10 Vicarious Vacations
A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller

A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller

Frances Mayes is best known for her memoirs exploring life as an expat in Tuscany, but here she shares about travels to Spain, Portugal, France, the British Isles, Turkey, Greece, the South of Italy, and North Africa. As much as possible, she rented a house and did her best to shop and eat like a local, thinking all the while about what it would be like to call that place home. Full of descriptive detail, this travel memoir is best suited for readers who love all things art and architecture, or who enjoy a slow meandering walk down an unfamiliar cobblestone street. More info →
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People We Meet on Vacation

People We Meet on Vacation

Globetrot with Alex and Poppy in this modern twist on When Harry Met Sally (our June MMD book club pick). The pair of opposites once shared a ride home from college and their witty banter ignited a decade-long friendship. Now free-spirit Poppy lives in NYC, working as a travel writer for a posh magazine. Strait-laced Alex lives in their small Ohio hometown, longing to start a family and live that picket-fence lifestyle. Connecting once a year for an epic vacation, these besties were always in sync…until they weren’t. Now they haven’t spoken in two painful years, and against all odds, Poppy is hoping one great vacation can save them. More info →
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World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

“I am a storyteller. I go places, I come back. I tell you how the places made me feel.” — Anthony Bourdain. Before he died, Bourdain’s co-author and long-time collaborator Laurie Woolever met with him about this project just once, a meeting she details in the book’s heartfelt opening. Yet she managed to deliver a transporting reading experience in a true travel guide that combines Bourdain’s stories and travel tips with colorful essays from his friends and colleagues. Vicariously experience Bourdain’s favorite destinations near and far—from Toronto to Tanzania, Manhattan to Myanmar—as Bourdain tells you how to get there, where to stay, and, perhaps most importantly, what to eat. Jam-packed with potential for adventure and exploration (real or imagined). This title appears in the Expanded Edition of our 2021 Summer Reading Guide. More info →
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Sex and Vanity

Sex and Vanity

Jake cited this "champagne cocktail in book form" as a recent favorite in WSIRN Episode 277: Books that feel like a vacation for your brain. When I read it last year, I didn't realize it was a retelling of A Room with a View until I thought "hmm, the name Lucy Church seems familiar," and started picking up more connections. But you do not need to be familiar with E.M. Forster's classic in order to enjoy this glittery, glamorous, and gossipy novel that opens on an island holiday in Capri—and then jumps forward seven years later to a decadent summer vacation in East Hampton. More info →
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Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

If The Underground Railroad or The Nickel Boys made your favorites list, have you dipped into Colson Whitehead's backlist yet? This humorous coming of age story will take you to 1985 Manhattan, where 15-year-old Benji Cooper, the only Black student at his prep school, attempts to fit in with his classmates. Trying to break free of his label as a bona fide nerd proves exhausting, but escape comes every summer when Benji's family stays in Sag Harbor, along with a whole community of upper-middle class Black families in their social circle. With freedom from school, parents, and the perception of his peers, Benji thinks this summer might be the perfect time to reinvent himself. Travel to the Hamptons with Benji for summer vacation vibes, teenage angst, and Whitehead's stunning writing style. More info →
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The Enchanted April

The Enchanted April

The perfect read for a rainy summer day, this escapist classic begins when one woman reads an advertisement for a small tumble-down medieval castle addressed to “Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.” She is suddenly struck by desire on this dreary, dripping day and finds a partner-in-travel to get away for a month. The two friends seek out two strangers to make a party of four women—one young, one old, two somewhere in the middle. As they travel to the Italian castle and spend the month finding out what they have in common, they find they are all unhappy with the life they find themselves leading. It's no spoiler to tell you: they come into their own. More info →
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The Vacationers

The Vacationers

I don't want my real vacation to be filled with family drama, but a vicarious vacation? Give me ALL the juicy secrets, relationship tensions, and high-stakes arguments. This backlist book takes readers to the island of Mallorca, where Franny and Jim have invited their close family and friends to celebrate some major milestones. It all seems like sunshine and swimming pools until secrets come to light and longstanding rivalries reemerge. When it comes to complicated family dramas, you can count on Emma Straub to deliver. Her characterization shines, and though you may not like any of the people here, you will want to know what happens to them. More info →
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The Unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners

In this enemies-to-lovers romance, bridesmaid Olive steels herself to get through her twin sister's wedding, which forces her to spend the day with her sworn enemy and best man Ethan. But when the rest of the party falls prey to food poisoning, Olive and Ethan find themselves on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon trip to Hawaii, determined to leave each other alone—until they are forced into pretending to be newlyweds to save Olive's job. They quickly discover that pretending can be a whole lot of fun. Fun and funny, this one had me fondly reminiscing about my own tropical honeymoon. More info →
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Loveboat, Taipei

Loveboat, Taipei

In this fast-paced YA debut (and 2020 Summer Reading Guide pick), a girl travels halfway around the world to find herself, and maybe find love, too. Ever Wong is an eighteen-year-old Asian American girl in Ohio, a talented dancer who, unbeknownst to her family, harbors dreams of pursuing professional dance. When her parents find out she’s considering dance instead of med school, they send her to Taiwan to spend the rest of the summer at Chien Tan—an immersive high school program devoted to language and culture. When Ever arrives she’s surprised to discover that far from the scholarly summer she expected, the students themselves call the program “Loveboat,” because it’s tons of fun and so many long-term relationships begin here. I can't wait to read the sequel, coming in early 2022. More info →
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Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman

This is a wonderful guide for anyone contemplating solo travel. Journalist Alice Steinbach took a four-month sabbatical from work to travel to London, Oxford, Paris, and Milan when she was in her 50s (what a dream!). Her memoir is as much about the places she goes as it is about the people she befriends, such as one acquaintance who asks her, “Why not turn this mishap into an adventure?” Witty, wise, and transporting, Steinbach's journey will make you feel as though you're traveling far from your own armchair—and perhaps inspire you to plan your own solo trip. More info →
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