Cruising and Perusing: Reading at Sea Is Alive and Well

Every year, at least a few news articles come out lamenting the decline of reading for pleasure in America today. In August, the National Endowment for the Arts released a report stating that in 2015, only 43 percent of adults read at least one work of literature. This is down from 57 percent in 1982.

This is disheartening news, but based on personal experience, I don’t think the state of reading is all doom and gloom. On a recent cruise vacation, I was very pleasantly surprised at how many adults brought books with them to read during the trip.

As I walked through the Solarium — the ship’s adults-only pool/hot-tub/relaxation area — I saw reader after reader laying out with their noses buried in Kindles and books (many bearing barcodes of local public libraries). My librarian heart fluttered with joy!

Of course, I was curious to see what everyone brought to read. These cruisers were from all over the United States and their book choices could provide an inside look at what adults around the country are reading.

Just a little “light” reading I came across!

Over the course of the 10-day trip, I tried to record titles of as many books I saw adult cruisers reading (without looking too snoopy and creepy). I only got a small sampling of all the books onboard, but enough to get a taste of what folks are reading while resting and relaxing.

Most of the books wouldn’t be considered high literature (I mean, who really wants to read War and Peace on a cruise vacation),
but overall, I was impressed with the variety and quality of book choices. Lots of NY Times bestsellers, thrillers, and romance, as well as some pretty heavy literary fiction (see photo above!).

Take a look at the titles I collected*. Do your reading tastes match up with this sampling of American society? What books would you bring on a cruise. Share your answer in the comments below!


Impossible, by Danielle Steele

The Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown

Inferno, by Dan Brown

Jurassic Park, by Michael Crighton

Room, by Emma Donoghue

American Assassin, by Vince Flynn

V is for Vengeance, by Sue Grafton

The Woman Next Door, by Cass Green

A Painted House, by John Grisham

The Whistler, by John Grisham

Distant Shores, by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Big Little Lies, by Lianne Moriarty (2)

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

Thug Passion, by Mz Lady P

Rather Be the Devil, by Ian Rankin

Assorted titles by Nora Roberts (I could never see the titles because Nora Roberts’ name always took up the majority of the cover)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling

The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro

The Light Between the Oceans, by M.L. Stedman

Radio Girls, by Sara-Jane Stratford

Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters

The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara



Nice Is a Just a Place in France: How To Win at Basically Everything, by The Betches

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba, by Tom Djelton

Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham

Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, by Diana B. Henriques

Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph, by Dennis Prager

Born To Run, by Bruce Springsteen


*A few notes:
I’ve only included English titles. There were a fair few international cruisers reading foreign-language books that are not on this list.
Tons of people were reading on Kindles, but I couldn’t see the titles of the books, so I couldn’t include those.

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