With the power to transport you to another time and place, the right book can make you feel like you’re jetting off to a faraway land — no passport required.
At times the tales are so captivating, you can’t help but add these literary vacation spots to your IRL travel wish list. Whether you want to reacquaint yourself with a favorite destination or you’re looking for inspiration about where to go next, these seven books will sate your sense of adventure until your next big trip.
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
For an escape to a Mediterranean island
In honor of their parents’ wedding anniversary, a New York family leaves their problems behind and jets off to a hillside estate on the Balearic island of Mallorca. Old and new problems follow this delightfully dysfunctional family as they indulge in tapas and tennis lessons amidst a backdrop of stonewashed walls, olive trees and green mountains overlooking the sea.
Between parents dealing with the aftermath of infidelity, a quirky teenage girl coming of age and a son whose stalled career — and much older girlfriend — earn him plenty of side-eyes, the story and its postcard-worthy setting provide a breezy, captivating read.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
When you’re looking for some lighthearted romantic comedy
Maid of honor Olive and best man Ethan aren’t exactly each other’s biggest fans, but when everyone at the wedding except the two of them comes down with food poisoning, the bride and groom hand over their all-expenses-paid Hawaiian honeymoon.
The catch? Olive and Ethan have to pretend they are the newlyweds. Set against Maui’s tropical jungle trails, black sand beaches and romantic waterfalls, these two reluctant, wise-cracking lovebirds embark on a flirty island romp that’ll leave you smiling inside and out.
Flush by Carl Hiassen
For a wild ride through the Florida Keys
Hiassen is known for his Sunshine State capers, including a few that have been adapted for film, such as “Hoot.”
“Flush” follows a family looking to keep their island town’s waters free of pollution. When the dad ends up in jail for sinking a casino boat he’s convinced was the root of the problem, his son and daughter team up with the Coral Queen’s mysterious bartender to save him.
Set against the tropical archipelago of the Florida Keys, Hiassen weaves a hilarious, satirical tale that includes quirky characters and the mangroves, fish shacks and palm trees that the Florida Keys are famous for.
The Drifters by James Michener
If you wish you’d taken a gap year to backpack through Europe
This classic bestseller by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows a diverse group of disenchanted teens as they travel the world together.
From Portugal’s running of the bulls to Mozambique’s wildlife preserves, and from the Indian Ocean coastline to Morocco’s magical Marrakech, the six rebels bond over their relentless pursuit of pleasure. But that’s not all that brings them together. The narrator, an investment banker, is connected to each of them, and as the novel unfolds we find out how — and why.
Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
If you’re craving café au lait and long walks along the River Seine
Whether you’ve sipped espresso and nibbled on fresh croissants while people-watching at a Parisian bistro or it’s still on your bucket list, you’ll feel like you’re there as you turn the pages of this exquisite short story collection.
The main tale introduces you to twenty-something Nell, a curious but sheltered career girl who finds herself alone in the City of Lights when her boyfriend doesn’t show up for their planned vacation. She decides to prove to her friends and family — and most of all to herself — that she has an independent spirit, and she takes on the adventure solo.
With Paris as the backdrop, there’s no shortage of memory-making paths for her story, and the reader, to take.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
If you want to get lost in romance
This story follows an Italian village innkeeper in search of his long-lost love, an actress and former guest he met in the 1960s when she was in town filming the famous Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton film, “Cleopatra.”
From the rocky Italian coastline to a star-studded Hollywood movie set to the world’s largest art festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, this heartfelt novel and its magnetic cast of characters will whisk you away to the sorts of places you daydream about.
World Food: Mexico City by James Oseland
If a deep dive into Mexico’s culture and cuisine sounds like the ideal vacation
An award-winning author and “Top Chef” judge, Oseland walks you through a day in the life of Mexican street food in this book set in his adopted hometown, Mexico City.
From morning runs for cafe de ollo and chilaquiles made with eggs, cheese and fried tortilla strips simmering in salsa, to savoring tacos al pastor in the city’s central historic district, Oseland puts the food — and the bakers, chefs and butchers behind it — front and center.
Vivid storytelling paired with striking, colorful photography celebrates one of the world’s most dynamic foodie cities. By the last page, you’ll have forgotten all about Cancun, Tulum and Mexico’s other tourist hot spots — and you’ll be planning a visit to the real heart and soul of this beloved country.
Even if your real-world travels are on hold, a literary vacation can take your mind on an adventure and give you some top-notch future travel inspo.
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