The Best Holiday Books Inspired by Travel

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01 Jun 2019 Jules Verne
Ma sitting on a lounger with a book folded in his hands looking out over water

Soothe your wanderlust and inspire your next travel plans

A great many travellers – including our namesake Jules Verne – have been awed by their journeys around the world and moved to write some of the world’s best-loved literature.  Whether you’re looking for serious prose, a light-hearted novel, or thought-provoking non-fiction, there are lots of beautiful books available to both inspire and accompany you on your next trip.

Here are a few of our favourites:

The Old Man and The Sea: Ernest Hemingway - The last major work written by Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea has Cuba at its core. The novel tells the story of Santiago, the titular old man, and his battle with a large marlin. Hemingway vividly records Cuban culture and the influence the island’s stark natural and oceanic beauty has on the Cuban people. The descriptions in this novel are some of Hemingway’s best and having read the book you will be yearning to visit Cuba and experience the country that inspired it.

Kim: Rudyard Kipling - This classic tale of Indian adventure is not only one of Kipling’s first novels, but also contains some of his most crystalline prose. Through the evocative descriptions of the majesty and mystery of the Indian landscape, it is easy to see Kipling’s enduring love for India and its people. Some have criticised this novel for seeing the British Colonial project in India through rose-tinted glasses, however Kipling’s passion for the country is infectious and this story of coming of age and adventure is sure to inspire you to make your own voyage of discovery through this vast and varied country.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Mark Adams - It’s easy to see why Mark Adams has won so many accolades; this masterful travelogue is as inspiring as it is well-written. While we might not aspire to Adam’s rough style of travel, his deep insight into Peruvian history and geography reflects the kind of understanding that drives us to explore the world. Some of the lesser-visited sites mentioned in the book can be seen on our tours through Peru if you too want to turn right and discover this stunning country.

Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change – Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years: Andrew Solomon - By far the longest title on this list, this book won’t take as long to read. Filled with first-hand reporting, fascinating insights, and shrewd commentary, this book will have you itching to travel from the very first page. A riveting collection of essays covering turbulent places such as Myanmar and the Middle East, this is a must for those looking for the deeper story behind their travel destinations.

Married to a Bedouin: Marguerite van Geldermalsen - This incredible book is a heartfelt description of the author’s trip to the city of Petra, where she went in 1978 on a holiday to Jordan that would change her life. The memoir describes how she met and fell in love not only with a local Bedouin man, but also with a country and a way of life. Marguerite still lives and works in Petra today. When visiting the city you can stop by her jewellery stall, which stands along the road leading up to the local theatre. If you can’t make a trip to Jordan, definitely read her book, which will transport you to Petra through her words.

West with the Night - A Memoir: Beryl Markham - If the first responsibility of a memoirist is to lead a life worth writing about, Markham succeeded beyond all measure. Born in the middle of England, she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a girl. Her adventures include getting a pilot license and scouting elephants from a tiny plane. She would spend most of her life in East Africa as an adventurer and an aviatrix.

Everything Is Illuminated: Jonathan Safran Foer - With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man sets out to the Ukraine to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war, an amorous dog, and a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.

Tangerine: Christine Mangan - A thrilling novel about two friends reunited in Tangier, Morocco in the 1950s. Alice feels controlled and stifled by her former roommate Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Beyond the Sky and the Earth - A Journey into Bhutan: Jamie Zeppa - Jamie Zeppa was 24 when she left a stagnant life at home and signed a contract to teach for two years in the Buddhist hermit kingdom of Bhutan. More than just a travel memoir, this is the story of her time in a Himalayan village, immersed in Bhutanese culture, and the wonders of new and lasting love.