vacation reads

To me, the best part of vacation is the fact that I can read all day long and not feel even the slightest bit guilty. Being the book nerd that I am, I just can’t imagine life without reading….kinda like I can’t imagine life without yoga! Or Dagoba organic chai chocolate bars!

Just like anything, sometimes I’m really “off” with finding good books. There’s nothing like buying a brand new book, reading fifty pages and then losing interest. However, lately I’ve been reading some totally awesome books. Books I can’t put down for the life of me! I would actually venture to say that the two books I read over our vacation were amongst the two top books of the year that I’ve read.

Bold statement….I know. But they really were can’t-put-down-amazingness! Like books you actually get sad when they’re over? Books that you really feel like you KNOW the main characters and feel for them just like you would feel for any “real” person?

There’s nothing like losing yourself in a good book.

And here are two!

I can’t BELIEVE it took me THIS LONG to read this!!!! It came out in the late ’90s and I’m truly shocked I didn’t pick it up then. It’s like a grown up Laura Ingalls Wilder book and I loved, loved, loved it. It’s about a young girl and her husband in late 19th century South Carolina. Read it! You will not be disappointed!

A reader actually recommended this book and I’m eternally thankful because it really was spectacular. I’m actually putting it right up there with Sarah’s Key as one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I don’t want to get into details and give anything away but don’t let the book name deter you from reading! While it is incredibly heavy and sad at times, it’s also brilliant, heartfelt and deeply moving. It’s definitely one of those books that you feel sad when it’s over and are tempted to start back at the beginning.

If you read one book this summer, pick this!


You Might Also Like

  • Cait's Plate
    July 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

    TOTALLY agreed on the best part about vacation being that you can just read books all day long!

    I eat books for breakfast on vacation – it’s amazing the speed at which I can get through them when I’m not only confined to pre-work and post-work reading time πŸ™‚

    I literally have a list of books I need to read and every time you post a book review it grows! I think 50% of the list is from your blog!!

  • Shari @ Chicago Cuisine Critique
    July 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I’m very intrigued by the second book. I will have to look into that. Thanks for the recommendation. To be fair, I have to give you a recommendation back. I have a great chick lit book for you that I would describe the same as you did the last time. It’s a light read that keeps you captivated the whole time. Which is shocking for a book that’s greater than 500 pages but it’s true.

  • Ashley
    July 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I love book recommendations! Gap Creek sounds like a great one, I will have to put that on my “To Read” list!

    Thank you!

  • Katie at Faith & Funfetti
    July 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Reading without guilt on vacation (ALL. DAY. LONG.) is one of my very favorite things, too! Thanks for the suggestions! As soon as I step away from the computer, I plan on picking up my Nook and downloading both before I forget the titles.

  • Laura
    July 7, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Jenna, I LOVE when you do these posts. I’ve already bought like the last 6 that you’ve recommended. It’s amazing. Have you read Room? I would love to hear your thoughts…

  • Erika @ The Teenage Taste
    July 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Pretty much the only time I read is when I’m on vacation. Unless you count the required books for school, but I pretty much just SparkNotes them anyways. πŸ˜›

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    July 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I’ve never really been one to read anything but chick flick-y beach reads on holiday (and trust me, I still love those so so so much) but I appreciate your suggestions because I know nothing about any other genre! Well, apart from cookbooks of course. But reading cookbooks on a beach is a little weird…

    Thanks for the picks Jenna!

    July 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

    i’ve had gap creek sitting on my book shelf for years. not sure why i haven’t finished/started for that matter reading it.

    i just finished pictures of you and three stages of amazement. really enjoyed them both.

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    July 7, 2011 at 10:26 am

    My mom has had Gap Creek sitting on her bookshelf sincce the 90’s when this came out. I don’t know why I haven’t picked it up to read yet, now I will!

  • Sarah
    July 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Gap Creek is simply one of the best books I’ve ever read and I loved The Murderer’s Daughters and Sarah’s Key. I’m reading the Grapes of Wrath now. I was supposed to read it in 10th grade. The assignment is a tad overdue.

    • jenna
      July 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

      it’s Sooooooo goood!!!!

    • Marie
      July 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

      I am reading Grapes of Wrath right now too! The first bit was tough ( SO much detail!) but now I am almost done and it has been very good!
      I guess there is a reason books like that are classics!

  • Jackie @ That Deep Breath
    July 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I’m dying to read Sarah’s Key and The Murderer’s Daughters. Thanks for the recs!

  • lindsay
    July 7, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I think I have Gap Creek on my book shelf!! Probably a hand me down from my mom…will definitely pick it up now!

    • Emily
      July 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Same here! I didn’t even realize it was on my bookshelf!

