30 Books to Pick Up Before You Go on Vacation With Your Best Friends
Going on vacation with your best friends is one of life's simple pleasures: soaking up some fun and sun with the people you love most by your side. To make your next trip even better, why not pick up some BFF-themed books to read on your escape? We've rounded up a list of books that will no doubt make you treasure your besties, whether it be in the form of laugh-out-loud personal essays or stories of women who are there for each other, for better or worse. There's something in here for everyone, so check the options out ahead!
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Danielle Lazarin's Back Talk is a must-read collection of stories the revolves around the experience of women and girls — and we can't recommend it highly enough. What better book to bring along on a friend-filled vacation?
Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers
This deeply compelling (and thoroughly entertaining) novel will give you major Dietland vibes as it tells the story of seven women who vow to take revenge against the exploitative filmmakers documenting their extreme weight loss journey, and the self-love and sisterhood they find in the process.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
If you loved Riley Sager's Final Girls, then you'll likely be obsessed with the author's spine-tingling thriller The Last Time I Lied. This time around, we meet a young woman who decides to return to her childhood summer camp to dig for what truly caused a gut-wrenching tragedy 15 years earlier involving her and a group of new friends.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Joanne Ramos's The Farm is a timely and piercing read that will give you The Handmaid's Tale vibes. The story revolves around a luxury retreat where women are paid to enjoy organic meals, massages, and more. The catch? You're not allowed to leave the grounds for nine months, as you're serving as a surrogate for another person's child. When Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, arrives, she is forced to make a number of heartbreaking decisions.
The Female Persuasion
The follow-up to Meg Wolitzer's much-loved The Interestings dropped in 2018, and it does not disappoint. The Female Persuasion is an exploration of feminism and passion as it unfolds throughout multiple generations and through multiple narrators.
Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling knocks it out of the park yet again with Why Not Me?, the follow-up to her 2012 collection of funny, thoughtful essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns). After reading about her getting dumped by a friend in LA ("I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.") and her "weird as hell" relationship with ex-boyfriend B.J. Novak, you'll no doubt find yourself wishing Kaling was on the lounge chair next to you.
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott, the Edgar Award-winning author of Dare Me, brings us a novel about a complicated (and possibly fatal) friendship between two competitive women in Give Me Your Hand. When Kit and Diane meet in high-school chemistry class, they forge an unlikely friendship; but before long, their bond is derailed when Diane shares a shocking secret. Years later, Kit is completely blindsided when the friend she thought she escaped from forever not only reappears in her life but is also gunning for Kit's job.
Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
The first book from My Favorite Murder podcasters Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark is a must-read for any friends who can't stop listening to their show. It will also give you a confidence boost — Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered puts an emphasis on advocating for personal safety rather than the traditionally expected feminine traits of being "nice" or "helpful."
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver has a knack for examining the bonds between her female characters while framing them within an endlessly interesting, tragic circumstance, and Vanishing Girls is no different. The novel follows sisters Dara and Nick, who were totally inseparable until an accident left Dara's face scarred and the pair estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick sets out to find her sister, and, in a way, herself.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Jessica Knoll's Luckiest Girl Alive sometimes feels like it's moving at a breakneck pace, pausing long enough for you to catch your breath just to knock it out of you a few pages later. The suspenseful, sometimes-funny, usually heartbreaking story of Ani FaNelli — a magazine editor set to marry the man of her dreams before a dark secret from her past emerges and threatens her perfect future — is the perfect pick to bring on a vacation with friends, if only for the fact you'll need someone to talk about it with as soon as you finish.
Friendship by Emily Gould
A Wall Street Journal favorite book of the year and a New York Times Book Review editors' choice, Emily Gould's Friendship tells the story of best friends Bev and Amy, who are desperately trying to figure their sh*t out and grow up, without growing apart.
The Girls From Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
BFFs Mia and Lorrie Ann could not be more different in Rufi Thorpe's The Girls From Corona del Mar. Mia is a reckless wild child and Lorrie Ann is her calm, kind, and beautiful counterpart until the years pass and the nature of their friendship drastically changes. How well do you know the person you call your best friend? How well do you know yourself? Thorpe confronts these questions and more in this affecting novel that will stick with you long after you've read the final page.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
If you're planning on going on a vacation with your mom or your sister, Where'd You Go, Bernadette is an excellent literary companion. Maria Semple's touching, can't-put-it-down novel follows 15-year-old Bee and her agoraphobic mother, Bernadette, who vanishes seemingly without a trace. Bee goes on a mission to track down her mom, compiling email messages, official documents, and secret letters, to piece together wherever it is that Bernadette went.
