For many Travel Advisors, one of the only things we like talking about more than travel is books. A great page-turner lends an exciting note to any trip, whether you spend hours by the pool or sneak a few pages before bed.
We asked the editorial staff of Virtuoso Life and Virtuoso Traveler magazines, plus a few Virtuoso travel agency executives, for their picks for fabulous fall reads. These recommended books to read on trips are guaranteed to brighten up any plane ride.
Intrigue & Mystery
“I’m a recent convert to the Book of the Month Club. Originally founded in 1926, it has been reborn as a fabulously fun source for well-written, immersive books. Many of them become best-sellers so you feel like you knew about them before everyone else. I get so excited to select my book. Here are two I found and loved through the Book of the Month Club.
- Before The Fall by Noah Hawley: A private plane carrying wealthy, powerful families – and a small-town artist – crashes one night near Martha’s Vineyard. There are only two survivors: the artist and a four-year-old heir. The story reveals itself through the backstories of the characters and the aftermath of the crash. I didn’t see the ending coming.
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: Every decision you make – from where to go to dinner to the person you marry – alters the course of your life. This thriller-meets-love-story makes you wonder about all paths your life might have taken, and to be content in the one you have. I tore through it in two days. The movie rights have been signed!”
~Annie Fitzsimmons, Digital Editor
- The Coaster by Erich Wurster: “This guilty pleasure centers around husband-and-wife society darlings who find themselves in the middle a scam they can’t get out of as they spiral away from their moral core. Blackmail and extortion have never felt so fun and it was just what I needed to detox from the daily grind.
- The Trouble with Lexie by Jessica Anya Blau: If you appreciate a wicked, sometimes indelicate sense of humor, Blau delivers. Lexie’s trouble finds her teetering on the edge of moral disaster at an exclusive East Coast boarding school when she has an affair with her favorite student’s father. Don’t confuse this with a romance novel, as it is anything but; instead, think Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Where’d You Go Bernadette.
- City of Falling Angels by John Berendt: I recently reread this nonfiction memoir before I traveled to Venice and consider it the definitive insider’s guide on the rich history of the city. What happened in the infamous La Fenice opera house fire? Why is it nearly impossible for a burglary to occur in Venice (and they so rarely do apart from petty theft)? Walk the streets of Venice with Berendt as you discover his menagerie of notorious, not-so-famous, and iconic personalities that have shaped the city.
- Oh You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin: A must-read story about a barista turned personal assistant filled with self-deprecating humor and sharp one-liners. You feel like you’re in the heart of Hollywood, where everyone is an actor on the verge and all who have ‘made it’ are clamoring to hold on to their ounce of fame.”
~Shelby Hanes Donley, Virtuoso agency owner
- The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson: “A page-turner with a great ending.
- The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney: This captivating story about life as a Gypsy kept me guessing until the end.
- Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld: An easy read and modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice – dysfunctional and funny.
- The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: Complicated layers of love-hate relationships among siblings.
- The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee: A tragedy bonds the female characters in this book – I love the Hong Kong setting.”
~Melanie Fowler, Art Director
Gripping Fiction & Fascinating Memoirs
- Circling the Sun by Paula McLain: “If you liked Out of Africa (or count West with the Nightas a favorite book), you’ll love this historical fiction about aviator and adventurer Beryl Markham’s life in 20th century Kenya. The author also wrote another favorite book, The Paris Wife.
- Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide by Michael Kinsley: A witty, intelligent look at growing old, written by a baby boomer who’s battling Parkinson’s disease.
- Midnight Assassin by Skip Hollandsworth: My friend and fellow Texan made his career writing about true crime, and this one’s a doozy: America’s first serial killer – who in the late 1800s terrorized, of all places, Austin, Texas.
- Eyes on You by Kate White: Maybe it’s because she’s a former magazine editor and a kindred spirit, but I’ve been riveted by every one of her mysteries. I can’t wait for her new thriller, The Secrets You Keep, to be published next year.”
~Elaine Srnka, Editorial Director
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan: “I don’t surf and never have, but I’m halfway through this memoir and I can’t put it down. The New Yorker writer’s chronicle of his surfing obsession is a great adventure story that spans his lifetime and the globe. Finnegan is an impeccable writer and his descriptions of the pursuit of great waves and the characters he’s encountered from Southern California’s coast to the backwaters of rural Tonga are peppered with just the right amount of humor, insight, and universal truth.”
~Marika Cain, Managing Editor
But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman: “After reading this, I found myself thinking creatively about new trends in luxury travel and where we are headed as travelers, hoteliers, and advisors. The book is a brilliant look at this cool concept: trying to predict the future by thinking of the present as if it were the distant past. Klosterman – a longtime music and cultural critic and writer – brings an interesting background to the task, and tackles a wide range of ideas in literature, music, art, religion, democracy, and even gravity.”
~Bobby Zur, Virtuoso agency owner
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: “A heavy read, both literally (800+ pages) and figuratively (lovers of romantic comedies: run), but this recent Man Booker Prize finalist offers a beautiful depiction of both friendship and what it means to survive intense hardship. Plus, it’s filled with lines like this: ‘The second [intravenous bag] has something … that makes the pain furry and gentle and that makes sleep something inky and still, like the dark blue skies in a Japanese woodblock print of winter, all snow and a silent traveler wearing a woven-straw hat beneath.’
- Love in the Time of Cholera and Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez: An upcoming trip to Cartagena gives me another good reason to revisit these novels set in the city. Hidden park benches in the shade of almond trees, I can’t wait to meet you.”
~Joel Centano, Senior Editor
The Book Craze of 2016
Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante: “Reading the incredibly detailed, four-part story about a lifelong friendship between two women in Naples, Italy, feels just like binge-watching a new favorite television show on Netflix. I couldn’t put these books down, and I felt so close to Elena and Lila by the end of the story, that I actually still miss them, weeks later.”
~Amy Cassell, Assistant Editor
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren: “I recently picked up this older book again. Finding the beauty in imperfection in both art and life is something we should all be reminded of from time to time.”