Traveling with books

By Diane Parfitt

You are finally going to get to go on that vacation. Whether to the beach or a faraway country or on a cruise, what are you going to read? You need a good book when you are sitting on the beach or by the pool, riding in the car, or waiting at the airport for your flight. Summer reading can be that long book you have been meaning to read or some light-hearted fun read that will not tax you too much. And if travel is not in your immediate future, as Dave Berry said, “Reading: a vacation for the mind.” So check out this great selection of books for your vacation, wherever it might take you.

“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry
Poppy and Alex have been best friends for years even though they have nothing in common. Poppy is a wild child; Alex wears khakis and button-down shirts. She has wanderlust, while he prefers to stay home and read. But every summer for 10 years, they have spent a week of vacation together. And then they are no longer best friends, going their separate ways after a fateful car ride home from college. After two years, Poppy finds herself in a rut and thinks that if she could just talk to her former best friend, maybe she could snap out of it.

“We Want What We Want” by Alix Ohlin
This collection of 13 darkly funny short stories may be just the way to start your travels. In one story, a college student arrives home from a year abroad to find that her father is engaged to her best friend. Another story has a young woman going to rescue her cousin from a cult only to find a group of well-dressed men sitting around drinking cocktails and discussing the classics. If these two don’t tickle your fancy, there are 11 other engaging stories to entertain you on vacation. There are stories of people pushing the boundaries of their lives with their imperfect families, old flames, and lost potential, with all of life’s pain, humor and beauty.

“The Cartographers” by Peng Shepherd
Who would think that maps could hold so much intrigue and mystery? When a young woman discovers a strange map among her deceased father’s belongings, she is drawn into a great adventure that could reveal her family’s dark history. The secrets she begins to discover may not only be intriguing but in fact deadly.

“What’s Mine and Yours” by Naima Coster
In a small town in Piedmont North Carolina, residents rise up in outrage as a county initiative moves students from Black neighborhoods to a predominantly white high school. Two students are drawn together, and their relationship will pull their families together for the next 20 years. This novel about the American family legacy and identity will force you to confront your own feelings about how race affects even our most intimate relationships.

“Booth” by Karen Joy Fowler
Everyone knows the story of John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. But the story of his family is just as intriguing. Along with the story of the Booth family, Fowler tells us about the family of slaves they owned. As the Booths faced their own personal demons, they sat by and ignored the horrors endured by the slaves who watched as their own children were sold to other households.

“Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel
Known for her previous books that detail time travel, Mandel writes about three leading characters who exist in different times but eventually converge. Olive is an author, Gaspery-Jacques is a detective, and Edwin is a time traveler. Through their stories, we learn about real-life situations that people can still experience in the contemporary world, even if we ourselves cannot time-travel.

Travel and vacation are for getting away and relaxing as well as discovering new sights. But in between all that, there is plenty of time for relaxing with a fun book. These are a few that will do the job just fine. So think about packing some real books. Two or three paperbacks weigh less than one electronic device. They don’t require batteries, you can read them better than a screen in the daylight, and it won’t hurt them if they get splashed a little near the pool.