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What are your favorite books you've read on a trip?

...not called Eat, Pray, Love. And not just travel books, but just any book you've read while traveling (or inspired you to travel or go to a destination) that you've loved, perhaps even about a specific culture or place. I'm always looking for new books to add to my list to read when I'm traveling. 

42 Answers

top answer by
Matt from Kent (Washington)

Some of these I read because I was researching a trip, some of them I read on a trip, and some of them I read and they inspired a trip.

A Walk in the Woods - by Bill Bryson; Applachian Trail hike

Travels with Charlie - by John Steinbeck; travels all around America

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig; motorcycle trip across montana

Flight of the Nez Pierce - Mark Brown; great Native American history, Oregon, Idaho, Montana

The Big Burn - Timothy Eagan; the 1910 fires in northern Idaho and Western Montana

Sources of the River - Jack Nisbet; history of Hudsons Bay Co. explorer David Thompson and his travels across Canada and search for a route to the Pacific before Lewis and Clark.

Glacial Lake Missoula - David Alt;  Geologic history of pre-historic ice-dams and floods from western Montana across northern Idaho, and Washington

Anasazi America - David Stuart; great history of the Native people around Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.

Dancing at the Rascal Fair - Ivan Doig; history of a Scottish immigrant family in 1880's Montana

American Gods - Neil Gaiman; interesting SciFi Fantasy taking place in locations in america

East of the Mountains - David Guterson; a trip from Seattle to eastern Washington

Frank Lloyd Wright - Ada Huxtable; biography of the great architect

Shoeless Joe - WP Kinsella; baseball stories from the Northeast, to Minnesota, to Iowa

A River Runs Through It - Norman MacLean; flyfishing and family in Western Montana

Men to Match My Mountains - Irving Stone; history of California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado from 1840 to 1900

Sarum - Edward Rutherford; excellent history of the area around Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral from pre roman times to the present.

4 thanks

answered by
Valerie from Los Angeles

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Cannot recommend enough. One of the most thought provoking books i've ever read.

4 thanks

answered by
Amanda from Fort Worth

Love Does by Bob Goff! The way this man views life and adventure is inspiring!

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Adam from Austin (Texas)

Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer (This one's my bible, especially after visiting the bus in Alaska)

A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig

A Brief History of Time, Steven Hawking

2 thanks

answered by
Christoph from Berlin

I read "the opposite of loneliness" recently. I really love the writing style of Marina Keegan!

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

The Tricking of Freya. Amazing book that covers a lot about people of Icelandic descent in Canada.

2 thanks

answered by
Spencer from Los Angeles

Wow, some amazing book recommendations. Already read some of these that were recommended, including Harold Fry, which I recently read. Also, just saw this great list of books on Buzzfeed that included some of those mentioned and others:

1 thanks

answered by
Nardine from Tamworth (England)

Mine are hardly literary gems.

First solo trip (to Ghana) and I started the Harry Potter series, a bit of "Britishness" helped as I was feeling homesick & overwhelmed.

My family & other animals on my first holiday to Corfu

1 thanks

answered by
Haleigh from Paris

Definitely Travels by Michael Crichton featuring his short stories from his many real adventures across the world over the years. Very easy to pick up and put down while traveling and definitely inspiring. Also, it's cliché but it never gets old...Eay Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert! I will definitely be reading her new book Big Magic!

1 thanks

answered by
Ashley from Calgary

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) Mindy Kaling

Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain

The Death of Cool Gavin McInnes

Something about reading other people's life journey while you're creating stories for you own.

1 thanks

answered by
Will from On The Road

Whether you are seeking to explore physical or spiritual dimensions of the Earth, I guarantee the books on this page will enhance your journey.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel By Rolf Potts

Travels By Michael Crichton

On the Road By Jack Kerouac

501 Must-Visit Cities By David Brown

The Art of Travel By Alain de Botton

The Road Less Traveled By M. Scott Peck

The Seat of the Soul By Gary Zukav

Journey of Your Soul By Shepherd Hoodwin

1 thanks

answered by

One of my favorites is Mediterranean Summer by David Shalleck! Reads like a novel, though it's non fiction. The authors experience working on a yacht as the chef (in the Med for a summer).

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by

The Geograph of Bliss by Eric Weiner. Trust me.

1 thanks

answered by
Tiffany from Corvallis

Reading Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth provides a fascinating education into England's history and adds a layer of meaning to visits there.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova which is also historical fiction and takes you to places in France, Turkey, and Romania among others.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. England (attraction)
  2. France (attraction)
  3. Turkey (attraction)
  4. Romania (attraction)
1 thanks

answered first by
Steven from Atlanta

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts had a great deal of influence in my travels.  


Anything, and I do mean anything, from Bill Bryson gets top honors for anything about travel, or history, or science, or trivialities, or some combination thereof.  


Favorite thing I've read while traveling would be hard to pin down, as I like to read a great deal of varying things. I'll narrow it down to things I've read this year, in which case my favorite fiction was probably David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, and favorite nonfiction was probably Annie Lamont's Bird by Bird (as I have also been trying to write).

1 thanks

answered by
Kathryn from London

Love with a Chance of Drowning is the first book that made me even consider a long term sailing trip. Right now I'm reading Marching Powder; the prose isn't great, but the story keeps you reading. 

answered by
pat from Palo Alto

Moby Dick by Herman Melville, an excellent tale of adventure and the open sea

answered by
Ben from London

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton is a great travel book to read when you're travelling!

