There’s nothing like a good book to make you want to visit a place, even if it’s a fictional one. It’s easy to fall for travel narratives, but sometimes works of fiction can dive further into a destination.
Whether you’re a Kindle lover or prefer the classic paperbacks, there’s something for every preference. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started, organized by destinations. Leave your own in the comments below!
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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Russia– One of the most celebrated novels of all time is about an unhappily married woman in turn of the century Russia who falls for a young count. Their passion isolates them from the rest of well-to-do society. Grab on Amazon.
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, Italy– A young woman and her chaperone visit Italy, where two young men fall in love with her. She must decide to go with her head or her heart. Grab on Amazon.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, France– This novel is the dramatized version of the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley Richardson. They mingle with the “Lost Generation” members like the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein. Grab on Amazon.
The Beach by Alex Garland, Thailand– A backpacker named Richard visits Thailand and is repulsed by the facade of Bangkok and Khao San Road. He hears about a secret paradise, where he soon meets fellow travelers who have formed their own society. Grab on Amazon.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, India– Set around India’s independence, a number of children are born around midnight who all develop special powers. But one child’s gift comes at a cost. Grab on Amazon.
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro, Shanghai– A man dedicates his life to solving mysteries after his parents go missing when they move from England to China. Even years later, he hits walls when trying to unravel the details. Grab on Amazon.
Africa and the Middle East
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Congo– Based on the author’s own experiences in Belgian Congo, he meets a mysterious man who has control over the locals. Grab on Amazon.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Egypt– A must-read for travelers for its metaphors, this story is about an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels to the pyramids of Egypt to find a treasure, meeting characters along the way. Grab on Amazon.
Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin, Turkey– A high society Turkish family in Ankara is shocked when their daughter falls for a Jewish man, runs off and marries him. They flee to Paris, but soon the Nazis invade. Grab on Amazon.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, New York– Set in suburban New York during the Jazz Age, a young man meets his neighbor, a secretive man who throws lavish parties. There his worlds collide between his neighbor and his distant cousin and her husband. Grab on Amazon.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac, USA– This is the ultimate road trip book and an icon of the beat generation. Based on Kerouac’s experiences, the characters of Sal and Dean travel the country. Grab on Amazon.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Canada– A family dog named Buck in California is kidnapped to be sold as a sled dog in the harsh Yukon Territory. Buck must do what he can to survive when he’s passed from owner to owner. Grab on Amazon.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia– Set in a fictional town, one family sees the highs and lows over time of their home, including war and revolution. Grab on Amazon.
The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Mexico– Based on a folk tale, a man named Kino is a pearl diver struggling to get by until the day he finds the largest and most perfect specimen he’s ever seen. Grab on Amazon.
Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Australia– After stealing a loaf of bread in England, a man is sentenced to become a convict in the new colony of Australia. Grab on Amazon.
The Bone People by Keri Hulme, New Zealand– Artist Kerewin is part Maori and part European, but exiled from her tribe and family. Grab on Amazon.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery– Much more than a children’s book, a young boy leaves the safety of his planet to learn about the rest of the universe, which brings him to Earth. Grab on Amazon.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien– While the movies certainly inspire travel to New Zealand, this book is about the adventures of Bilbo Baggins through Middle Earth. Grab on Amazon.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams– In a future world, a man is saved from the destruction of earth before it becomes an intergalactic highway. He later travels the galaxy with new friends. Grab on Amazon.
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Do you have any favorite fiction books that inspire travel to a certain destination? Share them below!
Jessica Lippe says
There’s a series of books called “On the Runway” by Melody Carlson. They’re aimed at young adults and can be read in a day, but it’s a fun perspective! In each book, two sisters who work on a fashion-inspired reality show visit a different city somewhere in the world. I’m not very fashion-conscious, but I’ve even learned a few things from these books that will make my future trips better!
The Anthropology of Turquoise by Ellen Meloy is so amazing and is making me plan my next roadtrip: American southwest edition
For another good read set in Africa, I recommend the thriller “The Informationist” by Taylor Stevens. — I read that James Cameron bought the movie rights.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – China
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – India
Tears of a Giraffe by Alexander Mccall Smith – Botswana
The Elephant Whisperer by Lauwrance Anthony – South Africa
Some of my favorites anyway 🙂
I would add the Amelia Peabody series: Egypt. These are funny, informative books written by an Egyptologist with a fiery, brave, witty, mystery-solving heroine (can you tell this is one of my favorite series?). I can’t wait to visit Egypt someday and see all the places she talks about!
One of my favorite travel books about the U.S. is John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley in Search of America”. It’s an old man, a dog, and a truck driving around to find the soul and sight of his country in the 1960s. I also really enjoyed “Round Ireland with a Fridge” by Tony Hawks; and Stephen Clarke’s “A Year in the Merde”, which is laugh-out-loud funny.
Stacey Walker says
TRACKS by Robyn Davidson
Robyn Davidson’s opens the memoir of her perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company with the following words: “I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there’s no going back.”
Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia’s landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation.
“An unforgettably powerful book.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
For kids, I would recommend the Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger. There are 6 books, with a book 7 coming out in November. However, they are thick (I’m talking nearly 800 pages on #6), so kindles are definitely useful.
Here’s the summary of book 1:
Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. And Sophie has a secret – she’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and almost instantly she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.
But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death – and time is running out.