My Top Picks for Books to Read While Travelling
I don’t know about you but I always need to have a book or two with me when I travel. I love to read but I rarely find the time at home to read as much as I’d like to. So one of the joys of travelling for me is having that quiet time, on the train, the bus or the plane, when I can just relax and read a good book. I read all kinds of books. Classic literature. Modern classics. Travel books. Easy reading. I’ve got my favourites of course and so I want to share some of my top picks for books to read while travelling.
Some of them are travel-related because I think it’s quite cool to read something about travelling while you’re on the road. On the other hand, some of them are just my absolute favourites. So here it is, my list of the best books to read while traveling.
Firstly, before I start with the list of books, I’d just like to mention the Kindle e-reader. Such a convenient way to carry your travel reading materials so that you never run out of books to read.
Get your Kindle here!
Now for my list of books to read while Travelling
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
For me, Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is a real favourite. It helped inspire our own journey around the world without flying and so of course, I had to include it at the top of my list. Follow Phileas Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, as they journey around the world. You’ll find it quite a different travel adventure from any trip today. However, it’s inspired many a traveller to set off in search of the unknown.
Anything by Bill Bryson
Down Under: Travels In a Sunburned Country is probably my favourite of Bryson’s books but it’s a close call. I’ve read every book he’s written. I often laugh out loud at his antics. He is such a keen observer of people but it’s his hilarious self-depreciation which really endears him to me. All the stupid things I’ve ever done while travelling, Bryson has done them too and more. Some of the tales he relates are almost too incredible and yet totally believable. The more you read of his adventures the more you want to know. Try one, any one of his books. I promise you’ll be hooked too.
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2008, White Tiger is an amazingly insightful, shocking and incredibly addictive book. The story is told from the perspective of Balram Halwai. He’s the smartest boy in his village in rural India. Balram’s narrative recounts his own story as he takes on the role of a chauffeur to a rich man. You’ll become bound up in Balram’s personal narrative as he navigates a world so totally alien to that of his upbringing. So compulsive is his story that you’ll be prepared to forgive him almost anything! Before the end, you will need to.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The perfect companion for travelling by train. I discovered Agatha Christie’s detective novels when I was at school and I’ve always loved them. Murder on the Orient Express may be one of her more famous novels but it’s for good reason. A murder mystery the way only Christie can tell it. Even better if you’re on a multi-day sleeper train journey although few trains these days provide the luxury that Christie describes in her novel.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Another Agatha Christie classic and of course, another one with a travel theme. I love Death on the Nile because it features such an exotic location. I’ve not made it to that part of the world yet so it’s very much on my bucket list. Christie makes it sound so exciting. There’s something about her characters and of course, the famous detective Hercule Poirot, that makes her books a firm favourite.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is one of the classic travel narratives which I’ve read several times and still enjoy. It’s just as much a story of Gulliver’s spiritual and emotional journey as his physical one and as such I think it’s particularly appropriate to modern travellers. Swift is a master storyteller and if you’ve not read it yet then you really should put this on your list.
The Island by Victoria Hislop
My mother-in-law recommended this book to me before we travelled to Crete. It’s a great book and you should definitely read it whether you’re heading to Greece or not. Hislop’s novel is set on the island of Spinalonga which is just off the coast of Plaka in Eastern Crete. Spinalonga is a former leper colony and people from Crete and the Greek mainland were isolated there if they showed signs of the disease. The book is fiction but it is based on historical events and it’s a gripping read. The perfect holiday novel in my opinion. Easy to read and really interesting.
Regeneration by Pat Barker
Regeneration is the first novel in Barker’s trilogy about the First World War. I’ve included Regeneration as it’s the first one but Barker is a favourite author of mine and I’m sure once you read one you’ll want to read them all. Pat Barker is an acclaimed author and her work is well-researched and superbly written. A modern great and if you’ve not discovered her work yet then what are you waiting for?
The Regeneration Trilogy tells the story of soldier Billy Prior, an ordinary (fictional) soldier whose experiences during the war are interwoven with the historical characters of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Barker offers a fascinating glimpse into experiences of the men during their time at Craiglockhart War Hospital. Entirely fictional, the novels are based on detailed research and Barker knows the First World War really well.
If you love Barker’s books as much as I do then you’ll be delighted to hear that there is a second trilogy about the First World War starting with Life Class. This focuses on the lives of the war artists as Barker continues her look at how the war is represented through literature and art.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel is another of my favourite authors and I’ve read all her novels. She has a particular style which I think provides a unique perspective on the characters she represents. Wolf Hall won the Booker Prize in 2009 and Mantel went on to win it again in 2012 for its successor Bring up the Bodies. Set during the reign of Henry VII, Mantel tells the story of Henry, his wives and his issues with the church through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. It’s a fascinating diversion from the way these events are normally portrayed and gives Mantel’s unique perspective on things. Look out for the sequel and final novel of the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, which is due out next year.