Tag: beach reads

Time for summer vacation... and your next book!

The Best Summer Vacation Locations From Your Favorite Books!

It’s getting hotter… and so is our burning desire to run off to some beach and leave our real lives behind! Okay—realistically, most of us have some financial and scheduling limitations when it comes to our plans. But that’s no excuse for missing out on a great book. (Spoiler alert: there actually is no good excuse.) So whether your escape is already on the calendar or purely hypothetical, it’s time to pick a vacation destination. More importantly, it’s time to pick the perfect book for your travels.

 

Image result for reading on an airplane

Gif Via Real Simple

 

No matter how fantastic, we love when some elements of the books we read are grounded in reality (though, of course, they still need to be fantastically good). It’s why people actually go to Harry Potter World, even though there’s nothing there for them but B.O. and overpriced Cornish Pasties—trust me on that last one. I still recall going to Blackfriars Bridge after finishing Cassandra Clare‘s The Infernal Devices trilogy and feeling myself overwhelmed with a specific, nerdy glee. It’s all real! I thought to myself. Well, except for the whole Shadowhunters and evil clockwork creatures part. But that last one probably wouldn’t make for a very good vacation.

So, without further ado, here are some incredible reads set in popular travel destinations around the world! Whether you’re going away or you wish you were, these books are sure to take you on the perfect journey.

 

1. The Lost Continent – Road Trip

 

'The Lost Continent' by Bill Bryson

 

 

Bill Bryson‘s hilarious Americana travelogue opens: “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” After the death of his road-trip-loving father and decades spent living abroad in England, Bryson returns to his former home in search of the perfect American small town that may have just been childhood idealism all along. Readers will be transfixed by the hypnotic pull of the highway AND the frequently baffling people Bryson comes across as he hits every single continental state. Deliriously witty and frequently profound, Bryson leaps from calling out people in Mark Twain’s hometown for never actually reading Mark Twain to dropping truths like this one:

I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored. But then it occurred to me that musing is a pointless waste of anyone’s time, and instead I went off to see if I could find a Baby Ruth candy bar, a far more profitable exercise.

 

2. The Beautiful and the Damned – NYC

 

'The Beautiful and the Damned' F Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

We know, we know! Why didn’t we recommend The Great Gatsby, right? Well, because it’s likely you’ve already read it or seen the movie. F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s less frequently read The Beautiful and the Damned captures a marriage falling prey to alcohol and greed, a darkly atmospheric depiction of a city that never sleeps… but might sleep around. Since nightlife and ruinous ambition appear to be the core motifs of NYC, this is the perfect book to throw in your suitcase. Besides, ‘the beautiful and the damned’ is an excellent caption for you stumbling out of some club with someone who is doomed not to live up to your expectations. Listen, the 1920s are almost upon us, so if you were looking for the right time to drink too much and be confused about your love life… your time is coming.

 

3. Nightwood – Paris, Berlin, Vienna

 

'Nightwood' Djuna Barnes

 

 

Let’s get one thing straight—this book isn’t. If you want to go be gay and edgy in Europe (which I generally do), read this book before settling down for a relaxing disco nap to wake up at midnight to head to the club. One of the earliest books to feature lesbian characters, this intense gothic novel is hopefully just as melodramatic as your going out eye-shadow. The groundbreaking novel features characters outside the gender binary well before the time when this was commonplace—since it’s still not commonplace, emphasis on the well before. If you’re interested in the dark and seedy (as I generally also am) read this one before your Parisian fling, your intoxicated misadventures in a repurposed Berlin warehouse, your late-night wandering through Vienna’s former red-light district. Looking for grungy debauchery in interwar Europe? Right here.

 

4. My Brilliant Friend – Northern Italy, Coastal Islands

 

'My Brilliant Friend'

 

 

Listen, you COULD watch the HBO adaptation… but that’s not gonna fit in your suitcase, and you’ve got a long plane ride ahead of you. This modern masterpiece is a rich story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor yet colorful neighborhood. The bildungsroman depicts the ways in which their fates diverge and how their lives parallel the turmoil of their country. A deeply immersive series, The Neapolitan Quartet addresses the transformation of both the girls and the country they live in with nuance and style. This heady dose cultural context will only improve your Italy trip, and it’s guaranteed to offset the displeasure of airplane food.

 

5. Like Water for Chocolate – Mexico

 

'Like Water for Chocolate' Laura Esquivel

 

 

It would be kind of an understatement to call this novel sensual… so we’ll go out on a limb and call it full-on sexual. Full-on actually IS a more accurate description, given that there’s sex on horseback and, uh, a meal prepared with a ‘special’ ingredient. But this isn’t some pornographic romp across Mexico (even if that may be what your Spring Break is destined to become). Believe it or not, this international bestseller (and inspiration for a feature film) is an expansive tale of family life and forbidden love that chronicles the unlikely history of an all-female family in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Each chapter opens with a unique recipe to  give the story a sense of place within one family’s legacy… a legacy defined frequently by bad luck and surprising turns of fate.

