I love to read while I'm travelling - waiting around airports, sitting on trains etc. But recently, after having read Dan Brown's Angels and Demons
instantly followed by a trip to Rome, I realised how much more interesting it is to read books that are set in the city you are going to.
I was just wondering if anyone else has read books that helped paint a different picture of the places they've visited, or have read books that have inspired them to explore. For example, Sophy Burnam's The Treasure of Montsegur
is perfect for a trip to Montsegur in the south-west of France, Jeanne Kalogridis' Painting Mona Lisa
makes me wish I'd added Florence to my Italy trip, and Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram
had definitely put India on my "to do" list.
I'd love to hear from other people about what books you've read that changed/inspired your travel experiences.
I read about a book a week/fortnight. I always read travel type memoir books from the library ( I am at home at the moment). I have read almost the whole section. I love humourous travel books. Too many to mention, but anything that gives you a good chuckle is good
Jan Morris' "Europe" is great for any European trip. I've just read Gantsara, about a solo trip across Mongolia, where I'm going next week. Books often inspire me to go places.
I liked Bill Bryson's "Down Under". Great read to take along while travelling in Australia... Witty and easy to read. Full of curiosities that are fun to know while there...
I know that this may sound silly, but I actually read the book "The Beach" (yes, the book the movie with Leo DiCaprio was based on) while I was in South Thailand. It seemed to be so perfect to read this book, while actually hearing the ocean waves in the background. I felt like I jumped IN the book and became part of the story! Whether you liked the movie or not, the book was such a great read, and had several scenes that were not in the movie.
I read the book "The Beach" (yes, the one the movie with Leo DiCaprio was based on) while I was in South Thailand. It was so perfect, especially hearing the ocean waves crash in the background while reading! I felt like I jumped IN the movie! Whether you enjoyed the movie or not, the book was such a great read.
There are some good recommendations in this topic
from a while back.
I read whatever looks good at the book-swap 😊
I have blogged about some of my favourites that are about the area I live in - Piedmont Italy. They are not only great books to take with you but reading them before hand will really give you a whole lot of inspiration.
I would also love to include reviews from other people about books on Italy that they have enjoyed. It is really something that is great to share and I am sure that their must be many other great books out there that I, and others, would love to read.
Check out my blog at-
For anyone going to China I would definitely recommend Wild Swans by Jung Chang - it is an account of her families life prior to and during the Cultural Revolution - it's mindblowing. I also read Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux which is about his journeys through China by train. I found him intensely smug and irritating as a person but it was very interesting to read!
This may vary from the general idea of this topic (since you are all talking about reading novels before travel), but I read "Shake Hands With The Devil" and "We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories Of Rwanda" prior to traveling to Rwanda. It certainly gave me a different perspective on the places I went, but in a more serious way.
Peter Mayle's "A year in Provence" and "A Good Year" are marvelous if you are living abroad or in France. Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" is lovely if you are traveling for a long time and absorbing culture in Italy, Indonesia and Italy. And to pass the time on train rides and such, "The Other Bolyn Girl" is good just for light reading. I recommend if you are in Italy to read Hemingway especially in the North.
My favourites are:
- '3 Men in a Raft' & '5 months in a leaky boat' - Ben Kozel
- 'Lost in Transmission' - Jonathon Harley
- 'Holy Cow' - Sarah MacDonald
- 'The Cloud Garden' - Tom Hart Dyke & Paul Winder
- 'When in Rome' - Penny Green
- 'Almost French' - Sarah Turnball
- 'Shantaram' - Gregory David Roberts
"The Adventurer's Handbook" by Mick Conefrey
"The Celestine Prophecy" by James Redfield
Foreign language books...I love to learn and practice different languages in their country of origin 😊
Anything by Jan Morris, especially her (his) 'Hong Kong' if you're going there (someone already mentioned Europe above)
Anything by Robert Kaplan if you're travelling around the Mediterranean/Balkans
Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction if you're kicking back in the Mid-East
Books about/by great travellers, such as Wilfred Thesiger if you're going to the Gulf, or Freya Stark in the Mid-East/Arabian Peninsula
If travelling though Cambodia I can recommend "Of the rails in Phnom Phen" it's only short and points out all the crazy things (well crazy to us) that they do. I recommend getting to Phnom Phen first then you can appreciated it fully.
"The wrong way home", by Peter Moore.
That was my 1st-ever travel book (as soon as I could read in english,unfortunately there aren't many travel books in spanish!!) and I was very impressed by the idea of somebody going to the other side of the world by any means but plane. That book inspired me a lot to start travelling a bit off the beaten track.
I also liked "Happy Isles of Oceania" by Paul Theroux,.
For personal reasons: so far is the only book I could find that talks about Aitutaki (Cook Islands) which is where Dax and I are getting married in a year
I would say the two books that I have enjoyed greatly while travelling are ''Frankenstein'' and ''One Hundred Years of Solitude''
Thanks for the info guys! I will read these travel books you mentioned.
I usually buy and read travel guides but now i surf the internet for all information i need before going to a place.
I have been to Paris and Rome and when I read Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons - and i was just reliving those moments when places (i have been) were mentioned in the book...
Yes, this is such a great list - will definitely be using it for future reference when deciding what to read when travelling!
I am a huge book nerd 😊, and one of my fav books of all time is called "Shadow of the Wind". It was originally written in spanish and then translated to English-it takes place in Barcelona, so anyone travelling around Spain-take note! Even if you've never been to Spain this is an awesome read.