5 Books to Read During Holiday Travel

updated Dec 18, 2019
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Whether you’re stealing some quiet time in your childhood bedroom or looking for entertainment for a long plane ride this holiday season, these reads will get you through the end of the year.

Ghost Wall

This slim book about Iron Age reenactors in northern England is the perfect level of creepiness for a compelling holiday read. Silvie’s tough, obsessive father loves to think about what ancient civilizations did to survive—and so jumps at the chance to bring his wife and daughter along on a professor’s weeklong anthropological retreat into the woods. Despite a gas station down the road, Silvie, three other students, her parents, and the professor have to keep up the charade that they’re living in the Iron Age, foraging for food, sleeping in rustic cabins, and building an eerie barrier to keep out intruders—a “ghost wall” that often comes with sacrifice.

Disappearing Earth

In a secluded Russian town, two young sisters go missing. Over the next year, that mystery remains the nexus that connects a wide range of characters, including: the mother, the detective, the sole witness, and various neighbors, cousins, and colleagues in their orbit. Even on a peninsula as remote as Kamchatka, racial tensions run high, family secrets threaten exposure, and the loss of the two girls shocks and reverberates for months. Don’t try to predict the ending until you’ve reached it.

Marilou Is Everywhere

Cindy is living in a falling-apart home with her two brothers and an oft-absent mother, when a glamorous girl from the neighborhood, Jude, goes missing. What originally began as a casual, sympathetic visit to a grieving mother becomes something more complex, as Cindy spends more and more time in Jude’s world, and looks to fill the hole left by her missing classmate in a more permanent way. A fairly fast read that’s a little bit coming-of-age, a little bit mystery, and perfect for a roundtrip plane ride. 

Salt Slow

Short story collections are my favorite way to fit in reading when I feel like my schedule is overwhelming—so if your holiday calendar is packed, “Salt Slow” stories will be the perfect momentary breathers in an otherwise hectic season. Each story starts in a familiar place, but crack and twist to explore the depth of women’s bodies in modern society. From a young woman whose skin peels away from her, to a girl who develops a strange bond to her wolf stepsister, to a brokenhearted woman building her perfect man in an unconventional way, these beautiful, suspenseful, mind-bending stories will leave an impression.

Happy Like This

If body-focused science fiction isn’t your thing, try Ashley Wurzbacher’s debut collection that offers slices of women’s lives at various stages of professionalism, trauma, motherhood, and growth—all trying to decide what, exactly, happiness looks like. The stories demonstrate how meaning can be found in mundanity, and that no two women’s interior lives are the same, and even the most seemingly insignificant decisions have lasting ripple effects.