Spring Break Reads for Every Destination

Whether you’re headed to the beach somewhere in Mexico or enjoying a snowy stay-cation in the Midwest, chances have it that you’re in the market for a spring break read.

Those of you getting the sam-heck out of snowy Michigan: admit it, your travel itinerary probably has you spending at least a few hours in a plane, train, car, or uber -- and maybe even some extra down time for a layover at the airport.

And for those of you braving the Michigan tundra: let’s face it, you’re bound to have some extra time (in between sleeping and Netflixing) to devote to a good read -- because we all know you’ll need the mental stimulation and something to talk about with your friends when they return from PV and Cancun.

So here’s your go-to guide for whatever sort of spring break read you’re hankering for, from the self-proclaimed bookworm, yours truly!Laugh-Out-Loud Funny

  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris

  • When You Are Engulfed In Flames, David Sedaris

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

  • Yes Please, Amy Poehler

  • Bossypants, Tina Fey

  • Is Everyone Else Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling

Clearly I’m a fan of David Sedaris, with a triple recommendation for his work… I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Sedaris speak at the Michigan Theater in fall 2015, and I can assure you, he is as crazy as his writing would lead you to believe (the guy drew of axe with blood dripping off the tip when he signed my copy of “Me Talk Pretty One Day”). Sedaris’ work is mostly nonfiction essay collections, and thus his books are super manageable to devour in a week’s time. Sedaris invites you into his life with absurdly honest detail; he spares no one as he divulges his hatred for his speech therapist as a child (he had a lisp) and details the annoyances of learning French as an expat living in France with his (native French speaking-) partner. David delivers the knee-slappers, 10/10 would recommend.

The remainder of my recommendations in this category have names that are perhaps more recognizable, as their infamy reaches deep into the realms of popular culture. Poehler, Fey, and Kaling have all mastered the balance between biography and comedy in these perfect travel-reads; chock-full of one liners and absolutely hilarious scenarios that only this trio could get themselves into, these books also shed light on the challenges that each mogul faced as a woman in comedy. Three fantastic reads sure to deliver some high-key laughs some compelling #girlpower.

 

Uplifting & Reflective

  • The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan

  • Wildflower, Drew Barrymore

  • Milk & Honey, Rupi Kaur

“The Opposite of Loneliness” is, without question, my favorite piece of modern literature. A series of essays (sensing a pattern?) written by Yale-graduate Marina Keegan, “Opposite of Loneliness” delivers a potent punch of Millennial nostalgia, anxiety and whimsy: half of the book’s essays are non-fiction, delving into the personal struggles of Keegan as she contemplates her life after Yale; the other half -- fiction -- conjures up a cast of disturbingly authentic twentysomethings that must all come to terms with the same challenging and beautiful stage of life. What makes the book especially heart-wrenching? Author Marina Keegan died in a fatal car accident just weeks after her graduation from Yale -- the book is a posthumous collection assembled by her parents and professors from Yale. Suffice it to say that you will cry (happy tears and sad tears, too) and relish every last second you have to enjoy at umich.

Barrymore’s memoir, “Wildflower” (another series of essays!) details some of her most profound life experiences to create a compelling and calming illustration of how to live a life of whimsy, love and passion. Great book to initiate reflection on your own goals and aspirations.

Milk & Honey is a series of poetry that has compelled readers around the world; haunting, heartbreaking, beautiful and inspirational, these poems will strike your soul in an indescribable and profound manner. You’re probably already familiar with a handful of the poems, as screenshots of these little treats have gone viral on basically every form of social media. But indulge yourself, go ahead and fill up on the entire collection.

Romantic & Sappy

  • Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

  • If I Stay, Gayle Forman

  • Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin

  • The Best of Me, Nicholas Sparks

 

“Me Before You”: Perhaps you’ve already seen the movie (2016), but I can assure you, the book is so much better (as always) and well worth the read. You’ll be captivated and moved to tears by the heart-wrenching, selfless love shared between Will and Louisa. You’ll eat this up in a matter of days (and be sure to get the tissues ready).

For the readers who simply can’t deal with flowery prose, this is the book for you: “If I Stay” tells the story of Mia, a wildly talented cello-player born as the oddball to a family of punk-rockers. After a devastating car accident that lands her in a strange limbo -- watching herself be rushed to the hospital, lying there, unresponsive --, Mia must decide for herself if her irrevocably changed life is worth going back to. Again, you’ll cry. And there’s a movie to watch also (2014) starring Chloe Grace Moretz, so that’s a huge plus.

