50 Books to Read on This Year’s Cruise Holiday


The gentle rocking of the ship, a cooling sea breeze and a refreshing cocktail (or mocktail) in hand; cruise ships provide an ideal setting for getting lost in a good book.

If you’re unsure about which book to open up on your cruise this summer, we have recommended 50 books to enjoy on board.

Click on the links below to jump to the kind of books that most interest you:

Children’s Books

A good kid’s book can be the difference between a peaceful and enjoyable family holiday and a week-long nag-a-thon. Check out these ten books from 2015 for kids aged 3-11.

15 Things Not to Do with a Baby – Margaret McAllister

Great for older siblings, Frances Lincoln’s book explores 15 wonderfully abstract things you shouldn’t do with a baby brother or sister. With illustrated suggestions including ‘never let the baby play with an elephant’, the kids will be given plenty of laughs and opportunities to read with their little brother or sister.

The Spy Who Loved School Dinners – Pamela Butchart

When a new girl starts school, Izzy is excited to be picked to look after her. But following some strange revelations, topped by the discovery the new girl loves school dinners, Izzy and her friends realise the newcomer must be a spy!

The book recently won the Blue Peter Book Award for best story. The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff

The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff – Andy Seed 

Another winner of a Blue Peter Book Award, The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff explores some of the world funniest and silliest facts. A great little book for the kids to just pick up in between games and exciting activities.

The Butterfly Club – Jacqueline Wilson

No list of children’s books is complete without an entry from the grand dame of the genre – Jacqueline Wilson. Her 101st (yep, that many) book follows Tina, who is the smallest of a set of triplet sisters. Upon joining junior school, she is separated from her sisters and is forced to befriend the school bully. As usual, Wilson’s work mixes humour with emotional storytelling.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy – Frank Cottrell Boyce

Another story about unlikely friendships, 11-year-old Rory Rooney and his arch-enemy are forced to put their differences aside and become friends when they are both packed off to a hospital isolation unit after inexplicably turning green. The pair enjoy wild adventures around London after escaping from the hospital unit. Written by Olympic ceremony co-planner Boyce, the book is perfectly suited to children aged 8-11.

Deadly 7 – Garth Jennings

Yet another book which is certain to appeal to boys and girls aged 8-11, the Deadly 7 is the debut novel from Jennings and follows the tale of a young boy who accidently extracts the seven deadly sins from his body. The sins take the form of little monsters, illustrated by the author, who interact with the text and the story.

In The Door That Led to Where – Sally Gardner

Combining a classic fixture of children’s literature, portals which lead to other places and offer complete escapism, with the gritty mean streets of London – Gardner has created a unique story which will appeal to contemporary kids. This book represents the last step for kids about to move up to the young adult’s section of the library.

The Farm Between the Water – Helen Peters

A good old fashioned tale of kids getting together to stop a company of evil adults from destroying a farm; Peters’ novel may not have the most original of plots but the charming depiction of childhood friendships is sure to keep the kids gripped until the last page.

The Adventures of BeekleThe Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend – Dan Santat

Perfect for young children with huge imaginations, Dan Santant’s lovely little book follows Beekle – an imaginary friend who is desperately looking for his human. The book is beautifully brought to life by Santant’s illustrations.

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure – Doreen Cronin

This unique and unusual novel depicts the zany misadventures of the Chicken Squad – four problem-saving poultry. Providing deep belly laughs, this novel brings each of the chicken’s personalities to life as they help a timid squirrel find refuge and get into all manner of misadventures on the way.

Young Adults

Young adults’ literature has received a lot of attention in recent years with some of the genre’s most popular franchises given the big screen treatment.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

You’ve undoubtedly seen the films by now, but many fans will argue that the books are far superior. All the books in the trilogy are fast-moving and captivating – meaning the whole family will be clamouring to rush through the series from day one of the cruise.

Maze Runner – James Dashner

If you’ve exhausted the Hunger Games franchise by now, Maze Runner could well be the next port of call. With a trilogy of books released and the first film of the series opening last year to rave reviews, Maze Runner-fever is starting to slowly take over. Not dissimilar to the plot of its more-famous young adult novel contemporary – the story follows Thomas as he is forced to make his way through a maze against other boys his age in order to survive.

