Sometimes all that gets us through those rushed deadlines, harried work projects, homework assignments, and last-minute obligations is the idea that one day soon we’ll finally get to go on vacation again.
This should go without saying, but there is something glorious about dedicating time specifically to enjoyment and self-care. Maybe you dream of sitting on a beach, book in one hand and piña colada in the other. Or maybe you can’t wait to relax at a boulangerie in Paris and finally settle into that classic you’ve been saving for the right time to read.
Well, today you’re going to get major travel envy as we tell you about the wonder that is a reading vacation — just in time for the unofficial start of summer.
What is a reading vacation?
A reading vacation is just what it sounds like. It can be whatever you want it to be — the only required ingredient is time set aside specifically for reading.
As a personal example, I took a solo vacation this year to the Hawaiian island of Kauai with the sole intention of reading, relaxing, and soaking up the sunshine. I read just under a book a day, and it was an absolute blast. (And, I might add, a fantastic antidote to stress and burnout.)
Here are some other possibilities, and feel free to choose your own adventure:
- Take a vacation anywhere on your bucket list, and simply enjoy reading while you’re there.
- Travel to a new place and discover a new reading nook every day.
- Explore the best libraries in the world and breathe in that paper-and-leather aroma while you flip through a novel.
- Choose a city intentionally based on the number one book on your to-be-read list, then savor that book once you arrive and are entrenched in the setting.
- Have a staycation and block off your schedule for a long weekend during which your only responsibility is to embark on literary escapades.
9 books to pair with a dream destination
If you’ve been dreaming of heading to Paris, soaking in La Tour Eiffel, indulging in croissants, and sipping on a creamy cafe au lait, this is the book to keep handy. Set in a posh Parisien apartment building, The Elegance of the Hedgehog tells the story of two kindred souls — the building’s middle-aged concierge, who masks her penchant for philosophy and culture, and a precocious 12-year-old grappling with the futility of life and pondering suicide.
You’ve probably seen the movie, but it’s got nothing on the book. Combine a revival of dinosaurs with all the possible dangers of both an exotic zoo and amusement park, and throw in some kids and a storm for good luck. This thrilling adventure is perfectly paired with any type of jungle setting. Top of the list: Costa Rica, where the novel is set, or Kauai, where the movie is filmed. Turn on this audiobook while you’re on a hike, or — when it starts seeming all too likely that a raptor might pop out from beneath the sprawling vegetation — listen while you sit by the beach.
This dual-time period novel traces two women connected by history and a hidden piece of silk. A poignant tale inspired by true historical events — the Chinese immigration to the Pacific Northwest and the racism and cruelty many faced while seeking a better life. This is one of those books that sticks with you, reminding you that the past and the present aren’t as disconnected as they may seem. With its vivid descriptions of the Pacific Northwest and Orcas Island, this is the book to read while curled up in a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon in Seattle or any of the surrounding areas.
The next time you find yourself motoring along the Italian Coast, flip on this audiobook. As you peer out at the blue expanse of sapphire-bright sea, you may well imagine that you are but a young innkeeper, seeing an American actress approaching you in a small boat. For thus goes Beautiful Ruins, a tale that stretches over 50 years and transports you between Italy and Hollywood, and a few places in between. This is a book for the romantics among us, who love the old Hollywood classics and being swept into the setting of a story.
When an apartment open-house becomes a full-fledged hostage situation, a group of strangers finds their lives deeply entangled — for better or worse. In his typical fashion, Backman makes you laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page. He’ll remind you about friendship and hope in uncertain times. He’ll show you how our lives can seem hopelessly tangled, until you pull at the right string. And he’ll make you want to travel to Stockholm just to see a bridge.
Ready to go to the Big Apple? If so, add City of Bones to your to-be-read list. When 15-year-old Clary witnesses a murder in a New York City club — a murder that no one else appears to see — her path collides with that of Jace, a handsome jerk covered in strange tattoos. Within 24 hours, her mother disappears and she’s attacked by a demon. What’s a girl to do? This young adult fantasy is set in New York City, but explores the shadow world that exists parallel to it. A world where Shadowhunters fight the demons the humans can’t see. And you’ll certainly enjoy imagining this story playing out amid the hustle of NYC.
If you dream of driving through the Scottish Highlands, watching the fog descend on the moors and thinking ahead to the smoky scotch awaiting you at your final destination, this is the novel to listen to as you go. World War II has just ended, and combat nurse Claire Randall and her husband are celebrating with a second honeymoon. But when Claire touches an ancient stone ruin, she is transported back in time. And she is a stranger — and an Englishwoman — suddenly in the midst of mounting tensions between the Scottish and the English. As her life intersects with that of gallant James Fraser, Claire is torn between two times, and two loves.
Yes, we’re giving you a second chance to travel to Scotland. This time, to the cobblestoned streets of Edinburgh, where you can follow the trail of Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton. It’s the the late 19th century, and there’s a killer stalking the city. The murderer left behind a playing card on his first kill — and with little else to go on, Hamilton recruits the help of a photographer and a librarian interested in the criminal mind. But as he gets closer to his quarry, the murders start targeting those closer to him.
This sci-fi Cinderella retelling gives the classic tale a whole new spin in a whole new world. A deadly plague is sweeping through New Beijing, and no one can find a cure. Cinder, a cyborg, is already being blamed for her stepsister’s illness. When her path crosses with that of Prince Kai, she’s brought under even greater scrutiny. As intergalactic tensions rise, Cinder must untangle who she was before her surgery (and sort out those forbidden feelings she’s been having for the prince) — her world’s future depends on it. While you won’t be seeing quite so many androids on your vacation to Beijing, you’ll have a grand time drawing comparisons between the Chinese capital and this futuristic imagining.
About the Author: Kelsey Fritts
Kelsey is a writer, editor, anthropologist, and bookworm. She's also the author of two young adult fantasy novels. When she's not out exploring in nature or playing with her ridiculously spoiled dog, you can find Kelsey curled up with a mug of hot cocoa and a novel—likely one by Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, or Ursula K. Le Guin.