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Sunglasses resting on a pile of books on a beach
21 April, 20203 minute read

10 brilliant books to fuel your wanderlust

There’s nothing quite like being immersed in a page-turning book, especially while on holiday. Something to dip into cruising at 30,000 feet, or a gripping story to devour beside the pool, sipping a cocktail. Holidays are one of the only times we can truly slow down and lose ourselves in a good novel. So even though we’re all stuck at home for now, this is the perfect time to reminisce on past holidays and dream about new adventures for the future. Why not dust down your sun lounger or find a comfy chair in the sunniest spot in the garden, pour yourself a glass of wine and get stuck in to one of these - some might even inspire your next adventure…

A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

At its heart this is a love story: Lata, a young woman looking for love, her mother trying to find a ‘suitable boy’ for her daughter to marry, and three young suitors- Kabir, Haresh, and Amit. Set in India, it’s also the story of a nation, newly independent and facing its first general election in 1951. Totally absorbing, it deserves its label as a modern classic.

The Elephant Whisperer - Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

Written by South African conservationist, Lawrence Anthony, this heartwarming read tells the story of a herd of ‘rogue’ elephants that he agrees to take onto his reserve in Thula Thula. He battles to create a bond with them as he tries to protect them from execution, and finds that they have a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. This book is very highly rated by readers, even those who wouldn’t normally pick up a book like this. It’s a fascinating insight to life on an African reserve and is a must for animal lovers or anyone considering a safari trip.

Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

You may have already read this, but it’s one of those books you can read again and again. See the beautiful British Isles from an outsider’s perspective, and see it in a whole new (hilarious) light. Bill Bryson’s warm, dry sense of humour makes this laugh out loud funny. It might even inspire you to go on a staycation once we’re able to travel again.

The Year Of Living Danishly - Helen Russell

Denmark is apparently the happiest country in the world. Helen Russell moves to rural Jutland for her husband’s new job at Lego, and starts to live the Danish way and whilst doing so, sets out to find what makes them so happy. It won’t be long before you’re googling how to make your own Danish pastries, or learning how to create ‘hygee’ (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’)- a warm atmosphere in your home.

The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux

A must for railway enthusiasts- this 1973 travelogue of a railway journey starts at London Victoria and takes you across Asia, all the way to Tokyo Central and back. Paul Theroux journeys on the famous Orient Express, the Mandalay Express and the Trans-Siberian Express, among others.  It describes not only the places and culture of the stops on his four-month journey, but also his interesting fellow passengers that he’s drawn into conversation with.

Chocolat - Joanne Harris

Made into a popular film, this tells the story of a young single mother and her daughter who move to the fictitious French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes at the beginning of Lent to open a chocolaterie. The village priest is not impressed and makes it his personal crusade to stop her, as one by one the villagers surrender to the delicious treats inside. It’s a heartwarming book and beautifully written.

Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story - Tony and Maureen Wheeler

This book is an intriguing insight into the birth of publishing company Lonely Planet, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler after the publication of their first book, Across Asia on the Cheap, followed by South-East Asia on a Shoestring. These became a bible for backpackers to Asia. This book is a mix of their autobiography, a history of the business and a travel book, all in one. Their anecdotes over their long travel career are entertaining and at times unbelievable, and might inspire you to choose a more unusual destination for your next trip.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières

Set on the beautiful Greek Island of Kefalonia during World War Two, it tells the story of a doctor and his daughter Pelagia, engaged to a local fisherman, Mandras, who leaves to join the resistance fighters. When Italy invades Greece, Pelagia ends up falling in love with the commander of the Italian unit occupying the island - Captain Corelli. It’s a story of both love and war and was an international bestseller. The book caused a boom in tourism to the island, and may have you dreaming of a Greek island retreat, too.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

Another modern classic, this fable tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who after experiencing a recurring dream, sets off from his homeland Spain in search of treasure buried near the Pyramids in the Egyptian desert. He meets many different characters along the way, learning something from them all, and discovers the importance of following your dreams. It’s been read by over 62 million readers, so if you haven’t read it yet, see for yourself what all the fuss is about!

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How To Be Calm In A Busy World - Haemin Sumin

We’ve all had to slow down for the time being and appreciate our immediate surroundings. This book on mindfulness, written by a Buddhist monk, who was born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers readers advice on eight different areas of life from love to spirituality. He aims to show the reader that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter

This book takes place near Cinque Terra on the Italian Riviera. Set in both 1962 and the present day, it’s a social satire critiquing Hollywood culture. It begins when a young Italian innkeeper looks out over the sea and sees a beautiful American actress approaching on a boat. Next, readers find themselves in Hollywood where an elderly Italian man has come to find the woman he met 50 years before. The book is both very funny and surprising and has been called the ‘perfect summer read’.

The Tango Singer - Tomas Eloy Martinez

This novel tells the story of a New York student, Bruno Cadogan, who travels to Buenos Aires in search of an elusive tango singer, Julio Martel, thought to be one of the greatest ever, with a beautiful, almost hypnotic voice. His performances are always announced, in arbitrary sites around the city. As Bruno starts to unravel the singer’s past, he starts to believe that the location of his performances map a dark maze of the city’s past. This is a fascinating insight into Argentina’s recent history, and a very engaging read.

Image of blog author Heather Guest

Heather loves exploring European islands, her favourites being the Greek islands, particularly Kefalonia.  When she's finished exploring for the day, she enjoys nothing more than taking in the sea views in a Greek taverna. Heather is also a great fan of a UK staycation, whether that's a snowy getaway in the Scottish Highlands, exploring the rolling Welsh countryside, or camping in the Lake District. 

Heather | About the author

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