Recommended Novels for your Travels: 2009
As anyone can attest from reading The Agony & the Ecstasy before a trip to Michelangelo-land or Trinity before visiting the Emerald Isle, recreational reading can make your sightseeing a lot more fun and meaningful. Which books carbonated your travel experience best?
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"French by Heart" by Rebecca Ramsey
Funny and a good, light read
USA Sun 12/13/2009
Book Set in Barcelona.
From Barcelona: Stories Behind the City Vol. 1,(ISBN 1905430744)is a collection of short stories about the city starring the tourist, a ghost, Gaudi and others. Visit www.frombarcelona.com
Barcelona, USA Tue 12/01/2009
Italian Books for Kids
We've found that our kids appreciated our travels more when they read about places ahead of time.
Venice: The Thief Lord.
Siena: Saving the Griffin.
Florence: Stravganza: City of Flowers
Duluth, MN USA Tue 12/01/2009
Henning Mankell is a Swedish mystery writer. His descriptions of landscape and weather would give you a good mood read if headed to Sweden.
Fort Wayne, IN USA Mon 11/16/2009
Barcelona: The Gaudi Key--by Esteban Martin and Andreu Carranza. Great fiction about the art and times of Gaudi.
Joplin, MO USA Thu 11/05/2009
For Italy--Michael Dibdin
The Aurelio Zen mysteries. The one on Venice is superb for the atmosphere. And in Dibdin, the bad guys don't always lose, though they do get discovered. Grittier than Leon, though I love her, too
Seattle, WA USA Sun 10/25/2009
Edinburgh - Mystery Series
Adding to comment made by Marie Edinburgh, UK 02/27/2009. My last visit Edinburgh 8 years ago included a visit to the Lothian and Borders Police Museum on the Royal Mile. Had the opportunity to speak with a retired inspector about the city and asked him to recommend a "local author" for mystery novels. He sang the praises of Ian Rankin and I picked up a book at the local book store and have been hooked ever since!
Seattle, WA USA Wed 10/14/2009
Donna Leon's Venice mysteries.
Donna Leon's mystery series takes place in Venice. She has an obvious love of the city and her books are full of descriptions of meals, restaurants, coffee bars, churches, etc. They really make one want to visit Venice!
Staunton, VA USA Sun 09/13/2009
The Monster of Florence is a compelling story of serial murder in Florence but also offers great insight to the customs and culture of the area. Also on audio.
Ogden, UT USA Sun 09/06/2009
Homage to Barcelona
Homage to Barcelona is a great book about the author's love affair with the Spanish city. It's by a very talented Irish author names Colm Toibin.
Westport, CT USA Sat 09/05/2009
England, France & Wales
Sharon Kay Penman writes historical fiction novels set in Medieval England, France & Wales. "When Christ & His Saints Slept" is the first in a trilogy about 'The Anarchies' of England, with King Stephen & Queen Maude battling for the crown in the early 1100's. The next two books in the trilogy are about King Henry II (Maude's son) & Eleanor of Aquitaine & their children.
"Here Be Dragons" starts the second trilogy set in Wales, England & France.
"The Sunne in Splendour" is a novel of Richard the Third.
All her books are riveting!
Port Orchard, WA USA Fri 08/28/2009
Bites of Irish and Ireland
Very funny indeed is "Round Ireland with a Fridge" Really enjoyed it despite having never been and not planning to go there
MA USA Sat 08/22/2009
Books about France
To bring to life the fascinating history and treasures of France read these non-fiction books:
Portraits of France, The Splendor of France, and The Discovery of France
Waco, Texas USA Sat 08/22/2009
This is writen by Tom Coyne who is a golfer and writer that sets out to WALK and play golf thru Ireland. Great sense of humor, a little bit about the Link golf courses but alot about the people of Ireland. Entertaining !
Glenwood Springs, CO USA Wed 08/12/2009
Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor series is a must read for those going to Galway, Ireland..........he is a gritty, low down drunk............and very charming.
Portland, OR USA Thu 08/06/2009
Florence with Rushdie
On a March trip to Europe as a travel nanny for a 2-year old, I knew I would have a lot of reading time while she napped and slept - Florence was going to be a week-long stay and I picked up Salman Rushdie's "The Enchantress of Florence." It's not light reading and the story bounces from India to Tuscany with magical travelers, knaves, and gods. The enchantress of the title arrives in Renaissance Firenze and takes the town by storm.
Menlo Park, CA USA Sat 08/01/2009
Prague by Arthur Phillips...but its about Budapest. Love the characters. gets off to a slow start, but makes up for it it.
San Antonio, TX USA Mon 07/20/2009
Book for Sicily
The Silent Duchess. Excellent for traveling in Sicily. Illuminates the experience and gives and understanding of Sicily.
newport beach, california USA Tue 07/07/2009
Isle of Skye
Lillian Beckwith's "The Hills Is Lonely" is thoroughly entertaining and an excellent picture of the Skye islanders during the mid-20th century.