 

6. Down and Out in Paris and London – Paris, London

 

'Down and Out in Paris and London' George Orwell

 

 

A book about a twenty-something living under questionable conditions, doing odd jobs, and not so much going broke as charging headlong into it? Relatable. If you’re on the younger side, chances are that even if you are traveling, you aren’t on your way to five-star accommodations. You might’ve worked some double shifts and second jobs to get on that plane, or maybe you’re hustling under the table to afford an extension on that trip. George Orwell feels you: he describes an eighteen-hour workday at a Parisian restaurant and sleeping on a bench to avoid paying rent (something that we do hope will not feature in your vacation). But it’s always a relief to recall that many among the literary greats got their start down in the gutter—especially if that’s where you are right now.

 

7. Native Stranger: A Black American’s Journey Into the Heart of Africa – Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa

 

'Native Stranger: a Black American's Journey Into the Heart of Africa' Eddy Harris

 

 

Eddy L. Harris, a black American travel writer, goes on a stunning search for his identity as he backpacks across the continent his ancestors called home. Or, not exactly his identity. He explains:

Because my skin is black you will say I traveled Africa to find the roots of my race. I did not—unless that race is the human race, for except in the color of my skin, I am not African. If I didn’t know it then, I know it now. I am a product of the culture that raised me. And yet Africa was suddenly like a magnet drawing me close, important in ways that I cannot explain, rising in my subconscious and inviting me.

This is not another voyeuristic analysis of a white author whose intent is to lambast the reader with relentless depictions of poverty. There are depictions of poverty, but as stricken as Harris is by the corruption and violence he encounters, he remains always enthralled by the beauty of the continent.

 

8. Catfish and Mandala: A Two-WheEled Voyage Through the Landscape of Vietnam – Mexico, Japan, Vietnam 

'Catfish and Mandala' Andrew X Pham

 

 

After his sister’s suicide, Andrew X. Pham bikes across Vietnam in search of the family he’s lost and the homeland he left behind. The memoir juxtaposes his travels with the war-torn memories of his childhood, his illegal journey in an open boat and the insincere conversion to Christianity in his new American home. This is more than a journey, although it’s certainly that as well—it’s an attempt to process a difficult past. The conflict between his new land and his native land, embodied in memories of the war, strikingly mirrors the conflict of his dual identity. Catfish and Mandala offers a unique look into Vietnam’s language, culture, geography, and history that’s both enormously meaningful and small enough to cram in that suitcase!

 

9. Sag Harbor – Long Island, The beach

 

'Sag Harbor' Colson Whitehead

 

 

What’s the best thing to do at the beach? Swim? Tan? Wrong—it’s obviously to get into unsupervised teen shenanigans. Wealthy brothers Benji and Reggie Cooper are out of prep school for the summer and at their parents’ beach house… which is pretty much the only role their parents will play in their summer of love, hate, and bad new Coca Cola flavors. At school, Benji made the mistake of revealing his passion for horror movies and Dungeons & Dragons. But, if he can master all the right handshakes, he could spend summer as the coolest kid in the Hamptons. Colson Whitehead‘s Sag Harbor is a bildungsroman for the African-American elite, for the “black boys with beach houses.” Plus, it’s loaded with 80s nostalgia.

 

10. Less – Berlin, Morocco, India, Paris, Kyoto

 

'Less: A Novel' Andrew Sean Greer

 

 

Being an accomplished novelist traveling the world sounds like anyone’s dream—but Arthur Less didn’t dream it would happen like this. On the eve of his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Less has a mid-life (okay, probably three-quarter-life) crisis. The response to his writing has been tepid. He is, he believes, “the first homosexual ever to grow old… that is, at least, how he feels at times like these.” And he is. Growing old, that is. Approaching his fiftieth birthday and the precipice of literary obscurity, Less accepts an invitation to an insignificant literary award ceremony that will take him around the world and deeper into the lyrical reflection of his own self-improvement. Let it be known that I read this novel on an airplane to another continent, and I can promise a rewarding experience. Warm-hearted and deeply human, this story is bursting with life and an obvious love of language. To quote the author, “just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”

(It’s not.)

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via RealSimple.

 

 

8 Thrillers for Your Beach Bag This Summer

These eerie page-turners from debut and bestselling authors are sure-fire summer hits.

1. LAYOVER by David Bell

 

Publication Date: July 2nd

“In the hands of a master of suspense like Bell, a chance flirtation at an airport leads to a fast-paced novel filled with turbulence. Make sure your belt is fastened and enjoy! Bell is at his best.”—Kaira Rouda, USA Today bestselling author of Best Day Ever

In this high concept psychological suspense novel from USA Today bestselling author David Bell, a chance meeting—and passionate kiss—with a beautiful woman in an airport sends a man on a pulse-pounding quest for the truth.

