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My Top Recommended Books to Read while on Vacation

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

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Have you ever wanted to just escape the day to day, get lost in something else? For me, reading does just that. I can open a book and read the words and get totally lost in the story. I feel like I'm living the book. I picture the characters and what they look like, sound like. I feel their feelings. I'm often brought to tears by reading. My husband just doesn't understand and will often just shake his head. I'm a cryer. When I see someone crying, I often will cry too. So why wouldn't I cry when reading a book?

Recently I've gone on week long book bingers. I guess I could be binging on worse things. I'll read at least a book a day for a few weeks. So today, I thought I would share some of my favorite books of 2023. I'll share at the end my top pick.


Nicholas Sparks has been a favorite of mine since I was in highschool. I got hooked on his books and just feel in love with everything about them. When the movies came out, it was that much better. I've read every single book of his. And this summer I read Dreamland. This book is not his typical book, but I did love it.

We don’t always get to choose our paths in life; sometimes they choose us.

After fleeing an abusive husband with her six-year-old son, Tommie, Beverly is attempting to create a new life for them in a small town off the beaten track. Despite their newfound freedom, Beverly is constantly on guard: she creates a fake backstory, wears a disguise around town, and buries herself in DIY projects to stave off anxiety. But her stress only rises when Tommie insists he’d been hearing someone walking on the roof and calling his name late at night. With money running out and danger seemingly around every corner, she makes a desperate decision that will rewrite everything she knows to be true. . . .

Meanwhile, Colby Mills is on a heart-pounding journey of another kind. A failed musician, he now heads a small family farm in North Carolina. Seeking a rare break from his duties at home, he spontaneously takes a gig playing in a bar in St. Pete Beach, Florida, where he meets Morgan Lee—and his whole life is turned upside-down.

The daughter of affluent Chicago doctors, Morgan has graduated from a prestigious college music program with the ambition to move to Nashville and become a star. Romantically and musically, she and Colby complete each other in a way that neither has ever known.

In the course of a single unforgettable week, two young people will navigate the exhilarating heights and heartbreak of first love. Hundreds of miles away, Beverly will put her love for her young son to the test. And fate will draw all three people together in a web of life-altering connections . . . forcing each to wonder whether the dream of a better life can ever survive the weight of the past.


 

Another favorite author of mine is Elin Hilderbrand. She is another one that I have been reading about for many years. She is the reason behind my love for Nantucket. She paints the perfect picture of the island and makes everyone just want to go spend the summer there.

28 Summers was the perfect beach read. It's a book you want to just continue reading to get that perfect happy ending.

When Mallory Blessing's son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he's not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It's the late spring of 2020 and Jake's wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.

There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?

Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother's bachelor party. Cooper's friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere—through marriage, children, and Ursula's stratospheric political rise—until Mallory learns she's dying.


Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.


 

If you haven't picked up a Colleen Hoover book, you've been missing out. Colleen writes a variety of books from thrillers to love stories. I prefer the love stories as I have a hard time with thrillers. But I am going to recommend a few of her thriller books as well that my daughter has loved.

My favorite Colleen Hoover book has been Heart Bones. Oh my this book is a good one. It pulls all of the heart strings.

After a childhood filled with poverty and neglect, Beyah Grim finally has her hard-earned ticket out of Kentucky with a full ride to Penn State. But two months before she’s finally free to change her life for the better, an unexpected death leaves her homeless and forced to spend the remainder of her summer in Texas with a father she barely knows.

Devastated and anxious for the summer to go by quickly, Beyah has no time or patience for Samson, the wealthy, brooding guy next door. Yet, the connection between them is too intense to ignore. But with their upcoming futures sending them to opposite ends of the country, the two decide to maintain only a casual summer fling. Too bad neither has any idea that a rip current is about to drag both their hearts out to sea.

Definitely a must read!





Maybe Someday is book 1 of a 3 book series. I honestly recommend all three of the books. They are an easy read and just an overall feel good story.

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her—and she’s forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.







You can also get the sequels: Maybe Not and Maybe Now


Now for the thriller lovers out there. My daughter has read almost every Colleen Hoover book that she has written. Her top recommended ones are Verity and Layla


 

Now for this next one, Bright Side, I am going to warn you- get a box of tissues. This book wrecked me. I was literally sobbing while reading it. My husband looked at me and said "are you okay?" when I answered ""no, he said "well are you at least almost done with it?" And I responded, "no I still have 120 pages left." Although heart breaking, it was by far one of the best books I have ever read. Such an amazing message to "Do Epic!" I love that.

This is also a series. All three books are highly recommended in my book list!

Amazon Top 20 Bestseller

Book 1 of 3 in the Bright Side series

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). She’s quick witted, endlessly passionate about music, the first to offer a smile, and the kind of loyal that most friends only dream about. The one thing that escapes her optimism is love. She’s never bought into it, never believed in it. So, when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall hard for Keller Banks.

They both feel it.

But they each have a reason to fight it.

They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,

they may heal you,

or they may end you.

Gus and Franco were also really great. These books did an amazing job of tying it altogether and giving it some closer.

 

Kristen Hannah is yet another favorite author by many, me included. I began reading her books in Highschool as well and have enjoyed every book of hers. The two most recent books of hers that I have read and loved were The Great Alone and The Four Winds.

The Great Alone was another book that wrecked me a little, but it was so good I could not put it down. I think you will love this book.

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.

In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.


The Four Winds was a different read for me as I do not usually read "history" type books but this one really was amazing. Plus, I learned a little ;)

My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa―like so many of her neighbors―must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.


 

A new favorite author of mine has become Emily Henry. Her books are just so fun to read and funny. All four of these books I read in a week. They are great easy reads and perfect for reading while on vacation.

Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.

They broke up five months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.

Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those who know you best?


Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.




One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming...

Nora Stephens' life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.


Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?


 

Lastly, I recommend Where the Crawdads Sing. Although this book is a little older and I read it not this year, I had to include it in my list. I read this book while part of a book club. I did not think I was going to like it, and to this day it is one of my favorite books I have read.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.





So there you have it. Definitely not all of my favorites...but a lot of them. So which is my favorite you may ask....

Bright Side. Yes you will cry, like ugly cry, but the message is just too good not to call it my favorite! You won't be disappointed.

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