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Vacation Book Recommendations Straight from Smartie Bibliophiles

Once we’ve squared away the details on actually booking your trip with a SmartFlyer travel advisor, it’s time to source the best books to read on vacation.

For us, it’s all about escapism; but what really ups the ante is if a book can paint the picture of a destination on our docket. Building on our previous roundup, we checked in with a handful of SmartFlyer’s resident bibliophiles for their picks for the best books to read on vacation. Even better, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to snag these reads for yourself through a link over to Bookshop, a socially conscious organization that funnels 75% of its profits to support local, independent bookstores.

#smartflyertakemeto | Vienna

Hotel Sacher by Rodica Doehnert – Recommended by Beth Washington

“I love to read a book set in my next destination before I travel, and my favorite genre is historical fiction. Hotel Sacher by Rodica Doehnert transported me to a golden era of one of the world’s most iconic hotels, the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. The book follows the hotel owner, Anna Sacher, and characters as they stay and socialize in the hotel. I could feel myself back in the lobby, drink in hand! As an added bonus, the book includes the recipe for the famous Sachertorte!

Purchase Hotel Sacher on

#smartflyertakemeto | Japan

Destination Wellness by Annie Daly – Recommended by Kayla Douglas

“In a world where wellness has become commodified, travel choices are often rolled into our collective and relentless pursuit to be a better version of ourselves. In Destination Wellness, I adore how writer Annie Daly separates what you can buy or book (think: a hotel stay, a massage, etc.) from what you must immerse yourself in while visiting a destination. While this nonfiction guide takes readers around the world through Jamaica, Norway, Hawai‘i, Japan, Brazil, and India, it was the section on Japan and cultural importance of being present that impacted me most.”

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#smartflyertakemeto | Brittany, France

All the Light We Cannot See by – Recommended by Amy Zebala

“Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is not just another historical fiction novel set during WWII. Part mystery, part history, this beautifully written novel follows two children–one French and one German–as they grow up to influence the war, and ultimately, each others’ lives, in profound ways. This poignant novel captivated me and lives with me still. This novel would pair beautifully with a trip to the Brittany region of France, not only for historians but also for those who love seaside towns and delicious cuisine.”

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#smartflyertakemeto | Greece

Circe by Madeline Miller – Recommended by Tera Muellerleile

“Prior to a recent trip to Greece, I read Circe by Madeline Miller. With far less Greek mythology knowledge than my 11-year-old son who studied it in 5th grade, I thought it could be the perfect way to familiarize myself with some of the well-and lesser-known gods and mortals. I didn’t anticipate just how much I’d enjoy the story–filled with a fierce female character, fantasy, romance, and so much drama. Even better was that I knew the stories and relationships of many of the gods noted while touring the Acropolis and other sites! Add this to your reading list, as well as another Madeline Miller read, The Song of Achilles, before your next visit to Greece.”

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#smartflyertakemeto | India

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi– Recommended by Terri Hill

“Alka Joshi’s The Henna Artist beautifully brings to life 1950’s post-colonial India. Set in a pivotal time where the country was transitioning from the traditional to the modern, this novel captivated me from the first page. A universal story of resilience and knowing your worth. This explores the nuances of intimate relationships between people in different positions of privilege and power. I loved the beautiful descriptions of vibrant India from the markets, to the palaces, to the fabrics, and most especially the sacred henna designs.”

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For more ideas on the best books to read on vacation, check out part one in our series: “Travel Books That Transport Us

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