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5 Novels to Pack for a Trip

By Pam Lamp April 30, 2024 Hobbies

I am a mood reader. Sometimes I like a mystery or a thriller. Other times, I crave historical fiction novels. But during the summer, when I’m heading off on vacation or a weekend getaway, I prefer a quick, fun read – a book that keeps me turning the pages and staying up long past my bedtime. Here are a few I’ve devoured…

Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

“Life is a catch-22,” Irina says. “That’s why God invented female friendship.”

I have a confession to make. The first few chapters didn’t pull me in. But I persevered. And – whoa! – I’m so glad I did! This novel clips along at a good pace, I adored the characters (Murphy, the dog, doesn’t know he’s an animal), and the story includes a hack for combatting seasickness. What more can a reader want?

Daphne is single, and only her best friend Hugo knows about her magical love life oddity. When she meets a new man, the universe gifts her a piece of paper with the man’s name and a number on it – the number of days they will be together. One night, she meets Jake, a television executive and, seemingly, a great guy. And the slip of paper has no date on it.

Could this relationship be the one that doesn’t expire?

Can’t We Be Friends by Eliza Knight and Denny Bryce

“Nobody changes unless he wants to. And that man, he is never going to change.”

I love people stories, and this tale of the friendship between Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald was a fun and interesting read.

Hollywood stars are masters at presenting different versions of themselves – it’s their job, after all. They are one person on stage, in front of adoring fans, and others in the safety of close friends and family. They bounce between what the public craves, what their managers demand, and how they want to be.

Marilyn, the sultry bombshell of the 50s, and Ella, a jazz icon, seemed to have little in common. But their struggles, celebrity, and bond brought these two glamorous women together in a compelling way.

Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fame by Olivia Ford

“It’s sometimes easy to feel left behind at my age, as if the world has a future and you have no place in it, but I hope to discover that there is meaning and adventure still to be found.”

Jenny has no children or grandchildren, her husband is in poor health, and she wants something for herself. At 77, she’s not ready to lead a smaller life. She doesn’t want her adventures to be over.

She doesn’t know what that something is until she lands a coveted spot on the Britain Bakes television program. She’s nervous, and her palms are sweaty, but she also feels – for the first time in a long time – accomplished.

I nodded along with Jenny’s words, cheered her on, and thought about what I’d still like to accomplish. What a charming, heartwarming, delightful novel! Perfect for the Sixty and Me crowd (especially if you’re planning a weekend getaway).

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon

“You can’t sit around waiting for someone else to guess what you want. You have to ask for it, even if it’s scary.

Lana, a hard-charging Los Angeles real estate tycoon who is battling cancer, comes to live with her daughter, Beth, and teenage granddaughter, Jack. Beth and Jack reside near a slough – a swampy area – in Salinas, a remote area miles from Lana’s creature comforts in the big city. While guiding a kayak expedition, Jack discovers a dead body in the marshy waters and soon becomes a murder suspect.

Lana needs a project – a way to feel valuable and accomplished – and kicks into gear to “assist” the confused local authorities. While investigating the crime, Lana uncovers a bevy of secrets.

This eco-fiction novel, chosen by my book club, moves along quickly. Although the environmental descriptions were sometimes lengthy, the short chapters and likable characters are bonuses and make for an entertaining tale.

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hildebrand

“How would you feel if you found out – after he died – that your husband had an affair? Yikes!”

I don’t read many romance novels, but Elin Hildebrand has a devoted following. Since I was in the mood for “fun” and “light,” I picked this one up at my local bookstore. And zipped through it!

I adored the Nantucket setting. The beautiful homes, the stylish clothing, the pretty scenery. Hollis is a social media influencer, and I tumbled delightfully into her world of culinary creations and entertaining ideas. Like I said, “fun” and “light!”

But thought-provoking too… When Hollis invites a handful of friends – one from each segment of her life – to celebrate one incredible weekend, I began to think. How do my current friends differ from those I had in college? As a young career woman? As a mom?

What women might represent my life story in friends?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you a mood reader? Do book characters pull you in and make you consider aspects of your own life? Like Hollis, can you think of friends who might represent your different life stages? Like Jenny, do you have a special something that you love to do? What book are you reading now? I’d love to know!

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I just finished 5 star Weeken, and I absolutely loved it!!

Pamela Lamp

I couldn’t put it down!

Jackie Holiday

I love to read…just read for the second time around…all of Nicholas Sparks books ❤️and also Debbie Macomber books(all million of them 🤣) Reading is my escape. Thanks for your suggestions! I have read Elin Hildebrand before…she’s good.

Pamela Lamp

I will definitely pick up another one by Elin. This one was so much fun!


What a good selection to suggest. I’m looking forward to finding these!

Pamela Lamp

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Sandy Charbonneau

Thank You for the encouragement. I am a hardcore nonfiction reader. At 70 I really want/need to read “fun and light”!! I don’t know how, lol. I can follow your lead.

Pamela Lamp

If it’s helpful, I’ve heard novels are great exercise for our brains – we have to remember what is going on, more so than in a non-fiction book!


How do the unique premises of each of these novels cater to different moods and preferences, and which one resonates with you the most?

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The Author

Pamela Lamp is the author of Do the Next New Thing. At Who I Met Today, a blog and podcast, she interviews people from all walks of life. Through conversations about health, hobbies, books, food, and travel, she invites you to join her, explore uncharted territory, and expand your horizons.

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