16 Books Set On An Island To Inspire Your Summer Vacation
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16 Books Set On An Island To Inspire Your Summer Vacation
Finding your next holiday read? Try reading books set on an island! It would make the perfect summer companion.
Your next read will be filled with images on the emerald sea, exotic beaches, the sunny sky and adventures ahead.
I’ve also curated travel book lists of books set on islands such as book set in Cape Cod and books set in Hawaii. Let the wanderlust begin!
Here are 16 books that promise you a literary adventure before you set sail for your next perfect island getaway!
More Book Recommedations:
- 24 Books Set In & About Hawaii For An Island Getaway
- 18 Fun Books Set In & About Cape Cod
- 20 Books Set In Italy To Read Before Travelling
- 23 Books With Summer In The Title
16 Books Set On An Island To Inspire Your Summer Vacation
1. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrow (Guernsey Island, United Kingdom)
Synopsis: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humour as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.
Genre: Historical fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.18
This story is a story about connection and hope.
An unexpected letter from Guernsey sparked a new connection in Juliet’s life when she was struggling with writer’s block.
With stories being exchanged and a strong rapport is built, the community in Guernsey began to talk about their troubled past, present fears and also aspirations for the future.
When Juliet arrived at Guernsey, she realised that she must tell their story to the world to give them real hope.
For those who think that letter-writing is boring, this book will change your mind. It’ll be hard not to be engaged through-out the story.
2. A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie (Canary Islands, Spain)
Synopsis: There is no rest or relaxation for Miss Marple. Agatha Christie’s most appealing sleuth returns in this classic baffler of a vacation-turned-deadly.
Nephew Raymond West has given his favourite aunt a vacation at a beautiful resort in the Caribbean. While there she encounters an old wind-bag. One of his stories is about meeting a murderer. He has a snapshot. Suddenly he hesitates, and gets flustered. By the next morning, he is dead, seemingly of natural causes. Miss Marple has doubts.
And well she should.
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.83
Why You Should Read This Book:
There’s only one reason you’ll see Miss Marple engaging in a juicy gossip session during a holiday on an exotic island. MURDER.
And it’s not a simple one. Anyone could be a suspect and Miss Marple cleverly puts her previous investigation tools of analysing conversations into practice to find the murderer before another tragedy befalls.
This book promises you a thrilling island adventure of connecting the dots in this fatal cat and mouse game.
Every dialogue poses a potential lead to crack the murder. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about an unpredictable plot twist!
3. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (Capri, Italy)
Synopsis: The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds–the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.
On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Curzio Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin, Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases.
Daughter of an American-born-Chinese mother and blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucy is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart.
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads rating: 3.34
Why You Should Read This Book:
If you’ve read Kevin Kwan’s very famous Crazy Rich Asian book series, this is a standalone novel you might enjoy reading.
Some readers say it’s a dreamy read, meeting the rich, falling in love on an island and having some wedding vibes to it.
However, some say the opposite – that it’s just about the wealthy and their extravagance while the plot is not as interesting. Therefore a pretty unrelatable read for some.
4. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (Hawaii)
Synopsis: Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
Genre: Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Goodreads rating: 4.0
Looking for books set on an tropical Island? The Unhoneymooners is a spicy read, farely recommended on tiktok and this definitely a fun rom-com kinda read to spice up your next island vacay.
This is an enemies-to-lovers trope romance read, if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll really enjoy the chemistry between the main characters in this book.
This book is also an easy read and definitely beginner friendly for anyone wanting to get into the reading habit.
5. Green Island: A Novel by Shawna Yang Ryan – (Taiwan Island, formerly known as Samasana Island)
Synopsis: February 28, 1947 – Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community — conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family — the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.
As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?
Genre: Historical fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.03
This story describes a great deal about relationships on the personal and political levels. On the personal level, you will immerse greatly in the dilemma faced by a father and his daughter when it comes to standing up for one’s beliefs.
On the political level, you will be drawn to controversial debates about whether Taiwan is its own country or is a part of China.
The weight of every decision made by families and countries in this story will continue to linger in your mind as you read on.
History enthusiasts will certainly enjoy exploring the in-depth impacts of ideologies and alliances on today’s modern nation-building as depicted in Green Island.
6. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See (Jeju Island, South Korea)
Synopsis: Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers—Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore: Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, forever marking her, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers. After hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.
