The best type of book to read on a holiday

The best thing about reading a book on holidays is getting to the bit where you fall asleep.

Nothing better than those words melting in front of you as your eyelids close, a big sigh escapes your body, and the book falls from your hand. I think I've slept through more novels than I have late-night Netflix shows.

The books must be not too big, not too heavy, and the font a decent size to cope with reading from a dim, mis-directed economy seat light. The Collected Works of Les Murray? At 708 pages and 1.25 kilograms, perhaps not. Those with e-readers will laugh at the old-fashioned concept of not being able to adjust type and font size to suit, but I need a proper printed book in my hand. I need to turn the page myself, to be connected viscerally and physically to the act of reading.

My usual strategy is to catch up on the latest releases. Going away is how I keep up with things that everyone else does at home. But there are alternative strategies that work just as well. One is to read a novel set in your destination, to get a different context and dimension of insight that will amplify your enjoyment of being there. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, when in Sicily; Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, when in New York; and for Russia, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amon Towles, the magical story of a Russian aristocrat kept under house arrest for years at Moscow's majestic Hotel Metropol.

But nothing too experimental. You don't want to be stuck at Denpasar Airport at midnight for eight hours and discover you can't get your head around the first page of anything ever written by William S. Burroughs.

Also, now is not the time to be a literary snob. Pick up that John Grisham or Steven King and dive straight in – 380 million people can't be wrong. Yes, people might judge you for it, but you're on holidays, remember, and they're not people you know.

Then there are the happy accidents, when you discover something new to read in the ship library or on the bed-and-breakfast shelf that you would never have picked up in a bookstore. Just don't borrow a book from your host in an 18th-century chateau in Burgundy, as I did, and then fall asleep, jet-lagged, in the bath while reading it. That was one novel that did not end well.

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