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
If your trip happens to be of the bachelorette variety, Girls in White Dresses is probably for you. The book drops us into the lives of Isabella, Mary, and Lauren, three best friends struggling to navigate the ups and downs of early adulthood while everyone around them is saying "I do." With equal parts fluff and wit, it'll be a surefire favorite.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
We Were Liars is a quick read, but don't let its slim page count fool you — this novel has a startling, unforgiving depth to it. E. Lockhart whisks us away to a private island off of Martha's Vineyard, the Summer home to a wealthy family with a long list of secrets. As four teenaged members of the family find themselves tangled up in the repercussions of an unthinkable secret, they confront lies, love, and tragedy while coming of age over the Summer.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
If your vacation is more like a staycation, never fear — Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is here. A romantic tale full of humor and romance, it brings readers from the exotic coast of Italy in the 1960s to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood 50 years later.
The One & Only by Emily Giffin
The writer of the Something Borrowed series is back with The One & Only, which sees its unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile the love and loyalty she feels for her hometown with an unexpected tragedy.
Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell
Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell trades Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte for Victory, Nico, and Wendy in her smart and sexy Lipstick Jungle. With all of the sex, scandal, and fashion, the story of these three women is the quintessential beach read.
All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue
Former best friends Kate, Vanessa, and Dani reunite in the beach town where they grew up in All the Summer Girls, where they try to forgive each other (and themselves) for something that drove them apart years ago.
Dare Me by Megan Abbott
If the characters in Mean Girls were cheerleaders, maybe they'd be something like the protagonists of Megan Abbott's Dare Me. This juicy novel follows the dissolving friendship between high school queen bees Addy and Beth, whose power dynamic drastically shifts when they get a new cheerleading coach.
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
In Best Friends Forever, Addie and Valerie have been best friends since they were nine years old, but when they become teenagers, a betrayal ruins their friendship and leads the two down very different paths. Fifteen years later, Valerie shows up on Addie's doorstep terrified, with blood on her clothes, needing help. Expect the same kind of touching, witty observations about the ins and outs of female friendship that Jennifer Weiner nailed in other novels like In Her Shoes and Good in Bed.
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Taking a fun trip with your college friends post-graduation? Why not check out Mary McCarthy's The Group, which keeps up with the lives of eight Vassar graduates and close friends as they take on the world together.
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
In 1966's Valley of the Dolls, three young women become fast friends as they struggle for success while climbing their way up the ladder in NYC's cutthroat entertainment industry. It's no wonder this mesmerizing story of sex, drugs, and the bright lights of the city is a cult classic.
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
Five hip, twenty-something friends — Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco, and Madeleine — share a Brooklyn brownstone in Gemma Burgess's Sex and the City-esque Brooklyn Girls series. Each installment sees the world through the eyes of a different friend, starting off with stylish and spoiled Pia. If you've gotten into the whole food truck craze, her hilarious, heartbreaking, exciting, and embarrassing tale will be right up your alley.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies was an instant hit (and soon-to-be HBO series starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon), and for good reason. The novel introduces readers to three mothers whose lives intersect when they meet at the preschool where their children attend. The closer they all become, the more their lives get intertwined, gradually culminating in a shocking reveal that will change their lives forever.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
If you abide by the saying that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, don't judge a book by its disappointing movie adaptation, either. This insanely popular YA series might be about vampires, but at its core, Vampire Academy has one of the best portrayals of female friendship that the genre has ever seen. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir — a human-vampire hybrid — whose job is to protect the life of her best friend, Lissa Dragomir, a Moroi — a mortal, peaceful kind of vampire — while they attend the supersecret St. Vladamir's Academy. Supernatural hijinks ensue, obviously.
Beloved author Jojo Moyes' Still Me is a continuation of Louisa Clark's journey as featured in Me Before You and After You. Even if you and your pals haven't read the previous books, it's a wild ride watching someone settle into the groove of New York City life — and as always, Moyes delivers a scorching commentary on modern life as we know it.
Legendary author Sigrid Nunez puts forth a tale of one woman's recovery from a traumatic loss in The Friend — and how the dog her loved one left behind becomes the center of her life, for better or for worse.
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Beatriz Williams's historical fiction novel, The Summer Wives, combines themes of money, class, and power as it takes us on a trip to Winthrop Island in the 1950s and then again a decade later. Both times we ride along with Miranda Schuyler, whose new stepfather and stepsister change her life in unexpected (and not always positive) ways.
Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Listen, we know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but how can anyone be expected to resist the cute design on Rachel Hawkins' Her Royal Highness?! Rest assured, though, the story about a woman's experience living with a princess as a flatmate in Scotland — an actual princess, mind you — soon heads in a romantic direction.