Great ideas on what books to read while traveling
If you’re anything like me, then the prospect of a long flight followed by an even longer layover is both daunting and exciting. It can be exhausting to sit on a plane for hours upon hours, hungry, with a full bladder, but not wanting to disturb the sleeping couple next to you, only to then have to sit at an airport, in a terribly uncomfortable seat waiting for the next leg of your journey to begin.
Fortunately, you do not have to be tied down to the in-flight entertainment or people watching at the Starbucks in Terminal B. Here are 8 of my personal book recommendations to get completely lost in on your next plane, train, road trip or layover!
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#1. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Reading the synopsis, you might not be immediately drawn to Beartown. This is the story of a small town in Sweden where the high school hockey team is taken very seriously. Everything revolves around hockey, the rink, and the teenage boys who play on the team. One night, an event takes place that changes a girls life forever. This affects absolutely everyone in the small community; testing their integrity and breaking the town apart.
This book is about so much more than hockey. It digs deep into social issues worldwide and peels the onion of what it means to do right, not only by yourself, but your peers as well. Although there are serious topics, there is also light-heartedness in true Backman fashion. I cannot recommend this one enough. If you are looking for a book to really pull at your heartstrings while you’re crammed in the window seat of aisle 20, this is the book for you.
Highlights: Social Issues, Heart-wrenching, Fiction, Quick Read
Take me with you to: Sweden/Scandinavia
#2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If you’ve never read or watched Outlander, you’re in for a real treat. Get ready to be transported back to 18th century Scotland. Here, Claire finds herself in an unfamiliar time period where she is willing to do anything to get back to 1945. Just after WWII, Claire is a nurse for the British Army and married to Frank Randall, whom she is madly in love with- or so she thinks. Back in 1743 Claire tries desperately to acclimate to the culture long enough to figure out a way to get back to Frank. That is until she meets Jamie Fraser, a Scottish Highlander who will make Claire question everything.
You have to read this book. I will admit it can be slow to start, but once it gets going you will fall in love with Jamie Fraser and will fantasize about living in 18th century Scotland. I’m not kidding, I could not stop dreaming about this fictional character. My boyfriend started to get nervous about me going to Scotland. There is so much adventure, action, anxiety, and sex. Oh yeah, did I mention all the sex? If you are looking to jump into a series, especially one that will make you forget all about the 6 foot giant taking all your leg room, Outlander is a fantastic one to get lost in.
Highlights: Strong Sexual Content, Love, Historical Fiction, Long Read
Take me with you to: Scotland/UK
#3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven has held strong as one of my all time favorites for a solid three years. It’s one of those books that has a lasting affect on you. Station Eleven opens up before a flu pandemic takes over the city and wipes out a majority of the population. The story then unfolds twenty years later as a small group of actors and musicians move from settlement to settlement. They perform in hopes of keeping the arts alive in a time where humanity itself is struggling to stay afloat. This group meets a prophet who threatens what little sense of family and community they have found. The story moves back and forth through time, and you will never see the twist coming with this one.
This is a book that I know I will go back and read several times in my life. Anytime someone asks for a book recommendation, Station Eleven is at the top of my list. It is one that takes over your life so completely that you don’t even realize how much you loved it until it is over. Want to forget about the fact that it feels like you still have 50 hours of driving through Texas left? You’re in the passenger seat of a minivan with no air conditioning? Station Eleven.
Highlights: Dystopian, Arts/Humanities, Science Fiction, Medium-paced Read
Take me with you on: Road Trip/Cross-Country Trip
#4. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Night Film starts with Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a cult-horror-film director found dead of apparent suicide at the bottom of an elevator shaft. An investigative journalist decides to have his own look into the case with two strangers at his side. As he dives deeper into the world of the Cordova’s, everything becomes more and more twisted and delusional. Pessl mixes in social media posts and news articles to make this story feel more real than it should.
You guys. This book had me up ALL NIGHT. Both because it was so good I couldn’t put it down and because I was so scared I couldn’t turn my lights off. Now if you’re an avid horror fan this one probably won’t scare you, but I am a baby and I was tucked in to my bed so tight you would have mistaken me for a burrito. I hope your flight has free coffee and you weren’t planning on getting any sleep because Night Film will take over your life. In the best way.