Also love history of art books when you're travelling through certain areas

answered by
Emily from Otavalo, Ecuador

If you ever take a trip to Ecuador, or more specifically Otavalo you should definitely read Queen of the Water. It talks a lot about the indigenous culture in the area. 

If you are interested in the Amazon, State of Wonder  is awesome. 

Geography of Bliss gives you an interesting outlook on a couple different places around the world. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Otavalo (attraction)

answered by
Emma from Pickering, Ontario

If you are looking for an epic : Shantaram!

In South America it was truly amazing to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez  - all of the imagery came to life in the environment around me and a connection to the land was felt... really amazing.

answered by
Russell from Saint Cloud (Florida)

One of my favorite book is: Basilica, by R. A Scotti.  I read this book in 2006. It is the story of the building of the present day St. Peters in Rome.  Scotti begin with the destruction of the first St. Peters in the late 1400's. She leads you through the many popes, artist during the 125 years it took to rebuild St. Peters. It is a remarkable story of each pope would want changes made that were under construction. The obelisk that stands today in the open square was moved from the north side of St. Peter's by order of Sixtus V.  Scotti describes how this was achieved with breaking it. Marble stone columns were taken from other temples and moved to St. Peter's. The money that pope's received from indulgencies that were instituted. Pope's lovers. So much engrossing history, if you are interested in history. I never thought I would ever see St. Peters, but a year after I read the book I was standing in it and went under the edifice to see St. Peter's tomb as well as several other popes. I am thankful I read the book before I went. It is one of the great masterpiece in art, and architectural achievements. Also the painting of the Sistine Chapel. It is worthy of your time to read Basilica, and to visit St. Peters and the Sistine Chapel and museum.    

answered by
Javier from Zaragoza

One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel García Márquez,  

In Colombia,

answered by
Alicia from Austin

I love reading books about the country I am traveling in.

While I was traveling through Australia I loved reading In a Sunburned Country  by Bill Bryson (tiled Down Under in some countries). Highly Recommend if you're traveling Australia.

While traveling Japan, I read Hitching Rides with Buddah by Will Ferguson. Will Ferguson Hitchhiked from South to North Japan following the cherry blossom front.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Australia (attraction)
  2. Japan (attraction)

answered by
Randy from San Francisco, California

While visiting Hawaii, read Hawaii by James Michener.

answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

The "Wolf Hall/Bring up the Bodies" series is incredible if you're going to London. 

Antonia Fraser's "Marie Antoinette" is pretty great if you're headed to France. I've read "A Moveable Feast" more times than I can count (all about Paris). Also, "How Paris Became Paris" is fantastic. 

I'm going to China this year so I just finished Lisa See's "On Gold Mountain" which is about a family that emigrates from Shanghai to Los Angeles. 

So many it's hard to chose just a few!

answered by
David from Sydney

My favourite was reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami whilst travelling in Japan.

answered by
Heidi from Colorado

The Unexpected Pilgrimage of Henry Fry.

Loved it! 

answered by

All the Light You Cannot See while traveling through Paris and Normandy area.

answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

Ebenezer Fox, free in google books

answered by

I love reading while traveling. I recommend Satan Came to Eden, which is an extremely well written auto biography about a German couple who moved to the Galapagos. It details their struggles and has a murder twist. It made me want to move off the grid.  

I also really enjoyed The Quiet American when I traveled to Vietnam.  

Others include Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, The Count of Monte Cristo, and anything by David Sedaris if you're looking to laugh

answered by
Rebecca from Manchester

The Kite Runner. A great book in its own right but really good whilst you're travelling as you learn to appreciate and understand different cultural differences and also what it feels like to be a real foreigner in a place.

answered by
Andrés from Montevideo

Last year I lost my phone while travelling. In Rome to be more specific... It turned out to be a good thing. 

I bought Tuareg ( Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa) and it was a great way to spend time while flying or waiting for a train.

answered by
Mary from Gurnee

Gone Girl!!!! I was up all night, but well before the movie came out!

answered by
Roger from San Marcos (Texas)

 Scouting on Two Continents  -Major Fredrick Russell ; possible inspiration ( for Allen Quartermain/ Indiana Jones  )

answered by
Sarah from London, England

The Lemon Grove- Helen Walsh- loved the setting! I was gripped by Gone Girl, The Good Girl and The Girl on The Train- literally speeding through them! A quirky but enjoyable read was The Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry- a great one if you are walking! 

answered by

Well, by coincidence read Unbroken while in Hawaii and beyond it being an amazing book, it was cool to look out on the ocean that all those bombers flew over. Otherwise, The Girl on the Train and Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

answered by
Maria from Dublin

One of my best travel / reading memories is of reading Carol Shields' Stone Diaries on a train from Rome to Milan. The train was packed, I had to sit in the corridor on my bag and the book was wonderfully engrossing. I finished it just as we arrived in Centrale. This year I started reading Sapiens on a flight to Bergamo (it took a little longer and is excellent book)

answered by

Being Mortal.  Everyone, young or old should read this book.

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answered by
Rocio from Costa Rica

Hello Spencer! Regards from the Dead Princess by Kenize Mourad. Best novel ever! It was a watershed in my life. Saludos!!

answered by
Sean from Charleston

Read a book called The Trust, a legal thriller set in Charleston, SC.  Fun read. Author was Keefer.

answered by
Siddharth from India

Mine favorite is 'Light From Many Lamps' by Lillian Watson. It gives happiness and encouragement at the same time. I always carry it. I always feel like reading it again and again.

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