Fun Books to Read While on Vacation

by Caitlin
sunglasses on top of three books on table with blurred beach and sea in background

If you are trying to decide what books to bring with you on your next trip, here are fifteen fun books to read while on vacation.

I have never gotten more reading done than when I am constantly on the move. Though I do mostly fall asleep on planes (I’m a pro at that, honestly), and I get car sick reading in any wheeled vehicle, I still manage to devour more books when traveling than any other time.

I think having the right book with you can really add to your vacation. Yeah, really. I mean, what’s the perfect pool, or beach, or hammock, without a good book? But what I consider a good travel book is not what is standardly recommended. I am frankly uninterested in reading about someone else out wanderlusting while I’m doing that very same thing. You will not find Eat, Pray, Love here. Never read, never been interested.

In addition to my aversion to the concept of Eat, Prey, Love, something else you might find odd about me as a traveler is that – despite traveling perpetually with a backpack and nothing else – I refuse to Kindle. I want paper between my fingers, I want a big, solid book in my lap. That insistence has led me to land up with a lot of random books since I’ve had to make do with what’s available.

So, here are my recommendations for fun books to read while on vacation. Not exclusively though, even though I devour while traveling I’m still not a speedy reader and I wanted to give you a more diverse selection than what I can recommend, so I asked my most prolific reader friends and family. Here are all of our suggestions.


Nine Perfect Strangers

By: Liane Moriarty


Goodreads Stars: 3.5/5

Recommended by: Caitlin (thats’s me)

This is an easy read. If you’re looking to think, self-educate, or have deep thoughts – this ain’t the book. If you’re looking to regularly fall asleep by the pool and not really care that you drooled on the pages but also have fun reading the book – this is the one for you. It is a thriller and there are suspenseful moments but it’s also just an easy read.

Bruno, Chief of Police (a series)

By: Martin Walker


Goodreads Stars: 3.86/5

Recommended by: Sam (20 something from USA)

The Bruno series has a great setting, French Dordogne, and a great atmosphere: food, wine, nature, even horseback riding! The books are all mysteries, but that is only part of the plot.

As of September 2020 there are 23 published books in the series.

Aaron Falk Series (and others by Jane Harper)

By: Jane Harper


Goodreads Stars: 4.03/5

Recommended by: Sam (20 something from USA)

Jane Harper’s books are all set in Australia. The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man are three that I recommend. They are all great mysteries with excellent writing. They are very much about the place – severe climates. Immersive reads.

Crazy Rich Asians (a trilogy)

By: Kevin Kwan


Goodreads Stars: 3.85/5

Recommended by: Aakash (20 something from India)

The Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is great if you are looking for fun, trashy rom-coms. There is a lot of insight into the lives of the wealthy, and intentional ultra-rich-porn (brands, huge palatial homes, flying to Australia from Singapore just to get a good flat white, etc.)

This is of course the books the movie is based on.

Things You Save in a Fire

By: Katherine Center


Goodreads Stars: 4.03/5

Recommended by: Caitlin (That’s me!)

Sweet. That’s the best word I have to describe this book. I read it quickly, it was easy and happy and light and very, very sweet.  A feel good one.


By: J. Courtney Sullivan


Goodreads Stars: 3.37/5

Recommended by: Josh (30 something from USA)

If you are looking for some female friendship to keep you company, Maine has a compelling story in a charming setting.

By: Nathan Englander


Goodreads Stars: 3.32/5

Recommended by: Ilona (20 something from England)

This is a moving and thought-provoking novel. But, the humour and love make it an ultimately uplifting story.

Fangirl & Carry On

By: Rainbow Rowell

Young Adult

Goodreads Stars: 4.23/5

Recommended by: Aakash (20 something from India)

A sort of Harry Potter fan fiction, Fangirl sets the stage for the fictional world in which Carry On (and others in the series) take place.

The Dutch House

By: Ann Patchett

Historical Fiction 

Goodreads Stars: 4.13/5

Recommended by: Joanne (60 something from USA)

An absolutely beautiful story, The Dutch House is seeped in great writing and exceptional multi-generational story telling. It is an immersive, beautiful story.