Divergent – Veronica Roth Divergent

Another franchise recently turned into a film, Divergent is the debut novel from Veronica Roth, and has again been compared to both The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. Following a near-apocalypse, the survivors in Chicago are split into five different factions dependent upon their personalities and traits. The novel follows the struggles of 16-year-old Beatrice who believes she is placed in a faction she does not belong to.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The multi-award winning novel, The Book Thief, mixes historical events with fiction. Telling the story of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year-old living in Germany during WWI; the story is narrated by Death. Bemused by the beauty and destruction brought about by this era – Death stalks young Liesel as she experiences her brother’s demise and moving in with new impoverished foster parents.

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

Published last year, We Were Liars scooped the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. The book follows the actions of a rich family who owns their own island and holidays there every year. The family are forced to go on a twisting journey to help family member, Cadence, remember a traumatic event.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

Ideal for more introverted and shy teenagers and young adults, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows protagonist Charlie who describes his first year of high school in a series of letters to an anonymous stranger. In the 15 years since the book’s publication, it has become a staple of young adult literature collections and a cult favourite – turned into a feature film in 2012 starring Emma Watson.

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska – John Green

The first novel from young adult’s literature mainstay, John Green, Looking for Alaska was something of a slow burner – finally breaking into the New York Times Best Seller list more than seven years after original publication. The novel follows Miles Halter after he decides to attend a boarding school at the age of 16, and the new people he meets and the adventures they share.

Game Changer – Tim Bowler

Another great book for the more introvert of characters; Game Changer follows claustrophobe Mikey as he struggles with the wider world. The narrative really kicks off when Mikey encounters a gang and witnesses something unspeakable. The gang wants to see him, and there really is no place for timid Mikey to hide.

The Last Leaves Falling – Sarah Benwell

After being diagnosed with ALS, Japanese teenager, Sora, seeks the help and the wisdom of an aging samurai. Combining traditional Japanese culture with modern societal benefits, Sora also finds refuge in new friends met on the internet – discovering they enjoy his company and pay little regard to his illness.

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Despite the underwhelming performance of the film adaptation, The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy remains one of the most-beloved young adult franchises ever published. Following Lyra and her beloved dæmon (a magical shape-shifting pet and spirit), the story explores unique concepts such as multiple universes and societal constructs in a fantasy world.

The book has won a glut of awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Non-Fiction and Light Reading

Whether you want a break from fiction or something that’s not too taxing on the mind, here are ten books that are perfect for a little flick through before bed and over breakfast.

Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

The multi-talented Lena Dunham recounts her early life and experiences from childhood through to her college years. The sardonic Dunham tells her story in a deeply comic and moving fashion. The creator of hit sitcom, Girls, was said to have been paid more than $3.5million for the publishing rights of this, her debut novel.

Scandals of Classic Hollywood – Anne Helen PetersenScandals-of-Classic-Hollywood

Reimagining the era of classic Hollywood with the omnipresent press coverage of today; Scandals of Classic Hollywood retells some of the most shocking stories of the big screen with tabloid treatment. Perfect for those of you with a love of classic cinema and have a nose for digging around a good scandal or two.

Parky – Michael Parkinson

One of the nation’s treasures and certainly a man with a story to tell; Michael Parkinson recounts some of his most memorable interviews and experiences in his autobiography. All written with the charm, humility and patience the man became known for during his fifty years in show business. Parky is a fantastic book to pick up for an anecdote when the other half is taking their time in the shower.

101 Things to Do Before You’re Old and Boring – Richard Horne and Helen Szirtes

If you’re concerned that you’re missing out on some of the life’s great adventures; this handy little book from Horne and Szirtes can help you develop an interesting and rewarding bucket list. From making an origami crane to operating as a spy – this book can help you achieve some of those great life goals.

The Moon’s a Balloon – David Niven

An honest and riveting account of the actor’s life, The Moon’s a Balloon follows Niven’s childhood through to his hugely successful movie career. With celebrity-rich tales and anecdotes from the sets of Wuthering Heights, Around the World in 80 Days and other hit films; this book is perfect for movie buffs and Niven fans alike.

