Recommended Novels for Your Travels
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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Two great travel books from our club!
Two great books recomended by our travel club: Looptail & The Far Pavilions. The former is about the founder of Gap's life and story of creating a travel company and brand that positively impacts the countries they offer tours to & the latter is a classic adventure and love story which takes place in India and the Himalayas. We just got back from India with the club and are really enjoying the read!
If you're interested you can see what the group is about here: http://photoflytravel.com/
It's free to join too...
Sonoma, CA USA 11/20/2013
Stumbled on a good read on the way to Ghana
It's weird, but I was just about to go to Ghana and visit the slave castle in Cape Coast ... and then someone recommended a new book to me ... perfect timing!! Hunting the Midnight Shark by Conrad Brasso - I got the kindle version. Loved the book .. can't get it out my head.
Honolulu, Hawaii USA 11/13/2013
Good read re Spanish (and English) history
"Sister Queens" by Julia Fox.
Bio of, and a very different take on, Spain's queen "Juana the Mad" and her sister, Katharine of Aragon (Henry VIII's 1st wife), both daughters of Ferdinand and Isabel, and Juana was the mother of the ever-present Charles V). Lots of family/dynasty intrigue too.
Milwaukee, WI USA 10/01/2013
I've just discovered a podcast in iTunes called "Talking History: The Italian Unification" by Benjamin & Adam Ashwell. There are episodes on earlier Italian history & on Venice, but the ones on the 19th century are yet to be released (new releases weekly or bi-weekly). I recommend them for preparation for your trip to Italy.
Griffin, GA USA 09/09/2013
Great Book for London!
Would definitely recommend The Whitechapel Secret, by Mark Lockley. A fast moving thriller about a conspiracy centered around the identity of Jack the Ripper. Some great descriptions of London and ideas for things to do, (like the Jack the Ripper guided walk) as well as other European cities like Paris and Lisbon. If you have a Kindle, its on Amazon.
Runnemede, NJ USA 08/26/2013
My Summer of 2013 Reading - So Far
Historical Fiction -
By Night Under The Stone Bridge - Leo Perutz (16th century Prague) The Good German - Joseph Kanon (Berlin after WWII) The Moment - Douglas Kennedy (East / West Berlin) The Last Hundred Days - Patrick McGuinness (Romania) Siege 13: Stories - Tamas Dobozy and Under Budapest - Ailsa Kay (Hungarian Uprising) HHhH - Laurent Binet (Prague / Asassination of Heydrich) In Times of Fading Light - Eugen Ruge (Life in the DDR)
Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich - Robert Gerwarth
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 - Anne Applebaum
The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville - Clare Mulley
Just read The Expats by Chris Pavone. It takes place in Luxembourg and Paris and is full of suspense and adventure. It's a great read!
Seattle, WA USA 08/19/2013
Rick Steves' book
I brought my Rick Steves' UK travel book. I read about every place right before we arrived. I even used the handy London map when in town.
Sarasota, FL USA 07/27/2013
I read "The Three Musketeers" while studying abroad in Paris. It was magical to read about a palace, cathedral, or other landmark and then see it in person! I spent one day out reading near the pont neuf (which ironically means "the new bridge"- ironic because it's now the oldest in Paris). I used a copy of the novel that had a number of references that explained some of the literary references.
Charlotte, NC USA 07/24/2013
"Great Read for Florence"
I know this is not really relevant, but Inferno is the fourth in the series that started with "Angels and demons" :-) Since "Angels and Demons" is the best in the series I just wanted to tell you.
Ballerup, USA 07/22/2013
Great Read for Florence
Inferno by Dan Brown. The third in the series that started with the Da Vinci code. This book is set in Florence and Venice and covers areas in the Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Baptistry, Vasari's Corridor, the Death Mask of Dante, Casa di Dante. I traced many of the Florence locations. I did not go to Venice this trip.
