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5 Breezy Fiction Books That Will Take You on an International Vacation (Since Actual Travel Isn’t Happening)

Emily Laurence

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Normally this time of year (you know, when we aren’t rudely interrupted by a global pandemic) is when most people start plotting how they’re going to use their summer vacation days. (Taking time off is actually good for your career, FYI.) But as the continuous stream of Zoom happy hours shows, no one is going anywhere anytime soon.

FWIW, those PTO says are still worth taking because while your passport may not be getting any new stamps this summer, you can still be mentally transported to somewhere amazing. Picture it: You, with an out of office set up, on your couch for hours on end lost in a world where people dine in actual restaurants, in actual clothes, and liaisons with cute, international strangers is more romantic than fear-inducing. Rounded up here is a reading list of vacation book reads that will truly make you feel like you’re anywhere but here.

5 vacation book reads to try based on where you wish you were right now.

1. Set in europe: Barcelona days by daniel riley ($28 for the hardcover, $14.99 for the kindle version)

Out next month, this book is 50 percent off if you pre-order it—and doing so will give you something to look forward, just like an actual vacation would. Written by GQ editor Daniel Riley, it’s about a couple who gives each other three “free passes,” (wink wink) while on vacation in Barcelona to experiment outside their relationship before getting married. But when a major volcano erupts, they end of getting stuck in the city for a few extra days, during which their relationship continues to be tested. Come for the couple drama, stay for for the descriptions that will make you feel like you’re in Spain.

2. Set in the caribbean: Dear Haiti, love Alaine by maika moulite and maritza moulite ($7.69 for the paperback; $9.99 for the kindle version)

YA lovers, this one’s for you. After getting suspended from school, high-schooler Alaine, who is Haitian-American, is sent by her parents to Haiti to live with her aunt. There, Alaine learns the roots of her heritage and some surprising family secrets. If your favorite part of vacation is immersing yourself in a new culture, you’ll love all the historical facts sprinkled throughout this book.

3. set in india: POLITE SOCIETY by mahesh rao ($16.38 for the paperback; $12.99 for the kindle version)

A modern take on Jane Austen’s famous comedy Emma, this novel brings the drama of romance, money, and social standing, against a Delhi backdrop. It centers around Ania, who’s gorgeous and seems to have the whole city smitten. But after attempting to play matchmaker for her single aunt, her life gets complicated, and becomes even more so when she realizes she has feelings for her childhood best friend.

4. set in south america: the bad girl by mario vargas llosa ($16.50 for the paperback, $11.99 for the kindle version)

Initially set in Lima, Peru, this love story spans decades (and continents). It centers around Ricardo, who has been in love with Lily since he was a teenager. Over time, she disappears and reappears in his life, never really making him a priority. Still, he’s obsessed and he’s willing to go to great lengths to win her over.

5. set in australia: the nowhere by chris gill ($14.99 for the paperback, $14.99 for the kindle version)

The protagonist in this novel is a teen boy in suburban Australia, struggling with his sexuality. Besides being an LGBTQ coming-of-age story with plenty of heart, there’s also lots of drama between these pages. Love, loss, sadness, hope, excitement…this book has all the feels. (Plus, Australia!)

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