Travel Wild Card

We Found Them – The Best Books to Read on Vacation

We love to read. Airports, road trips, early mornings, late nights, a good book is ALWAYS welcome company. Here is our recommendations for our 12 best books to read on vacation.

Ranging from Drama to Comedy, Self Help to True Stories, these books will make you laugh, cry, swear, get up and pace around the room, cook a 4 course meal and eat the entire thing, the whole kit and kaboodle folks. Trust us, these are incredible reads.

Comedy

Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. – Rob Delaney

It should be illegal to be as funny as Rob Delaney. This book is incredible, and extremely hard to get through a chapter without tears of joy wetting each page.

Excerpt:

Not long ago I leapt out of bed at about 6:30 a.m. and went for a run in a residential part of Hollywood. When I was a few miles from my home my bowels sent an urgent cable to my brain, apologizing for the short notice and saying that they’d be emptying themselves in one minute or less; the location was up to me. I frantically searched for an alley or a dumpster I could hide behind. Nothing. Two parked cars I could crouch between? No. It would be a terrible neighborhood in which to play hide-and-seek or smoke pot surreptitiously as a teenager—no little nooks for sneaky behavior anywhere. It was particularly ill-suited for public adult shitting. The one plus—and it was a big one—was that it was so early in the morning. No one was around, in any direction. I knew that whatever horror was about to ensue, it would be over quickly. I crouched in the gutter at the end of a driveway that led to the garage of a home that actual people lived in, and shit furiously and hatefully into the street. I began to know relief.

My relief was short lived, however, because when I looked up from my pathetic al fresco bio-vandal squat, I locked eyes with a Hasidic woman who had materialized across the street. She was paralyzed by what she saw. We gazed into each other’s souls and silently agreed that I was the worst person in the history of humanity and that my name belonged nowhere near the Book of Life.

Egghead – Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham has always been one of Zach’s personal heroes ever since he was basically the first YouTube star (I’m Bo Yo and Bo Fo Sho are his faves).

What has Bo done since then? Oh not much. Just put out 3 stand-up comedy specials (Words, Words, Words & what. & Make Happy) AND written and directed the new feature-length movie Eighth Grade. Oh, I forgot, he wrote a book of poems too, and we love it. It’s called Egghead. Perfect book to keep by your toilet and read while you are, you know…

Excerpt:

It’s a week before the wedding

And the bride is with her friends (grown women with bright plastic dick jewelry)

And the groom is with his friends (“grown men” or “bright plastic dick jewelry”)

We Learn Nothing – Tim Kreider

Being perfectly honest, we have no idea how this book landed on our bookshelf, but Zach read it and literally could not put it down! Tim Kreider is extremely funny, with a dry sense of humor, but what really makes this book pop is his illustrations throughout the entire thing. They add to each and every story, and are probably worth the price of admission on their own!

Excerpts:

“Often you don’t know whether you’re the hero of a romantic comedy or the villain on a Lifetime special until the restraining order arrives.”

“I’ve demonstrated an impressive resilience in the face of valuable life lessons, and the main thing I seem to have learned from this one is that I am capable of learning nothing from almost any experience, no matter how profound.”

Drama!

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

The answer is yes, we are watching the HBO mini-series coming out that is based on this book. We read the book on our honeymoon in Southeast Asia and had to take turns with the chapters. Definitely a must read for you super sleuths and drama lovers! This one packs a punch.

Excerpt:

I had no pets to worry about, no plants to leave with a neighbor. Into a duffel bag, I tucked away enough clothes to last me five days, my own reassurance I’d be out of Wind Gap before week’s end. As I took a final glance around my place, it revealed itself to me in a rush. The apartment looked like a college kid’s: cheap, transitory, and mostly uninspired. I promised myself I’d invest in a decent sofa when I returned as a reward for the stunning story I was sure to dig up.

