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22 best books to read on holiday: Top reads for 2023

The holiday books to add to your summer reading list 

woman in hammock reading book
Sophie Bates
Sophie BatesCommerce Writer
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Whether you’re heading on a sunshine holiday or a relaxing staycation, no suitcase would be complete without a great book to read. From gripping page-turners to TikTok viral romance novels, we've searched high and low for the very books to read on your next holiday - along with honest reviews from the HELLO! team.

If lighthearted reads are your holiday go-to, or you prefer a mysterious fantasy novel to escape into, scroll on to shop the best books to add to your reading list this summer...

How we chose the best holiday books

  • Reviews: Some of these books have been honestly reviewed by myself or members of the HELLO! team, whilst those that haven't are either on my reading list or have received generally positive reviews from shoppers.
  • Paperback/audible options: Who wants to carry around a hardback book on holiday? Certainly not me. If paperback isn't an option, Audible is available for those who prefer to listen to books rather than read them.
  • Popularity: Many of the books in the list have been a huge hit on TikTok, going viral for their popularity. So we know they're on plenty of people's wishlists, including ours.

TikTok trending books to read on holiday

Paper Palace by Mirander Cowler Heller 

A top pick from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, the star described the novel as “A deeply emotional love story that follows one day in the life of Elle Bishop as she navigates the unravelling of secrets, lies and a very complex love triangle”.

Yellowface by Rebecca K. Kuang

Yellowface has been dominating BookTok since its release in May, and the 'razor-sharp' read is being praised for its gripping plot and satirical humour. When successful author Athena White dies in a freak accident, failed writer June Hayward steals a manuscript and publishes it as her own, leading her to question how far she will go to keep the life she feels she deserves.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends With Us is a number one bestseller and is a viral sensation on Instagram and TikTok. The story revolves around Lily, a girl who hasn't always had it easy but she's determined to live the life she wants. When she meets Ryle Kincaid, he changes everything. But can her past life come back to haunt her? You'll have to read it to find out.

"When I asked my Instagram followers for holiday book recommendations, this one came up so many times. I immediately ordered and I'm so glad I did. It has been hyped up on Bookstagram and BookTok, but I now know why. It's genuinely one of the BEST books I've ever read! It's one of those books that you carry on reading through the night even though you know you've got to go to sleep, it's just an addictive read. I have now read the sequel (which is called It Starts With Us - you may as well buy both of them at the same time) and I cannot wait to see the movie which is currently being filmed in New Jersey. I resisted the urge to Google who was playing the lead stars, and now I know I can't help but think the casting doesn't match the book in the slightest. But regardless, this is a great holiday book. I will go and watch it though. It's an emotional rollercoaster - it made me laugh, it made me cry and I'm now officially in the Colleen Hoover fan club." Leanne Bayley, Director of Lifestyle & Commerce

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

How To Kill Your Family has been a smash hit since its original release in 2022, and the Sunday Times Bestseller and debut novel from Bella Mackie is a fascinating antiheroine story described by critics as ‘addictive’. The witty, sharp novel follows Grace Bernard's dedicated mission for revenge against her family, with the protagonist's detached narration providing a unique, hilarious twist to the dark subject matter to keep you hooked throughout.

"How to Kill Your Family is unlike any other book I've read. It was so interesting to read about a dark subject matter in a desensitised way, and it had me hooked from the first few pages. I feel like this would be a great read for most people, regardless of what genres you usually reach for, as it's so unique and gripping," Sophie Bates, Commerce Writer. 

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

The debut novel of Schitts Creek screenwriter Monica Heisey, Really Good, Actually is a sharp and hilarious read about the uncertainties of modern love, friendship and happiness. Described as, "wildly funny and almost alarmingly relatable", the raw, heartwarming novel has become an instant hit since its release. 

"I credit this book with getting me out of my reading slump. Hilarious and scarily relatable, I found it a smart, self-deprecating, delightful read that I couldn't put down on my recent holiday,"  Carla Challis, Commerce Partnerships Editor.

The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman 

The third installment in Richard Osman's bestselling Thursday Murder Club book collection is The Bullet That Missed. The lighthearted, witty novel will make the perfect holiday read, and it's been described by the Sunday Express as: "Another witty, charming and hugely entertaining read ... his best yet." 

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Everyone is talking about Gabrielle Zevin's novel Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. It's the story of protagonists Sadie and Sam, who first meet one another in the hospital. Meeting again eight years later in a crowded train station, the spark between the pair is immediately reignited. Mail on Sunday described the book as "An immersive tale of friendship, creativity and life's messy wonders". 

Romantic comedy books to read on holiday 

Seven Exes by Lucy Vine

Seven Exes is the witty romantic-comedy from Lucy Vine, which followers protagonist Esther's quest to reconnect with the seven exes from her past; The First Love, The Work Mistake, The Friend with Benefits, The Overlap, The Missed Chance, The Bastard and The Serious One. Warm and fast-paced, the book explores romance, friendship and nostalgia. 

