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11 Books We’re Reading to Inspire Ourselves and Our Future Travels

While many of us around the world are practicing social distancing, we’re finding more time on our hands and fewer things to do as the constant busyness of the everyday seems farther and farther away. Do yourself a favor and learn, instead of fear, during this time. Here are 11 books that we’re reading right now to help refocus and keep our travel inspiration alive.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell 


There’s never been a better time to read How to Do Nothing because in a way that’s exactly what the world is begging us to do right now: nothing. Available on Kindle, Odell’s field guide on how to repurpose your thinking, attention, and motivational forces makes you rethink not only your day-to-day but also your intentions, like where and why you travel. —Ashley Rossi, Senior Editor

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote


I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, and Holly Golightly is one of my favorite fictitious characters of all time. That’s why I finally want to read the book that inspired one of my most-watched movies, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m hoping the book will transport me to an unparalleled era of New York City glamour and that Holly’s nonchalant but still caring disregard for the future will rub off on me. —Ashley

The Island of Sea Women, Lisa See

the island of sea women by lisa see book cover.

I had never heard of the all-female divers of Jeju Island, South Korea, before reading this book, but I found their story fascinating. The Island of Sea Women follows two divers from girlhood into old age, through war and a changing culture that sees their specialized skills become less and less relevant in a modern world. I learned a lot reading this book and would love to visit Jeju Island someday to see the landscapes See describes so vividly. —Sarah Schlichter, Deputy Executive Editor

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

a gentleman in moscow by amor towles book cover.

We all may be stuck in our homes for a few weeks or months during the COVID-19 outbreak, but Count Alexander Rostov, the main character in this delightful novel, is stuck in Moscow’s luxe Metropol Hotel for decades. His sense of humor and the way he makes the best of his situation offer plenty of lessons for those of us chafing at our own confinement. —Sarah

The Magic Misfits, Neil Patrick Harris


Shout out to all those parents looking for fun read-alouds with kids, and to grandparents and other family members who valiantly show up on FaceTime to read to kids so their parents can get to working from home. In that spirit comes this recommendation for Neil Patrick Harris’ hugely fun and readable Magic Misfits four-parter. (Did you know Harris is a magic nerd? I didn’t until I started in on the series with my six- and eight-year-olds.) It’s silly, it’s exciting, and you and your read-aloud partners will learn some sleight of hand along the way. —Christine Sarkis, Executive Editor

War in Val d’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944, Iris Origo


Iris Origo’s World War II diaries (which she wrote and hid nightly, and only published years later) are a riveting story of perseverance and resilience. Set in Tuscany’s Val D’Orcia, the diary tells of Origo’s house being commandeered by enemy troops even as the family and tenant farmers helped partisans and evacuees and sheltered and educated local orphans. I first read the book before visiting La Foce, Origo’s home, which now offers garden tours, but have returned to it again and again. (British celeb gardener Monty Don did a spotlight on the garden; scroll down to the video to watch the clip.) —Christine

The Windfall, Diksha Basu

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The Windfall is a simultaneously funny and frustrating novel about one Indian family’s sudden new-money status, which brings luxuries and insecurities both at home and abroad. As their son heads to school in the United States and they move to a new neighborhood in India, the family learns the hard way about the societal and personal expectations that come with money (and a lack thereof), as well as age, gender roles, love, and tradition in a globalizing world. —Shannon McMahon, Editor

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Recommended to me by not one but two friends now, Trick Mirror is a book of essays on different topics that all ultimately thread together, from this decade’s politics to psychology, for their ability to wrap our own unique realities. I’m picking it up because it’s earned a deluge of recognition including a spot on the New York Public Library’s list of the Top 10 Books of the Year. —Shannon

Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston


On the hunt for a fun, frothy read? Red, White & Royal Blue is a same-sex rom-com whose main characters—the Prince of Wales and First Son of the United States—wheel between D.C., London, Paris, New York City, L.A., and Texas. Royal obsessives will have fun picking out the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry similarities. But this is hardly a courtly romance—internet slang, gifs, group chats, and Jezebel abound. If you’re looking for a good ol’ distraction from the news, RW&RB offers plenty of racy fun. —Anne Bauso, Editor, What to Pack

The Floating Feldmans, Elyssa Friedland


A playful and atmospheric romp, The Floating Feldmans follows one dysfunctional family as they attempt to take a cruise together—and fail in all kinds of hilarious ways. Author Elyssa Friedland, an astute observer of human nature, makes the Feldmans sweet and loveable while still constantly rocking the boat. Funny and quickly paced, this is the perfect novel for those who want to ignore the news and sail away into a pure beach read. —Maria Hart, Executive Editor, What to Pack

Circling The Sun, Paula McLain


Lose yourself in Beryl Markham’s life—Circling The Sun is based on the true story of the daring aviator who became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. The majority of the book takes place in Nairobi, where Markham grew up and trained to become one of the first bush pilots. Encounters with lions and wild horses will make you feel like you’re along for the adventure. —Caroline Morse Teel, Principal Editor

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