Your Ultimate Summer Travel Reading List for 2021

Have you started traveling again yet? Do you plan on it this summer? Whether you’re still keeping close to home, taking a long road trip, flying long-haul, or catching up on your sand and vitamin D at the beach, I’ve got just the reading list for you! There are more than usual this year–COVID gave me loads of reading time! Here are the best books I read over the last year.

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A Postcard from Italy

Alex Brown

This was a cute, fun, easy, quick read! A woman from England finds a postcard from Italy buried in a storage unit. So what does she do? Goes to Italy to find out more–with a hunky American she doesn’t even know! This bookgave me serious Italian wanderlust, but even better, it gave me a good cry at the end. I loved it! If you’re looking for something you can totally get lost in, this is the book for you!

How Not to Travel the World

Lauren Juliff

This book was written by a fellow travel blogger about her first-ever, long-term trip! Her adventures, but especially her misadventures, kept me laughing and entertained. This girl had so many issues, but she kept with it, which is inspiring in itself. This is a great read for anyone interested in long-term travel, starting a travel blog, or just interested in what NOT to do on travel!

The Aviator’s Wife

Melanie Benjamin

As a traveler, I’m grateful to Charles Lindbergh. But I also know he peaked early and didn’t have the most stable or positive life after that. The person I didn’t know about was his wife. She was an accomplished pilot in her own right, and Lindbergh said all his life that she was his best flying partner. They flew around the world and charted new flying routes together. This book was so enlightening, not just into flying, but also into this woman’s life throughout the 20th century. I would read it again, and I recommend that you read it, too!

Last Train to Key West

Chanel Cleeton

What a twisted tale! I love how this book came completely full-circle. I thought this would be set more on Key West, but really is set more on Islamorada, also in the Florida Keys. An epic, unpredicted hurricane hit the Keys on Labor Day weekend 1935, but the storms already in three women’s lives are the real story here. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the research of the true story of the 1935 hurricane, and the characters. Put it on your list… just maybe not during hurricane season!

Her Last Flight

Beatriz Williams

The author denies it, but this is totally a thinly veiled “What If” story based on Amelia Earhart! And I like that. So, what if she didn’t go down in a plane crash? What if she dropped out of the limelight on purpose? This book explores that possibility against the amazing backdrop of my favorite island: Kauai, Hawaii.

Code Name Helene

Arielle Lawhon

I’m an unlikely spy enthusiast! Seriously, I had never read a spy novel until a few years ago, and now I’m totally hooked. What’s better than a spy novel? A spy novel based on a real person! Nancy Wake was an actual spy in World War II with personal motivations for success in her espionage. I enjoyed learning about her, and honestly I was surprised I hadn’t heard of her before. If you’re into European World War II fiction, spy novels, or strong female leads, this one’s for you!

Fast Girls

Elise Hooper

I love fictional books based on true stories! This one came out around the same time the 2020 Olympics were about to start, and that was on purpose. The “fast girls” reference is not what you think. This book is about the 1936 Berlin Olympics U.S. team and their struggles just to get there–and then their unlikely experience at the Olympics themselves. It’s an inspiring book that, as a runner, got me really excited! As a traveler, it had me thinking hard about getting tickets to the next Olympics, whenever and wherever they may be!

The Paris Wedding

Charlotte Nash

Surprise! This one’s written by an Aussie! The book takes place in the Australian Outback and Paris–how’s that for an epic journey? An Australian woman spent 10 years pining for her high school boyfriend… and then she got an invitation to his high-profile wedding in Paris! It was a fun read, a quick read, and a read that gave me the Paris vibes I needed! I’ll bet you’ll like it, too.

The Fountains of Silence

Ruta Sepetys

This is a piece of world history I definitely did not learn about in school, from a part of the world I’ve never visited (yet!). This book by one of my favorite historical fiction authors takes place in 1950s Spain, after the Spanish Civil War and while the Spanish people are living under a dictatorship. This book gave me a lot of feelings, but more importantly to me, it gave me context for a time and place in history I didn’t previously understand. Well worth a read for anyone who loves history or just wants to visit Spain!

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Jamie Ford

You know already that I am endlessly fascinated with World War II fiction, but it’s rare to find a book about this particular aspect of the War. This book takes place in Seattle’s Chinatown and Japantown, in the months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Chinese boy falls for Japanese girl, Japanese girl goes to an American internment camp, and they never see each other again. Fast forward to the 1980s, and the Chinese boy, now a widower, makes an interesting discovery in a hotel under renovation. You’ll have to read the book to find out how the dots connect.

God’s Smuggler

Brother Andrew

This is an important read for Christians. I’ve never been so grateful for my Bible as I am now that I’ve read this book. Brother Andrew’s journey through wars in the Netherlands and Thailand, his life adjusting after that, and his life-long work smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe and China will give you a new perspective on personal freedoms, faith, and what lengths some people will go to in their efforts to spread God’s Word.

The Lost and Found Series

Whitney O’Halek

Love a good series? Need to travel vicariously? Prefer something light that you can read in an afternoon? My Lost and Found series will be perfect for you, if I say so myself! They’re all about Sadie, a 20-something workaholic who has accrued 480 vacation days. Why? She has never taken a vacation! Her adventures and misadventures teach her a thing or two–about life, about travel, and most importantly, about herself. Follow her trips from Kauai to Nantucket, from Savannah to Europe, and from her small town life in Tennessee to the wide-open world! Start here with book one, Paradise Lost and Found:

More here: The Lost and Found Series

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