I leave tomorrow for a week-long trip to Finland! I can’t wait to share more details with you about why I’m going, who I’m going with, etc. but let’s just say I cannot wait to explore this magical country! The only thing I’m not particularly looking forward to is the 8+ hour flight to get there. I’m not afraid of flying, just always extremely anxious to get off the plane as soon as possible. Will makes fun of me because I swear I would rather have a layover on a four-hour flight than sit still for four hours straight. Anyway, I’m planning to put together a post after the trip on how to survive a long flight and I would love your book recommendations so I can start filling my devices with lots of distractions! 🙂

design darling book recommendations

{One of my favorite classics, Sense and Sensibility}

Have you read anything wonderful lately? I’ve had a hard time getting back into a reading routine since our move but I’m determined to get through Present Over Perfect on this trip. I’m not picky or particularly loyal to one genre — I tend to bop among business/motivational books, chick lit, psychological thrillers, and rereading old favorites from Jane Austen and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’d love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!

P.S. If you’re looking for more book recommendations, here are 21 books I loved, five I liked, and three I wouldn’t recommend.

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  1. I devoured A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Wonderful fantasy book with elements of Beauty and the Beast. The third book comes out in May and I can’t wait!

  2. Faithful by Alice Hoffman and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett were the best books I’ve read this year. Also surprisingly interesting was The Chemist by Stephanie Myer. I had some preconceived notions but checked it out of the library on my Kindle and I read it in one day. SO GOOD.

  3. Just wanted to say I love when you ask the audience about books, I’ve refilled my “to read” list! Enjoy the trip (and the books)!

  4. If you like Jane Austen, you will love Eligible. It is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It was so entertaining and really keeps you captivated.

  5. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld!! She wrote Prep (which was super popular) and Eligible is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice and it is SO fun to read!

  6. I just started the book The Futures and am loving it so far! Also, if you don’t already, listen to the “What should I read next?” Podcast. My to-read list has gotten infinitely longer ever since!

  7. Two of my favorite books that I read recently were The Paris Wife (about Hadley Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s wife) and Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (about F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife). Both were great and it’s interesting to read Z after The Paris Wife and see the couples’ lives intertwine and mingle!

    1. These are two of my favorite books! If you loved these, you will also like anything by Beatriz Williams. She loves the 1920’s generation and her books are addictive.

  8. This is my favorite topic!! I honestly think “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates should be required reading by anyone who lives in the U.S. It’s very eye-opening. I also love Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (top 5 of all time, probably), and anything Elena Ferrante has ever written. Also, have you read any Cheryl Strayed? I think Wild and Tiny, Beautiful Things are definitely worth reading! Oh, and another great memoir is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls! Okay, I’ll stop now. Happy traveling! I’m flying to Portugal Thursday so loving that I get all these book recs via your comments section 🙂

  9. I Am Pilgrim is one of the my favorite reads in a long time.
    Don’t be intimided by the thickness of the book!

  10. Try The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy and Behind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough…both thrilling, though Behind her Eyes is definitely edge of your seat thrilling. I’m reading Exit West right now by Mohsin Hamid…what a gorgeous book, I definitely recommend. I also recommend Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, which is sort of thrilling/mystery 🙂 I get super anxious on flights too…and try to avoid them at all costs. Just remember you aren’t alone, tons of people struggle with flying, and take it one step at a time 🙂

  11. Oh my gosh, I also love to read and am always looking for recommendations! Recently I have really enjoyed The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George and the Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. One of my all time favorite authors is Muriel Barbery-I love both the Elegance of the Hedgehog and Gourmet Rhapsody.

    Have a great trip! I hope the travel time is well worth the destination!

  12. I couldn’t put down How to Murder Your Life, the memoir by Cat Marnell. Highly recommend. NYMag’s The Cut has an excerpt if you want to see if you’d like it.

  13. The Magnolia Story, Grace Not Perfection and The Best Yes are my three favorites right now! Have an amazing trip! Can’t wait to see what you’re up to!

  14. My favorite book I read in the last year was You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein. Smart, funny, relatable, I thought it was great, and also read it on a trip! I really wanted to be her friend.

  15. I love Present Over Perfect and hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! I would recommend reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay – both of which are amazing and easy reads.

  16. Have a great trip to Finland. I studied abroad in college in Helsinki, it’s a magical country. Just don’t expect warm temperatures or long sunny days right now!

  17. I just got Felicia Sullivan’s Follow Me Into The Dark and can’t wait to dig into it this weekend. I’ve read several of her short stories on Medium and her blog and they’re intense in the best way possible. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip! Totally hear you on the sitting still bit. Safe travels 🙂

  18. If you haven’t read it yet, Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection is wonderful. It’s a good mix of self-help, motivation, and practical life tips. Emily shares such amazing insight from the perspective of a mom and self-made business owner that even I, as a 20 year old college student, could relate to. It’s one of my favorite books.

  19. Saw someone else recommended A Man Called Ove – just finished it last night and loved it! Also, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult was amazing.

