9 Books To Get You Pumped For Spring Break

by Hannah Nelson-Teutsch

Ah, Winter: What's not to love about layering up so fiercely you get mistaken for the Michelin Man on the subway? I mean, I know I look my best with a Casper-like pallor and a nose as red as Rudolph's. Now, to be fair, the cold season is not all bad — cocoa by the fire is utterly delightful, and I always relish the opportunity to sport an oversized sweater, but when the snow turns that putrid shade of yellow-grey and the sand from the street starts piling up in small dunes at the corners of my apartment, it's time to break out the bank card and book those tickets. Spring break cannot come soon enough.

Those of you who've already marked your calendars for a sunny getaway, I salute you (and if you're headed to a ski lodge, I question your sanity, but at least you're going for it). As for me, I'm more of a last-minute booker myself. I find that the trick is to let yourself get as cold and grumpy as humanly possible before pulling the trigger on the absolute perfect spring break, that way the price of paradise feels fully justified. Of course this year, I reached my breaking point in mid-January, and now I'm just hanging on for dear life as I count down the days to sweet relief.

Whether you've already circled the date on your calendar or you're still waiting for one more paycheck to put towards your much needed getaway, these nine books will keep your spring break fever burning white hot even as the snow piles up outside.

The Angel Esmerelda by Don DeLillo

I wouldn't want to get into it with Hannah Horvath, but I do believe that Don DeLillo may just be the voice of our generation, or at least a voice of a generation. DeLillio's spare, haunting prose pulses with life as a spare note of irony struggles desperately for recognition just beneath the surface. Each of the nine tales that make up The Angel Esmerelda are practically perfect in a cloying, omnipotent way, but "Creation," a masterful exploration of the meaningless hours and sun-soaked days endured by a couple stranded on a nameless island at the end of a cruise, will leave you postively aching for a few days in the sun, whether or not you have to fight your way home.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Not all vacations are of the sun-soaked Caribbean variety, sometimes we are called to honor the timeless tradition of the American road trip. When it's on the road fiction you're after to keep you motivated for your week off the map, you can't do better than Lucky Us. Bloom's dark, quirky novel tracing the journey two young women take across the country in a rambling station wagon at the twinkling end of the 1940s is almost too strange and beautiful to be believed. Start sourcing used cars on Craigslist and keep your bestie's number close at hand, because once you take up Lucky Us, you never know what might happen.

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet

There was one night, many years ago, when I was rescued from a walk along a moonlit beach by Mexican Federales with AK47s. Rescued from what you might ask? Well, that's another story for another time, but I can tell you that I have never been more surprised to stumble upon anything or anyone until that fateful night — of course, I have never come across a mermaid. What might happen if myself, my hubby, and a newfound friend stumbled upon a mythological creature is the stuff that dreams are made of, dreams and Lydia Millet's endlessly diverting novel Mermaids in Paradise, which will have you counting down the days until you cast off for adventure, excitement, and the unknown.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Emma Straub's shimmering novel tracing the dark family secrets that slowly surface on the shores of paradise is the perfect way to tempt that vacation tingle out into the cold. What begins with tennis and tapas quickly spills over into tawdry rivalries and shocking revelations — what better way to bring on a little spring fever than with the perfect beach book?

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters

My love for John Waters knows no bounds — from Flaming Creatures to Hairspray, from that perfect mustache to the disarming dazzle of that smile, as far as I'm concerned Waters can do no wrong. And so, like a worried mama bear I found myself fiercely protective of his charming endeavor to hitchhike across America, eager to see him succeed, terrified at the thought of a serial killer stuffing the iconic director into the trunk alongside twenty pounds of bacon and a home waxing kit (because things just get weird when John Waters is around). What actually happened out there on the road? Well, for that, my friends you'll need to read on to the end, and by the time you do I'd be willing to bet you'll be rarin' to go... just in time for Spring Break.

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Other than those frothy drinks with the little umbrellas poking out at all angles and the endless hours of doing nothing at all, the very best part of a spring break are the flings — those dizzying tropical romances that don't bleed over into the realm of reality. Courtney Maum's I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You is the story of a love that lasts far beyond the seven perfect days that make up a spring break. It'll remind you that those carefree romps do come with side effects; Maum's book explores what happens when the affair goes too far. You may want to put away the slinky sun dress after this read, or at least reconsider its allure.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Zelda Fitzgerald once said that The Sun Also Rises is the story of "bullfighting, bull slinging, and bullshitting," I would add a dash of sangria, one sultry, self-empowered woman, and a few strong pours of Spanish countryside, but when you mix it all up, what's not to love? Whether you find yourself inspired by Hemingway's adventurous spirit or just lightheaded from all that literary wine, The Sun Also Rises is sure to get you in a Spring Break state of mind.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

The true story of one man's escape from a maximum security prison in Australia, Shantaram traces Gregory David Roberts' journey from a putrid prison cell to the upper echelons of the Bombay mafia and the killing fields of a guerrilla war. Normally I'm not one for true-life tales, but Roberts' remarkable gift for storytelling brings the heat, passion, and mystery of India right to the tips of your fingers, and it would take a cold heart indeed to resist the allure of an adventure so thoroughly engrossing.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Every time I find myself in an isolated country manor on a cold, stormy night I cannot help but hope for a wee bit of crime, just on the off chance that I'll have the opportunity to pull an Agatha. Now, whether or not you're hoping to find your spring break laced with a little larceny or some Grade A felonies, I know you'll feel the urge to travel awaken with a quick ride on the orient express. So, keep those senses finely honed and let the wanderlust awaken with a quick dose of Agatha Christie.

Image: Haceme un 14/Flickr; Giphy