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We love nothing more than getting lost in a good book, even better if that book is set in a beautiful place and our imagination can transport us there. In this post we asked bloggers to recommend their favourite fiction books for wanderlust inspiration and these are the best 20 fiction books about travel they recommended.
Aria’s Travelling Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin
Recommended by Book It Let’s Go!
Aria’s travelling bookshop is a romantic comedy story about a woman named Aria whose husband dies and she decides to start travelling around with a wandering fayre and her best friend Rosie in her campervan turned bookshop. The journey starts in London where she meets Johnathon and shares a kiss with him, determined not to fall in love Aria sets off on a European summer road trip.
The book delves into the ins and outs of van life and travelling full time and Aria’s journey takes her through the beautiful French countryside and small French villages. By coincidence she runs into Johnathon again and a love story unfolds. The story is funny, heartwarming and inspirational for anyone interested in van life, a great book for wanderlust it makes a fun holiday read.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Recommended by Jessica from My Feet Will Lead Me
Beautiful ruins is a historical fiction novel that made Italy even more alluring than it already was for me. It eventually led me on a whirlwind tour of Italy, exploring romantic seaside towns that resembled the fictitious one of the book. Inevitably, I fell in love with all things Italy and will forever reserve the top spot on my list of favorites exclusively for it.
The satirical book bounces back and forth between modern day Pacific Northwest, Hollywood, and a 1960’s era Italian coastal fishing village. There are comedic elements, romance, Hollywood scandals with real life actors interwoven into a fictitious storyline that Jess Walter delivers with wit and brilliance. What has always been captured in my memory from this book, however, is the undiscovered charming Italian village as a backdrop.
A Year in Merde by Stephen Clarke
Recommended by Ania from The Travelling Twins
“A year in Merde” is the story of Paul West, a single 27-year-old Englishman who got a one year contract in Paris to create a chain of English Tea Shops.
The book shows the life of Parisian and the attempt of the Englishman to assimilate with Paris life and learn about France. He does it mostly by serious of romantic and sexual endeavours with four different females. Books show Paul’s personal and works ups and downs as well as the cultural difference between British and French culture.
The book is easy, fun and easy to read, and when you finish it you should read as well the sequel called “Merde, actually”.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Recommended by Shelley from Travel Mexico Solo
If you’re looking for some Mexico wanderlust inspiration, look no further than the fiction novel, Like Water for Chocolate. Each chapter of this novel by Mexican author, Laura Esquivel, begins with a food recipe. These intros will definitely make you hungry to travel somewhere like Oaxaca City, Mexico, known as the Foodie Capital of the country.
The novel, however, is set in a town closer to the U.S.-Mexico border, and follows the life of Josefita AKA “Tita.” In this tragic romance tale, Tita is forbidden from marrying her love, Perdo Muñoz, due to a centuries-old family tradition which says the youngest daughter can never marry.
Rather, Tita, who is the youngest sibling, must care for her mother until she dies instead of taking a husband. Tita taps into another ancient tradition, cooking, and uses it as a way to express her feelings.
Rings of Saturn by W G Seabald
Recommended by Utkarsh from Journeys From Heart
In 1992 the German writer W G Seabald set off to a walk on one of the beaches of the east coast Suffolk, England. This walk of his becomes an inspiration for his greatest work “Rings of Saturn”. The book starts like a normal travel diary mentioning accounts of his daily mundane walk and slowly takes the readers to a parallel world of his imaginations of themes of memory, loss, decay, exile and more.
The walk traces his melancholy tour of the so-called literary graveyards by him and his imaginative meanders into such horrors such as the Holocaust, slavery, and mass death in the sea battle of Suffolk. Very beautifully he brings out metaphors like shrunken horizons and ideas like there is something in a distress or a catastrophe that is extremely comforting. Even though a lot of the book is factual, he imagines and dreams of associations with these ghosts of life & community which he associates with that place.
Though there is a metaphor of decaying & hollowing out by these disasters, the good part about the narration is that the dreams and associations that the author makes are his personal and out of his research, he does not force-feed the readers to any conclusions.
Even the creations is one of the bleakest one, the author makes it very comforting to be in the middle of a melancholic vision of human life and death. Hugely inspirational and thought provoking.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Recommended by Paulina from Paulina On the Road
On The Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac written in 1957. It is one of the classic outdoor adventure books based on the writer and his friends’ travel across the United States. It is a defining work of the postwar Counterculture and Beat generations. Its protagonists live a life against a backdrop of poetry, jazz, and drug use. It is essentially nonfiction that defines numerous key names of the Beat movement including Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and Willian S. Burroughs who are represented by different names in the book.
