Five books to read on your 2023 December holiday


While December holidays often mean lounging in the sunshine or exploring a new city, for many South African travellers, it also provides the perfect time to catch up on some reading.

According to a recent online poll conducted by Flight Centre South Africa, 41% of respondents mentioned they read at least one to two hours a day during their holiday or ‘every chance they get’. It’s clear a page-turner is a must for a memorable getaway.

So, which book is a worthy carry-on this year? Here are the top 5 picks, courtesy of Flight Centre SA’s bookworm travellers:

The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea – Crime Thriller

This nail-biting thriller revolves around the disappearance of two girls from a beach party. While one returns two weeks later, carrying the weight of memories she can’t recall, the whereabouts and fate of the other remains a disturbing mystery. Donlea masterfully weaves a tale of suspense, past traumas, and the lengths we go to uncover the truth.

Goodreads Rating: 4.20/5

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson – Biography

Get an in-depth look at the visionary yet controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk. Isaacson, who shadowed Musk for two years, delves into Musk’s journey from his early days in South Africa to his ambitious ventures into space travel with SpaceX, electric cars with Tesla, and beyond.

This biography offers unparalleled insights into the challenges and triumphs of one of the 21st century’s most audacious business magnates.

Goodreads Rating: 4.47/5

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – Science Fiction/Fantasy

Iron Widow is set in the nation of Huaxia, a futuristic reinterpretation of Medieval China. It’s a world where men pilot giant mechas and female co-pilots serve as concubines and sacrifice their lives for the fight.

The book’s heroine, Zetian (a reimagining of the Chinese Empress Wu Zetian), decides to change the narrative. Challenging the deep-seated patriarchal norms of her world, she rises in power, leading a revolt and redefining her destiny.

Goodreads Rating: 4.10/5

The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons by Karin Smirnoff – Thriller

Well-known protagonist Lisbeth Salander returns in this title, set in a Swedish village called Gasskas, spilling over with shadows of the past. Lisbeth has been named guardian of her teenage niece, Svala, a gifted girl who’s in danger.

The story follows a tumultuous landscape of local politics, dark secrets, and complex family relationships. With every twist and turn, Smirnoff reveals layers of a society holding onto its traditions amid modern challenges.

Goodreads Rating: 3.43/5

The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel – Historical Fiction

The second book in Auel’s Earth’s Children series, The Valley of Horses, explores prehistoric Europe through the eyes of Ayla, now a courageous young woman.

With remarkable attention to detail, Auel paints a vivid picture of ancient cultures, survival tactics, and the indomitable human spirit, capturing the heartaches and triumphs of our earliest ancestors.


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