Today, I will be presenting you with my top five to-be-reads. All of these are books I plan on reading during travels, and I’m excited to share them with you and hopefully give you some to add to your reading list!


All of these, I pulled from Amazon, and I selected them based on reviews and my general interest. Also, I’m a girl who likes her covers, and I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but oh well.


So, let’s get to it. Here are some reads to think about adding to your carry-on.

01. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Amazon Summary: In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .


Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.


Why I Chose It: I enjoy books shrouded with a fantasy ideal – this one being the “doors” – and I believe this book will be able to offer me a mix of fantasy without too much of the YA mush that has plagued the YA genre of late. The plot is different from typical young lover stories, which makes me happy. It’s SO GOOD to see a DIFFERENT plot based around younger characters.

02. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Amazon Summary: In love we find out who we want to be.


In war we find out who we are.



FRANCE, 1939



In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.



Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.



With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.


Why I Chose It: A good friend of mine actually recommended this book to me, and I’m really excited to read it this spring. It has great reviews on Amazon, and the plot seems enticing. I admit I have a tough time diving into historically based novels. However, my friend said it truly is “a novel for everyone”.

03. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Amazon Summary: In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a National Magazine Award finalist for The New Yorker, A woman desperate for a child weaves one out of hair, with unsettling results. In “Wild,” a disastrous night out shifts a teenager and her Nigerian cousin onto uneasy common ground. In “The Future Looks Good,” three generations of women are haunted by the ghosts of war, while in “Light,” a father struggles to protect and empower the daughter he loves. And in the title story, in a world ravaged by flood and riven by class, experts have discovered how to “fix the equation of a person” – with rippling, unforeseen repercussions.
Evocative, playful, subversive, and incredibly human, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky heralds the arrival of a prodigious talent with a remarkable career ahead of her.


Why I Chose It: I firmly believe every traveler should have a book of short stories they read, whether on the plane, train, or on the road in general. For me, I have yet to discover a book of short stories that I can read and connect to over and over again. So, I chose this book to be added to my spring reading to see how it turns out. It has fantastic reviews and has won prestigious award, so I’m excited to read it.

04. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

Amazon Summary: Twelve-year-old Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn’t yet know―like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother’s silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother’s death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.


Why I Chose It: I love books from a child’s perspective, because they can be so revealing on the human condition. I also love a read that is honest and will pull at my heart strings, and this one seems to have both qualities.

05. My Cat Yugoslavia by Paijtim Statovci

Amazon Summary: In 1980s Yugoslavia, a young Muslim girl is married off to a man she hardly knows, and what was meant to be a happy match quickly goes wrong. Shortly thereafter, the country is torn apart by war and she and her family flee to Finland, where her son Bekim grows up to become a social outcast—not just an immigrant in a country suspicious of foreigners but also a gay man in an unaccepting society. Aside from casual hookups, his only companion is a boa constrictor that, improbably (he is terrified of snakes), he lets roam around his apartment.
Then one night, at a gay bar, Bekim meets a talking cat, who also moves in with him. It is this witty, charming, manipulative creature who starts Bekim on a journey back to Kosovo to confront his demons and make sense of the magical, cruel, incredible history of his family. And this, in turn, enables Bekim finally to open himself to true love—which he will find in the most unexpected place.


Why I Chose It: This book is the one I put on the list as a challenge. The plot completely intrigues me, but the Amazon reviews are all over the place. Many found the overall metaphor of both the cat and the snake to be too complex, and may didn’t understand the true meaning of the book. Several believe it has to do with the translation, but does it? My curiosity is what magnifies my interest of this book, and I will be reading it very soon. Also, I find it’s very important to incorporate stories into my reading list that comes from a different point of view than the white, straight male or female. As society changes and grows, so will the books.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman