When I was growing up, I was a voracious reader. I remember pretending to go to sleep when my parents tucked me in at night. The moment I heard them walk away, I’d immediately turn on my light so I could finish my book. It got me in some trouble, but I feel like there are worse things a kid can do (AHEM PARENTS). I read several books a month, in addition to those assigned through school. As a kid, I never understood those kids who blew off the readings for class. Who would choose not to read?!?! I honestly didn’t get it (and I still don’t!).
In elementary school, I particularly loved historical fiction, non-fiction anthologies of ancient mythology, and fantasy… all genres I still love today! I was that kid who was super stoked to get books for birthdays and holidays. Reading was and still is part of my nightly routine. Even today, I cannot fall asleep without reading a chapter or two.
How Joining a Book Club Brought Back My Love of Reading
One thing that I loved about 2019 was my marked increase in reading. In years past, my reading had lapsed. It was still part of my routine (mostly because I can’t fall asleep without reading), but I only averaged handful of books a year.
In 2019, I joined a book club. We met monthly, and, once again, I started filling my time with books. Our picks are always written by women (both fiction and non-fiction)… And some of them even appear in my list below of books to read on vacation this year.
I was already reading nightly before bed, but I started reading on rainy days at home. And while cooking. And during my morning commute (well, I listened to Audible). I’d typically tear through the monthly book club pick within two weeks, giving me plenty of time to read something else before our next meeting. Friends started asking me what I was reading and what books I’d recommend they read next, so I thought I should share some recommendations for books you should read on your next vacation.
In the past year, I’ve read a whole smorgasbord of literature. Fiction and non-fiction, memoirs and sci-fi, novels definitely targeted at young adults and novels that explore the existence of humankind.
When I was creating my recommendations for books to read on vacation in 2020 (aka doing my prep for this post – bet y’all didn’t know I did that!), I started thinking about my recommendations in terms of buckets:
- Traditional beach reads
- Stories that might make you cry, but will also entertain you
- Thought-provoking books that will help you grow as a person
Before we dive in, I want to point out that all of my picks for books to read on vacation this year were written by female authors! On top of that, two of the books on this list were written by minority authors. Promoting female, minority, and LGBT+ creatives is a cause near and dear to my heart. I encourage you to join me in supporting these authors by reading their work and expanding your own horizons.
Books to Read on Vacation in 2020: Traditional Beach Reads
This fiction piece centers around one change in history: what if George Washington became the first king of the United States, instead of the first president? The story picks up in modern times, and centers around four main female characters:
- Princess Beatrice, the heir to the throne who will be the first Queen
- Princess Samantha, Beatrice’s younger sister, second in line for the throne
- Daphne, who comes from minor nobility and is the social-climbing ex-girlfriend of Jeff, the Prince, third in line for the throne
- Nina, a commoner who, due to her mom’s job, grew up best friends with Samantha and Jeff
Each chapter in American Royals is from the perspective of one of those four characters. The story explores the modernization of the monarchy (particularly relevant given last week’s events!) and is just as entertaining as McGee’s previous hit series, The Thousandth Floor.
As somebody who works in corporate America, I really enjoyed this novel. It focuses on corporate politics, with aspects of the #MeToo movement woven into the story.
Like American Royals, this fiction piece revolves around four main female characters (I’m sensing a trend here). The Audible version does a fantastic job bringing Sloane, Grace, Ardie, and Rosalita (as well as all of the other characters!) to life.
The plot is complex with a lot of twists, but, in my mind, that just makes it a better beach read / choice for books to read on vacation.
This story is so insane, you’ll think it’s fiction (it’s not!). In fact, it’s so insane that it’s being turned into a Netflix series by Shonda Rhimes.
You may have heard about the fake heiress / con artist, Anna Delvey. The story broke in 2018: a girl, pretending to be a German heiress, conned luxury hotels, independent business owners, and even her “friends” out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. She convinced people to invest money in her endeavors, to finance her extravagant lifestyle and travels. She masqueraded as a generous socialite, leaving a trail of unpaid bills in her wake.
This novel is written by and from the perspective of Anna’s “best friend”, Rachel. A girl who, prior to meeting Anna, led a very different lifestyle… and then she was conned out of over $50,000 that she didn’t have. I spent most of the book aggravated with Rachel’s lack of an ability to stand up for herself, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining/ridiculous.
Books to Read on Vacation in 2020: Entertaining Stories that Might Make You Cry
Quick pause to say I really like the title for this section. The majority of books that I read in a given year – whether they are books to read on vacation or not – probably fall under this header.
I actually recommended this novel last year in this post. And I stand by that recommendation. To date, I haven’t encountered an Audible narration that did as beautiful of a job bringing the distinct characters to life.
Code Name Verity is a historical-fiction novel that takes place during WWII. A story unfolds about the two main protagonists / best friends: “Verity” and Maddie. The novel shines a light on the role of women in WWII, as well as the concepts of friendship and duty.
I don’t want to give too much away here, but trust me when I say that it’s an entertaining read/listen. And I may or may not have cried while listening to it. Hint: let’s go with “may have” in this case.
One of my goals for 2020 is to read more books by LGBT+ and/or minority authors, as well as books with LGBT+ and/or minority protagonists. I realize that I have a narrow view of the world, and reading works by people from other backgrounds will broaden my own horizons. I suggested this book to my book club last fall as a part of this goal.
American Spy might have been the first novel upon which we all agreed (and adored!). The novel is about a female protagonist who is recounting the story of her life for her two sons. The story bounces back and forth between the present (1992) and the protagonist’s time in the FBI and, later, as a spy in Africa, towards the end of the Cold War (1980s). American Spy is gripping and entertaining, weaving in the ideas of “otherness”, family, duty, and betrayal.
It was on Obama’s list of his favorite books he read in 2019 and, more importantly, it’s at the top of my list of my favorite books I read in 2019.
Books to Read on Vacation in 2020: Thought-Provoking Books
This autobiography is gripping, emotional, heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking. My book club is currently reading this book for this month’s book club meeting (I finished it ahead of schedule).
The author, Chanel Miller, is better known to most of the world as “Emily Doe”, the victim in the 2015 Stanford sexual assault case. The case sparked public outrage when the attacker, a champion swimmer, was only sentenced to 6 months in county jail and probation (minus time already served). The reasoning? The judge’s concern that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on the assailant.
Her victim impact statement, read to her attacker at his sentencing, went viral. It focused on the victimization of attackers and the belittling of survivors, the loss of identity.
Fast forward a few years, and Chanel Miller has written down her whole story: from before the night she was attacked, through the years of battles in court, all the way to present day. Know My Name is her way of reclaiming her identity and telling her side of the story. It’s definitely an emotional read, but it’s also an inspiring story of resilience.
What books are you planning to read on vacation this year? Do you tend to read more traditional beach reads or thought-provoking, emotional stories? Let me know in the comments below!