San Diego, CA USA 07/16/2013
Read for trip to England
When I saw this topic I immediately thought of Sarum, by Rutherford. (Fiction saga that covers the same people and their ancestors from earliest history to present ages, tells history of England . . . Set in Salisbury.) I loved the book. Details of the Cathedral led me to make a weekend trip to Salisbury (I was living in London at the time). I brought "Sarum" with me where I had marked various pages containing details I wanted to see in person at the Cathedral (For example, Noah's Ark with all the animals carved in a stone relief around the walls of a chapel).
Spokane, WA USA 06/21/2013
Paris and Budapest
While not novels ,these two books will certainly carbonate visits to these cities . " The Great Escape ; Nine Jews who Fled Hitler and changed the World " . The great physicists , Szilard and Von Neumann , The film directors Curtiz and Korda , Photographer , Andre Kertesz and others brought us the world we know today . You will learn why the New York Café in Budapest becomes Rick's American Bar in " Casablanca " and much more . This riveting book by Kati Marton is an absolute must . Also , her recent " Paris ; A Love Story " is a beautifully introspective paen to her late husband , Richard Holbrooke and to Paris , where they made a home together . A touching tale for anyone with a love of the City of Light .
white plains, ny USA 06/21/2013
Iberia by James Michener
Took James Michener's Iberia with me to Spain this last month, which significantly enriched the experience for me. His sharp insights and fresh perspectives helped me plan each day's activities.
El Paso, Tx USA 06/09/2013
Crete - Elounda - Spinalonga
If visiting Crete, specifically Elounda, the novel 'The Island' by Victoria Hislop about the tiny island of Spinalonga will bring the area and its tragic (but ultimately uplifting) history alive. Spinalonga was the site of the last leper colony in Europe. Once you start reading it you can't put it down; great for an international flight.
NYC, NY USA 06/09/2013
This is non-fiction. Currently reading 'London: The Biography' by Peter Ackroyd. Pulled me in from the first paragraph. It treats the city as if it were a living, breathing being, with blood coursing through its veins. Great read!
NYC, NY USA 06/09/2013
Croatia & Bosnia
'Not My Turn To Die, Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia' by Savo Heleta is a meaningful, quick read before a trip to the Balkans. I read a number of books before my trip, but this book personalizes the trials of this area like no other. I wish this book could be required reading in every high school. Excellent!
Vero Beach, FL USA 06/07/2013
Ditto on Jeff's suggestion of watching "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" before your trip...it's a really cute, madcap look at group tours (and a bit of trivia: the bus driver in the film is the SAME bus driver my mom had on a 1974 American Express tour of Europe :-)
San Antonio, TX USA 06/01/2013
Recommended novels for France
If you're planning on visiting Dordogne, the "Bruno, Chief of Police" series is set in the Dordogne. I also enjoyed "Chocolat" and "Matchmaker of Perigord." And for the ultimate tongue-in-cheek view of fin-de-siecle Montmartre (and I guarantee you'll never see the paintings in the Musee d'Orsay the same way again!), bring Christopher Moore's "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art" along!
San Antonio, TX USA 06/01/2013
Basque Country reading
This isn't a novel, but I don't see anyplace else to recommend Mark Kurlansky's "The Basque History of the World" if you're getting ready for the RS Basque Country tour.
Ellensburg, WA USA 05/29/2013
Historical Novels - Europe
Anything by Edward Rutherford is wonderful! He has written historical novels about Russia, Dublin, Salisbury, London, and now Paris. Not only is it entertaining but you can learn so much history as his writing is based on fact.
Dallas, Texas USA 05/27/2013
GM Fraser's McAuslan and History of the Border Reivers
The works of the writer George MacDonald Fraser inspired me to visit Scotland and to see many of the places he mentions - particularly his McAuslan stories about the Gordon Highlanders regiment just after WWII.
North Miami, FL USA 05/19/2013
Novels for travelers
Just finished "The Invisible Bridge", about Hungary and Jews during WW11. Great book.
Silverthorne, Colora USA 05/08/2013
Two Caravans (England)
Marina Lewycka is a British writer of Ukrainian background. Her novel Two Caravans (American version entitled Strawberry Fields) is a touching, funny window into modern-day Eastern European immigrant life in England.