On the table by the door sat a photo of a preteen me holding Marian at about age seven. We’re both laughing. She has her eyes wide open in surprise, I have mine scrunched shut. I’m squeezing her into me, her short skinny legs dangling over my knees. I can’t remember the occasion or what we were laughing about. Over the years it’s become a pleasant mystery. I think I like not knowing.

A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

Is music your thing? Of course it is. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be human. A Visit from the Goon Squad is an incredible novel set against the popular music scene in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Warning: you will become attached to a character or two, and you will be sad when the book ends. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Excerpt:

Sasha and Coz had dubbed that feeling she got the “personal challenge,” as in: taking the wallet was a way for Sasha to assert her toughness, her individuality. What they needed to do was switch things around in her head so that the challenge became not taking the wallet but leaving it. That would be the cure, although Coz never used words like “cure.” He wore funky sweaters and let her call him Coz, but he was old school inscrutable, to the point where Sasha couldn’t tell if he was gay or straight, if he’d written famous books, or if (as she sometimes suspected) he was one of those escaped cons who impersonate surgeons and wind up leaving their operating tools inside people’s skulls. Of course, these questions could have been resolved on Google in less than a minute, but they were useful questions (according to Coz), and so far, Sasha had resisted.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Okay, fine, we admit it, we are Gillian Flynn fanatics. But Sharp Objects and Gone Girl are both SO GOOD! We literally couldn’t just put one on this list. We know you’ve probably seen the movie, but do yourself a favor and pick up the book too. So much more detail than the movie gets into, trust us you’ll be entertained.

Excerpt:

My morning breath warmed the pillow, and I changed the subject in my mind. Today was not a day for second-guessing or regret, it was a day for doing. Downstairs, I could hear the return of a long-lost sound: Amy making breakfast. Banging wooden cupboards (rump-thump!), rattling containers of tin and glass (ding-ring!), shuffling and sorting a collection of metal pots and iron pans (ruzz-shuzz!). A culinary orchestra tuning up, clattering vigorously toward the finale, a cake pan drumrolling along the floor, hitting the wall with a cymballic crash. Something impressive was being created, probably a crepe, because crepes are special, and today Amy would want to cook some­thing special.

It was our five-year anniversary.

I walked barefoot to the edge of the steps and stood listening, working my toes into the plush wall-to-wall carpet Amy detested on principle, as I tried to decide whether I was ready to join my wife. Amy was in the kitchen, oblivious to my hesitation. She was humming something melancholy and familiar. I strained to make it out—a folk song? a lullabye?—and then realized it was the theme to M.A.S.H. Suicide is painless. I went downstairs.

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

We literally read this one while on a train. Does that mean we deserve an award? Yes, we’d say so. Julie was a girl on a train reading The Girl on the Train which tells the story of a girl watching another girl on the train as the girl on the train stares back. Yes, that was a perfectly legitimate English sentence. Deal with it.

Excerpt:

Number fifteen is much like the other houses along this stretch of track: a Victorian semi, two storeys high, overlooking a narrow, well-tended garden that runs around twenty feet down towards some fencing, beyond which lie a few metres of no-man’s-land before you get to the railway track. I know this house by heart. I know every brick, I know the colour of the curtains in the upstairs bedroom (beige, with a dark-blue print), I know that the paint is peeling off the bathroom window frame and that there are four tiles missing from a section of the roof over on the right-hand side.

I know that on warm summer evenings, the occupants of this house, Jason and Jess, sometimes climb out of the large sash window to sit on the makeshift terrace on top of the kitchen-extension roof. They are a perfect, golden couple. He is dark-haired and well built, strong, protective, kind. He has a great laugh. She is one of those tiny bird-women, a beauty, pale-skinned with blond hair cropped short. She has the bone structure to carry that kind of thing off, sharp cheekbones dappled with a sprinkling of freckles, a fine jaw.

