike, The Bible is a must-read, and a hit with our voters.

1. The "Harry Potter" series — J. K. Rowling

If you’re surprised that Harry Potter took the top spot in our poll, you’re in the minority.  J. K. Rowling’s massively influential book series shows no sign of waning in popularity.

Since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in 1997, the Harry Potter series has sold roughly half a billion copies.  Half a billion!  And nowhere is it more popular than when Brits finally get a chance to relax on their ferry journey, or on the sunny balcony of their hotel room.

Despite being initially aimed at children, the Harry Potter books matured along with its audience.  Its gradually darker subject matter, clever plotting and, most importantly, its deeply sympathetic cast make Harry Potter a series that, perhaps more so than any other, demands to be revisited on a regular basis.

Wow, from War and Peace to 50 Shades of Grey, variety is certainly the spice of life!  It’s clear that the tastes of the British public can’t be boxed in and indeed, they break out when we get the opportunity to get away from work and let our hair down.

Harry Potter seems to cast its spell on men and women alike, but the results of the survey showed a split between the sexes with 50 Shades and To Kill a Mockingbird being the female choice, and It and Catch 22 the men's.

Women’s Top 5

Harry Potter
The Bible
50 Shades of Grey
Lord of the Rings
To Kill a Mockingbird

Men’s Top 5

The Bible
Harry Potter
Lord of the Rings
Stephen King’s It
Catch 22

What was unexpected, though, was for The Bible to come out at second place, keeping its place as the greatest story ever told.  While some of the population use their time away from the bustle of daily life to reconnect on a spiritual level, others clearly prefer satire, horror, history and crime.  Fascinating results.

What do you like to read on holiday?

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