Morristown, NJ USA 05/01/2013
Novels for Travelers
Just reread The Three Muskaters By Alexander Dumas - pure fun and escapism. If in Spain there are the Hemmingway novels. In France read A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle or others by Mayle.
San Antonio, TX USA 04/05/2013
"If It's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium"
If you're stuck in an airport for a couple of hours and have access to streaming video, watch "If It's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium," a 1969 comedy about a group of Americans on a whirlwind tour of Europe. It's farcical, but ultimately charming, with Suzanne Pleshette and an ensemble of great character actors. Photography is beautiful, and it was obviously written by someone who understood the travel industry well (I was on a tour in 1968 that could have been the inspiration for that film!).
It's a 99-minute short course on how NOT to visit Europe!
Vancouver, wa USA 03/27/2013
Novels set in Rome
I have a collection of books that I took to Rome, which were hugely evocative of the city: A Season for the Dead by David Hewson The Fallen Angel by David Hewson Cabal by Michael Dibden Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr And several novels by Iain Pears.
I found my selection of novels at www.Tripfiction.com if that is of any help.
London, London USA 02/23/2013
When In Florence, or Before
The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, by Alana White, is a snapshot in time of Florence when Lorenzo d'Medici ruled. It is an historical novel (taking place in 1480) that traces the steps of the lawyer Guid'Antonio Vespucci and his nephew, Amerigo, as they navigate the politics and mysteries of the time. Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo appear as well. The author's research and attention to detail is what makes this a great companion to a visit, it also helps one visualize the lives of these famous Italians. I even plotted their movements on a map of the city then followed along. Enjoy!
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK 02/19/2013
Three Men on the Bummel, Germany
Three Men in a Boat
By Jerome K Jerome
Mark Twain Travel Writer
Mark Twain wrote several travel logs. While questionable reliability they lampoon foreigners, American alike. They also have hidden anthropological nuggets. A Tramp Abroad , Germany, Switzerland, italy Innocents Abroad, France, Italy, Greece, isreal, Egypt Roughing It, Nevada, California, Hawaii Following the Equator, Australia, New Zealand, india, Free audio on librivox.org also through apps Project Guttenberg
Edmond, Ok USA 02/12/2013
Reading for Alencon, France
The Lacemaker, by Janine Montupet is an easy to read, but substantial novel, taking place in Alencon France in the 17th century. Not only will you get a taste of the lacemaker's plight (or anyone trying to ink out a living then), but also insight into Protestant persecution. It is also a light, romantic novel, making it a great book to read before you go, or while on the trip.
Kaysville, USA 01/27/2013
Recommended Novels for your Travels
Some books I've read and enjoyed while traveling:
Budapest: The Invisible Bridge, Prague (misnomer) and The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber (which is one of my favorite books of all times, it was so much fun to read this book).
Barcelona: Cathedral of the Sea, Homage to Catalonia, Angels Game, The Prisoner of Heaven, or The Shadow of the Wind. All of these books give you a great sense of Barcelona throughout the ages.
Stockholm: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. While the books are just okay as far as thrillers go (the first book is the best in my opinion), they go into a lot of detail about Stockholm and its very easy to locate the places in the book, which I did while I was there. 7-11s are awesome in Stockholm unlike the U.S.
Rome: I, Claudius, because it really put me in the mindset of Ancient Rome but was still readable.
London/England: 84, Charing Cross Road, Never Let Me Go, White Teeth, and pretty much anything by Winston Churchill or Evelyn Waugh (my favorite is Brideshead Revisited).
Denver, CO USA 01/27/2013
I'm going to Estonia in Sept and I'm reading "Purge" by Sofi Oksanen. Also a bit about knitting traditions in Estonia since I'm a knitter.
alameda, ca USA 01/14/2013
Jess W's new book, Beautiful Ruins, is really good. It's getting rave reviews. It's primary setting is Cinque Terre.