My favourite type of read on holiday is a feel-good book that I can pick up and put down without losing momentum, and that's exactly what Seven Exes is. Lighthearted and funny, it was a delight to read on my sunlounger," Sophie Bates, Commerce Writer.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Would you go on the holiday of your dreams even if it was with your nemesis? Olive's twin sister Ami is about to marry the man of her dreams, but after the entire wedding falls ill, except Olive and best man Ethan, the pair head on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon to Hawaii. Forced to play loving newlyweds, she and Ethan find themselves in closer proximity than they ever expected. Described as "a perfect feel-good romantic comedy," The Unhoneymooners will give you summer feels whether you're sat on the beach or on your sofa. 

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Emily Henry has taken BookTok by storm with her bestselling novels Book Lovers and You and Me on Vacation - and her latest rom-com Happy Place has proven to be just as much of a hit. Two exes take a holiday with their closest friends, though they are yet to share that they broke up six months ago. Described by Beth O'Leary as, "smart, sunny, sexy and also a gorgeous story of female friendship," it's a feel-good read perfect for enjoying in the sun.

The Italian Escape by Catherine Mangan

For a feel-good holiday read, we loved The Italian Escape by Catherine Mangan. After breaking up with her boyfriend and boss, Niamh agrees to a spontaneous trip to Italy with her sister Grace, bringing a joyful and romantic novel to escape in.

Thriller books to read on holiday

 Rock, Paper, Scissors by Alice Feeney

The story follows couple Adam and Amelia as they spend a weekend in the remote Scottish Highlands to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. After the romantic trip takes a dark turn, the pair begin to wonder whether they can trust one another. The compelling thriller is a New York Times bestseller and a TikTok sensation, full of twists and turns. 

"If you like Gone Girl and similar dark thrillers, you'll love Rock Paper Scissors. It had me hooked from start to finish and I loved all the twists along the way. It usually takes me a while to get through a book but I couldn't put this down," Sophie Bates, Commerce Writer.

The Vacation by John Marrs

Full of twists and turns, this thrilling novel from John Marrs is set in Los Angeles, where eight strangers meet at a hostel to discover there is more going on than just a holiday. 

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is one of the most talked about authors right now, and her thriller Verity is a must-read if you love gripping page-turners. A struggling author accepts a job offer of a lifetime from Jeremy Crawford, the husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford. Hired to complete the remaining books of Jeremy's injured wife, Lowen never expected to uncover Verity's unfinished autobiography that she never intended for anyone to read. Verity has been a hit across social media, and Holly Willoughby has raved about it, too. 

"I don't think I've ever read a book as quickly as I read Verity. I literally couldn't put it down. The suspense keeps you guessing the whole way through, and I had no idea how the story would end. If you need to get yourself out of a book rut, Colleen Hoover is the author to do it. Suspenseful, creepy and sexy, I wish I could read it with fresh eyes again." Sophie Bates, Commerce Writer.

One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke

Described as gripping and "utterly addictive", One of the Girls is a crime-thriller set in Greece bringing the perfect balance of escapism and mystery needed from a holiday read.

Young Adult books to read on holiday

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

 A YA suspense novel and TikTok phenomenon, We Were Liars is a gripping page-turner from New York Times bestselling author E. Lockhart. The suspenseful plot will keep readers on their toes throughout, and the unexpected twist makes it an unforgettable read.

One of Us is Back by Karen M. McManus 

After the global success of One of Us is Lying and One of Us is Next, Karen M. McManus just released the highly-anticipated third and final installment in the Bayview High trilogy. Described as a "fantastic murder mystery, packed with cryptic clues and countless plot twists," the explosive final book perfectly rounds off the bestselling series. 

Non-fiction books to read on holiday

The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke

Documenting years of research from doctors, patients and researchers as well as drawing on her own experiences, Meghan O’Rourke explores the complex struggle of chronic illness in America. It’s fascinating, complex and empathetic. 

The Unexpected Joy of Being Single: Locating Unattached Happiness by Catherine Grey

Described as “Brave, witty and brilliantly written”, Catherine Gray gives a refreshing take on what it means to be single - and it’s the perfect empowering read for your next girl's holiday. 

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Though published in 2011, Thinking Fast and Slow has made a comeback online. For a factual read that will keep you interested with its complexities, this International Bestseller by psychologist Daniel Kahneman is a must. Exploring how we make decisions and offering a fresh take on how the human mind works, it’s an intriguing read that encourages new perspectives.

Fantasy books to read on holiday

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

One of Matt Haig's many must-read novels, The Midnight Library is a touching fantasy novel about life and death, which The Sunday Times labelled as: "A beguiling read, filled with warmth and humour, and a vibrant celebration of the power of books to change lives".

The City Inside by Samit Basu

This dystopian sci-fi tells a story of a near-future reality, described by critics as "funny, relatable, supremely clever and deeply political". It will get you thinking about how far from our current reality the story really is. 

READ: 10 Best audiobooks to listen to on your sun lounger this summer

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