Having read this myself, I strongly second this recommendation!

The Unamericans: Stories

By: Molly Antopol

Short Stories

Goodreads Stars: 3.97/5

Recommended by: Joanne (60 something from USA)

The Unamericans is a collections of stories. Short stories are good for traveling since you can easily pick them up and put them back down without losing the plot.

Lucky Girls

By: Nell Freudenberger

Short Stories

Goodreads Stars: 3.43/5

Recommended by: Joanne (60 something from USA)

Another set of short stories, Lucky Girls is a collection of perspectives from different countries.


L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home

By: David Lebovitz


Goodreads Stars: 3.60/5

Recommended by: Josh (30 something from USA)

This is a fun read. It is set in a foreign country (France) and is enjoyable.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

By: Cheryl Strayed


Goodreads Stars: 3.95/5

Recommended by: Caitlin (That’s me!)

Probably one of my favorite books – ever. When I write my book, this is where I will look for inspiration (it’s coming folks). Wild is a bit pop-culture but that’s o.k., it holds up and if you haven’t read it. Do.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

By: Patrick Radden Keefe


Goodreads Stars: 4.42/5

Recommended by: Josh (30 something from USA)

This is a true story which has been written into an intense page turner. It is a gripping tale of a time not too long past.

The Right Stuff

By: Tom Wolfe


Goodreads Stars: 4.23/5

Recommended by: Josh (30 something from USA)

Looking at 1970’s America this is well written book that tells a great story.

Where to Buy Your Books

I know I’m not letting you in on any secrets by telling where books can be bought. But while I’ve got you here I want to take the opportunity to encourage you to move away from Amazon. I know it is easy and has lots and is cheap. But it is bad. It is ruining small businesses amongst other things and there are other options.

Your Local Bookstore

Shop local – it’s the best way to keep money in your community. Plus bookstores, real brick and mortar places where you can touch and smell and experience are some of the most wonderful places. Pick up a few books, flip through them, read the first few paragraphs, and then swipe your credit card in support of your community

**As a side travel note – visit bookstores everywhere you go. They are warm and dry and welcoming – always, everywhere**

Since buying online is extraordinary convenient, has taken the online model and combined it with local support. They work with bookshops across The U.S. (unfortunately they are not yet international) and 75% of their profits out to independent shops, publishers, and other important book community members. Profits are pooled and split amongst all their participating bookshops, or you can choose for 100% of the money you spend to go to your local shop.

The books mentioned on this list are all linked to their sale page on – if you buy one of them I will receive a little cut  – at absolutely no extra cost to you.


Swap with your friends. Ask them to give you books they are finished with and love, and return the favor. This is a great way to keep costs down and have something to chat about.

long curving bookshelves full of multi colored books on second floor balcony - bookstores are a good place to find fun books to read while on vacation

Where to Find Books While Traveling

How do you it, Caitlin? How do you find books when you're in the middle of nowhere or in a non-English speaking country.

That’s such a good question, thank you for asking. There are always books around, always. You may have to lower your expectations and settle for what you can find rather than search endlessly for what you want. But this is how I ended up reading the entire Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, so it’s not all bad.

Hostel Book Swaps

Every hostel worth its salt will have a book swap. No guarantees there will be anything good there but you never know what gems you might uncover (Fifty Shades of Grey, let me remind you). These swaps are usually take one, leave one, so never walk away empty handed or you’ll be left with no bargaining chip next time.

Second Hand Shops

You’d be amazed at the second hand bookstores you can find all around the world. I remember spending a decent chunk of time walking around creaky floorboards of a dusty second hand shop in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The books were almost exclusively in English and they offered cash for your good used books.

Book Stores

You’d be hard pressed to find a book store anywhere in the world that doesn’t have some bit of an English section. And regardless of the books you might walk out for, see previous comments on the beauty of bookstores all around the world. They are always worth visiting.

Have you got fun books you’d recommend to others for their next vacation? Let us know in the comments!

