20 Books to Take You on a Mental Vacation


It’s been a long year and many of us haven’t had a real vacation in a long time. You know, sitting on the beach, an icy drink in your hand, soaking up the sun. Pandemic aside, many of us have a hard time escaping the requirements of day-to-day life. Jobs, kids, commitments, and general adulting all get in the way of us getting away. Now that we’ve reached spring break, it’s time to give yourself a mental vacation. No need for plane tickets or a suitcase. I have the perfect books to sweep you away to far off destinations, even if you’re still sitting at home in your week-old pajamas. So kick back, relax, and let these great stories take you to far-off destinations.

20 Books to Take You on a Mental Vacation

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

books to take you on a mental vacation

Beginning in Italy in the 1960’s, an innkeeper and a starlet find themselves falling in love. It’s not until they’re in Los Angeles 50 years later that they can finally reconcile their feelings for each other.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Daphne Berg is more than shocked when an absent best friend comes out of the woodwork to request that she be her maid of honor. Daphne is torn: does she stand up for herself or does she swallow her pride and attend the biggest and best wedding of the summer?

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Nothing seems to be going right for Gray or Diana, but when they come together, their friendship may be enough to overcome anything.

How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior

books to take you on a mental vacation

Veronica McCreedy needs a worthy cause to leave her fortune to when she dies and she’s found the perfect thing: the penguins living in Antarctica. But first she wants to go see them first-hand to make sure they’re worthy of her money.

Island Affair: A Fun Summer Love Story by Priscilla Oliveras

Sara Vance’s boyfriend lets her know he won’t be coming on her family vacation at the last minute and she’s desperate. She convinces a Cuban-American paramedic to play her fiance in front of her nearly-perfect family members, but they quickly forget what’s pretend and what’s not.

Jackie and Maria: A Novel of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas by Gill Paul

We all know Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas, two of the most glamorous women in our history. This historical fiction work tells the story of how their lives became intertwined, and there’s plenty of yachting in far-off places. 

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Colie heads to the beach for the summer not expecting much of anything to happen. But, through Morgan and Isabel, she learns about the meaning of true friendship and opens her heart to love for the first time.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

In an attempt to skip attending a wedding, Arthur Less takes a trip around the world and plays the perfect part of an American abroad. 

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

books to take you on a mental vacation

Set in 1938 in Montauk, Long Island, Beatrice is hoping to rekindle the romance with her husband, Harry. But Harry’s plans are to work on his investment portfolio, leaving Beatrice all alone. Not being one for fancy things, she has a hard time fitting in with the glamorous and elite of Montauk.

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy

Tourists from all over the world come together at a tavern in a Greek seaside village. But a tragedy will bring them together in ways they never thought possible.

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Lucie Churchill is vacationing on the island of Capri when she meets a man who will make her question everything she thinks she knows about herself. 

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

books to take you on a mental vacation

Drue doesn’t want to work at her father’s law firm, but she’s out of options. When a suspicious death at a nearby beach resort flings her from a mundane desk jockey to a deep-diving investigator, she uncovers that the mystery might involve her father. 

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Lulu is sent to the Bahamas on assignment to investigate the Duke and Duchess of Windsor during the 1940s. As she infiltrates their inner circle, she learns more than she cares to about spies, racial tension, and financial troubles.

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

Three generations of women have deeply-woven family secrets that have been tearing them apart for years. Will they finally be able to come to terms with their pasts and let go of the lies that weigh them all down?

The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

70-year-old Charlotte and her estranged children head out on a ten-day cruise together through Greece and Spain. The time confined together on board the ship causes some unsettling secrets to come out, and healing is the only way to get through this trip. 

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

books to take you on a mental vacation

In her follow-up to Next Year in Havana, Cleeton throws her characters into the glamorous Florida Keys in the 1930’s. But a hurricane and the Great Depression are looming over them and it will take quick wits to overcome their obstacles. 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive and Ethan are pretending to be newly married so they can take a free honeymoon together, even though they can’t stand each other. While they’re on vacation in Hawaii, their minds begin to change, and their emotions get the better of them.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts has put together a comprehensive guide on how to travel the world as a vagabond from two weeks to two years. You’ll be daydreaming of all the places you can go while reading his guide.

Wild Horses of the Summer Sun by Tory Bilski

books to take you on a mental vacation

Every June, Tory Bilski meets up with her friends in Iceland to be with the horses. This memoir details their friendship and adventures as they leave their normal lives at home.

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hildebrand

Irene Steele’s life is perfect until her husband dies in a helicopter crash. Now she’s left to put together the pieces of her husband’s mysterious double life while on the Caribbean island of St. John.

We hope you’ll enjoy some of Katie’s selection of books to take you on a mental vacation! Do you love books and reading? Join our Detroit Mom Book Club! It’s not too late to get in on April’s discussion with our April book selection.


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