Highlights: Horror/Mystery, Social Media/News Articles, Thriller, Quick Read
Take me with you on: USA Getaway
#5. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
One thing we know for sure: Evelyn Hardcastle will die. What we do not know: Who will kill her. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle replays the same day over and over, and each time our narrator wakes up, they are in a new host. It is a race against the clock to work through everything they have learned from each host in order to figure out who will murder Evelyn at the end of the night.
Titled The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the UK, this is one action-packed, twisty turn-y, puzzle of a book. I physically could not put it down until I knew who killed Evelyn, and even then I was so shocked that I just sat there holding the book while my brain processed what I just read. If you love whodunits and puzzles, then I hope you don’t mind that you just missed your train to Prague because you couldn’t take your face out of this book.
Highlights: Mystery, Thriller, Non-linear Timelines, Medium-paced Read
Take me with you on: European Getaway
#6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
A circus that is gone just as quickly as it arrived, a life-long duel between two young magicians, and a love story to rival Ross and Rachel. Okay maybe not Ross and Rachel because SWOON, but you get the idea. Celia and Marco take you on a journey through mastering their magical talents, love, loss, and community with a cast of characters you won’t soon forget. The Night Circus takes everything you love about a fantasy novel and a love story and intertwines them so beautifully you won’t know what hit you.
I read this one for my Book Club, and though we all had differing opinions on some aspects, one thing we all agreed on was that this is a damn good book. It is one of those something-for-everyone-on-any-occasion kind of books. I know it’s about magic, but the best way to describe it is magical. I actually read it in one sitting. Granted I had nothing else to do and it kind of happened on accident, but it takes a special kind of book to just “accidently read in one sitting.” If you are looking for a solid read to get you through almost any length trip, I highly suggest The Night Circus.
Highlights: Fantasy, Love, Conflict, Medium-paced Read
Take me with you: Anywhere
#7. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Imagine that within a matter of hours your life is turned upside down and you can no longer look outside. Imagine that one look out your window could send you into a suicidal rampage. Bird Box follows Malorie 5 years after something has taken over causing everyone who is still alive to stay indoors with all views of the outside blocked. Now Malorie must take a journey down a river with her two young children without her sense of sight. Sh*t gets real.
You will be on the edge of your seat (or under your covers) for this entire book. I know the Netflix movie just came out and received mixed reviews, but please please don’t let that stop you from reading this book. You can’t even imagine the tension that Malerman builds. Anxiety through the roof. If you’ve ever dreamed of sitting in a cabin at night in the woods with no technology reading a horror novel that feels so real you could cry, well then you’re really weird, but you should take Bird Box on your trip.
Highlights: Horror, Apocalyptic, Thriller, Quick Read
Destination: Up North Cabin Trip
#8. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo. An aging actress and Hollywood Icon who decides to tell her life story, and it’s a scandalous one. Monique. The lucky journalist chosen to write Evelyn’s story, and although she doesn’t know why, she decides not to pass up the opportunity. As we learn the most intimate details of Evelyn’s life, it becomes increasingly evident that Monique was chosen for a reason, but why?
I do not normally love what some would call “beach reads,” but this one had me hooked. It made me realize that I should probably broaden my reading horizons. I was so consumed by Evelyn’s story that I wanted to whisk myself away to Hollywood. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is like reading the juiciest gossip magazine and loving every second of it. You will most likely end up sunburned because you forgot to flip over reading this one.
Highlights: Gossip, Romance, Fiction, Quick Read
Take me with you to: The Beach
Love these recommendations! Station Eleven would definitely be my pick since I work in healthcare. I’m all for anything pandemic related as it’s such a huge possibility. Gonna pick it up for my next trip.
A great post, and i’ve only read one book on the list (Outlander, I read it when I moved to Scotland). I like to buy or read books set in the destination if I can. A fun way to incorporate the destination in my reading! thanks for the list!
I find it hard to find time for simple reading these days. But I love these suggestions!
These books sound super interesting! I love how you’re recommending a destination to take them to. I was told about Outlander, and I never got around to read it. Now I know I’ll take it with me in the next trip to the UK 🙂
What a great selection of books to buy as gifts for travel lovers. You just made my shopping for the holiday season easier!