Emily Giffin’s “Something Borrowed” strikes the perfect balance of humor and romance, telling the story of good-girl Rachel who accidentally falls in love with her best friend, Darcy’s, financé… let’s just say shit hits the fan in the most delectable and hilarious way. Plus -- another pattern -- there’s a movie based on the novel! Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson star as Rachel and Darcy (respectively) in this 2011 film. Neither the book nor the movie will disappoint.

Lastly, “Best of Me” is a heartbreaking and beautiful read about a couple reunited in the strangest of circumstances. You’ll most likely cry, probably get really angry at Nicholas Sparks, and then feel compelled to text your high school sweetheart (guilty…). And to top it off, you can cap off the deliciously romantic beach-read read by watching the movie (I have a habit of reading book-to-movie novels…) starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan (2014).

Thrilling

  • The Girl On the Train, Paula Hawkins

  • The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman

Jolting, anxiety-inducing, thrilling and deliciously terrifying all at once, “The Girl On The Train” will have you guessing who-done-it until the very last page. Although I haven’t yet seen the movie (2014, starring Emily Blunt!), I can probably assure you that the book is better than the movie. So read the book first, and then see the movie!

“The Light Between Oceans” is similarly electrifying, but also strangely unique: you as the reader are in on the novel’s central secret, but the supporting characters are not, and therein lies the excitement -- as the novel progresses, you’re on the edge of your seating waiting to see just when the beans will spill… oh and there’s a movie, too (2016).

Inspirational & Motivating

  • Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok

  • Wild, Cheryl Strayed

  • Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell

I devoured “Girl In Translation” in under 48 hours; it was just that good. The realistic fiction novel tells the story of Kimberly Chang and her widowed mother who immigrate to Brooklyn from Hong Kong in heartbreaking honesty. Living in disgusting quarters infested with mice and bitterly cold in subzero New York winters, the pair fight their way out of poverty and past language-barriers with persistence and poise. An authentic rags-to-riches story that will both infuriate and inspire you, “Girl In Translation” reminds us to remain hopeful and steadfast in our work -- success is a slow and steady process for us all. (Spoiler alert though, I hated the ending).

“Wild” is the ultimate kick-ass feminist narrative -- and the best part? It’s a true story. After the devastating loss of her mother to lung cancer, Cheryl Strayed embarked on a 1,100 mile journey on the Pacific Coast Trail with no prior hiking experience. The most heartfelt, resilient and gritty memoir I have ever read.

Ever wonder how successful people became so successful? What did they do to set themselves apart? Is there a formula for success? According to Malcolm Gladwell’s research, there is. Gladwell will bring you into the cockpit of an airplane, a German dive-bar, the inner-workings of Canadian hockey leagues, and the private life of Bill Gates to prove just how to chart the success of these “Outliers.” You’ll never look at a success-story in the same way again.

 

Informative  

  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

  • We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  

  • Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham

  • Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

Okay, so my political affiliations might be showing here… but these are some incredible, informative (and rather recent) reads to keep yourself in-the-know. The first -- “Between the World and Me” -- focuses on the systematic oppression of blacks in American culture.

Formatted as a letter to Coates’ son, this novel will rip your heart out, make you check your privilege, and perhaps even inspire you to help forge a new norm.

The latter four choices delve into the world of feminism. I have intentionally included works by two black women and two white women because it is my constant and never-failing hope as an activist to advocate for intersectional feminism -- that is not to say these four books encapsulate everything that intersectional feminism has to offer, but rather, they are a fantastic jumping-off point to educate yourself on the experiences of women of all colors and creeds.

Making a selection from this section of my recommendations is -- admittedly -- heavier and more demanding than the other, “lighter” reads. But in making the time to read something of weight, something salient for our country and for the world in these trying times, you are investing not only in your own ability to see and understand the world more clearly and compassionately, but also in your ability to educate and empower others through your knowledge of these stories and issues.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Pick a category, settle on a book, and get packed for your spring break -- your future self will thank you for the intellectual stimulation (apart from your orgo textbook and accounting notes).

 

Photos courtesy of Britt Boyle.