In all the versions, On The Road is the story of Kerouac’s series of cross-country trips between 1948 and 1950. The writer and his friends only cover the grounds of these places and do not really travel. The featuring cardinal places include New York City, Denver, and San Francisco, down to the New Orleans, San Joaquin Valley, and Mexico. The novel emphasizes the relationship of the writer, Kerouac with Neal Cassady. Kerouac’s affection towards America and his interpretation of language as jazz combine to make On The Road an inspirational and classic piece of work.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Recommended by Jen from The Go Family Adventure
This fictional story comes to life as the author weaves a dark storyline into a beautiful yet harrowing setting. As Leni navigates her teenage years, she does so with the harsh backdrop of Alaska. Set in the 1970’s, Leni and her family move to Alaska to live off the land in America’s last true frontier. The wildness of the land matches the wildness of her relationships, where beauty clashes with danger.
Leni, along with her mother and father, face the reality of living on their own in this remote corner of the world and find themselves leaning into resilience as a matter of survival. In story, this book approaches heavy topics such a mental health and abuse, bringing this narrative alive. You can’t help but want to visit Alaska just to get a glimpse of this luring land.
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
Recommended by Shoba from Martha’s vineyard Tourist
The Heretic’s Daughter is a fictional work based on the author’s ancestor, Martha Carrier, who was hung for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century are a big part of early American colonist history and taught in American history. Many Americans visit historic places in Massachusetts like Plymouth, Salem and Boston because they have learned so much about early American history.
The Heretic’s Daughter is told from the perspective of Martha Carrier’s teenage daughter. The mother-daughter relationship is strained because the two women are very much like each other. Even though the two characters clash, there is a love between them that is strong. The daughter comes to realise how strong her mother is and that she, too, has that strength within her.
Thanks to this novel, you actually come to care about the lives of the people affected by the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials as individuals as opposed to a distant historic event you learned at school. They become more relatable as people with opinions, dilemmas and issues of their own despite the intervening centuries. Moreover, the description of farm life in early colonial New England brings home how difficult life would have been for the first English settlers.
I enjoyed this book so much that I also read the prequel which was written after The Heretic’s Daughter. The prequel, called The Traitor’s Wife, tells the story of Martha Carrier, herself, and describes more about the hardscrabble life in early colonial times.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Recommended by Alanna Koritzke from Periodic Adventure
The Alchemist is a fiction work originally published in 1988. It tells the tale of a shepherd boy from the Andalusian region of Spain who yearns to travel. When he has a dream that he will find a treasure at the Egyptian pyramids, he decides to embark on a quest to find it. Along the way, he meets wise travel companions who teach him about the importance of discovering and fulfilling your purpose in life, which they call your personal legend.
The story takes place in Spain, then all along north Africa as he crosses the straight and moves east to the pyramids. The most prominent places are Tarifa in Spain, Tangier in Morocco, and the Sahara Desert. It will definitely inspire you to travel and fulfill your purpose in life, especially if your purpose is traveling.
Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier
Recommended by Petra from Erratic Engineeress blog
One of my favourite books is Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, which is the pseudonym of Peter Bieri, a Swiss writer and philosopher. It is a wonderful fiction novel about our shared humanity and how we define ourselves through language.
The book follows the story of Raimund Gregorious, a Swiss teacher with a passion for classic languages, who encounters a mysterious Portuguese woman and decides to shake up his dull, routine life on a whim. He takes the night train to Lisbon, even though he does not even speak Portuguese, and becomes obsessed with a book by a Portuguese doctor and poet, so he wanders around Lisbon trying to find people who were involved in the doctor’s life.
The story is mostly set in Lisbon and we get to experience the city through a unique prism of language and self-reflection, as Gregorious tries to understand his life and his unbearable need for change through discovering the life of another. This book will hit you straight in the heart and you’ll probably want to take the next train anywhere. There’s also a movie from 2013, but I recommend reading the book first!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Recommended by Lisa from Flip Flop Globetrotters
Outlander (published in the UK as Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon is a novel set in the Scottish Highlands in 1945 and 1743. It’s the first of eight novels that make up the Outlander series. The story starts in 1945 when the English Claire Randall, a former WWII combat nurse, travels to Scotland with her husband to research his Scottish history. While plant gathering she touches one of the standing stones at Craigh na Dun and is transported to 1743 where she meets charismatic James Fraser of Clan MacKenzie. The author really manages to make the story and history come alive through detailed and vivid descriptions of the scenery and life in the Scottish highlands. It immediately makes you want to travel there yourself!
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Recommended by Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad
Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons is definitely one of the best travel books for those who love Italy. This crime and murder mystery fiction novel sees a nuclear physicist and a symbologist working together to solve a murder in order to prevent impending terrorist attacks at the Vatican. It is filled with suspense and twists and will be hard to put down once you start.
Set in the beautiful city of Rome, this book features many places in the Eternal City, and it’s also an amazing book to read as you explore Rome because you can head to each location featured in the book and read the chapter that is set there to immerse yourself even more into the story.
The Poisonwood Bible By Barbara Kingsolver
Recommended by De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander
Set in the Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo today), this novel tells the story of a missionary family’s struggle in Africa as the country struggles to gain independence from Belgium. The family arrives in Leopoldville, prepared with everything they think they might need to save the locals and stay alive themselves: the Word, pockets stuffed with seeds to plant, clothes for every season.
But their seeds won’t grow in this strange land and the locals don’t want to be baptised in the river in fear of crocodiles. It is a story of a family’s undoing, of keeping faith, and losing faith.
While most visitors only go to the Congo to see gorillas, the Poisonwood Bible’s vivid descriptions of post-colonial rural Congo and of how beautiful and harsh Africa can be will make visitors yearn to see more of this incredibly intriguing country.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Recommended by Pamela from Directionally Challenged Traveler
When we travel the world, we often forget about the incredible history and the lives of the people who live there. Luckily, there are books that can transport us through history. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton does just that.
Alternating between Elisa in the late 1950’s and her granddaughter Marisol in 2017, the book quickly captures the reader with vivid images of Cuba, strong female characters, and a love story through the decades. While it is historical fiction, there is much to learn from the book about the Cuban revolution before Fidel Castro and its impact on individuals, families, friends, and the country as a whole.
Through Chanel’s writing, the reader can walk the streets of Cuba, taste the salty air of the sea, and enjoy the scents of Cuban food – which will have to do until I get to experience it first-hand.
The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
Recommended by Polly from Polly Goes
A fictional coming of age story about 18-year-old Phoebe, who travels from San Francisco to Europe in search of answers about her older sister Faith’s mysterious death. Phoebe traces Faith’s footsteps through France to Berlin to Italy’s Cinque Terre. Young phoebe’s naivete and personal growth through mishaps she encounters along her journey have the power to evoke nostalgia for any travel-lover of their first time venturing to a foreign country. Since the book takes place in the 1970s, a pivotal moment in history with shifting political and social ideals, reading The Invisible Circus is a great way to journey to these places as they were during a fascinating bygone era.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Recommended by Denise from Chef Denise
If you’ve ever dreamed about living the Hemingway life, sipping cocktails all day with fellow writers at cool Parisian cafes, read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. You could call this historical fiction the flip side of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast where Hadley, Hemingway’s first wife, tells her side of the story.
Immersed in the romanticized life of Americans living in 1920’s Paris, you’ll meet the best literary minds of the time, tour the sites of the city, and eat fabulous French food. And although the marriage becomes a tumultuous one, you’ll still love Paris and get to travel to Spain and take a couple of trips to Austria as well.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
Recommended by Abi from Bonafide Bookworm
If you’re looking for travel inspiration for England, then you should definitely pick up Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. This fictional account of traveling along the stretch of the Thames from Oxford to Kingston is one of the best humorous books set in England!
While this book was originally intended to be a serious travel guide and does share true details of locations and features along the river, the story took on a life of its own and ended up becoming mostly a series of fun, humorous, and often fictional travel tales and mishaps. It’s an entertaining read that will surely remind you of your own adventures and misadventures while traveling!
But one of the best parts of this book is that this part of the Thames remains mostly unchanged since the book’s publication in 1889…and nearly all the pubs and inns named in the book are still open. So once you’re feeling inspired to take your own trip down the Thames, you can recreate this boating trip in real life!
So, if you’re looking for inspiration for an adventure in England, this book is sure to bring a smile to your face while inspiring you to want to take your own trip down the river!
The Beach by Alex Garland
Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
The Beach by Alex Garland might just be one of the most famous fiction travel books out there. It was adapted into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000 which brought the story considerable fame.
Set in Thailand, the book follows the young backpacker Richard who is looking for an isolated beach that is largely inaccessible. He eventually finds it and discovers a hidden community of backpackers who live there secluded from the rest of the world. He joins them and has a number of incredible and disturbing experiences.
Anyone who has travelled to South East Asia or is planning to will love this book. It might just awaken your wanderlust and desire to discover hidden beaches.
Bloomability by Sharon Creech
Recommended by Lyndsay from The Purposely Lost
In the fiction, middle-grade novel Bloomability by Sharon Creech, Dinnie is a 13-year-old American girl whose life is turned upside down when she is “kidnapped” by her loving aunt and uncle and given the opportunity of a lifetime–to attend the boarding school they run in Lugano, Switzerland. In the midst of her first experience away from home, she meets people from all over the world, experiences different cultures, and even makes new friends. This is a great book for young readers on found family, personal growth, and finding a love for travel.
The Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson
Recommended by Lavina from Continent Hop
The Millennium Trilogy is a set of Swedish crime novels that have a woman called Lisbeth as the central character. Many may be aware of the adaptation of these books into movies such as The girl with the dragon tattoo and The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest.
Written by journalist Stieg Larsson, it was meant to be a set of ten fiction novels however due to his sudden passing, the three that were completed form the trilogy that’s set in Sweden and concentrate on having the fictional character Mikael Blomkvist who is a journalist and the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and their attempt to solve crimes and mysteries in Sweden.
The books keep readers on the edge of their seat, are engaging and the way the characters are built have helped them have a cult following around the world.
Looking for non-fiction travel books and travel memoirs? Check out this post:
These recommendations have certainly got our imaginations excited. We can’t wait to read some of these amazing books for wanderlust inspiration and hopefully tick of some of these wonderful places too.
What did you think to our fiction travel books list? Any books for wanderlust you thought should make the list? Let us know in the comments!
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