  • Alex
    July 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I love new book recommendations. Thank you!

  • Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles
    July 7, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for the heads up! … I wrote about reading today too! πŸ™‚ Oh the good life of reading a book!

  • Stacey
    July 7, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I was hoping you’d post some book recs, I need new material!

    My absolute favorite book ever is :

    Hiding in Plain Sight: The Incredible True Story of a German-Jewish Teenager’s Struggle to Survive in Nazi-occupied Poland

    I’ve read at least a dozen WWII/Holocaust era books including Sarah’s Key and none of them can compare to this one. The book is 550 pages with tiny print, but I managed to finish it in less than a day. I was hooked. At the time I read this, I worked in Corporate America and brought it to work and stuck it on my lap and read through out the day.

    Hididng in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson and The Secret Holocaust Diaries are also great books.

  • Blog is the New Black
    July 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I think I rec’d murderer’s daughters- just about done with it & totally agree! Love love love!!!

  • Jaime Ramsay
    July 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I love that you always post about reading! I’m an English teacher and looovve reading too! Have you read ‘One Day’ yet? It’s a must!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    July 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

    GAAH! We have the exact same taste in books and now I have to add these two to my overwhelmingly long list of books to read. Thanks a lot. πŸ˜‰

  • Louise
    July 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I recommend Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It’s odd, but very entertaining.

  • Liz
    July 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I love, love, love that you give book reviews. I’m always looking for something new to read as I go through them as fast I get them. Ever since you recommended The Kitchen House, I’ve read every book you’ve talked about. Keep them coming! I’ve got a list a mile long that I keep adding to.

    I don’t know if you’ve talked about it in the past, but are you reading actual books or on a kindle or something? I go back and forth buying them on my iPad and reading from the library. I simply can’t afford to buy every book I read.. I’d go broke!

  • Baking 'n' Books
    July 7, 2011 at 11:21 am

    We have different tastes in books – but I think I should ‘broaden’ my reading palette – I could surprise myself πŸ˜‰

    P.S – do you do Yoga on vacation as well?

  • DessertForTwo
    July 7, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Thank you so much for your recs! You had me at Laura Ingalls Wilder!! I’m a huge Little House fan! πŸ™‚

  • Logan
    July 7, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for the suggestions! Just added both to the list I keep in my Blackberry so I can look for them on my next trip to the library.
    Are you looking forward to “The Help” coming out in the theater later this summer? We saw the preview while at the movies last weekend and it looks like it will be good. I don’t think movies are ever as good as the book though so I’m glad I read it first.

  • Sarah @ SharingBananas
    July 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for the recs! I’m a huge book nerd too, and am trying to carve out more time in my week to read. My goal is to get through the towering stack on my night stand before I buy any more books, but I’m always looking for good summer reads! πŸ™‚

  • Rachel @ Healthy Teacher
    July 7, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Robert Morgan is one of my favorite authors. Gap Creek is wonderful, and The Truest Pleasure is also good.

  • HilJo
    July 7, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I totally hear you on that reading on vacation thing!! I had to start limiting myself to only reading 300 pages a day to spend time with my hubby’s grandparents over 4th of july weekend!! I still end ed up devouring a solid 1800 pages in 5 days though…gulp. When you find a new book (or series), you gotta read.

  • Mellie
    July 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I am an unashamedly geeky book lover! Both those books look really good!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    July 7, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I love to read on vacation, so relaxing πŸ™‚ thanks for all these great book ideas!!

  • Karen
    July 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I am so peculiar re. books. I have such a hard time falling in love within the first 50 pages, and if I don’t, I just can’t go back. Those you’ve recommended that I’ve read have been awesome, but given all of your spectacular reviews, I know I’m a lot less forgiving than you. The second book on your list sounds pretty promising to me.

    Your timing is great as always…thanks for these suggestions, Jenna!

  • kaila @ healthy helper!
    July 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

    That second book sounds so interesting! Is it a mystery? It kind of sounds like it could be from the title!

  • Adriana
    July 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the book recommendations!!! I have read so many books that you have recommended and I have loved them all! Enjoy the rest of your vacation πŸ™‚

  • courtney (pancakes and postcards)
    July 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Yay! Not that I really need any more books to add to the stack, or the list, but these are added.

    I’ve been on a Jodi Piccoult kick recently. I just love how her books are easy to read yet ALWAYS make you think about some really tough and controversial subjects.

  • Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect
    July 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you for the suggestions! I definitely have to make reading more of a priority. Lately, time just seems to slip by and it takes me months to finish a book. You’d think I hate reading, but I absolutely enjoy it.

  • Ashley
    July 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Just put both of them on my Goodreads “To Read” list! I wish I could get my hands on them now! Gosh- I need a Kindle I guess!
    I just finished “The Probable Future” by Alice Hoffman and really enjoyed it.

