Novels To Inspire Your Next Holiday Adventure

These books will make you want to jump on a plane right now.

01/06/2016 12:13
Correy Bratton via Getty Images

From snow-covered Moscow in Snowdrops by AD Miller to the laid-back rhythm of Botswana in Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, a good novel can evoke a sense of place, wrapping you in the curious sights, smells and tantalising traditions of an intriguing country or city you may never have visited. How many times have you finished the last page with a sigh and wished you could be there right now, far from your end of work commute in gloomy Britain?

And then there are travel memoirs, not dispassionate descriptions but personal journeys through landscapes populated with interesting characters and amusing scenes.

Here, we've collected 14 books - contemporary novels, modern classics and must-read memoirs - to inspire your next break.

  • In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
    Bryson is one of the most prolific and masterful travel writers. If you want to re-appreciate Britain and all our idiosyncrasies, read Notes from a Small Island, told from the viewpoint of a naive mid-western. In a Sunburned Country chronicles a journey through Australia, from east to west, awed by tiny little mining towns, forgotten coastal cities and forgotten forests - and including encounters with jellyfish, riptides, crocs, spiders, and snakes.

    In A Sunburned Country on Amazon
  • Wild (Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail) by Cheryl Strayed
    A memoir about a 26-year-old woman who, after her mother's death and the collapse of her marriage, feels her life is unravelling. With no experience of hiking, Strayed decides to take a solo trip along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. She endures her monster backpack, blisters, the loss of toenails, physical exhaustion and emotional loneliness - and pulls herself out of a rock bottom mental state through her arduous journey.

    Wild (Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail) on Amazon
  • Death Of A Red Heroine by Qui Xiaolong
    The first book in a series of six crime novels , Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau has to solve the death of a 'national model worker' when her body is discovered in the Shanghai canal. In Death Of A Red Heroine and the follow-up books set in the transitional period of the 1990s, Chen treads between the two worlds of Communist China and new capitalism, glittering high rises and cramped flats in ramshackle blocks. The foodie detective stops frequently for lovingly described, mouth-watering meals, whether snacks from street vendors or elaborate meals in lavish restaurants beloved by party politicos.

    Death Of A Red Heroine on Amazon
  • The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
    Set in the remote fishing town turned summer tourist trap of Fjällbacka on the western coast of Sweden, this is the first novel in a series by Lackberg - dubbed the Swedish Agatha Christie - following Erica, a successful biographer returning to her childhood home from Stockholm, and local policeman Patrik. Domestic cosiness mixes with Nordic horror, with a lot of dipping buns in hot chocolate and pots of thick black coffee.

    The Ice Princess on Amazon
  • Kingdom Of Strangers by Zoe Ferraris
    One of a series of novels set in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Strangers unveils a world shrouded in mystery to many Westerners, as forensic scientist Katya and her soulmate Nadir, a desert guide, investigate a serial murder, through air-conditioned luxury malls to the searing heat and dust of the Saudi desert.

    Kingdom Of Strangers on Amazon
  • Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
    Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones Set in a remote island in the South Pacific, Mister Pip follows eccentric teacher Mr Watts and a group of children. By harnessing the power of human imagination and reading, Jones creates a world in which the islanders escape the dangers of reality through internal escape into the world of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

    Mr Pip on Amazon
  • The Bone People by Keri Hulme
    In his first and Booker prize winning novel, Hulme takes the reader to the South Island of New Zealand and along the stunning beaches of the west coast. A peculiar mixture of love story and tale of mystery, the novel works around the relationship between three difficult characters: an artist, an adopted father and a son.

    The Bone People on Amazon
  • Us by David Nicolls
    A couple whose marriage is in crisis take a make-or-break tour of Europe with their teenage son, envisaged as a Grand Tour of European art galleries, in this poignant, funny novel. Infuriated by his father’s control-freakery,  Albie deserts his parents in Amsterdam and heads across Europe with a dippy, accordion-playing Australian girl. Determined to win back his wife and to repair his family, his father Douglas sets off on his own to find his son and demonstrate his love to his wife.  For everyone who dreams of catching trains around the cities of Europe, this is a must-read.

    Us on Amazon
  • The Secret Lives Of Babi Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
    Set in vibrant present day Nigeria, this novel tells the story of vain and ignorant Baba Segi and his four wives and seven children, all vying for position in the household. Much of the novel is narrated by Bolanle, the last wife and a graduate. Her entrance into the family causes turmoil and exposes a secret that will change the family forever. With a light, comic touch, Shoneyin exposes the harsh reality of life for semi-literate women controlled by men.

    The Secret Lives of Babi Segi’s Wives on Amazon
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
    In The Snowman, one of a series of Harry Hole novels, the troubled detective tracks down Norway's first serial killer. Although Harry Hole travels to Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and even the Congo in other novels, Jo Nesbo's home city of Oslo has the starring role. The city is vividly described, warts and all, and for fans there are even Harry Hole walking tours now, taking in the real-life headquarters of the Police Department, the swimming pool at Frogner Park, and his favourite Restaurant Schrøder (Schrøder's, for short) in St. Hanshaugen.

    The Snowman on Amazon
  • Death At La Fenice by Donna Leon
    This is the first novel in the internationally best-selling Guido Brunetti series, set in Venice. As Commissario Brunetti pursues his murder investigation through the streets and waterways of Venice, the city becomes a lead character.

    Death At La Fenice on Amazon
  • Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Winner of the Orange Prize, the novel is set in Nigeria before and during the brutal Nigerian- Biafran civil war of 1967 to 1970. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. After Biafra's declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters are drastically changed. Half Of A Yellow Sun is novel about Africa in its widest sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race.

    Half Of A Yellow Sun on Amazon
  • The Colour by Rose Tremain
    Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand in search of a new and prosperous life but the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he abandons his farm and family and sets off alone for the new goldfields, a moral wilderness where men are seduced by their dreams of the 'colour'. Harriet follows him by land, crossing the Southern Alps, justly called 'the stairway from hell'.

    The Colour on Amazon
  • A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
    Harry Cane is forced to leave the life of a leisured Englishman for the harsh new landscape of the the newly colonised Canadian prairies and life as a homesteader. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a new self-sufficiency, love for his surroundings and for the earth and a deep love within an alternative family, which is threatened by war and the attention of one terrifying and obsessed man.

    A Place Called Winter on Amazon
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