These captivating stories will transport you to a warmer place.
Remember when you could go outside without wearing seven different layers of clothing? Those were the days. If you’re sick of the cold and don't live by a breezy beach, pick up one of these warm, summery reads and add a little sunshine to your winter days.
The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
The Post family is off to the Mediterranean for a island vacation to celebrate a high school graduation and a 35th wedding anniversary. It could shape up to be an Instagram-worthy family vacation…but it turns out that all of the family’s little disagreements have followed them to paradise. The Vacationers is a smart and funny novel exploring who we are to family members, the world, and ourselves. Plus, you’ll feel like you’re on a very expensive vacation paid for by an engaging, slightly dysfunctional family. Sounds like a win, win.
To buy: $11.50; amazon.com.
Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell
The Bigtree family lives in the steamy swamps of the Florida Everglades, where they’re struggling to keep their alligator wrestling business afloat. While young Ava Bigtree is trying her best to run their sideshow attraction, the rest of her family seems to be drifting away: Ava's mother is dead, her father is missing, her brother has run away to work for an underworld-themed amusement park, and her sister is dating a ghost. Swamplandia! is a strange, semi-magical, brilliantly-crafted tale about family, set against a balmy Floridian landscape.
To buy: $11.50; amazon.com.
In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is like the cool English professor who would always plan a pizza party on the last day of class. Yes, he’s here to impart knowledge, but he’s going to make it unbelievably entertaining. In a Sunburned Country is his exuberant tour of Australia. Bryson ventures outside the well-worn Fodor’s guide to explore the weirder side of the outback, encountering friendly people and animals, scorching weather, and a myriad of ways you can die. Full of humor, danger, and incredible detail, Bryson’s travelogue will make you feel like you're there.
To buy: $8; amazon.com.
Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
Before people were eating, praying, and loving, they were reading Under the Tuscan Sun. In this classic travel memoir, Frances Mayes recounts her time restoring a ramshackle villa in Italy’s countryside. She eats incredible food, looks at incredible art, and makes friends with incredible Italian people. Mayes’ lyrical prose paints an irresistible portrait of Tuscany. It’s all too easy to imagine that you, too, are sipping wine in your sunny, overgrown garden, even when you’re actually shivering in your front room on a long winter’s night.
To buy: $10; amazon.com.
Castle of Water, by Dane Huckelbridge
Sophie is happy, successful, and headed to French Polynesia for the honeymoon of her dreams. Barry has the exact same trip planned, but to escape a dreary career in finance. Then their plane goes down, and the two are the only survivors. Stranded on a small South Pacific island, they will have to put aside their differences in the name of survival. The result is a charming, romantic, and intensely readable new take on the standard castaway story.
To buy: $14; amazon.com.
Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine follows Douglas Spaulding and his friends' escapades during the summer of 1928: getting a new pair of sneakers, setting off firecrackers, trying to create a “happiness machine,” hanging out by the ravine, and, of course, making dandelion wine. They get into scrapes and grapple with loss, but, for the most part, Dandelion Wine is a comforting read that will remind you of the aimless summer days of childhood.
To buy: $15; amazon.com.