  • Abby
    July 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t know if you are into series at all, but I just finished all three Hunger Games books in one weekend. They are awesome. Plus, they are filming the movies now, so it would be nice to read them before they come out.

  • R. Chandra
    July 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    oh losing yourself in a good book is one of the greatest joys in life! i experienced it last week with “firefly lane” by kristin hannah – could not put it down and at the end i was sobbing my eyes out!

    equally annoying is not being able to get into a book, durr.. i’ve started “vanishing acts” by jodi picoult and it hasn’t seized me in yet! i’ve actually felt that way about a few other picoult books.. i feel like i want to like them, but it’s always… eh!

    i am intrigued by the second book you mentioned! i think i’ll go check it out on Amazon right now….

  • Kristi
    July 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I love book reviews. I find so many new books to read through other people’s reviews. I put both of these on my must read list.

  • Michelle
    July 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Seriously, thank you so much for your book recommendations. I’ve been in a reading rut lately because I get really overwhelmed at the book store.

    I picked up “The Violets of March” right before my beach vacation last week. I read the whole thing by the pool over a few days and loved it.

    Thank you for making my vacation complete. I like your taste in books (and food) and I’ll be picking these up too!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    July 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Jenna I marvel at how much you read. It’s truly inspirational to me!

    One day when I don’t have to work and my daughter is raised, I would love to carve out time during my day to just….read! It’s truly such a wonderful thing but for right now, I need at least 34 hours in each day rather than 24 just to get things done…haha! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for all your book recommendations. I will never get through them but I love reading them. Kind of like reading cookbook reviews. Always fun to hear people’s thoughts!

  • Moni'sMeals
    July 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    good to know, thanks! I look forward to both of them.

  • Jessica
    July 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    The one thing I always look forward to on summer vacation is plenty of time to read as many books as I please! Right now, I am reading The Help and Pride and Prejudice. I fully agree that sometimes when a story ends I feel as though I KNOW the main character and yes, I do go back to the beginning to read it all over again!! πŸ™‚

  • Erin D.
    July 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I just recently read a book and could not put it down!!! It was fabulous and thought I’d share! It’s entitled “Heaven Is For Real”. It’s a true story about a 3 year old boy who has to have emergency surgery and goes to heaven during the surgery. AMAZING!!! I hope you get a chance to read it!

  • erin
    July 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I’m going to have to go there on vacation!!! Looks amazing!

  • AnneW
    July 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Our taste in books in eerily similar!
    If you haven’t read Unbroken yet YOU MUST! It will change your life!!!

    • Logan
      July 8, 2011 at 9:00 am

      So many of my family members (Dad, sister, husband, brother in law and my mom) have read this and really, really enjoyed it. It is on my list too! They were talking about it so much on our summer beach trip that I definitely need to read it soon.

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    July 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I need to plan a vacay just to read.

    I like the way you think!

  • Kirstin
    July 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I always see Gap Creek on the shelf at my local Friends of the Library book store. (Actually, all of the Oprah’s Book Club books end up there.) I’ll have to read it now. I also saw the movie tie-in edition of Sarah’s Key in a store–Kristin Scott Thomas is on the cover. Another one for my list ….

    The movie One Day is coming out this month. Great book. Still can’t imagine Anne Hathaway as Emma.

  • Rachael
    July 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for the book reviews! I have been wondering what to read now that I am done with The Help.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    July 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    That last book intrigues me!! I like darker reads so it sounds like it would be perfect for me.

  • Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove
    July 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I may have to read that first book! Growing up, I read all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my mom. She still has them at her house!

  • Erin
    July 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    confession: I was secretly hoping you’d post a book review because I ripped through “Violets of March” in one sitting by the pool on 4th of July (I have the sunburn to prove it). We have THE SAME taste in books. It kind of freaks me out, haha.

  • Em Marie @ The Creative Revival
    July 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I didn’t have a book to read over this past holiday weekend and I felt LOST! Something was just “not right…”

    My mom gave me Sarah’s Key after I studied abroad in Paris and I completely fell in love with it. I love Paris and history so you can’t get much better than that! They are making the book into a movie. I’m not sure if I really want to see it though…

  • Liz @ Something To Chew On
    July 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    You saying you can read all day long without feeling guilty makes me want to take a vacation RIGHT NOW.

    I’m in the middle of a book that I’m loving…and am getting far less sleep because I can’t put that sucker down at night!

  • KaraHadley
    July 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I read Gap Creek years ago when I was probably only about 14. I loved it then, but I’m sure if I re-read it now I’ll love it even more.

  • Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel
    July 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I like that cover of Meyers’ book!!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing
    July 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Um, you had me at Laura Ingalls. Going to reserve Gap Creek at the library.. now.

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    July 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm


  • cathy
    July 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    i LOVE when we can talk books on your blog! thanks for hosting the book chat!
    i read gap creek years ago, and while the details are now fuzzy, i do remember it is a fabulous read.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    July 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I actually think I saw Gap Creek on my parents’ bookshelf last week. I’ll have to go snag it from them!

  • Emily
    July 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Jenna, have you ever seen the TV show “Bones”? If so (or if not), have you ever read the book series by Kathy Reichs? I LOVE the tv show and am wondering if the book series is half as good. Anybody have an opinion?

    • jill
      January 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      Kathy Reichs books are all awesome!! And you don’t have to read them in order, but it helps with the slight story lines that are woven through out. I think forensics is fascinating and she packs the stories with enough facts to make it believable and sometimes unbelievable, which is the most intriguing part ……love them all….if you like mysteries and a good laugh thrown in to boot, you can’t go wrong with these!!

  • *Andrea*
    July 7, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    excellent recommendations!!!

    i just wanted to saw how REFRESHING your blog is πŸ™‚ i’ve been following it since i was in college a few years ago, and i admire your love for reading, god, camping/outdoor activities, yoga, music and good food rather than restriction, negative body talk or celebrities etc. you are amazing!

  • Melanie
    July 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I LOVE *Gap Creek*!! During my senior year of college, Robert Morgan came to my university and I got to participate in a round table discussion with him. He even autographed my copy of the book!!

  • Brooke @ Bittersweetb
    July 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I read Gap Creek back in high school and I remember loving it. I can’t remember all of it so maybe it time for me to reread it!

  • Eve
    July 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    I LOVED all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid, so I kept Gap Creek in mind when I visited my favourite second hand book store today, and…..I found it! Pretty much made my day. πŸ™‚ So excited to read it, thank you for all your book recommendations!

  • Molly
    July 8, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I have a few things to say about my recent mini-motorcycle vacation with my husband on my site I hope you get a chance to check it out, and maybe I will have some time to look into the books you recommend. I LOVE a good book!

    July 8, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I love your blog. I want to recommend a book (I, too, am an avid reader) … the name is Slammerkin and although it’s kind of a “hard read” … wow, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s loosely based on a true story of a teenage prostitute in 1600’s London. This book still haunts me.
    Another of my all time faves is Carolyn Leavitt’s “Into Thin Air” …
    or any of Carolyn’s books … she’s great …

    let me know what you think of “Slammerkin” … I cannot wait to discuss it with somebody!

  • Laura
    July 8, 2011 at 9:59 am

    LOVE how there’s snowy mountains in the background of your beachy water photo!

  • Liz
    July 8, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for the recommendation. I LOVE reading, especially on vacation when you can’t feel guilty about doing it all day. Thanks for the book recommendations.

  • Christina
    July 9, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Currently reading Sarah’s Key and I absolutely love it.. One of the best books I have ever read..

  • Marie
    July 9, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I read gap creek a while back, and listened bought the book in cd to listen to it! Very very good! I was sad it was over!

  • Erika
    July 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Gap Creek was one of my favorites……glad you discovered it and enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  • Stephanie@MyThornsHaveRoses
    July 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I thought The Murderer’s Daughters was brilliant. I had a little difficulty with some of the dialogue of the daughters (thought it was a little unbelievable for their ages) but I have recommended it to everyone since reading it! I love how it ended….I’m sure for many that would be controversial.

  • What I’m Loving Wednesday | Jessi makes Things
    July 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    […] I finally finished the first book in the Β Game of Thrones series and also knocked out Gap Creek (Jenna’s recommendation, which I too adored). Now I’ve started Β A Visit From the Goon […]

  • Shannon @ Blonde Silver Lining
    July 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I was on vacation last week for the first time in six months and reading off on my own for hours on end was honestly one of my favorite parts too! It’s strange that something that used to be such a regular part of my life (back when I had time for leisure activities) is not a rare treat!

    Will definitely check these books out after I finish The Happiness Project, which I’m finishing up this weekend.

  • Mare
    July 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I picked up the Murder’s Daughters at the library and devoured it in 2 days! I loved it! I’ve been stuck in a cast for the past couple weeks and I’ve been reading up a storm. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Summer 2011 Reading List « All Things Lovely
    August 4, 2011 at 6:30 am

    […] Jenna from Eat Live Run recommended this book, but I didn’t like Morgan’s writing […]

  • Recent Reads
    September 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    […] are depressing and the ending is a little frustrating, but I was still captivated by this story. Jenna, accurately in my opinion, describes it as a β€œgrown up Laura Ingalls Wilder book” which is […]