This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a unique and unforgettable culture, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.
Genre: Historical fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.28
If you are familiar with the previous works of Lisa See, you will know that female friendship is a recurring theme in her writings.
That said, you’ll be invested in the backstory of Mi-Ja and Young Sook and how they eventually grew apart in this story.
The author vividly details the vulnerability and sustainability of the haenyo community in Jeju through the tragedies and transitions faced by the main characters. Also, the historical elements in this story are well researched.
It’s enlightening to read how the haenyeo supported their family financially in a generation where the patriarchal society is more dominant.
7. Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch (Santorini, Greece)
Synopsis: Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…
Liv Varanakis doesn’t like to think about her father much, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight, leaving her with just a few painful memories of their shared love for the lost city of Atlantis. So when teenage Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father, who explains that National Geographic is supporting a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and asks if she will fly out to Greece and help—Liv is less than thrilled.
When she arrives in gorgeous Santorini, things are just as awkward as she’d imagined. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. Liv doesn’t want to get sucked back into her father’s world. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo, her father’s charismatic so-called protégé, to witness her struggle.
Even so, she can’t help but be charmed by everything Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the sun-drenched villages, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads Rating: 4.10
If you’re hoping to read a book that’ll give you visual pleasure of a serene island, like a place you see travel bloggers – then this book is definitely going to deliver just that.
Island vibes, fluffy romance and a meaningful father-daughter relationship are things you can expect from his novel.
Although this is the third book from the series (Love & Gelato is the first book while Love & Luck is the second), you can read this book as a standalone.
This is a book to add to your island romance book collection.
8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Prince Edward Island, Canada)
Synopsis: This heartwarming story has beckoned generations of readers into the special world of Green Gables, an old-fashioned farm outside a town called Avonlea. Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan, has arrived in this verdant corner of Prince Edward Island only to discover that the Cuthberts—elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla—want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne—who simply must have more scope for her imagination and a real home—wins them over completely. A much-loved classic that explores all the vulnerability, expectations, and dreams of a child growing up, Anne of Green Gables is also a wonderful portrait of a time, a place, a family… and, most of all, love.
Genre: Children’s literature, Bildungsroman
Goodreads Rating: 4.28
What happens when the new kid in town is a passionate daydreamer and talkative soul? When Anne Shirley stepped foot in Avonlea, she made up her mind to leave a good impression in school and the community to secure her stay with the Cuthberts.
But her true temperament eventually showed when she agitated her teacher when he misspelled her name and when she swore rivalry with a classmate who teased her about her red coloured hair.
Despite these happenings, Anne thankfully found comfort in Diana Barry, a bosom friend that she constantly confides in.
If you are looking for a lighthearted coming of age story, this book is for you. Anne’s growing pains accompanied by her unpredictable imagination will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
9. The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak (Buru Island, Indonesia)
Synopsis: In this sweeping saga of love, loss, revolution, and the resilience of the human spirit, Amba must find the courage to forge her own path.
Amba was named after a tragic figure in Indonesian mythology, and she spends her lifetime trying to invent a story she can call her own. When she meets two suitors who fit perfectly into her namesake’s myth, Amba cannot help but feel that fate is teasing her. Salwa, respectful to a fault, pledges to honor and protect Amba, no matter what. Bhisma, a sophisticated, European-trained doctor, offers her sensual pleasures and a world of ideas. But military coups and religious disputes make 1960s Indonesia a place of uncertainty, and the chaos strengthens Amba’s pursuit of freedom. The more Amba does to claim her own story, the better she understands her inextricable bonds to history, myth, and love.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Goodreads rating: 3.80
This book has a great mix of culture, politics, mythology and romance. The lyrical writing style captivates you. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a heavy read and I was sobbing for weeks after I finished reading it.
This is a book set on a tropical island, Buru Island.
Unrequited love delivers Amba letters that were from Bhisma, her lover. He records everything that happens on the Buru Islands with hope that someday, Amba will find his letters.
Although part of this book was set in Buru Island, this is not a cheerful and adventures read. This is a book of pain, loss and love and is definitely not for the faint hearted.
10. Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World (Auckland Islands)
Synopsis: Hundreds of miles from civilization, two ships wreck on opposite ends of the same deserted island in this true story of human nature at its best—and at its worst.
