22 Ocean Novels For Spring Break

No spring break? Don’t drown your sorrows or sink into an ocean of despair. Let these 22 ocean-y books wash away your boredom and let you float away on an ocean breeze of pirates and palm trees.

1. Treasure Island – Robert Luis Stevenson

The classic novel has it all - a tropical island, pirates, mutinies, coconuts and ambiguous morals.

2. Beach House –James Patterson and Peter de Jonge

A dead body washes up on the beach, and law student Jack must fight corruptions and power to solve the crime - without getting distracted by the beautiful and inviting beach.

3. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

A gripping tale of a boy and tiger on a boat in the ocean, Life of Pi has just the right balance of existentialism and tigers on boats for that classic spring break feel.

4. Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch

Not technically set on the ocean, but technically speaking sea water runs through the Thames River, and in any case the supernatural orces at play in this magical historical police/wizard novel will transport you far away from wherever you are.

5. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

This Pulitzer Prize winning classic will make you consider moving to Florida and/or Cuba (ca. 1950) and become a pensive fisherman.

6. Art of Floating – Kristin Bair O’Keefe

This gripping yet quirky novel of sorrow, healing, and a mysterious man on a beach strikes just the right balance between hilariousness and heartbreak that we all crave for our day-dreaming days off.

7. Wild Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

A prequel to Jane Eyre, Wild Sargasso Sea is as dark as a tropical storm, portraying the island life of Caribbean heiress Antoinette Cosway before she married a certain English gentleman, who declared her mad and locked her up.

8. Beach Trip - Cathy Holton

Four friends in their fourties do exactly what we all dream of and meet on a North Carolina beach to forget their struggles and relive the carefree past (college, that is).

9. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

Perhaps not a classic “beach”-read, Melville’s emotional whale drama will undoubtedly bring your mind to the ocean and all it’s tempestuous wiliness. It might even make you glad you’re stuck in the city this spring break.

10. Jaws – Peter Benchley

If ‘Moby Dick’ doesn’t make you happy to be far, far from the beach, this ultimate beach horror classic definitely will.

11. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

Though the titular ocean may be a figment of a character’s information, this 2013 novel is as deep and unpredictable as the real thing.

12. Robinson crusoe - Daniel Defoe

Almost 300 years before Lost and Castaway, Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday were making readers subconsciously take note of survival skills in the case of an unexpected open-ended tropical holiday,

13. Message in a Bottle – Nicholas Sparks

No holiday break reading list would be complete without a Nicholas Sparks book. This plot contains everything you always wanted from your spring breaks - anonymous love messages in the ocean, handsome / beautiful strangers and pensive beach walks.

14. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

If you want more nitty gritty vacation reading than Nicholas Sparks, but still clamor that ocean feeling, Lord of the Flies may be your best bet. Gruelling, terrifying and the prototype of a “psychological drama”, this will definitely make you happy to go back to everyday life after break.

15. Animorphs, The Message – K.A. Applegate

If books set by or on the ocean isn’t good enough, go for full immersion with this book from the YA series Animorphs - and no, the cover isn’t lying, the teenagers turn into dolphins.

16. The Sea - John Banville

This novel won the 2005 Man Booker Prize, and is perfect for recreating silent, pensive days by the seaside, reflecting on loss, love and the past.

17. Kon Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl

If non-fiction accounts of insane travel adventures in the name of anthropology are your thing, Thor Heyerdahl’s cross-Pacific travel on a raft made out of balsa wood should hit the spot.

18. Twenty thousand leagues under the sea – Jules Verne

Early ocean travel seems a lot more drastic than it is today. This novel definitely facilitates full immersion escapism.

19. The Cay – Theodore Taylor

This children’s book is set in WW II and is about a boy who, when the ship he is on gets torpedoed, is stranded on a raft, blinded, with an old man and a cat. This is a fairly dark take on the stranded-on-a-desert-island genre.

20. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

A modernist classic, this poetic novel is set in and around a holiday home on a Scottish isle, with a lighthouse featuring heavily in the characters’ minds.

21. English Passengers - Matthew Kneale

This historical features a group of unlikely co-passengers and crew on a 19th century British vessel headed to Tasmania - complete with smugglers, vicars, and a fairly unsettling student of eugenics.

22. The Beach - Alex Garland

Finally, the ultimate “beach-y” novel, the most famous description of beautiful, secluded beaches and human savagery. Dream your way to south-east asian paradises (but make sure to do a background check of imagined travel companions).

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