By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly
You’re going away for the weekend. You have a few hours to kill on the plane, or maybe in the car, and you love to read. You don’t want to think too much, though – after all, you’re on vacation! You need a book you can devour in a weekend. What’s it going to be? Here are some suggestions for quick, light reads perfect for vacation.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
History buffs will find this short work of fiction (274 pages) a perfect vacation read. German-occupied Guernsey Island during World War II is the setting, and the characters are a lovable, eccentric group who form a literary club. A writer named Juliet is intrigued by their society, and joins them on Guernsey Island. Her letters detail her experiences with people who become true friends, and their struggles during the occupation of their home during the war.
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (2014)
There’s something for everyone on this list! Fans of chick lit, gossipy style, and a little (ok, a lot…) of sexy romance will enjoy this quick read. Holly Brennan, a young widow, hooks up with a trainer to get her into shape. Of course, there is undeniable chemistry between them! This one is not recommended for a family car ride audio book! Load up your e-reader and bring a fan, because this one is hot, hot, hot! Perfect for the beach!
Panic by Lauren Oliver (2014)
For the daredevil among us, Panic is a great choice! It is an extremely fast-paced story with a lot of action, but also filled with characters the reader learns to love and hope, loyalty, friendship, and compassion. Teens compete in a last-man-standing game of daring to win a large sum of money. It is not dystopian like The Hunger Games, but has a similar fight-to-the-death plot.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011)
At 144 pages, this is a tiny little thing. It is a simple story of Japanese women sent to San Francisco as brides. They detail their excitement and nervousness of meeting their grooms for the first time, followed by their (sometimes) disillusionment with what they find upon their arrival. This is a book for people who like literary fiction without having to “work for it.” There is deep meaning behind the simple structure and vocabulary of the story.
Molly Murphy Series by Rhys Bowen (#1 Murphy’s Law, 2002)
Start at the beginning of this cozy mystery series, and enjoy Molly Murphy’s amateur detecting. Fresh from Ireland to New York City, Molly finds herself in trouble – accused of murder! She becomes a lady detective (no small thing in the early 1900s). Molly is likeable, and her cases, while serious, are gentle-enough reads. Another great series by this author are the Royal Spyness mysteries about a member of British nobility who also becomes an amateur detective.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (2013)
At 400 pages, this isn’t as short a read as others, but it is a quick read. A psychological fiction book that both teens and adults will enjoy, this is the story of a dead teenage girl. In alternating chapters, we hear the dead girl’s story and her mother’s. Was it suicide? Was it murder? What was she mixed up in at her private school? What secrets was she keeping? So. Good.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (2013)
Another 400 pager, but its short chapters make it perfect for travel reading. The story is set in Australia, which makes it a bit exotic for American readers. Perfectly nice women, whose stories overlap and intertwine, harbor secrets and dysfunction while appearing to the outside world as successful, driven, balanced, and even privileged. The husband’s secret, once revealed, makes us all wonder what we can live with and what our own deal-breakers are. Psychological fiction with layers of interconnectedness, but intriguing and compelling enough to keep you turning the pages.
Save Me by Lisa Scottoline (2011)
Scottoline’s stories present a mix of legal thriller and women’s lives and relationships. This particular story is ultra-compelling. A fire in an elementary school means that a woman (named Rose) has to choose between saving her own daughter and saving the children closest to where she is in the lunchroom at the time the explosion happens. What makes it worse is that the child closest to her, who she can probably help the fastest and easiest, is her daughter’s tormentor. Rose sees the little bully (Amanda) to safety and then runs back in for her daughter, not knowing that Amanda runs back in too. Amanda’s mom blames Rose for not helping Amanda, refusing to believe that Rose tried to help Amanda first. Amanda is badly injured and unconscious in the hospital, and no one else can back up Rose’s story. Absolutely gripping! Scottoline knows how to seize emotion – and then twist the knife just a little more.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2007)
Everything Lisa Genova writes is worth reading, but I chose this one for this list for a few reasons. First, it is short at 292 pages. Second, it is quick because it is so interesting that you just lose yourself in it. Third, there is a movie coming out based on the book sometime in 2015 making it a popular choice. Early onset Alzheimer’s claims Dr. Alice Howland. She is a Harvard professor and highly respected in her field. Losing herself in the disease is absolutely devastating to her and to her colleagues and her family. The story is told from her own perspective as she loses her memory little by little. She tries her hardest to keep a grip on reality, but the disease does its worst. Her coping mechanisms are brilliant – and heart wrenching. This will make a great movie, but definitely read the book first!
About the Authors
Holly is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Plymouth District Library in Plymouth, MI. She has a mild obsession with collection quality (ok, maybe not so mild) and can be found at the Readers’ Advisory desk dreaming up read-alikes.
Mary is the Youth Services Librarian at the Lyon Township Public Library in South Lyon, MI. She, too, is obsessed with collection quality, and has taken it up a notch with never ending shelf lists, spreadsheets, and inventory. Mary has a special knack for linking books to readers of all ages.
Together Mary and Holly are the authors of “Making a Collection Count: a holistic approach to library collection management.” They also tweet at @awfullibbooks and blog at awfullibrarybooks.net.