The Pocket Wine Book 2015 – Hugh Johnson

Now in its 38th year, the annual publication includes up-to-the-minute information about wines, growers and regions – helping wine buffs and newcomers make the most of the grape. With Hugh revealing the best vintages to buy, which to drink and which to cellar – you may even spot a few of the inclusions aboard your cruise ship.

I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan – Alan Partridge

The autobiography of Steve Coogan’s most famous comic creation, Alan Partridge, this book is a hugely entertaining series of cringe-worthy anecdotes and stories. If you are travelling with a smartphone or tablet, the audiobook version, read by Coogan himself, is even funnier than the printed publication.

The man who ate everythingThe Man Who Ate Everything – Jeffrey Steingarten

Widely regarded as one of the best ever books about food, The Man Who Ate Everything follows Steingarten as he travels the world in pursuit of the perfect chip, the best beef and endless other culinary treats. Written with charm and humour – Steingarten’s masterpiece established him as the Bill Bryson of food writing.

Shopaholic to the Stars – Sophie Kinsella

The newest addition to Kinsella’s Shopaholic range, Shopaholic to the Stars follows Becky Bloomwood as she travels to Hollywood to work with the stars of the big screen. Working as a celebrity stylist, Becky soon finds out her dream job is not exactly what she imagined.

Bend it Like Bullard – Jimmy Bullard

Football’s great joker, Jimmy Bullard reels off hilarious anecdotes at an incredible pace. The book mixes great humour about his long football career with emotive writing about the knee injuries which eventually curtailed his career.


If you’re prone to entering a seafaring mood when traversing the waters, these nautical books are the perfect partner to a cruise holiday.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne

Perhaps the most famous novel written about the great depths of the ocean; Jules Verne’s masterpiece follows French naturalist Professor Aronnax as he is given the task of ridding the seas of a monster which is terrorising shipping lanes. The book is not one for the faint hearted.

Deep – James NestorDeep

Investigating one of the most extreme pastimes known to man, free diving stretches the boundaries of science, exploration and human nature. Journalist Nestor undertook free diving when he encountered a man who dove 300ft below the ocean’s surface on a single breath of air. In Deep, he takes us on a journey to the deepest depths of the world’s oceans, exploring scenes many of us will never see including whales communicating with one another.

How to Read a Nautical Chart – Nigel Calder

Just in case you’re called upon to help direct the ship to safety, this guide from Calder is regarded as the world’s most comprehensive tome on reading nautical charts. Whilst it’s almost impossible your newfound skills will be called into action, you can always show off your knowledge on the top deck of the ship – impressing the family with technical terms and pre-empting what the captain will do next.

Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Patrick O’Brian’s masterpiece follows the adventures of Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy. The story depicts a hugely different view of European waters from the peaceful seas upon which you’ll be sailing. If the story gets you excited, it is the first of 20 novels which could lead to years of enjoyment.

The Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk

A Pulitzer Prize winning novel, following a Lieutenant Commander given the captaincy of a destroyer-minesweeper; the Caine Mutiny is one of the classics of nautical literature. Lieutenant Commander Philip Queeg is given command due to his reputation as a strong and tough graduate of Naval Academy, but is soon found to be lacking character by the ship’s rough crew.

The Sea Around Us – Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson’s in-depth exploration of how the sea was formed, how we interact with it and how it affects our lives makes for a hugely interesting read during cruise holidays. Prompting new questions and concepts about the water upon which you are cruising; this book is ideal for inquisitive minds.

The Voyage of the Catapala – Peter F. Stevens

Ideal for cruise holidays around North America, the novel depicts the greatest venture of the whaling ship, Catapala, as it sails out of Massachusetts and recuses a group of British-soldiers-turned-Irish-rebels known as the Fremantle Six. Based on a true story, this novel offers a unique view on one of history’s most divisive acts of nautical reconnaissance.

Mapping the DeepMapping the Deep – Robert Kunzig

Ideal for scientific minds with an interest in the seas and all the wonders it hides; Mapping the Deep offers an in-depth exploration of the findings of oceanographers from history and the present. Despite the huge scope of the subject matter, Kunzig keeps the reader turning those pages with interesting concepts and succinct passages.

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor – Joanna Cole

If you are holidaying with kids or grandkids for the first time and want to teach them (and yourself a little) about the ocean and its wonderful mysteries – this book from the ever-popular series discusses hot water vents, coral reefs and underwater plants and animals.  