Spokane, WA USA 12/18/2012
An exciting new mystery writer from Ireland is Tana French, whose four books, beginning with "In the Woods," are set in sort of a chain-reaction, where a minor character from one book becomes the principal character of the next. Her most recent book, "Broken Harbour," deals with the aftermath of the crash of the Irish economy after the "Celtic Tiger" boom.
Minneapolis, MN USA 12/08/2012
Edward Rutherfurd's 'London' is one of the best I've read where the city is the hero. Was an absorbing read and for anyone visiting the UK, his other books (Sarum, etc) are also fabulous.
Bangalore, Karnat India 11/17/2012
novels for travel
I like to have a laminated fold-out map or one from RS of the European city in which a novel is set. I track the characters and get to know the city which helps me navigate faster when I'm there.
Hayden, ID USA 11/06/2012
Book to read for Budapest
Someone suggested I find the book The Bridge at Andou by James Mitchner before my trip to Budapest, and it was one of the best suggestions I received. James Michner lived in Austria in the 50's, and witnessed firsthand the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and wrote a book based on the real life stories of refugees he met trying to cross a small bridge to freedom named Andou. It is out of print, but Amazon Marketplace has a few from used book stores. I highly recommend it.
Altamont, NY USA 10/09/2012
Paris, Greece, Scotland...
Concur heartily with recommendations of McCullough's "The Greater Journey" for Paris and Miller's "Colossus of Maroussi" for Greece. Miller also wrote Quiet Days in Clichy, more young, hungry, and adventurous than quiet, but charming. For Scotland, add Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street series, fiction written initially for daily newspaper publication, filled with both affection and satire. While in England last August, I found Evelyn Waugh's "Scott-King's Modern Europe" in an honor box outside a shop in Haltwhistle near Hadrian's Wall: Waugh's not my favorite, but this novella is very fetching, and it's lovely to buy something in the spot one is travelling through, especially something slim and light whose gently elegant syntax enriches one's sense of being in England. Clearly a paperback by Austen or Gaskell would do, too, or Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mystery series set in and around medieval Shrewsbury. And anything by Peter Fleming, the greatest travel narrator of the 20th century (News from Tartary, Brazailian Adventure) and a fine stylist in his essays.
New York, NY USA 10/03/2012
England and Australia
Bill Bryson is a great choice for travel and humor. For England, I recommended "Notes on a Small Island" and, if/when I get to Australia, "In A Sunburned Country" will have served me well
Lewisburg, Pa USA 09/30/2012
Novels for Venice
Just visited Venice and read one of Donna Leon's (of course) but also I, Iago by Nicole Galland and The Glassblower's Daughter by Frances Clark. All give a great picture of Venice and its hideouts through the centuries
Newtown, PA USA 08/24/2012
Novels for Paris
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens. Imagine Madame Defarge in those shops you visit...
Nashville, TN USA 07/26/2012
Prague by Arthur Phillips is an excellent read in preparation for or while on a trip to Budapest. Don't let the title fool you (you'll understand after you begin reading it) this is a novel about Budapest.
Yellow Springs, OH USA 07/15/2012
Reading for Paris
It's not really a novel, but a wonderful book that really prepared us and set us in the mood for Paris - "The Greater Journey - Americans in Paris" by David McCullough. We also visited spots in Paris from the movie "Midnight in Paris". Also good reading was "Claude and Camille", S. Cowell and "Moveable Feast", E. Hemingway.
Laguna Niguel, CA USA 07/03/2012
Ancient Rome comes to life
I absolutely love Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran. It takes place during the Roman Empire after Ceasar Augustus conquers Alexandria and takes Cleopatra's children as his own. The novel is set during the height of Ancient Rome. It came to life for me so I highly recommend it before your tour of the Roman Forum.
Fresno, CA USA 07/02/2012
1920 England & France, WWII Austria & England
Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough's "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay" is a memoir, published in the 1940's, of the womens' tour of England and France circa 1920, after they graduated Bryn Mawr college. Modes of dress and transportation may have evolved since their trip was taken but this hilariously-written true story is absolutely universal and applicable today. It's a must-read, whether you're planning a trip or not. Highlights include bedbugs, luggage, moneybelts and innumerous situations that one could easily encounter today.
