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10 Island Novels to Get You Through the Coldest Months

Covers of books that feature an island theme.

There’s nothing more satisfying during the cold winter months than escaping into a tropical fantasy with the help of a good book. While you’re sipping a hot drink or bundled up in a blanket, read one of these ten island novels to whisk you away to warm beaches and tropical adventures.

And don’t worry, not only do we have the book recommendations we also have a suggestion or two to help you embrace big cozy winter vibes.

Love & Olives

Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Olives is a YA island adventure full of family secrets. Years after her father up and left their family, Liv is summoned by her estranged dad to a Greek island, where he believes he’s finally found proof of the lost city of Atlantis—something he and Liv used to talk about all the time.

When she gets there and finds a documentary crew set to film her father’s discovery (and his reunion with her), she has to re-evaluate what she knows about herself and her family.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Four best friends send a magical pair of jeans back and forth in the YA classic The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Rebel Tibby works at a big-box store and befriends a young cancer patient, snarky Carmen is faced with trying to fit in with her father’s new family, and confident Bridget tries to excel at soccer camp. But it’s shy Lena who gets to visit her family in beautiful Santorini, where she falls in love with Greece and with a forbidden neighbor boy.

We Were Liars

For a beach read with a thriller twist, We Were Liars has exactly what you’re looking for. Lockhart’s novel centers on an elite family and a group of young friends on a private island whose friendship turns competitive and, ultimately, toxic.

The adults and teenagers alike all have secrets, kept buried to keep up appearances—until they simply can’t anymore.

The Island of Sea Women

In The Island of Sea Women, two best friends begin training to join their Korean coastal village’s all-female diving team.

As they grow up and learn their trade, their island paradise becomes not much of a paradise at all, as the book tracks their story through decades of war and into the modern age.

The Dragonfly Sea

Ayaana, the heroine of Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s The Dragonfly Sea, grows up on an island off the Kenyan coast, where she encounters a wide variety of travelers and natural events.

Eventually, she leaves the island and journeys on a ship to countries far from home, but all the while, her island home and her devotion to the sea keep her grounded.


Circe puts a twist on the famous character known best for overseeing a dangerous island in The Odyssey. In this retelling, Circe is a banished daughter of a god, sent away for her fondness for mortals and her burgeoning sorcery.

She turns the island that is her prison into her home, where she encounters characters of myth and finds the strength to stand up for herself even against one of the most powerful gods.

Robinson Crusoe

The ultimate castaway tale, Robinson Crusoe takes place on a tropical island, but it’s far from a beachy paradise. Crusoe is the sole survivor of a terrible shipwreck, but making it to land is just the start of his ordeal.

What follows is a story of man vs. nature and man vs. his own doubts and fears as Crusoe fights to survive and make it home.

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island is one of the great island adventures in literature. When young Jim Hawkins discovers a treasure map in the belongings of a sea captain who has just died, he does the only sensible thing a young man with adventure in his heart could do.

He rounds up a motley crew—including a famous pirate—to set off in search of the apparent island filled with hidden treasure.

The Swiss Family Robinson

When the family at the center of The Swiss Family Robinson are shipwrecked on a tropical island, a new and unexpected adventure begins.

Together, they learn to navigate the dangers and appreciate the wonders of the island, turning what could have been a tragedy into an unplanned voyage of adventure and discovery.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

The Newberry Medal-winning Island of the Blue Dolphins is a true coming-of-age classic.

Young Karana is left behind when her tribe departs from the island, and as she waits years and years for rescue, she learns to take care of herself and build her own solitary island life. When she’s offered the choice again, she must decide whether or not to follow her people or remain on her island.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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