Great authors have the ability to take us with them when they travel too. They introduce us to the people they meet and the places they encounter through skillfully painting a picture with words. They make us feel like we are along with them for the journey. That got us thinking… since it’s pretty much impossible to get to Italy or India for a tour right now, we thought we’d brainstorm a list of a few of our favorite novels and travel books related to other countries and share them with our friends as a way for you to travel from home this summer. We limited our list to 10 travel books, but it does offer a lot of variety. It’s a mix of non-fiction, fiction, cookbooks, lighthearted reads, and a couple of weighty tomes. In our opinion, what they all have in common is that they dip into another global culture with insight and skill.
We’d love to hear from you too. What are some books that took you to another land that you would recommend we read?
Here’s our 2020 Summer Escape Reading List for Travelers!
Bahamas – Wind from the Carolinas
by Robert Wilder
Most people heading to the Bahamas have one thing on their mind—beaches. This book though focuses on the story of one of the groups who settled there. Many Loyalists left the USA for the Exumas after the Revolution. There they unsuccessfully attempted to recreate their southern lives of aristocracy. Fiction.
Botswana – The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith
It still amazes me that a Scottish man can write so well from the perspective of woman of Botswana. This light-hearted fictional series details the adventure of a female detective. The characters, setting as well as the sentence structure give the book a laid-back feel. Fiction.
China – The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up
by Michael Meyer
In the mid-90s, the author traveled to China as a teacher. He humorously gives an account of his adventures in cultural adaptation and discovery. Nonfiction.
India – The Far Pavilions
by M. M. Kaye
This book is a masterpiece and worth every one of its 1000+ pages. Sure, the author weaves in a few not-for-kids sections but the insights into the history and culture of India during the time of British colonialism are unbeatable. It’s one of my favorite books. Fiction.
International – Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
by Samin Nosat
This author’s pursuit of flavor has taken her all around the world. The book is part science, part techniques, part recipes. But, it is also a collection of history and stories that take you around the world. It offers insight into the variety of inspiring cuisines you’ll encounter when you travel. Cookbook.
Italy – Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling
by Ross King
If you’re the kind of person who likes to know the why behind the what, then you’ll love this book. A friend recently introduced me to Ross King and described his books as “History written as story…written in gripping, storytelling fashion.” After one chapter I was hooked. Two of his other books are Leonardo and the Last Supper and Brunelleschi’s Dome. Nonfiction.
Mexico – Angle of Repose
by Wallace Stegner
While this Pulitzer Prize winning novel is set primarily in the American West, it dips down into Michoacan, Mexico as well. The story revolves around a wheel-chair bound historian who is writing the biography of his grandmother – a headstrong artist who, along with her engineer husband, journeyed through life as pioneers. So well written. Fiction.
Poland – Poland
by James Michener
This one is far from a light read, but it’s hard to imagine visiting Poland without some understanding of it’s repetitive invasions and occupations. Michener covers eight centuries of history in this book, demonstrating the resilience and enduring qualities of a people who have suffered so much. Fiction.
Vietnam – Hanoi Stories: Eight Wonderful Years in Vietnam’s Capital
by Pamela Scott
Australian Pamela Scott visited Vietnam in the early 1990s and fell in love with the country and people. Each chapter is an account of one of her experiences with local culture, all told in a humorous, entertaining, and a bit irreverent way. You’ll like it or you won’t. Nonfiction.
Vietnam – The Girl in the Picture
by Denise Chong
Few will ever forget the picture of a naked Vietnamese girl crying after being burned with napalm. This biography follows her story from childhood to the present day and along the way weaves in behind the scenes insights into Vietnamese culture and history. Nonfiction.
*Be aware that there may be a couple that tastefully bump into the PG-13 rating for brief moments. We’ve included them because they’re well-written and offer tremendous value.