"The House at Tyneford" (published abroad as "The Novel in the Viola") by Natasha Solomons is a novel that follows a young woman's pre-WWII emigration to a job as a maid in a Dorset country house in England from Vienna as Nazi clampdowns were making life difficult for the Jewish in Austria. I especially love the perspective of sophisticated pre-war Vienna life, and then learning about the all-too-close war experience of people living in coastal southern England during the war.
Portland, OR USA 06/24/2012
France and Venice
Venice... I couldn't agree more with David. The inspector Brunetti series by Donna Leon is a must, even if you're not going to Venice. I just wish she wrote as fast as I read. France... if you're interested in the Lot valley or the Dordogne Michael Sanders wrote a wonderful book "From Here, You Can't See Paris". Very insightful about a little visited area. I definitely plan on visiting some small villages in the Lot next time I'm in the Dordogne, not to mention eating at La Recreation. Last, certainly not least thanks, Mike for mentioning "Notre Dame de Paris" which I will now read. My understanding and enjoyment of France has been greatly increased by reading "Les Miserables". I highly recommend Victor Hugo.
Berkeley, CA USA 06/13/2012
Recently read and highly recommend: "Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day"
Paul n Sara
Newburyport, MA USA 06/01/2012
Paris and chocolate
Paris My Sweet, by Amy Thomas was a fabulous travel companion novel! We used her suggestions and found the best sweet treats the city had to offer!
Layton, UT USA 05/24/2012
I'd like to make a plug generally for Ross King:
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power (Eminent Lives)
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, also by Ross King.
Leonardo and the Last Supper
The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism
Salem, OR USA 05/21/2012
Rome and Florence
I would reccomend "The Agony And The Ecstacy" by Irving Stone. It's a wonderful, biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Seattle, Wa USA 05/03/2012
Kissing Adrien, by Siri Mitchell is a light contemporary novel set in Paris. The characters go on several walks through the city and mention favorite cafes and sights.
Tyler, TX USA 05/01/2012
Paris with the family
Paris in Love by Eloisa James. A fun memoir about Living a year in Paris with her husband and two kiddos. "An American (family) in Paris"! The descriptions of the horse statues, the baggets, the museum trips were laugh out loud funny.
Austin, Texas USA 04/24/2012
If you're traveling to Budapest, I suggest you read Rainbows Among The Ruins. It's a memoir of a Jewish engineer, Alexander Baron, born during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who managed to prosper despite the Anti-Semitism of the period as well as survive both the Nazis and the Communists. It's an incredible story and at the same time a comprehensive eye-witness view of 20th century Hungarian history.
Barnstable, MA USA 04/23/2012
In first place, sorry for my English. If you speak (or understand) some Spanish or Catalan, I'd recommend some books by Josep Pla (1897-1981). He was an awesome writer, and one of the best authors to read if you travel to some specific European countries (Western Mediterranean ones). His common sense, irony, skepticism and absolute domain of the narration, make their books a joy to read. They are not properly novels, but some kind of personal blogs, depicting all sort of landscapes, cities and villages, people and their circumstances with absolute mastery. He wrote specially about his native Ampurdán and the Costa Brava (Catalonia, Spain), but also such delicious works as Cartas de Italia; Barcelona; Madrid 1921; Israel 1957; etc. Sadly, their works are not translated into English. I cannot understand this.
If I had to choose just one book by Pla, it could be one of his masterpieces: "El Quadern Gris" (originally written in Catalan, but there are translations into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch and Serbian). It is the best book ever written about Barcelona and the Costa Brava.
Novels for your Travels
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes The best book I've read right before going to Paris. Jonnes tells the story of the Eiffel Tower by weaving the stories of Gustave Eiffel, Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill, Gaugin, and other important actors of the decade, and does so while painting a vivid picture of Paris at the turn of the century. It infused my walks of the city with the magic of a different era, and of course made my climb up the Tower unforgettable, even the elevators become important! The book does a fantastic job of emphasizing how controversial the Eiffel Tower was, and how this long-standing symbol of Paris was received by Parisian society. I view the Tower differently today than after any of my other Paris trips, and I wonder at its symbolism and significance in French culture and the modern world. Fabulous book for a trip to Paris! plus, Edison's reflections on french culture are hilarious.
