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Bucket List

Read a book set in a place you’ve always wanted to visit!

June 1, 2021

Read a book set in a place you’ve always wanted to visit!

Books let you travel to places (and times!) you’ve never been. Whether you’re in the mood for a sunny cruise through Athens and Rome, a foodie tour around the world, or a tense mystery in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula—these books will take you all around the globe.

This list is part of the 2021 Adult Summer Reading program.

spinning globe
Beautiful ruins

Beautiful Ruins

Jess Walter

Visit Italy and Hollywood
Follows a young Italian innkeeper and his almost-love affair with a beautiful American starlet, which draws him into a glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.

Big summer

Big Summer

Jennifer Weiner

Visit Cape Cod
A woman confronts the dynamics of friendship and forgiveness while visiting Cape Cod to attend an old friend’s increasingly disastrous wedding.

Born a crime

Born a Crime
Stories From a South African Childhood

Trevor Noah

Visit South Africa
Noah takes readers on a trip back through his formative years in a country beset by internal strife and a tyrannical ruling class struggling to forge an identity apart from the sins of its past.

The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Diaz

Visit the Dominican Republic
Living with an old-world mother and rebellious sister, an urban New Jersey misfit dreams of becoming the next J. R. R. Tolkien and believes that a long-standing family curse is thwarting his efforts to find love and happiness.

The bungalow

The Bungalow

Sarah Jio

Visit Bora Bora and French Polynesia
On the Pacific island of Bora-Bora in 1942, newly-engaged military nurse Anne Calloway is drawn to a soldier named Westry, until they witness a crime and he is redeployed, leaving her to seek the truth about what happened for over seventy years.

Cape May

Cape May

Chip Cheek

Visit Cape May and New Jersey
Southern newlyweds honeymooning in 1957 Cape May are pulled into the dramas of a trio of sophisticated New England urbanites who render the deserted beach community an intimate playground of corruptive recklessness.

Conversations with friends

Conversations With Friends

Sally Rooney

Visit Ireland
Devoting herself to an intellectual life along with her best friend and former lover, a college student is drawn into the lives of a sophisticated journalist and her husband before the increasingly intimate relationship tests the boundaries of her resolve.

Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile

Agatha Christie

Visit Egypt
Linnet Doyle is young, beautiful, and rich. She’s the girl who has everything—including the man her best friend loves. Linnet and her new husband take a cruise on the Nile, where they meet the brilliant detective Hercule Poirot. It should be an idyllic trip, yet Poirot has a vague, uneasy feeling that something is dangerously amiss…

Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth

Julia Phillips

Visit Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula
The shattering disappearance of two young girls from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula compounds the isolation and fears of a tight-woven community, connecting the lives of neighbors, witnesses, family members, and a detective throughout an ensuing year of tension.

The exiles

The Exiles

Christina Baker Kline

Visit Australia
Sent to a Tasmanian penal colony after conceiving her employer’s grandchild, a young governess befriends a talented midwife and an orphaned Aboriginal chief’s daughter while confronting the harsh realities of British colonialism and oppression in nineteenth-century Australia.

The food explorer

The Food Explorer
The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats

Daniel Stone

Visit China, India, Croatia, Bavaria, Chile, Malta and more
The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes-and thousands more-to the American plate.

From scratch

From Scratch
A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

Tembi Locke

Visit the Sicilian countryside
An African-American actress recounts her romance with a Sicilian chef whose traditional family disapproved of their marriage and how she sought solace in their close-knit community after his death.

Good dogs don't make it to the South Pole

Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole

Hans-Olav Thyvold

Visit Norway
A heartwarming tale of aging, friendship and death is told from the perspective of a grumpy mutt who bonds with his late master’s widow during walks to the library, before their home is threatened by impatient relatives.

The guest book

The Guest Book

Sarah Blake

Visit Crockett’s Island off the coast of Maine
The bereaved matriarch of a powerful early-twentieth-century American family makes a fateful decision that reverberates throughout two subsequent generations further impacted by racism, reversed circumstances, and disturbing revelations.

Her last flight

Her Last Flight

Beatriz Williams

Visit Kauai and Hawaii
Investigating the fate of a forgotten aviation pioneer in 1947, war correspondent Janey Everett tracks down the pilot’s former student before learning the remarkable story of their complicated and passionate relationship.

In the midst of winter

In the Midst of Winter

Isabel Allende

Visit Chile and Brazil
A minor traffic accident becomes a catalyst for an unexpected bond among a human rights scholar in Brooklyn, his Chilean tenant, and an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, who explore the difficulties of immigrants and refugees.

The island of sea women

The Island of Sea Women

Lisa See

Visit the Korean island of Jeju
The ostracized daughter of a Japanese collaborator and the daughter of their Korean village’s head female diver share nearly a century of friendship that is tested by their island’s torn position between two warring empires.

The jetsetters

The Jetsetters

Amanda Eyre Ward

Visit sun-drenched Athens, Rome, and Barcelona
Winning the grand prize in an essay contest, a single mother reunites her estranged adult children on a 10-day cruise while confronting long-buried secrets from their dysfunctional shared past.

The last laugh

The Last Laugh

Lynn Freed

Visit Greece
When their empty-nest freedom is compromised by the demands of their grandchildren, three friends embark on a year-long excursion to Greece that is complicated by an extramarital affair, a stalking client, an ex-lover, and an unscrupulous fortune hunter.

The last resort

The Last Resort

Marissa Stapley

Visit Riviera Maya
Two couples begin an intensive therapy program to repair their relationships at The Harmony Resort in Riviera Maya and discover that the resort, as well as its celebrity power couple owners, is not all it seems.

Leading men

Leading Men

Christopher Castellani

Visit Portofino and Italy
A life-changing encounter among Tennessee Williams, his lover Frank Merlo and a taciturn Swedish beauty at a 1953 Truman Capote party culminates in deathbed revelations about Williams’s final play a decade later.

Lost and wanted

Lost and Wanted

Nell Freudenberger

Visit Boston
Receiving an unsettling phone call from her former college roommate, who has just died, a rationally minded MIT professor reflects on their once-close friendship, her friend’s tragic death, and her own rediscovered feelings for a fellow scientist.

Lost roses

Lost Roses

Martha Hall Kelly

Visit Russia
Based on true events, a tale set a generation before Lilac Girls traces the stories of three women, including Caroline Ferriday’s mother, a Romanov cousin and a fortune-teller’s daughter, against a backdrop of the Russian revolution and World War I.

Miss Iceland

Miss Iceland

Audur Ólafsdóttir

Visit Iceland
Moving to 1960s Reykjavik to pursue her literary ambitions, an aspiring novelist moves in with her gay childhood friend only to be confronted by a small male-dominated community that does not believe women belong in the art world.

The old drift

The Old Drift

Namwali Serpell

Visit the Zambezi River in Zambia
On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. Here begins the epic story of a small African nation, told by a mysterious swarm-like chorus that calls itself man’s greatest nemesis.

Paris for one and other stories

Paris for One and Other Stories

Jojo Moyes

Visit Paris
A collection of eight short stories is complemented by a novella in which a young woman abandoned during a romantic mini-vacation gathers the courage to embark on an independent tour of Paris.

Red, white & royal blue

Red, White & Royal Blue

Casey McQuiston

Visit London and England
After an international incident affects U.S. and British relations, the president’s son Alex and Prince Henry must pretend to be best friends, but as they spend time together, the two begin a secret romance that could derail a presidential campaign.

Rough magic

Rough Magic
Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race

Lara Prior-Palmer

Visit Mongolia
The author describes her experience participating in and winning, as the youngest and first-ever female, the Mongol Derby which pits riders against each other while racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 miles of Mongolian grasslands.

Sex and vanity

Sex and Vanity

Kevin Kwan

Visit the island of Capri in Italy—and New York City
A glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds—the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

Sharks in the time of saviors

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Kawai Strong Washburn

Visit Kailua-Kona and Hawaii
When a child falls overboard and is returned safely to his mother by a shark, his miraculous rescue is hailed as a sign from ancient Hawaiian gods, complicating his family’s troubles amid a collapsing sugarcane industry.

Tomorrow there will be sun

Tomorrow There Will Be Sun

Dana Reinhardt

Visit Mexico
Organizing a group birthday vacation in Mexico for her loved ones, Jenna is dismayed when her friends’ personalities change, her husband begins making clandestine calls and her teen daughter bonds with a local delinquent.

The unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners

Christina Lauren

Visit Maui and Hawaii
Partnered with a nemesis best man on a paradise honeymoon when her bride twin gets food poisoning, a chronically unlucky maid of honor assumes the role of a newlywed before unexpectedly falling for her companion.

The unlikely adventures of the Shergill sisters

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

Balli Kaur Jaswal

Visit India
Making an obligatory pilgrimage to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out their mother’s final rites, three estranged British-Punjabi sisters make unexpected discoveries about why their mother was forced to leave India.

The vacationers

The Vacationers

Emma Straub

Visit the Balearic island of Majorca
Celebrating their thirty-fifth anniversary and their daughter’s high-school graduation during a two-week vacation in Mallorca, Franny and Jim Post confront old secrets, hurts, and rivalries that reveal sides of themselves they try to conceal.

When we left Cuba

When We Left Cuba

Chanel Cleeton

Visit Havana and Cuba
Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle, Beatriz Perez, who is consumed with revenge and the desire to reclaim the life she lost in the Cuban Revolution, will risk everything—including the man who has stolen her heart.

Wild

Wild
From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed

Visit the Pacific Crest Trail
A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.