While you may not find the time to indulge in the luxury of relaxing with a good book back at home, cruising is the perfect opportunity to catch up with a novel in between port excursions and all of the fun and games onboard.

Most liners come equipped with an onboard library of sorts. Fred. Olsen ships boast large, elegant libraries complete with sea views and book shelves filled with an abundance of cruise novels. Onboard Seabourn ships however, you’ll find that traditional lobbies have been replaced with innovative ‘living rooms’. You can even relax in the Seabourn Square onboard Seabourn Quest, which allows visitors to enjoy a cocktail from the bar amid walls covered with some of the best cruise books on the high seas.

From heart warming romances to hilarious science fiction offerings, if you’re looking for some inspiration on what to read on a cruise, check out some of our favourites.

The Canal Boat Cafe

Author: Cressida McLaughlin

Published: 2016

Plot outline:

Follow the trials and tribulations of sweet Summer Freeman as she comes to the rescue of her mother’s failing cafe set onboard a narrow boat. Bursting with twists and turns along the way, The Canal Boat Cafe is a real heart warmer.

If you enjoy a wonderful romcom, this is the book for you. You’ll encounter a dashingly handsome photographer, a business that needs saving and a whole host of other adventures. Who knows, life may even imitate art and introduce you to a romantic hero of your own once on your cruise. 

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

Author: Michael Ondaatje

Published: 2011

Plot outline:

Set on a ship, this cruise novel by the author of ‘The English Patient’ details the story of an 11-year old boy, Michael, and his experiences in taking a world cruise from Colombo, through the Suez canal en route to the UK. The journey itself and Michael’s adventures form the basis of the plot.

When reading this engrossing novel you’ll learn about the workings of a large cruise liner in the 1950s, as well as experiencing the thrills of encountering so many different passengers. Although based half a century ago, you’ll soon recognise some similarity with the heroes of this novel and your travelling companions, making it a wonderful book to curl up with at the end of an exciting day.

Life After Life

Author: Kate Atkinson

Published: 2013

Plot outline:

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to re-invent yourself and start life all over again, be sure to read this novel. The heroine, Ursula, dies and is then reborn – and this time she does things differently.

This is a curious read that’s perfect for after you’ve had a cocktail and is certain to get you thinking about the meaning of life while waiting to head to the restaurant and enjoy the evening’s gourmet meal.

Murder on the Celtic

Author: Conrad Allen

Published: 2007

Plot outline:

Conrad Allen knows a cruise ship inside out, as most of his mystery novels are set on one. This particular novel is set in 1910 and follows the adventures of ship’s detectives George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield, a husband and wife team who are coincidentally travelling on the same luxury liner as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The book is fun, the adventures are barmy and the plot is very easy to follow. Full of atmosphere and mystery, anyone who likes Victorian or Edwardian books set on ships from days gone by or enjoys a really good mystery will love this book.

The Man Who Ate Everything

Author: Jeffrey Steingarten

Published: 1997

Plot outline:

Jeffrey Steingarten is a famous food critic, and if spending time during your cruise wining and dining in first class restaurants has whet your appetite to discover more about food, you’ll love this banquet of a book.

Although not strictly a novel, this read is full of sharp wit and weird and wonderful food stories from around the world. Follow Steingarten on his travels and adventures in search of the perfect chip, learn why Japanese beef has such a unique flavour and consider his humorous arguments on why salad is a silent killer.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

Published: 1979

Plot outline:

Originally a Radio 4 broadcast in 1978 and later adapted for screen, this comic science fiction novel surpasses all other mediums and will have you laughing out loud on the sun deck.

Recounting the adventures of Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect as they travel around space, this is light reading at its best. You might be comfortably ensconced in a luxurious cruise ship, but you’ll still be able to explore much of planet earth on your cruise.

Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Published: 1868

Plot outline:

A must-read classic and a novel which can be enjoyed time and time again, Little Women is a semi-autobiographical account of Alcott’s childhood in Concord, Massachusetts. In nineteenth century New England, Alcott describes the touching relationship between her sisters as they come of age while their father is deployed to war.

Showcasing the hard reality of family life during the Civil War, Little Women examines the struggle between family duties and personal growth, and is full of timeless wisdom.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Author: Jeanette Winterson

Published: 1997

Plot outline:
Winterson claimed the Whitbread prize for Best First Fiction for this coming of age novel, where we see our protagonist question everything she’s ever known and the crumbling of her God-fearing household. Although it doesn’t claim to be autobiographical as none of the stories can be verified with any fact, the reader is left questioning the reality of all stories through the fraught relationship between Jeanette and her religious mother.

Now you’ve got your reading material sorted, all that’s left for you to do is pick the perfect cruise line with which to explore the seven seas.

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