Griffin, GA USA Tue 06/30/2009
For Venice: A Stopover in Venice, by Kathryn Walker. A young woman leaves her narcissistic celebrity husband by simply getting off the train at an unplanned stop, and soon finds herself embroiled in an art mystery, the life of a woman who died hundreds of years ago, and an intriguing man.
Also, for those with a lot of time (or who love long books with byzantine plots): The House of Niccolo series by Dorothy Dunnett. Eight books in all, set in various parts of Europe, Africa & the Middle East (but headquartered in Bruge and Venice), circa late 15th C.
Vancouver, WA USA Thu 06/18/2009
I completely agree about Bill Bryson's books. they are hilarious and provide inspiration for any aspiring travel writers
lake charles, la USA Tue 06/16/2009
Neither Here Nor There
For a European tour it doesn't get any better than Bill Bryson's "Neither Here Nor There". Bryson's wit and sense of humor couple with his comical yet meaningful journey(s) through Europe speak to me in many ways.
San Leandro, CA USA Tue 06/09/2009
paris, georges pompidou center
there was an article in the l.a.times about women in the arts, an exhibit at the pompidou center, also called beaubourg. i just read a book about 20th century women artists called "House on the Bridge:Ten Turbulent Years with Diego Rivera". one of the main characters is featured at the Georges Pompidou center. I recommend it to those going to paris this year.
laguna, ca USA Mon 06/08/2009
A good book on Germany is Philip Kerr's "The One From The Other" about post WWII and Nazi hunting. Great to read along with a map of Munich and Vienna, and surrounding areas.
New York, NY USA Wed 06/03/2009
For Paris: Cara Black's mysteries have a very "with-it" contemporary female detective. Each is set in a different area of the city. For historical flavor, Sharan Newman's Catherine Levandeur novels are set in Paris and the nearby countryside, about 1150 A.D.
monterey, CA USA Mon 05/25/2009
Amsterdam and Paris
Interesting and absorbing mysteries — one each for Amsterdam and Paris: Chris Ewan's "The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam". Ewan later wrote "The Good Thief's Guide to Paris".
Pearland, Texas USA Sat 05/23/2009
I definitely second the recommendation for Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti series set in Venice. Wonderful! The only aspect that I would add to the description below is that these series also include detailed descriptions of delicious-sounding meals.
I also second the recommendation of Ian Pairs art theft series set in Rome. Great books!
Finally, another detective series I recommend is Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia set in Florence.
Bristow, VA USA Fri 05/22/2009
City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt, is a nonfiction account of the 1996 fire that destroyed the historic Fenice opera house in Venice. As he did in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt delves into the people behind the events, portraying Venice from an insider's perspective. It's a fascinating view of the people and politics of Venice that we visitors never see.
Lebanon, OR USA Tue 04/21/2009
Book for Barcelona
For Barcelona: The Shadow of the Wind. It was required reading in my son's Spanish class. I mentioned it to a French professor who said it was a European bestseller. She lent me her English copy and I was hooked. It's set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War and it involves a mysterious book. That's all I will say!
Morgantown, WV USA Sat 04/18/2009
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon made the streets of Inquisition-time Lisbon come alive. Over the Edge of the World about Magellan's trip.
Honolulu, Hawaii USA Sat 04/18/2009
Novels for Rome and Southern Italy
Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God" are classics and worth a read. They recreate the intrigue of the imperial court at the Empire's height. The "Roma sub rosa" series by Steven Saylor are a must read for anyone wanting to breath life into all the crumbling columns of the Eternal City. "Roman Blood" and "A Murder on the Appian Way" are particularly good. Also the "Masters of Rome" series by Colleen Mccullough is excellent. For Southern Italy Steven Saylor's "Arms of Nemesis" is excellent at recreating the luxary and intrigue of the ancient bay of Naples.
Calgary, AB Canada Tue 04/14/2009
I really enjoyed reading Roma, by Steven Saylor, before our trip. The stories in that book provided a fascinating overview of Roman history for me.
MN USA Mon 04/13/2009
In reading TONS of novels to prepare for my trip to Europe, the ones I think I enjoyed the most was the Phillipa Gregory series on the Tudor family. I loved learning about Henry and all of his wives, it really made London history come alive for me!
MN USA Mon 04/13/2009
For Istanbul, Jason Goodwin's "The Janissary Tree". For Rome, John Maddox Roberts "SPQR" series. For Roman Britain, Ruth Downie's "Medicus". Can't beat Diana Gabaldon for Scottish flavor.
Staunton, VA USA Sun 04/12/2009
For travel in Paris, Bruges and more... "House on the Bridge: Ten Turbulent Years with Diego Rivera" by Sharon Upp vividly depicts daily life in Paris and though it is about the world of art in Belle Epoque Paris and the political unrest leading to WWI, the artist Angeline Beloff enters Notre Dame for the first time; the ancient church in St. Germain des Pres, St. Sulplice, St. Etienne, cafes in Montparnasse,etc. It's like a walking tour of the city. I found it on Amazon.com and recommend it as a great novel to read on the way to Europe.
Laguna Beach, CA USA Mon 03/30/2009
Book for Germany
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian Great story for Germany. WWII Story set in Poland and Germany. Both my husband and I enjoyed it.
