Although recent weather reports indicate otherwise, it's apparently spring. Thus begins the countdown to the time-honored American tradition of students — and their teachers — across the land: spring break. One glorious week (or more!) without deadlines, essays, or any unnecessary drama that comes with real life. Ignore it all — it's spring break, dude, and you deserve it.
While the words "spring break" (and a Google image search of the same) bring up lithe coeds in bathing suits skinny-arming in group photos on the beach, not all choose to spend their post–vernal equinox time off in this way. Maybe this is the right time to purchase that cruise Groupon, chill out at home, or just pick up some extra hours at work.
However you choose to spend this downtime, chances are you'll need some entertainment after all the sunning, funning, and/or coffee-serving. Any of these spring break books are delightful year-round, but the facts, perspectives, and plots therein will line up with your spring-break state of mind. They run the gamut from breezy beach reads to gripping essays to fiction so delightful, you might forget to reapply your sunscreen along the way. (Don't do that! Or at the very least, head to the shade.) Read on to see which of these 9 books is right for your upcoming vaycay.
If your spring break is classic Panama City Beach debauchery
You should read I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
If your bags are packed with crochet tanks, carefully chosen cutoffs, and huge sunglasses for spring break, consider tucking in this definitive history of the iconic cable network, too. Pay homage to the channel that brought society so many iconic spring break moments (and questions — why was "Hungry Like the Wolf" so prevalent on Say What? Karaoke?) with this uncensored history. Pull it out on the hotel balcony while your friends sleep off their Tequila Sunrise hangovers (no judgment — we've all been there).
Your spring break is a trip to your parents' house
You should read Reunion by Hannah Pittard
Heading back to the old stomping grounds can seem like a dream: there's the fancy cable, endless snacks, parental doting, and childhood nostalgia around every corner. But when you need some alone time (and you will), Pittard's 2014 novel is the ideal distraction. The story follows an inert screenwriter who meets up with her siblings after the unexpected suicide of their father. The characters within are dysfunctional enough to make you appreciate your own clan (or at least nod in recognition) and Pittard paints them with enough humor and warmth to make you want to schedule your next visit home.
If your spring break is cruising the high seas
You should read A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
If DFW's title essay in this collection isn't the definitive voice on cruise culture, then I owe you a mudslide on the Lido deck. His lengthy observations during a 7-day luxury cruise capture the weirdness and humor inherent when a large number of humans are confined to an even larger floating vessel. Plus, essay collections offer enough variety in quick literary bites to satisfy you in between lounging, buffeting, and hanging at the ship's piano lounge.
If your spring break is um, working?
You should read The Vacationers by Emma Straub
It's true: many of us in this world are without the built-in seasonal respite of a week-long vacation — but that doesn't mean we can't try for a mental break from the real world in our off-hours. Enter Straub's celebrated novel about a family and their friends who decamp to Majorca for a two-week stay. The tension between relationships bubble under the Mediterranean sun, and the result is a pleasurable escapist read.
If your spring break is Roadtripping to the world's largest ball of twine (in Kansas, BTW)
You should read State by State by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey
Comprising 50 essays about the great states of America, this book reads like an emotional atlas of the U.S. without all those pesky maps. The project was inspired by 1930s-era Works Project Administration (the agency that aimed to put people to work after the Great Depression) travel guides, updated with weirder and more personal essays by contemporary lit hard-hitters like Jhumpa Lahiri, Rick Moody, and Alison Bechdel, among others. From Hawaii to New York to North Dakota, each piece is a little trip you can take long after you've run out of gas.
If your spring break is visiting colleges
You should read Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer
Whether you can't wait to scope out possible institutions of higher learning or are being dragged along by your parents, it's smart (pun intended) to bring along a fun read. When the stress of, like, deciding where you should spend the next chapter of your life gets to be too much, crack open Beyer's graphic memoir about leaving home to start school. It's told in a mix of lists and comics, and sends the message that whatever happens in the next few years, it will probably all turn out OK.
If your spring break is quality time with bae
You should read Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny
True, your significant other may raise his or her eyebrows at this story collection's title while snuggled in your B-and-B/tent/penthouse suite/yurt, but they needn't worry: you're just staying on top of the book world with one of this year's freshest new voices. In this collection, Heiny explores the many ways people can stray from — and find — each other. These heartfelt pieces may inspire you to give your sweetie a grateful smooch before hitting the lights and turning in for the night.
If your spring break is a staycation at Hotel Netflix
You should read I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends by Courtney Robertson
If your main plans for your week off are spending quality time with the entire series of Friends, more power to you. But for times when the soft glow of your laptop is more cloying than entertaining, pick up this unexpectedly fun memoir from one of The Bachelor's most villainized "winners." Robertson dishes the dirt on what it's really like to be on reality TV and her ex-fiancé, Ben Flajnik. It's a guilty pleasure for anyone who's wished Us Weekly came bound, book-length, and in hardcover.
If your spring break is backpacking in Europe
You should read Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert
This memoir, in which Shukert discusses her many foibles during a post-grad year living and working abroad, is a comforting travel buddy that won't take up too much luggage space. Our heroine extends her stay on a whim after an acting job and largely stays in Amsterdam, chronicling her mishaps with strangers, food, and even the Dutch's absurdly affordable healthcare for foreigners. It's a lighthearted jaunt that will feel reassuring when you've got your life strapped to your back and you've just missed the last Vienna-bound train for the night.