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15 of the Best Books to Bring with you on Vacation - The Country Jumper
15 of the Best Books to Read While You Travel - The Country Jumper

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Teri (TL Travel) September 12, 2020 - 12:37 pm

These are some great recommendations and I’m the exact same – I refuse to get a kindle it just isn’t the same hahaha

Caitlin September 12, 2020 - 1:00 pm

Glad I’m not the only one 😀

Una Veronica Vagante September 12, 2020 - 12:46 pm

I haven’t read any of them , but loved the movie Wild! I have the Dutch house on my to-read list on Goodreads – I need to update it!
I actually find short stories a great option for holidays 🙂
I have, however, been suggesting the book “The Alchemist” on my blog – I read it this summer and really liked it for the message. It actually was my first serious book in Portuguese, and I find it such a great option for the vacation reading activity! 🙂

Caitlin September 12, 2020 - 12:59 pm

If you loved the movie, you HAVE to read the book! I also definitely recommend The Dutch House.
Did you read The Alchemist in a second language?! Amazingly well done! I haven’t read it yet.

Caitie September 12, 2020 - 3:14 pm

Great recommendations! I love having a real book in hand to go on vacation with. I also love visiting bookstores around the world. I’ve actually found some amazing used books in some of the stores!

Caitlin September 12, 2020 - 6:39 pm

Yes! Book stores are like such a happy/safe place around the world. Glad you agree 😀

Shafinah Neville September 13, 2020 - 6:43 am

L’Appart sounds like a fun read – been looking for travel biographies and I might pick this up next!

Caitlin September 13, 2020 - 1:51 pm

I’ve actually never read it, but that’s my brother making the suggestion and he’s a pretty big reader so I’d trust him for good advice!

Sophia Bawany September 13, 2020 - 1:55 pm

I LOVEE reading in general, even when Im not traveling so this list is a great refresher and the reccommendations are much appreciated! I usually end up reading on my phone even though I enjoy the feeling of an actual book.

Caitlin September 13, 2020 - 2:21 pm

Really?! I only know a few people who do that. Is the screen not too small? I think I would really struggle. But glad you liked the recommendations!

Farrah September 14, 2020 - 1:16 am

hahaha, I love your thoughts on Nine Perfect Strangers–I started it earlier this year but didn’t manage to finish it before it expired (borrowed the audiobook from the library!)–I do wanna know what happens though so I’ll be re-downloading it again soon! Will be adding Things You Save in a Fire to my to-read list! :] I loved Wild.

Caitlin September 15, 2020 - 12:24 pm

ahah the writer in me was pained by how poorly it was written but I also read it really quickly and was intrigued by the bit of suspense. Wild is like the complete opposite. Such good writing and such a great story!

Shelbs September 16, 2020 - 12:17 pm

Crazy Rich Asians is one of my favorite movies and I had no idea that it was also a book!!

Caitlin September 17, 2020 - 9:57 am

Honestly neither did I! It is definitely some serious rich-people porn though XD

Andi September 16, 2020 - 4:31 pm

Bookworm here! Several of these I have already read and confirm they are great selections, a few are on my “to read” list on my Kindle already and a few have piqued my interest so I am so glad I saw this! Since I am not traveling at the moment I am doing even more reading!

Caitlin September 16, 2020 - 4:57 pm

So glad to hear it! I hope you enjoy whichever of them are new to you (but also any that you already knew about!)

christine poore September 17, 2020 - 3:07 am

i love reading, and finding a good book for the next read is always a treat! thanks for this list of recommendations!

Caitlin September 17, 2020 - 9:56 am

Glad to help a fellow reader 😀

Rosana Rodriguez September 17, 2020 - 7:00 am

Thanks for sharing! I think I will spend next weekend with this novel “Things You Save in a Fire”.

Caitlin September 21, 2020 - 12:42 pm

Great! I hope you enjoy it

Destiny September 17, 2020 - 12:58 pm

I haven’t read any of these yet! I am in need of a new book for my next trip though so thank you for the recommendations! Also love that you addressed shopping at your local bookstore. I love bookstores, and the thought that they may someday be something of the past because of Amazon or Walmart makes me so beyond sad.

Caitlin September 17, 2020 - 1:22 pm

Honestly the creaky floorboards of my local bookstore are one of my favorite thing. Not to have them in this world would be such an immeasurable loss.


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