15 Captivating Books That Feel Like a Vacation

This time of year, we need an escape.

Collage of book covers

Finding the perfect book to whisk your mind away is different for everyone. It may involve friendship drama, once-in-a-lifetime trips, gut-clenching suspense, or fairy tale romance. Luckily, you can find all of those stories and more in the titles we’ve gathered up below. Although their plots may vary, one thing they all have in common is their ability to draw you in immediately—and give you a much-needed feeling of escape, even if you’re enjoying your vacation on the couch rather than a beach.

(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.)

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Cover of 'People We Meet on Vacation'

Vacation is literally in the title of Emily Henry’s second marvelous rom-com about two friends and fellow travelers who decide to go on one last trip together after a falling out. If you already devoured this one last summer, you can look forward to Henry’s follow-up, Book Lovers (out May 3).

Buy it: People We Meet on Vacation at Amazon | People We Meet on Vacation at Bookshop

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Cover of 'One Italian Summer'

Katy’s mother, Carol, dies just as they’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime to Positano, Italy. Katy makes the journey solo, feeling her mother’s spirit in every nook and cranny of the Amalfi Coast and then meets her mother as she was at 30 years old. From the marvelous spectacle of the Italian seaside to the loving portrayal of a mother-daughter friendship, Serle’s latest is a vacation in a book.


Buy it: One Italian Summer at Amazon | One Italian Summer at Bookshop


The Layover by Lacie Walden

Cover of 'The Layover'

Flight attendant Ava Greene is planning to take her last trip before settling down with a stable guy—but the skies have other plans. She ends up in the air with a cocky fellow attendant she can’t stand but who understands Ava’s love of adventure. Author Lacie Waldon works as a flight attendant, so you know this romantic-comedy will get all the details right.

Buy it: The Layover at Amazon | The Layover at Bookshop

Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho

Cover of 'Fiona and Jane'

Jean Chen Ho’s debut collection of stories, told in alternating voices, shies away from nothing as the women of the title explore friendship, sexuality, love, and family, as they grow up together (and apart) as two Asian women continually finding their footing amid the shifting contours of contemporary America.

Buy it: Fiona and Jane at Amazon | Fiona and Jane at Bookshop

The Second Season by Emily Adrian

Cover of 'The Second Season'

A book as fast-paced as a professional basketball game, Adrian’s novel focuses on Ruth Devon, a former college hoops star turned NBA sideline reporter who—years into her stellar career—faces a tough decision between motherhood and her career. This story of one woman making a go of it in a man’s field manages to be gripping and exciting, while also intimate and insightful.

Buy it: The Second Season at Amazon | The Second Season at Bookshop

Birds of California by Katie Cotugno

Cover of 'Birds of California'

New York Times best-selling author Cotugno—known for her swoony YA romances—makes her adult debut with Birds of California. Fiona St. James is a former child star who flamed out in spectacular fashion and who is keeping a big secret about her past. But when her former co-star Sam Fox shows up to lure her into a reboot of their old show, she finds maintaining a quiet life uncomplicated by Hollywood is harder than she thought. (Out April 26)

Buy it: Birds of California at Amazon | Birds of California at Bookshop

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Cover of 'Funny You Should Say'

YA author Elissa Sussman’s adult debut is juicy, funny, and poignant. When Chani Horowitz interviews screen god Gabe Parker, the interview—and the story that follows—changes her life. Ten years after it runs, she’s tapped to interview Parker again as he tries to stage a comeback, and the story revolves around the many important things they each previously left unsaid. (Out April 12)

Buy it: Funny You Should Ask at Amazon | Funny You Should Ask at Bookshop

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Cover of 'Seven Days in June'

Eva and Shane are Black writers at the top of their respective games. But what people don’t know is that back in high school, the two spent an impossibly steamy week together in June, and neither has forgotten it. When they’re reunited at a book event as adults, sparks fly. Williams circumvents some of the expected tropes of the genre in this super-steamy read.

Buy it: Seven Days in June at Amazon | Seven Days in June at Bookshop

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart

Cover of 'Our Country Friends'

It might not sound like much of an escape to read fiction about the pandemic. However, an exception should be made for Shteyngart’s novel about a group of friends staying together in a country house and the betrayals and drama that ensue. It’s funny and sad at the same time and a page-turner whose words you want to savor.

Buy it: Our Country Friends at Amazon | Our Country Friends at Bookshop

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

Cover of 'We Were Never Here'

What is it about great thrillers that make them perfect reads for unwinding? In Bartz’s latest, Kristen and Emily go on their annual backpacking trip and have a marvelous time, until it ends with Emily killing another backpacker in alleged self-defense. And yet, the incident is a repeat of the year before. As Kristen tries to cope, she realizes she must confront some deadly truths.

Buy it: We Were Never Here at Amazon | We Were Never Here at Bookshop

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Cover of 'The Guncle'

After a family tragedy, a once-famous gay sitcom star has to take care of his young niece and nephew for an entire summer. While he’s great at adoring his young charges, he’s never been guardian material, and having young kids around all the time bumps up against the not-kid-friendly aspects of the actor’s lifestyle. Rowley’s novel is fast-paced, very funny, and extremely heartfelt.

Buy it: The Guncle at Amazon | The Guncle at Bookshop

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover of 'Malibu Rising'

Reid has become queen of delicious must-reads, and Malibu Rising is no exception. This read-in-a-day novel is set leading up to and during a legendary party the Riva siblings throw at their cliffside home each year and goes back in time to paint a complete picture of a captivating family.

Buy it: Malibu Rising at Amazon | Malibu Rising at Bookshop

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Cover of 'Siren Queen'

A truly escapist, gripping premise: What if old Hollywood didn’t run on pen-and-paper deals, but ones bound by blood and ancient magic? Luli Wei is desperate to be a star, even if in pre-code Hollywood there aren’t many opportunities for a Chinese-American woman, and doesn’t care if the stakes are high if stardom is in the offing. (Out May 10)

Buy it: Queen Siren at Amazon | Queen Siren at Bookshop

By the Book: A Meant to Be Novel by Jasmine Guillory

Cover of 'By the Book'

Best-selling romance author Guillory returns with a new book this summer. Isabelle is completely lost and frustrated as one of the few Black employees at her publishing house. She’s thinking there must be more to this life when she gets wind a high-profile author is stalled on his much-awaited memoir and volunteers to visit his West Coast mansion to give him the pep talk he needs. This reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is sure to delight. (Out May 3)

Buy it: By the Book at Amazon | By the Book at Bookshop

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Cover of 'This Time Tomorrow'

What if you could take a vacation into your own past? That’s the premise of Emma Straub’s latest. In it, a 40-year-old woman who’s more or less happy with her life, save the complications of her aging father’s ailing health, wakes up to find she’s reliving her 16th birthday and getting more time with her father. Straub blends humor, heart, and insights on a life well lived in her latest. (Out May 17)

Buy it: This Time Tomorrow at Amazon | This Time Tomorrow at Bookshop

15 Captivating Books That Feel Like a Vacation