It is 1864, and Captain Thomas Musgrave’s schooner, the Grafton, has just wrecked on Auckland Island, a forbidding piece of land 285 miles south of New Zealand. Battered by year-round freezing rain and constant winds, it is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death.
Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island, another ship runs aground during a storm. Separated by only twenty miles and the island’s treacherous, impassable cliffs, the crews of the Grafton and the Invercauld face the same fate. And yet where the Invercauld’s crew turns inward on itself, fighting, starving, and even turning to cannibalism, Musgrave’s crew bands together to build a cabin and a forge—and eventually, to find a way to escape.
Using the survivors’ journals and historical records, maritime historian Joan Druett brings to life this untold story about leadership and the fine line between order and chaos.
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Goodreads rating: 4.04
If you like reading books about island survival – this book revolves around two shipwrecks on different parts of Auckland Island will interest you.
The book tells us a story about being stranded on an island without any help. It also is a valuable guide to know what should be done if such a situation were to arise.
This book is based on the journals that were left behind by these men who were on these two ships. The author perfectly captures their desperation and struggles.
11. One Night On An Island by Josie Silver (Remote Irish Island)
Synopsis: Spending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical–at the insistence of her boss–in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.
Mac is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.
Instantly at odds with each other, Cleo and Mac don’t know how they’re going to manage until the next weekly ferry arrives. But as the days go by, they no longer seem to mind each other’s company quite as much as they thought they would…
Written with Josie Silver’s signature warmth, charm and insights into the human heart, One Night on the Island explores the meaning of home, the joys of escape and how the things we think we want are never the things we really need.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Goodreads rating: 3.85
This book has made people want to pack their bags and get onto an island ASAP. This island vacation brings two very different people together.
A British writer who writes about her dating life and an American man are in forced proximity, they both came to the island to work on personal issues but end up getting close to each other.
If you’re looking for a steamy romance read on an island, this book might be fun.
12. Float Plan by Trish Doller (Caribbean Island)
Synopsis: Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller’s unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself…
Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone.
But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.
In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Sweet and touching romance read! This book has a lot of sailing terms, it is also a read that’ll broaden your knowledge on sailing.
This is a heartwarming story about finding oneself and discovering happiness in the aftermath of loss.
13. The Beach House by Jane Green (Nantucket Island, Cape Cod)
The Beach House is a delightful novel set in Nantucket about a woman in her sixties, who, in need of some extra cash, opens up her beautiful beach home for summer rentals.
Between an eclectic bunch of tenants, the sudden return
14. This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Buru Islands, Indonesia)
Summary: Minke is a young Javanese student of great intelligence and ambition. Living equally among the colonists and colonized of 19th-century Java, he battles against the confines of colonial strictures. It is his love for Annelies that enables him to find the strength to embrace his world.
Goodreads Rating: 4.41
It is no surprise that Pramoedya Ananta Toer, hailed as a legendary author in his homeland of Indonesia, has arguably produced one of the best Indonesian books in the country’s archive – This Earth of Mankind.
Set in the waning days of Dutch colonial rule, this is a powerful story about injustice, oppression, and political awakening.
The protagonist, Minke, becomes the first Javanese boy to ever attend an elite Dutch colonial high school. Through a mutual friend, he meets and falls in love with a Dutchman’s daughter.
He moves into their home soon after, triggering a cascade of events, inciting family drama – of which forms the heart of this book.
Do note that this book set on an island is the first book out of the buru quartet.
15. Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand (Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard)
1969 was one of the most tumultuous years in American history. Summer of ’69 is a Cape Cod historical fiction beach read following four siblings who experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval during the last summer of the 1960s.
Read More: 25 Books With Summer In The Title For Your Sunny Holiday
16. About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk (Hawaii)
If you’re looking for a feel-good, witty romance book set on an island, About A Girl is definitely a book to explore.
After losing her job and her best friend, Tess impersonates her flatmate, Vanessa and soon gets an opportunity to be a photographer in Hawaii.
Soon, she finds herself in trouble for various reasons. Firstly, she is not a photographer. Secondly, a hunky journalist starts flirting with her.
This book is a great chick-lit – there’s a handsome love interest, an island getaway and some drama.
Wrap Up: Books That Take Place On An Island
Which one of these 16 best books set on an island are you going to pick up next?
I hope these books put you in a vacation mood! And if not, I hope you get to broaden the types of books you read, especially because this list consist of books from different parts of the world!