    I follow Reese Witherspoon on insta and she’s starring in A Wrinkle In Time with Mindy Kaling (!!) and Oprah (!!!). I read that book and some others from that series when I was younger, and I decided I def need to read again before the movie comes out. Maybe you could make your way through that series!

  20. I HIGHLY recommend the Nightingale. It’s such a well written book and a really great story too. I haven’t read such a good novel in a really long time. Me Before You was also really good if you haven’t read that yet. We Were Liars is a great read and one of the best of the Gone Girl-esque genre. Anything by Liane Moriarty is a good choice too!

  21. I fell in love with Donna Tart’s books, especially The Secret History and The Goldfinch. They are both set in New England and have these great descriptions of the beauty of our home (especially The Secret History)! I also just finished When Breath Becomes Air and it was amazing, I don’t typically like memoirs but it has changed my perspective on so many things.

  22. I highly recommend The Hopefuls (Jennifer Close) and High Dive (Jonathan Lee). Enjoy your trip and have an amazing time in Finland!

  23. You and I have similar taste in books, and I’m with you about getting my reading done on planes! A Man Called Ove was probably the best book I read last year, and I’m really looking forward to reading the author’s other works. That would be a great plane read! I also loved Nudge for a great nonfiction book, and for easy read fiction anything and everything by Liane Moriarty.

    I’m almost finished Present Over Perfect now. I just can’t get into it and don’t understand why it’s so recommended. God and Christianity are main themes in the book, which was tough for me to relate to. I hope it’s more meaningful to you, though! If not, Smarter Faster Better goes in the completely opposite direction but was was more practical advice for me and an incredibly easy read for nonfiction.

    Have a great trip! I visited the Nordics last year and absolutely loved it!

  24. Homegoing (Gyasi) – Phenomenally well-written debut novel by a young female author.

    Cutting for Stone (Verghese) – One of those lifetime must-reads. An epic, but one that never drags. I was entranced and emotional nearly the whole way through.

    Year of Yes (Rhimes) – Fun, funny, touching memoir of a true badass.

    Personal History (Graham) – A bit less vacation-friendly than some of the others, but this is the memoir of Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post during the Pentagon Papers, who was a fairly groundbreaking figure for women in journalism. And it’s good prep for the upcoming film in which she’s played by Meryl Streep, to Tom Hanks’ Ben Bradlee!

  25. FInland! How fun (and The Bachelor-esque of you!) I just finished The Good Girl which was a thriller – it was a good easy read, goes back and forth from past to present which I always like. I really liked Behind Closed Doors which is a thriller and a quick read – it kept me reading because I had to know what was going to happen !
    have a great trip!
    xx Taylor
    The Sarcastic Blonde

  26. I just finished the thriller “The Kind Worth Killing” by Peter Swanson which would be a great plane read! super well paced (“The Ice Beneath Her” was another fantastic recent thriller read). and for general fiction “The Guineveres” by Sarah Domet, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, “The Beautiful Possible” by Amy Gottlieb, and “The Muse” by Jessie Burton.

    happy travels!

  27. I’m not a regular commenter but I can’t pass up the chance to talk book recs! Two recent faves — I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (this is a YA novel and not normally by go-to genre but SO good) and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. My Book Club’s last read was Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (executive producer of the show Fargo). It was a page turner!

  28. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen try Georgette Heyer. Similar type style, and she was prolific! Pure fun.

  29. I’m currently rereading The Scarlet Pimpernel, which is one of my favorites! It’s about an Englishman smuggling French aristocrats out of France during the French Revolution. It has action, adventure, and romance and is very well written. The first time I read it I was entranced by just the first sentence! Enjoy your trip!

  30. Present over Perfect is on my list to read! I just finished Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah– which was a great historical fiction read. Definitely read it in less than 2 days! On the non-fiction side, I just finished Quiet by Susan Cain which I loved! Hope you have a great trip to Finland and find some good reads for the plane!

  31. The Nightingale, The Last Days of Night, A Man Called Ove, Before the Fall, The Marriage of Opposites, The Things we Keep. Have a great trip!

  32. I just reread The Singles Game (same author as The Devil Wears Prada). It’s about a female pro tennis player who suffers a major injury but is plotting a comeback. It actually wasn’t super sports heavy, and I really enjoyed the character dynamics.

    I also recently read The Hopefuls, which is about a couple living in DC and their dynamic with another couple. I enjoyed it. Perhaps that is because I work in politics in DC, and the author nailed so many aspects of this weird world. I think it’d be enjoyable even without a DC background.

    The Magic Room is about a small bridal store in Michigan and covers several women and families in the quest for a wedding dress. It’s a beautiful, beautiful book but made me cry several times so maybe not good to read in public!

    I finished Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten a couple days ago and LOVED it. It’s the autobiography of Lady Pamela Hicks and centers around her powerful family in England, from her childhood, to WW2, her time in India as the country gain independence, and her time as lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Well written, engaging, lovely. Highly recommend!

  33. The Josephine Bonaparte Collection: Tales of Passion (1st book of a three part series). It follows the life of Josephine Bonaparte through her diary entries.