Everyone is a little different when it comes to vacation reading; some of us prefer more serious, emotional stories, and others want to dive into funny, warm-hearted tales of love and friendship. While we can’t promise a plane ticket or a luxury getaway in the sun, these books will make you feel like you’re in another world, whether you’re cozying up in a ski cabin or hitting the beach. There is something for everyone. So, pack your bags, and don’t forget your books! Or your toothbrush.
Grace’s life has already fallen apart once, and she’s built it back up quietly, tucked away in an English village with close friends and a long-distance love affair. This novel shows the world she has carefully constructed fall apart a second time, as her married lover’s newfound fame reveals their secrets and Grace has to confront the tragedies that got her there. Surrounded by quirky, loyal friends and her music, this heartfelt novel is a glimpse into a regular life, and how it can often feel extraordinary.
Like Eleanor, you may be completely fine. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a vacation. This sweet, uplifting story about two misfits finding love and learning to open up their hearts and lives is the perfect winter getaway read. It’ll leave you with all the warm fuzzies and get you motivated to put yourself out there and enjoy time with your travel companions.
I definitely don’t recommend running away from your family without any indication of where you’re going (or, at the risk of spoilers, going where Bernadette went for her escape). But I can definitely say that WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a hilarious read and a trip all on its own. Quirky and emotionally satisfying, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is the friend you call on for your most adventurous vacations.
Bernadette Fox is a fiercely independent wife and mother, when one day she disappears. It began when her daughter Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her agoraphobic, making a trip to the end of the earth a bit of an issue. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence.
For a more serious road-trip read, THE GOLDEN STATE is perfect for those who want to leave their own inner narrative and escape into someone else’s story. Daphne, a young single mother, leaves her life in the city and heads to the desert, where she has nothing but time, her baby, and her thoughts. Emotionally exhausting in the best way, THE GOLDEN STATE asks difficult questions of both narrator and reader, and you’ll be thinking about it long after you put it down.
This impactful and poignant novel tells the story of a newlywed couple, Roy and Celestial, who are busy planning their future together when Roy is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Through their marriage and their separation while Roy is in incarcerated, this powerful novel explores the consequences of injustice, and the meaning of love and family through tragedy and beyond. If you’re looking to read one of the most effective, heart-wrenching novels of the year, this one is for you.
There isn’t much you won’t find in THE VERDUN AFFAIR: love, Hollywood, heroism, and tragedy. Tom and Sarah, brought together after World War I by an unidentified soldier with whom they both share a connection, share a story that spans decades, as they attempt to understand the war in the contexts of their lives. Better still, the real romance lies in the relationship between tragedy and victory, and how those lines are often indistinguishable. THE VERDUN AFFAIR is a beautiful love story, and will make a welcome addition to your romantic winter getaway. Extra points if you’re going to Verdun.
Hopefully, your family vacation is a little less stressful than the Woodruff family’s. When father and senator Richard has an affair that becomes public, his wife heads to her mother’s old vacation house. She is soon followed by the couple’s two daughters, who are each unhappy in their own way. A tale of mending broken hearts and the power of women to heal and hurt those they love, the Woodruff women’s story is not the happiest, but it is definitely satisfying.
No vacation reading list would be complete without a vacation horror story! Finn and Layla, a young couple traveling together, live their worst nightmare when Layla disappears on their vacation. Ten years later, Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen, but knows something isn’t right; it’s made worse when he starts finding clues. Each twist and turn is more frightening than the last. While you should definitely read this unsettling thriller, try not to let it scare you out of your travel plans.
A moving story about a father-son relationship, marred by loss. The Italian Riveria. Soccer (Football?). Endless possibilities. THE SUN AND OTHER STARS, a novel about a young Italian man named Etto who returns to his small town after the loss of his mother and brother, has it all. This touching novel dives headfirst into the complicated condition of two grieving men, and is a riveting read about a community that comes together through complex characters and a lot of heart.