Your Ultimate Summer Travel Reading List 2023

Anyone else ready to book a flight just to have some dedicated reading time? Me, too! I love reading, but finding the time is not always easy. Here are the best travel-inspired books I’ve read lately, just in time for summer travels!

A Beach Less Traveled, John Berglund (St. Martin)

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to open your dream business in paradise, with a bit of amusement, this is the book for you! This is the true account of the founders of Tijon Perfumery on St. Martin in the French Caribbean. I highly recommend both the book and the destination.

We visited St. Martin on our eighth anniversary and created our own scents, which was a ton of fun for us! I’m so glad we read this book before we went, too, so I could appreciate the hard work it took just to open their shop. A Beach Less Traveled is worth the trip and worth a read!

Read the success story: How to Create Your Own Scent at Tijon Perfumery, St. Martin

The Stationery Shop, Marjan Kamali (Iran)

I love reading books set in places I’ve never been, and I find it fascinating to read about places I actually can’t go. Or, at least I can’t go now. This book follows an Iranian woman from 1953 Tehran during an uprising, through a life in the United States and rediscovery of a beloved friend. It’s history, foreign policy, romance, and travel all in one, airplane-friendly novel.

Also helpful: How to Respectfully Visit a Mosque

The Forgotten 500, Gregory A. Freeman (Balkans, Former Yugoslavia)

It kind of amazes me how many angles there are to World War II literature, both fiction and non-fiction. This particular non-fictional account of an actual rescue mission is almost stranger than fiction, which is what made it such a fascinating read for me! And it’s not set in your typical World War II locations of France or Germany. This one is set in the Balkans, in what was once Yugoslavia, now Serbia. It was an easy, eye-opening read based in a part of the world that’s been on my list for a while!

More here: 7 Travel Rules You Don’t Know Until Someone Tells You

Death Comes as the End, Agatha Christie (Ancient Egypt)

You have probably heard of Death on the Nile, but you probably haven’t heard of Agatha Christie’s other Egyptian-based novel, Death Comes as the End. It’s actually set in ancient Egypt, and in typical Christie fashion, the body count keeps going. This was a great book to read before our trip to Egypt earlier this year, not only because I like a good murder mystery, but because I got to count it as “research.”

Read next: Staying at the Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan, Egypt

Presidential Retreats: Where the Presidents Went and Why They Went There, Peter Hannaford

It’s no secret that I am kind of a history nerd, and this was right up my alley! Each section gives a (thankfully) concise bio of each U.S. President from George Washington to Barack Obama, and insider info about their homes, presidential libraries, and retreats. I’d been to many of them (because, traveling nerd), and I was inspired to visit more after reading this book! Because the sections are short, it was an easy read to take in small doses.

Plan a Trip! Presidential Homes within a Day’s Drive of D.C.

The Official Amazing Race Travel Companion, Elise Doganieri

Is it any surprise that a book about my favorite TV show made the list? I think not! The show’s creator wrote what is basically a guide book to locations from the show. I was expecting more insider stories and anecdotes from filming, but it was still a fun read! It’s short and well-organized, making it perfect for a trans-continental flight or beach read!

Also fun: 10 Trips Every Traveler Should Take

I Lie for a Living, Antony Shugaar

So, I have this thing for spies. The whole business of spying is endlessly interesting to me, and this book all about spies was a fun read! Some of the spies are well-known, others died for their craft, and still others are more on the notorious side. I got it at the International Spy Museum, but it’s also available on Amazon!

More here: Everything You Need to Know about Visiting the International Spy Museum, D.C.

Writing of the Gods, Edward Dolnick

So, we already know I’m a fan of history and spies, but here’s a passion of mine you didn’t know until now: I LOVE linguistics. If I could have still graduated on time, I would have changed my major after taking a linguistics class in college!

This book is all about the decoding of Egypt’s Rosetta Stone. Did you realize that no one could read hieroglyphs until the 19th century? Decoding the Rosetta Stone was like solving the world’s most complicated puzzle. One of my favorite parts of the book was actually the beginning because it totally flipped the whole premise of the book on its head and made me think differently, too. Imagine it’s 2,000 years from now, and no one in the world has been able to read English for nearly two millennia. Wow.

Read on: 7 Reasons Why Every Traveler Needs to Visit Egypt

For the Fun of It, Amelia Earhart

If you’re a woman and you fly (as a pilot or a passenger), you need this book in your life. Before her fateful trip around the world, she wrote this book about her life and experiences as a female flyer. If you ever need to be reminded of how far we’ve come, this book will show you!

I have the coolest friends: What It’s Like to Be a WOMAN Medevac Helicopter Pilot

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