10 Books That Are (almost) As Good As Taking a Vacation

There’s nothing rougher than listening to friends, family, or co-workers (maybe especially co-workers) chatter on about their amazing summer vacation plans if you yourself have none. Whether due to finances, work responsibilities, or simple bad luck, not everyone can plan a great trip every year, and that can make the hot summer months seem longer, sadder, and hotter than they truly are.

Readers, of course, know a good way to go on a trip whenever they want to: all it takes is the right book. The 10 books below not only tell gripping, emotionally powerful stories—they also take you someplace you’ve likely never been, and let you revel in a foreign culture and landscape.

1. Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman

Not only is this tender love story a pure delight in terms of character and storytelling, reading it is also almost as good as an actual trip to the Italian Riviera. In-between acting on their burgeoning attraction, 17-year old Elio and 24-year old Oliver lounge around the sort of gorgeous Italian countryside and charming villas that are the stuff travel agents’ dreams are made of. If you can read this beautiful, brief novel and somehow not want to travel to the Mediterranean to drink wine and read books, we can only conclude you have no soul. That, or you already live there. Read More.

2. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

India is big. Like, really, really big. Saying you want to “go to India” is sort of like saying you want to go to Europe, or the Moon—you really need to be more specific. That being said, despite the often grimy subject matter, Roberts’ controversial biography-as-novel introduces to an India that is equal parts overwhelming and exciting, overcrowded, hot, and beautiful, as seen through the eyes of an escaped convict on the run. You might not want to follow in the author’s supposed footsteps exactly, but reading this book is like getting off a plane in India without any money or a current passport and just diving into the country. Read More.

3. Wedding Night, by Sophie Kinsella

Underneath the farcical, bubbling story of a woman who gets fed up with a boyfriend who won’t as her to tie the knot and immediately accepts the proposal of an old flame, running off to a luxury resort in Greece to get married while her sister works behind the scenes for an annulment is a love letter to the gorgeous Greek Islands on which the story is set. Anyone who’s seen Mama Mia probably entertains a daily fantasy of moving to such a place; this book is almost as good as heading there for your own 5-star destination wedding. Read More.


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