Author Picks: 6 Books That’ll Fly You Away to Distant Lands

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Rebecca Serle is the New York Times bestselling author of many books, including In Five Years and The Dinner List. Serle also developed the hit TV adaptation Famous in Love. She is a graduate of USC and The New School and lives in Los Angeles. Find out more at RebeccaSerle.com.

One of the best parts of getting lost in a good book is that you get to be lost somewhere else. I love that I can be curled up on my couch in Los Angeles and instantly disappear into the streets of Paris or venture onto the misty North York moors, or even lounge by an infinity pool at a glamorous hotel in Singapore. Books are magical like that; in just a few pages, you’ve traveled to an entirely different world. And don’t we all need a little escape now and then, to break our routines and taste the salt air or dance under twinkling lights to a foreign melody? If you’re like me, your answer to that question is a resounding yes. And to help you fulfill your wanderlust, I’m recommending six books that will completely transport you—no plane ticket required.

Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter

There isn’t just one epic location in BEAUTIFUL RUINS—this gorgeous novel from Jess Walter is packed with exciting opportunities to escape. The story begins in 1962 when a young innkeeper meets a breathtaking young woman, whom he learns is a famous actress—and who is also dying. You’ll travel across the world in this profoundly moving novel, from a tiny fishing village in Italy to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to present-day Hollywood. Each page paints a scene so vibrant that you’ll feel as though you just added several stamps to your passport.

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Beautiful Ruins
Jess Walter

Hailed by critics, loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, and featuring what is arguably one of the most iconic covers of recent years, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline in 1962. Funny and romantic, the beauty and wisdom of Jess Walter’s writing in the last chapter alone will leave musical lines of prose engraved in your memory.

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Crazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan

If you’re looking for a world filled with glitz and glamour, look no further than CRAZY RICH ASIANS, where you’ll dive headfirst into the wild lives of Singapore’s elite. The book tells the story of Rachel Chu, who has just agreed to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young. But Rachel has no idea that her boyfriend is one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors—and that his family is ridiculously wealthy. (Like, casual jet plane trips and socialites for siblings wealthy.) Laugh-out-loud funny and filled with unforgettable characters, CRAZY RICH ASIANS is a story about family, social class, and the dizzying effects of young love.

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Crazy Rich Asians
Kevin Kwan

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That Summer
by Jennifer Weiner

Spend a few days on the sandy shores of Cape Cod with this deliciously addictive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner. THAT SUMMER is about Daisy Shoemaker, a woman with a lovely home in the suburbs, a successful cooking business, a calendar filled with volunteer work, and a picture-perfect family. With everything going on, Daisy thinks she should be happy, but she struggles with insomnia and can’t help but feel as though there’s something missing from her life. So, when she starts receiving emails meant for someone named Diana Starling, she’s drawn to learn more about this mystery woman . . . and maybe embark on an adventure of her own.

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That Summer
Jennifer Weiner

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Summer comes another timely and deliciously twisty novel of intrigue, secrets, and the transformative power of female friendship.

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, That Summer is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.

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Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

You know those books that can instantly shift the way you feel? That’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS. A classic for myriad reasons, this illustrious novel ushers readers into the darkly picturesque world of the West Yorkshire moors. The book tells the story of Heathcliff, a troubled soul and orphan who is welcomed into the Wuthering Heights mansion by its owner, Mr. Earnshaw. Heathcliff quickly befriends Earnshaw’s fiery daughter, Catherine, and the two foster a connection that will alter the course of their lives forever. But this love story is anything but simple, as there are many unfortunate circumstances (and people) keeping Catherine and Heathcliff apart. Heartbreakingly vivid, WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a romance that will not only transport you but change the way you look at literature.

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Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë

Gems of literature in a luxurious and unique design by Marjolein Bastin.

The Marjolein Bastin Classics Series is a chance to rediscover classic literature in collectible, luxuriously illustrated volumes. For the first time ever, the internationally celebrated artwork of Marjolein Bastin graces the pages of a timeless classic, Wuthering Heights, the story of Heathcliff and Catherine. Beyond bringing these stories to life, Bastin’s series adds elaborately designed ephemera, such as four-color maps, letters, family trees, and sheet music. Whether an ideal gift for an Austen or Brontë devotee or a treat to yourself, the Marjolein Bastin Classics Series, as a set or individually purchasedis perfect for anyone who feels a connection to these enduring literary gems.

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The Unhoneymooners
by Christina Lauren

THE UNHONEYMOONERS is a New York Times bestselling romantic comedy about two sworn enemies on the all-expenses-paid Hawaiian trip of a lifetime. The only hitch? Olive and Ethan have to pretend to be a madly in love married couple during the entire vacation. But after ten days of playing their parts on the perfect beach getaway, it’s starting to feel less like pretend and more like something that could maybe be real. Perfect to read alongside a piña colada (no sunscreen necessary).

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The Unhoneymooners
Christina Lauren

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

Starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal

Named a “Must-Read” by TODAY, Us Weekly, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Goodreads, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, Southern Living, Book Riot, Woman’s Day, The Toronto Star, and more!

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies.

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

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One Italian Summer
by Rebecca Serle

Shh . . . I’m going to sneak in my latest. When Carol passes, Katy doesn’t just lose her mom—she loses her best friend, her first phone call, the answer to every question. The two had recently spent months planning the mother-daughter trip of a lifetime: a week in the Italian seaside town of Positano. Questioning her life back at home, and still reeling from her mother’s death, Katy decides to take the trip alone. Once there, thirty-year-old Carol appears. It’s magical, heaven—she has her mom back! But Carol is not yet the woman who knew everything, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother she knew with the young woman before her who is still becoming the person she’ll be.

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One Italian Summer
Rebecca Serle

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hard to put down” (Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author) modern classic In Five Years returns with a moving and unforgettable exploration of the powerful bond between mother and daughter set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

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Photo credit: iStock / Mike_Sheridan

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