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Torn between the classics selection and the nautical choices; Moby Dick has been described by novelist D.H. Lawrence as ‘the greatest book of the sea ever written’. The huge novel follows Captain Ahab on a revenge mission against the eponymous whale who wrecked his ship on a previous sailing.


Cruise holidays provide the perfect chance to work your way through those ‘must read’ books you’ve bought but never cracked open due to your busy working life and hectic timetable.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper LeeDramatica - To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s inspirational debut novel recollects her childhood in the Deep South during the 1930s, a time of deep civil inequality. Combining the mysteries and naivety of youth with some of the 20th century’s darkest days – the story is beautifully simplistic yet evokes a huge array of emotions from the offset.

Colourful characters, vivid backgrounds and winding stories make To Kill a Mockingbird a must-read. If you’ve already read the book, Lee’s second novel (55 years after her first), Go Set a Watchman, is being released on 14 July this year.

Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

An incredibly divisive book, and hugely controversial at the time of its release in 1951; Catcher in the Rye has become the scorn of schoolchildren everywhere forced to read it for high school English classes. Loved and hated in equal measures, at just over 200 pages long – Catcher in the Rye has a surprisingly large influence for a short book with only a very minimal plot.

Following the adventures of unsympathetic protagonist, Holden Caulfield; the book regularly ranks amongst the greatest books written in the English language.

Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Grapes of Wrath is an emotional tour de force, capturing the misfortunes of millions of Americans during the Great Depression. The book follows the Joad family as they travel around the country looking for work, food, shelter and an upturn in fortune. The Pulitzer Prize winning novel is heart-wrenchingly sad – a story dripping with dramatic irony as the reader understands fully that the journey will never bear fruit for the downtrodden Joads.

100 Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A stunningly ambitious and beautiful work from one of South America’s most celebrated writers; 100 Years of Solitude follows the fortunes of the Buendía over a century in the fictional town of Macondo. One of the most-celebrated pieces of magical realism literature of all time; the story combines the mundane (getting excited about seeing a block of ice) with the supernatural (ignoring ghosts is par for the course).

Make sure you get a copy with a family tree printed on the inside cover – the numerous members of the family called Jose Arcadio can soon get confusing without a reference point.

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, The Old Man and the Sea just pips Hemingway’s other classics, For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, due to its nautical theme. At just over 100 pages in length, Hemingway’s story of an aging fisherman’s pursuit of a giant marlin out in the Gulf Stream and his friendship with a young boy is a short and snappy classic.

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The youngest entry on this list, The Secret History has quickly developed a reputation as a modern classic. Published in 1992, the story follows the actions of a group of six classmates who attend a small, elite Vermont college. The story immediately reveals that a murder took place amongst the six classmates and the narrator (one of the six) is left to unravel the events and developments which led to the murder and motivated the murderer.

A Prayer for Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

Following the captivating world of the titular character; A Prayer for Owen Meany celebrates the strength of personality, a dedication to principles and the understanding of destiny. Owen Meany is a boy of incredibly small stature but large personality and his childhood and early adult life is documented by best friend John Wheelwright from their school days through to Meany’s participation in the Vietnam War.

1984 – George Orwell

From Big Brother to Room 101, George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, 1984, still has profound effect upon society. Although the proposed society of 1984 never came into effect by the predicted year, Orwell’s novel remains enduringly popular and influential amongst literary groups and lovers of the dystopian genre.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Perhaps the greatest work from the celebrated novelist siblings, the Brontë sisters, Jane Eyre is a startling intimate account of the emotions and experiences of the eponymous character. The novel was particularly shocking when it was published due to the explorations of proto-feminism, sexuality, classism and religion.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

In the 35 years since its original publication, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has grown into something of a cultural phenomenon. Translated into more than 30 different languages and adapted in all manner of mediums – the farcical science fiction comedy is still every bit as funny and awe-inspiring as it was in 1978.

Alternatively, if you picked a book to read this year but not a cruise on which to enjoy it – click the button below for our full selection of fantastic cruise deals.

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50 Books to Read on This Year's Cruise Holiday
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50 Books to Read on This Year's Cruise Holiday
The Cruise1st team offers this in-depth guide with 50 suggestions for the book you should read duing this year's cruise holiday.

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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