As you get ready for your summer adventure, one of the big questions is always how to pass time on a flight, train or bus ride. Often, what book to download (or purchase) is one of the last things we think of while packing.

Don’t worry, we have compiled the top reads for your upcoming adventure. Whether you’re into fiction or nonfiction, mystery, memoirs or beyond, we have books to appeal to bookworms, or casual beach readers (with links for easy purchase, of course). We’ve even organized the top reads by trip type, so whether your next trip is backpacking, a beach getaway, adventure travel, a road trip or study abroad experience, you can find inspiration here.

Happy trails, and happy reading!


For years, college students have enjoyed grabbing their gear, some good friends, a map, and setting out onto an unknown place backpacking. It is also one of the most economical ways to vacation. If you are planning a backpacking adventure, get some inspiration on the ten cheapest countries to backpack through and book your travel with student flight discounts, cheap rail passes, and affordable hostels.


The following are the four books we recommend you read on your backpacking adventure.

  • Title: Wild
  • Author: Cheryl Strayed
  • About: After losing everything, Cheryl Strayed makes the decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. Her story captures how a young traveler discovers herself over the course of a 1,100-mile hike full of both terrors and pleasures.


  • Title: World Gone By
  • Author: Dennis Lehane
  • About: A decade after losing his wife to enemy fire, and having his entire empire destroyed, Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal history. He finds success working as a consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, but that success cannot protect him from the dark truth of his past and he is forced to pay the wages of a lifetime of sin.


  • Title: Just One Day
  • Author: Gayle Forman
  • About: On the last day of Allyson Healey’s three-week post-graduation tour of Europe, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not. Allyson agrees to abandon her plans and go to Paris with him, and the following 24 hours are filled with risk, romance, liberation and intimacy. This story of love, travel and identity shows us how sometimes in order to be found, you first have to be lost.


  • Title: The Girl on the Train
  • Author: Paula Hawkins
  • About: Every morning, Rachel takes the same commuter train. She imagines that the lives of those she sees in passing are perfect, until one day she is a witness to something that changes everything. She offers information to the police, becomes entwined in what happens next and wonders if she’s done more harm than good.


Do your summer travel plans involve relaxing in the sunshine on a lounge chair at the beach? We have some inspiration for you. Here are our top seven beach recommendations, great for spring break or anytime.

Once you plan your trip, check out our five suggested beach reads and figure out which book you will get wrapped up in as you listen to the waves crashing down around you.


  • Title: We Were Liars
  • Author: E. Lockhart
  • About: Each summer the wealthy members of the Sinclair family gather on their private island. This is the story of those annual reunions. Prejudice, greed and shifting favoritism give way to suspense and good intentions gone horribly wrong.


  • Title: Big Little Lies
  • Author: Liane Moriarty
  • About: Follows the story of three women, all of them at a crossroads in their lives. The story is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal and the dangerous little lies we tell to survive.


  • Title: Yes, Please
  • Author: Amy Poehler
  • About: A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists and more from the mind of one of America’s most beloved entertainers. Poehler shares her thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood, to her early days in New York City and beyond, mixing in tidbits of words and wisdom to live by.


  • Title: Dark Places
  • Author: Gillian Flynn
  • About: At age seven, Libby Day survives the murder of her mother and two sisters and testifies that the killer was her fifteen-year-old brother. Years later, a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes locates Libby and presses her for details. She agrees to reconnect with the people involved in the murder and report her findings to the club, but as her search unfolds she finds herself right where she started – on the run from a killer.


  • Title: The Cookbook Collector
  • Author: Allegra Goodman
  • About: The story of two women who are opposites in every way. The novel is a story about getting and spending, and the substitutions we are forced to make when we can’t find what we need. And above all, it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.

Adventure Travel

Summer is the best time for a good old fashion adventure. Whether you’re into extreme sports or volunteering in a remote part of the world, here are the suggested top 10 summer adventures to consider if you’re looking for an action-packed trip that will provide lifelong memories.
Once your trip is planned, don’t forget an action-packed book to accompany you. Our recommendations for the top six summer adventure reads are below.



  • Title: Unbroken
  • Author: Laura Hillenbrand
  • About: A testament to the resilience of the human body and mind, this true story follows the experience of Lieutenant Louis Zamperini as his Air Force bomber crashes into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and he is pushed to his limits to survive the elements and make it back alive.
  • Title: Half a King
  • Author: Joe Abercrombie
  • About: Riddled with betrayal and revenge, this classic coming-of-age tale tells the story of Prince Yarvi vowing to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea.


