A good book recommendation for travel consists of a few things: 1. It's an easy read. It's not usually the time when people want to rack their brains to identify the symbolism or have to re-read pages to understand circumstances. While there is a time for that, travel is generally a time to unwind and enjoy. 2. The perfect length. Not too short (I hate when I finish a book but still have two days on the beach and a plane ride home) and not too long. 3. It's good. No one wants to put forth the effort of reading a book and it be a dud.
Updated January 2016: This post was originally written right before summertime well over a year ago and targeted towards a beach vacation reading list, but remains one of the posts that gets visited quite frequently. So, we've decided to keep this particular post updated for year-round travel with our favorite books. The original books on the list still remain, but we will be adding more books as we read them/love them, and hope to expand based on different interests as we read different genres and also would love to have suggestions in the comment section as we definitely read when we travel (airplane, bus rides, lazy afternoon by the pool/beach) but we also read a lot at home as well.
Here are some of the best books to read while traveling.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak if you're looking for something that is based in a realistic setting, but still fiction. This is touching without being overly sad, but still makes you consider a different time. (There is a movie now, as well, which is pretty true to the book. You can read the book and watch the movie on the same trip! I like to download a movie for a plane ride, so sometimes I'll read a book and download the movie for the trip home.)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. This is a wild fantasy tale that crosses many time barriers across the two books. The best part about this book is that it includes vintage photos (that are all real) to go along with the story. Most of these photos are, well, peculiar. It's an interesting read alone but the visual element adds another layer of fun wonder. There is definitely a third book in the series coming. (November 2015 Update! The third book is out and it's a glorious conclusion! This is being made into a movie DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON and will be out in December 2016. If you enjoy fantasy at all, please please read this series! Here is a link to the third book, and the box set.)
Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. This is a sort-of trilogy for true fantasy lovers. It takes place in a different world in a different time complete with humans (and animals) possessing special powers. Each book is good on it's own, but all three together are great because the third brings in the previous two flawlessly. All three have an undeniable feminist heroine that makes my lady heart patter.
Gillian Flynn's three releases, Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, and Dark Objects. After a few years of immersing myself in fantasy, Gillian Flynn renewed my love in broken characters and good ole' mystery. I read Gone Girl first, then immediately devoured her previous two books in under a week. These are some of those books that you stay up all night and won't put down, fighting off sleep for all it's worth. I highly recommend all of these. Also, Gone Girl and Dark Places are both turning into movies. I'm pretty stoked for that. (November 2015 update: While Gillian Flynn hasn't released any new books, I devoured The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and if you've read and liked Gillian Flynn, you'll love this book as well.)
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. This book has such witty dialogue and an interesting outlook on life. It's a good read, and a classic.
If you liked Gone Girl, for goodness sake please read The Girl on the Train. If you like Lisbeth Salander, please read The Girl on the Train. If you like mysteries, please read The Girl on the Train. If you like to go head first into a book and don't look up until you've finished it, please read The Girl on the Train.
I'm at a loss as to describe the easy, breezy read of eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell. It isn't suspenseful or insanely dramatic. It's just really, really good. It's relatable and heartwarming and heartbreaking and lovely. It's perfect for a relaxing beach day. Or a plane ride. Or to carry in your bag and read every chance you can get. Whatever floats your boat.