True Stories

The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown

Zach’s favorite book in the world right now. He didn’t know what to expect from this one, to be honest he was a tad skeptical. Skepticism quickly faded away, as this spell-binding story had a stranglehold on his attention from cover to cover. The Boys in the Boat tells the tale of the University of Washington rowing team that went to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Berlin, but it is so much more than that. Teamwork, struggle, triumph, defeat, this one has it all.

Excerpt:

For Joe Rantz, perhaps more than for any of the other young men sitting by the Montlake Cut, something hung in the balance that afternoon, and he was all too aware of it. The girls on the library lawn who had glanced appreciatively his way had had to overlook what was painfully obvious to him: that his clothes were not like those of most of the other students—his trousers not neatly creased, his oxfords neither new nor freshly polished, his sweater neither crisp nor clean but rather an old and rumpled hand-me-down. Joe understood cold reality. He knew he might not belong here at all, and he certainly couldn’t stay long in this world of pressed trousers, of briar pipes and cardigan sweaters, of interesting ideas, sophisticated conversation, and intriguing opportunities, if things did not go well in the shell house. He would never be a chemical engineer, and he would not be able to marry his high school sweetheart, who had followed him to Seattle so they could begin to build a life together. To fail at this rowing business would mean, at best, returning to a small, bleak town on the Olympic Peninsula with nothing ahead of him but the prospect of living alone in a cold, empty, half-built house, surviving as best he could on odd jobs, foraging for food, and maybe, if he was very lucky, finding another highway construction job with the Civilian Conservation Corps. At worst it would mean joining a long line of broken men standing outside a soup kitchen like the one down on Yesler Way.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu – Mark Adams

This is partially the reason that ‘Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu’ made it to number 2 on our Travel Bucket List. Mark Adams tells his own story of making the trek with a friend and local guides. He writes of his own experience, but also tells the historical tales of Incan leaders of generations past and their wars with European settlers. This is a good one, especially for anyone with a trip to Machu Picchu in their future.

Excerpt:

Even after witnessing the knee-buckling natural settings of Choquequirao and Vitcos, it was impossible not to see almost immediately that Machu Picchu beat them both. The distant peaks ringing the ruins like a necklace were higher; the nearby slopes were greener. And of course the city, laid out before the visitor like a LEGO metropolis atop a billiard table, is impossible to turn away from.

For the first time since dropping out of graduate school, I remembered an unpleasant weekend spent struggling to comprehend the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s explanation of the difference between calling something beautiful and calling it sublime. Nowadays, we throw around the word “sublime” to describe gooey desserts or overpriced handbags.

In Kant’s epistemology, it meant something limitless, an aesthetically pleasing entity so huge that it made the perceiver’s head hurt. Machu Picchu isn’t just beautiful, it’s sublime.

Self Help

5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman

What love language do you speak? Whether it is words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, or gift giving, reading this book will help you learn about yourself and your partner. Just reading it will improve your communication and the effectiveness of your relationship. It worked for us!

Excerpt:

Love is the most important word in the English language—and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. Love has a prominent role in thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies. Numerous philosophical and theological systems have made a prominent place for love.

Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardship our lot in life.

Quiet – Susan Cain

We are both introverts, in a world where extroversion is praised and put on a pedestal. Nothing against extroverts, we just think that being an introvert can be pretty cool too, and Susan Cain agrees! This book is a must read, for any of you introverts out there absolutely!

Excerpts:

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”

“The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.”

“We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.”

10% Happier – Dan Harris

For anyone dealing with stress and anxiety, 10% Happier may be a godsend. We read this one cover to cover and even started listening to Dan Harris’ podcast on a regular basis! The lessons in the book can really help with your mental well-being, and will hopefully lead to a 10% improvement in your happiness level on a day-to-day basis!

Excerpt:

Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy. Because many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment. And imagine living your whole life like that, where always this moment is never quite right, not good enough because you need to get to the next one. That is continuous stress.

There you Have It!

Do you have any book recommendations for us? Please let us know in the comments!

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