  • Title: A Walk in the Woods
  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • About: The story of Bill Bryson’s hike through the tangled woods of the Appalachian Trail. Facing brutal weather conditions, exposure to the elements, unreliable maps and countless other detriments, Bryson struggles through the wilderness to achieve his lifetime ambition – to not die outdoors.


  • Title: Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club
  • Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • About: Sáenz’s stories reveal how all borders entangle those who live on either side. He uses Juarez’s legendary Kentucky Club as a touchstone for each story, showing that the characters who enter the watering hole come from all walks of life and will often assert that, “I’m going home to the other side” when they leave the club to head home.


  • Title: Red Rising
  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • About: Serving as the first book in a trilogy, Red Rising is set in the distant future and tells the tale of a slave named Darrow who does all that it takes to build his power and move closer to his ultimate goal of changing society for the better.


  • Title: The Boys in the Boat
  • Author: Daniel James Brown
  • About: Celebrating the 1936 men’s Olympic rowing team, this is the story of nine working class boys who defeat the privileged and powerful in an effort to compete for a gold medal. These boys reaffirm the American notion that merit outweighs birthright and remind our nation what can be done when everyone works together toward a goal.

Road Trips

Going on the age-old road trip across the US, or through another part of the world, or just starting to plan one? The best part of road trips is the flexibility they provide. You can stop and stay with friends or relatives, take detours at the last minute, and pile all your friends into a hostel or a hotel room for breaks along the way. Take back roads whenever possible to capture the scenic moments of your trip. StudentUniverse has hotels and hostels around the US and the world so you can always find a place to stay.
The following are the four books we recommend you read on your next road trip.



  • Title: Mosquitoland
  • Author: David Arnold
  • About: Upon discovering that her mother is sick, Mim Malone hops aboard a bus from Mississippi back home to Cleveland. However, her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she never saw coming, and she must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty and what it means to be sane.


  • Title: Paper Towns
  • Author: John Green
  • About: After his schoolmate Margo summons Quentin to a night of adventure, Quentin arrives at school to discover that she has become a mystery. Soon, he learns that she left clues – and they’re for him. As he gets closer, he sees less and less of the girl he thought he knew.


  • Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
  • Author: Maria Semple
  • About: Bernadette Fox is notorious: a fearlessly opinionated partner to her husband, a disgrace to fellow private-school mothers, and a revolutionary architect to design mavens. Then she disappears. Her daughter, Bee, compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence to create this touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.


  • Title: The Promise of Departure
  • Author: L.W. Montgomery
  • About: Facing divorce, Greg leaves his young daughter Maggie and heads to Haiti to repair his crumbling life. He brings nothing but his motorcycle to the shattered country where he hopes to help mend the heartbreak, and where he unexpectedly finds the one thing he’s abandoned.

Study Abroad

Have you made the decision to study abroad or are you thinking about it? Studying abroad can be one of the most amazing experiences any student can have. Not only are you attending a different school, but you are going to get immersed in an entirely different culture than what you are used to. You make new friends from all over the world, and gain a great deal of knowledge about international politics, food, and daily life.
Chances are you will be traveling quite a bit while you’re abroad. Don’t forget to pack a few good books! The following are our top five picks for “must reads” on your study abroad adventure.



  • Title: All the Light We Cannot See
  • Author: Anthony Doerr
  • About: Just awarded the Pulitzer Prize, this is the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths cross in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. All the Light We Cannot See tells the tale of both characters’ lives and how the two eventually collide.


  • Title: Wolf Hall
  • Author: Hilary Mantel
  • About: This is a fictionalized biography documenting the rapid rise to power of working-class Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. The novel provides an intimate portrait of Cromwell as a pragmatic and talented man attempting to serve during a time of political schemes and religious upheavals.


  • Title: The Boston Girl
  • Author: Anita Diamant
  • About: Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter who has asked how she got to be the woman she is today. The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of Addie’s complicated life in twentieth-century America and speaks to the generation of women finding their place in a changing world.


  • Title: A Spool of Blue Thread
  • Author: Anne Tyler
  • About: This is the story of the Whitshank family – Abby, Red and their four children. The story captures the family in all its emotional complexity, from laughter and celebrations to jealousies and carefully guarded secrets.


  • Title: The Luminaries
  • Author: Eleanor Catton
  • About: It’s 1866 and young Walter Moody has made a fortune in the New Zealand goldfields. One night, he stumbles across a group of local men who have gathered to discuss a series of unexplained events, and he is immediately drawn into the mystery.

What did you think of these books? Do you have a favorite? Share a comment with us and let us know!

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