Read time – 3 minutes

The world of literature and the world of travel are natural bedfellows. The reasons for this are many; practically, reading is a great way to spend downtime when visiting a holiday destination, a necessary tool for filling those few spare moments.

The bond between these two fields runs deeper than that, though. The real power that books and travel share is escape. They can transport you from your everyday reality into an exotic, marvellous place, full of wonder, awe and joy. This is their true value.

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite works of both fiction and travel writing, notable for inspiring us to discover the real-life locations behind the stories.

Best Books to Read on Holiday

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

He left the drapes open, watched the lights of the cars… through the window glass, comforted to know there was another world out there, one he could walk to anytime he wanted.” 

American highwayAmerican highway

An unconventional choice, this modern fantasy (by an English author) perfectly encapsulates the culture and appeal of the USA. The sense of Americana comes from the remote highways, small towns and sweeping North American vistas the novel inhabits.

Browse our trips to the USA.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest.

Congo RiverCongo River

Conrad’s classic tale of exploration and discovery documents a young man’s expedition up the Congo River and into the deep jungle; the heart of darkness. Conrad captures the mystery and primal power of the Congo with elegance and finesse.

Browse our trips to Africa.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

“The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones that you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably.”

Fishing boat in KeralaFishing boat in Kerala

A moving tale of twins leading tangled and complex lives, The God of Small Things is particularly impressive for the way it evokes such a vivid, intriguing picture of Southern India.

Browse our trips to Kerala.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I had never known the pleasure of reading, of exploring the recesses of the soul, of letting myself be carried away by imagination, beauty, and the mystery of fiction and language. For me, all those things were born with that novel.”

Parc GuellParc Guell in Barcelona

Set in post-war Barcelona, this tale is saturated with Spanish culture. From its portrayal of Spain’s political landscape of the time to the vivid descriptions of the majestic architecture of the city, Zafon’s story is moving, evocative and unforgettable.

Browse our trips to Spain.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

The joy of riding through an unknown land made me easy to please at the beginning of our venture. I was caught up in the happiness of those who go on journeys, a feeling of hope mixed with a sense of freedom.

Reynisfjara beachReynisfjara beach

Jules Verne is revered as one of the greatest adventure writers of all time, and for good reason. His many books take us to many astounding places, but perhaps the most famous is “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”.

The titular journey begins in Iceland, a place renowned for natural beauty and geological curiosities.

Browse our trips to Iceland.

Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson

During their brief explosion, the cherry blossoms are said to represent the aesthetics of poignant, fleeting beauty: ephemeral, delicate in their passing.”

Mount FujiMount Fuji

In this honest, insightful and revealing travelogue, Will Ferguson attempts to be the first man to hitchhike the length of Japan. He immerses himself in Japanese culture, and reports his experiences back to the reader in a hilarious yet fundamentally observant narrative.

Browse our trips to Japan.

The Beach by Alex Garland

If I’d learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.

Boat in Ko PodaBoat in Ko Poda

Thailand Garland’s iconic masterpiece is all about travel; the characters go to Thailand, seeking adventure by looking for a fabled backpacker’s paradise, completely isolated from the outside world. Emblematic of the philosophy of travel and escape, The Beach is a must-read.

Browse our trips to Thailand.

The Lycian Shore by Freya Stark

“There are not so many places left where magic reigns without interruption and of all those I know, the coast of Lycia was the most magical.”

Lycian coast of TurkeyLycian Coast of Turkey

Freya Stark was an explorer in the 1900s, a true pioneer of modern travel, and a prolific writer. Her time on the Lycian Coast of Turkey left a lasting and powerful impression upon her, and this eloquent, informative guide, full of history and culture, is the product of that passion.

Browse our trips to Turkey.

Among the Russians by Colin Thubron

“The sky loomed preternaturally vast. The whole world seemed to have been crushed and flattened out into a numinous peace.

Tayrona National Park Nude BeachTayrona National Park Nude Beach

This artful exploration of love and romance is masterfully crafted and critically acclaimed. The story is set in Colombia, and juxtaposes the place with the relationships of the characters.


Discover more exotic destinations below and escape with a good book.