Austin, TX USA Sun 03/22/2009
The Forger in Paris
Paris - The Forger, by Paul Watkins, about a young American painter who is enlisted by the French government during WWII to forge masterpieces to be given over to the occupation, while the originals are hidden in the French countryside. Plenty of suspense and Parisian landmarks!
Boston, MA USA Tue 03/17/2009
Venice - Gritty Suspense
Take a look at the gritty underbelly of Venice.. I very much enjoy Donna Leon's novels (17 or so) centering on the somewhat suave Police Inspector, Guido Brunetti. Chilling crime, depavity, revenge & murder. These novels (I've read at least 12 so far) always give a 'humorous view' of the "pecking order" within the politics the police force, region and country; as well as the way the Venetians view themselves, their news sources, food, weather, rising tides, and families. Reading these books, you'll also come to know his politically inspired wife, and other family members...
Having been to Venice twice, I always pull out my City Map to follow Guido as he walks through the labyrinth of narrow calles, over the many bridges, often putting himself in danger as his investigations unfold.
My favorite book of all so far.. ''Dressed for Death'', closely followed by ''Death in a Srange Country''.
Warning / NOTE: Some books published in the UK w/ different titles. Her books in limited supply at bookstores or libraries, I've had great luck obtaining on-line. These are books I want to keep / own.
Fullerton, CA USA Sun 03/15/2009
"The Painted Kiss" by Elizabeth Hickey. Wonderful historical fiction.
Beaverton, oregon USA Sat 03/07/2009
Rome, art history, mysteries
Iain Pears' art history mysteries, set in Rome, are lots of fun, and very modern "Roman." There are several in the series.
IL USA Fri 03/06/2009
Ireland: early Christian Ireland mysteries
To bring early Christian Ireland to life, read the mysteries of Peter Tremayne, pseudonym of one of the world's best experts on early Christian Ireland. Sister Fidelma is not only a nun but a judge (essentially)--pre-Roman-dominated Ireland was a fascinating society which allowed much more freedom and opportunities for women, so these are not only good mysteries but very accessible and interesting depictions of the era when the Irish Saved Civilization--which brings me to the non-fiction book, very readable, How the Irish Saved Civilization--the non fiction story of Fidelma's time and century or so before and some time after, before the Roman Catholic church brought Ireland into lockstep with their practices and rules.
Washington, DC USA Thu 03/05/2009
Mysteries set in Rome
Mystery novel lovers should enjoy the following, set in Rome: Ngaio Marsh's When in Rome, with a murder in the bowels of San Clemente; Elizabeth Peters's The Seventh Sinner and The Street of the Five Moons; and Caroline Llewellyn's The Masks of Rome.
Washington, DC USA Thu 03/05/2009
Pompeii & Herculaneum
Pompeii by Robert Harris is historical fiction. The main character is fiction but there are some characters in it who are historically true. It is about people who are living in and around Pompeii before & during the eruption of Vesuvius. My husband & I read it right before a trip there & it made our tour of the excavations a lot more fun. We were able to imagine & "see" what life was like in Pompeii before!!
Morrison, CO USA Wed 03/04/2009
Edinburgh - Ian Rankin
I can't believe no one has mentioned Ian Rankin for traveling to Edinburgh! If you like murder mysteries definitely read a few - you don't have to start in order. You'll get a very different perspective of Edinburgh and really see it from an "insiders" viewpoint.
Edinburgh, UK Fri 02/27/2009
Novels set in Sicily
Anyone interested in learning about Sicily should read Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mysteries translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
Edina, MN USA Sun 02/22/2009
For Travel to Scotland...
I agree with a previous poster that the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is perfect to read while you are in the highlands. It's funny, romantic, and very rich in history.
OKC, OK USA Sun 02/15/2009
reading list website
www.bibliotravel.com is a terrific site for finding specific city/country/location books
Loomis, CA USA Sun 02/08/2009
"A Town Like Paris" by Bryce Corbett is the true story of an Australian who moves to Paris. It will help you understand the Parisian view of life. He talks about the cafes and nightlife. A great read.
Houston, Texas USA Thu 02/05/2009
For a trip to Barcelona
Homage to Catalonia by Orwell. Orwell is a fascinating writer, of course and his first-hand experience of fighting in the revolution is great.
Boston, MA USA Mon 01/19/2009
Here's some great reading, not fiction, but better than fiction! A world lit only by fire, Medici Money, Lucrecia Borgia, Over the edge of the world, Brunleschi's Dome, The Monster of florence, The Pope's Ceiling, The Pope's Daughter, Three Cups of Tea
portland, or USA Sun 01/18/2009
Before a trip to Greece...
For planning a trip to Greece, I would recommend reading Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. A fantastic novel and a fascinating look at the history of WWII in Greece.
Dallas, TX USA Sun 01/11/2009
Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End set in the time frame of the 12th - 14th centuries in England. I find myself thinking about these two novels all the time. If you plan to visit or have visited a cathedral(s) anywhere in Europe, you should read these books. I suggest reading Pillars ot the Earth first.
Audrey in Keizer, OR
Keizer, OR USA Mon 01/05/2009