14 Books That Will Transport You Around The World Without Leaving Your Couch
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”
Reading and traveling are two of my greatest pleasures.
Nothing makes me happier than when I’m doing one or the other (or preferably both at the same time). Rather than bog you down with a host of quotes about reading’s transformative power, I highly recommend you just read and find out for yourself.
As for this list, I’ve compiled a smattering of my favorite books about journeys (physical and almost always emotional) that transport me to another part of the world when I’m stuck on my couch with exactly 3.2 days of accrued PTO and $30 to my name.
If you want to explore Africa
“The Poisonwood Bible”
Kingsolver crafts an intriguing story of a family that moves to the Congo as missionaries and have no idea they’re about to watch a postcolonial country unravel.
This eye-opening novel follows a privileged Nigerian family as they discover the country and culture they live within, but so far from. The rich description of food, customs and political climate will wholly transport you.
If you want to check out Asia
“The Twenty-One Balloons”
This travel story takes place on the fictional island of Krakatoa as Professor William Waterman Sherman attempts to fly across the Pacific Ocean. What he finds is a community of people with eccentric habits along with a good dose of fantastical adventure.
This magical journey through Egypt follows a young treasure-chasing shepherd, with loads of life wisdom along the way.
“Istanbul: Memories of a City”
Beautifully written and deeply moving, this first-person story follows a family’s history through the once-grand, and now decaying, empire.
A group of friends cycles through a colorful year in Mumbai as Gokhale crafts a modern portrait of the city.
If you want to tour Europe
“Under the Tuscan Sun”
This poetic memoir describes the Tuscan countryside with vivid accuracy while also addressing cultural clashes and the mysterious draw of travel.
“A Moveable Feast”
Hemingway’s enduring memoir of post-WWI Paris captures the city’s vibrant mood — it will bring you straight to the cobbled streets of Paris.
A love story that spans fifty years begins on the Italian coast and is romantically revisited in Hollywood half a century later, all at the hands of award-winning author, Jess Walter.
“Losing the Light”
A tumultuous year abroad provides Dunlop with an exciting background for the exploration of Brooke’s big dreams and powerful friendships in France.
If you want to traverse North America
“Where’d You Go Bernadette”
Mystery mixed with an an Antarctic cruise, Semple’s lighthearted and colloquial writing helps the harsher themes of belonging and purpose go down easy in a funny and relatable context.
“A Walk in the Woods”
This inspiring tale of walking the Appalachian Trail combines history, biology and adventure in an outdoor adventure not soon to be forgotten.
Two middle-aged friends take a no-holds-barred trip to Mexico City for a host of tequila-fueled nights that quickly get out of control, testing the limits of friendship and loyalty in Christensen’s compelling novel.
“Kitchens of the Great Midwest”
J. Ryan Stradal’s interpretation of the Midwest, and the wider United States as a whole, is crafted beautifully throughout this novel and with so many meal descriptions weaved into the prose, you’ll get hungry just reading along.