2. GIRLS LIKE US by Cristina Alger

 

Publication Date: July 2nd

Girls Like Us is something special: A beautiful, deeply textured novel and a poignant, surprising mystery. I loved it, every chapter and every word. I’m going to be thinking about it as a reader, a father, and a storyteller for a long, long time.”—Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant

Girls Like Us is Cristina Alger’s best book yet. Worlds collide when an FBI agent investigates a string of grisly murders on Long Island that raises the impossible question: What happens when the primary suspect is your father?

3. LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager

 

Publication Date: July 2nd

Lock Every Door is a gem: Fast-paced, crisp writing, stellar character development. Riley Sager’s best book yet!”
—Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of In Her Bones

A young woman has a new job apartment sitting in one of New York’s oldest and most glamorous buildings…but it may cost more than it pays. Super eerie, this heart-pounding thriller from Riley Sager is sure to be another bestseller.

4. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

 

Publication Date: July 30th

“High wire tension from the first moment to the last. Four ruthless people locked in a deadly game where victory means survival. Gripping and unforgettable!” ―Harlan Coben

Four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge in this gripping debut from Megan Goldin. In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success lavishly―but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.

5. Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Publication Date: July 2nd

“Exciting and sprinkled with razor-sharp insights about what it is to be a woman today, Whisper Network is a witty and timely story that will make you cheer for sisterhood.”
―Liv Constantine, USA Today bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened.”

Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand against an inappropriate boss sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies are uncovered, and secrets exposed. And not everyone will survive. All of their lives―as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries―will change dramatically as a result.

6. The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

 

Publication Date: June 11th

“Marissa Stapley’s writing is a gift.”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale

As a deadly tropical storm descends on the Mayan Riviera coast, trapping the hosts and the guests on the resort, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and not one single person—or their marriage—will remain unchanged by what follows.

7. A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

 

\Publication Date: July 23rd

“Fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn meet your next obsession.” ―BuzzFeed

Michele Campbell’s edge-of-your seat story of passion and intrigue will keep you guessing until the very end. Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

8. THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish

 

Publication Date: June 11th

“[A] disturbing novel of domestic suspense. With a structure reminiscent of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies…A nicely paced, wryly intelligent novel with sharp insights into human behavior.”—Kirkus Reviews

In Louise Candlish’s startling domestic suspense novel set in a suburban neighborhood poses the question: “Could your neighbor make you angry enough to kill?” Lowland Way is the epitome of the suburban dream. Every house and yard is carefully maintained for maximum curb appeal, and everyone knows one another and gets along. When Darren and Jodie move in, the neighborhood changes for the worse. An all-out war is brewing on Lowland Way, and when someone is killed, accusations start flying.

10 Books to Read When You’re on Spring Break (or You Wish You Were)

Let Spring Break begin! Whether you are skiing, by a beach or pool or at home pining for a trip, here are some fabulous reads:

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

 

Book cover for Emma Rous's The Au Pair

 

The Au Pair by Emma Rous is an atmospheric almost gothic suspense thriller set in the U.K.  A mysterious photograph leads to the question, “Who is the child and what happened that day in the past?”  

 

In Another Time by Jillian Cantor

 

 

In Another Time by Jillian Cantor is her newest World War II fiction and chosen as an Indie Next pick. An epic love story that unfolds through decades and across continents is told in alternating viewpoints. Beautiful book!

 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves

 

 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves is a simply perfect novel. This is a totally compelling love story that you cannot put down. A fabulous ode to unconditional love in a magnificent tale.

Good Man Dalton by Karen McQuestion

 

Book cover of Good Man, Dalton

 

Good Man Dalton by Karen McQuestion is a heartwarming unpredictable romance. Greta and Dalton with a touch of Cece are absolutely fabulous character who remind us that love is more important than all else.

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

 

Cover of The Kiss Quotient

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is a super-HOT romance with a deeper meaning. What happens when a woman with Aspergers’s wants to learn about sex? Read this and then be happy for Hoang’s next book, The Bride Test, comes out late April.

 

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

 

 

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff was an instant best seller. The story of female spies sent into France during World War II, this book is truly un-put-down-able! A testimony to strong women in extraordinary times.

Run Away by Harlan Coben

 

 

Run Away by Harlan Coben is yet another fantastic thriller from the master. This book shows the lengths a parent will go through to save their child. Absolutely wow!

 

There’s A Word For That by Sloane Tanen

 

 

There’s A Word For That by Sloane Tanen is a warm, funny, poignant story of a crazy family that comes together in rehab. The family that rehabs together stays together! Delightful!

 

Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy

 

Tiny Americans book cover

 

Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy is a poignant novel that follows one family over a decade. Tiny Americans is a bittersweet and touching as a family comes together and drifts apart.

 

The Wrong End of the Table, A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying To Fit In by Ayser Salman

 

 

The Wrong End of the Table, A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying To Fit In by Ayser Salman is a delightful memoir of a a shy, awkward Arab girl with an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair who is uprooted from her home in Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio.

 

Andrea Peskind Katz is an avid reader, a brazen book reviewer, and founder of the book blog Great Thoughts and Great Thought’s Great Readers Book Salon on Facebook.