Washington, DC USA 03/12/2012
Barcelona and Madrid
In Barcelona, I fell in love with the architecture of Gaudi and bought a biography on him on the spot by Gijs van Hensbergen. It's very weel documented (a bit too much information). Then, still in Barcelona, I read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. It will appeal to anyone interested in the plight of Catalonia. I am now in Madrid and finishing the last pages of Hemingway's Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises.
Paris, the road, Quebec Canada 03/10/2012
Read 'Gracelin O'Malley' by Ann Moore if you are taking a trip to Ireland. Historical fiction that explains the famine. I couldn't understand how so many people starved in a country that seems so fertile and is also surrounded by water (but no fish?). Now I get it. Good read!!
Bloomington, IL USA 03/05/2012
Novels for Travels
Paris, Paris -by David Downie/ A Thousand Days in Venice- Marlena de Blasi/ A Thousand Days in Tuscany- Marlena de Blasi/ A Year in the World- Frances Mayes
Dallas, TX USA 03/01/2012
"A Novel Bookstore" by Laurence Cosse. Set in Paris. A must for lovers of Paris and books in general.
Des Moines, IA USA 02/09/2012
Anyone traveling to WWI sites in France/Belgium should read "Losing Julia" by Jonathan Hull. Heartrending and insight into that terrible war.
Othello, WA USA 02/08/2012
new zealand and paris
"Come on Shore and we will Kill and Eat You" is a memoir of an American woman who married a Maori man. I read it while visiting New Zealand last year- hilarious! "The Elegance of the Hedgehog " is a perfect read when visiting Paris.
philadelphia, USA 02/02/2012
If you're going to Iceland try to read any novel by Halldor Laxness. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in the 1950s. His novels provide excellent insight into Icelandic culture and lifestyles, from the 1800s to his present time (he died in 1996 I think). "The Fish Can Sing" and "Independent People" are good places to start.
Los Angeles, CA USA 01/30/2012
Insights to Tuscany
Isabella Dusi's book, "Vanilla Beans and Brodo" recounts life in both historical and contemporary Montelcino - it's a great lesson of what makes the hill towns of Tuscany so unique and special. Ferenc Mate, author of ""The Hills of Tuscany" and "A Vineyard in Tuscany" vividly describes life in the beautiful wine region as he and his wife created a world recognized winery and joy-filled life from the marvelous terroir.
Punta Gorda, FL USA 01/15/2012
Spain: Dogs of God
I'd recommend Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors by James Reston. It's historical, but it reads more like a novel. Honestly, I think it would make a great mini-series. It's a fascinating look into the time of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel. So much happened in the year 1492, and this book explains it all.
Olathe, KS USA 01/14/2012
The novel The Lost Wife (by Alyson Richman) is a fabulous novel to read when visiting Prague. So many of the places I visited a year ago come to life in this moving WWII story. Old Town Square, the Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, the Terezin children's art exhibit upstairs at Pinkas Synagogue----all of these are in this beautifully written story. Would love to return to Prague and would also add a side trip to Terezin after reading this wonderful work of historical fiction.
Thomasville, GA USA 01/01/2012
Going to turkey read Tales From The Expat Harem Edited by Anastasia Ashman and Jennifer Eaton Gokmen.
Each chapter is about a woman who either lived or lives in turkey and her experiences in turkey as a foreigner.
Really intersting and helpful understanding of liife in Turkey and how they veiw foreigners and Americans.
Staten Island, NY USA 11/21/2011
While in Germany, Austria and Italy I read A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester, about the Rennaisance. A great read, but even better if you read it there.
Chicago, IL USA 11/21/2011
When travelling to Venice, Italy take along a copy of the book Venice by Jan Morris - it is part guidebook, part historical and is one of the most interesting books I've read - I'd say it's the definitive work on Venice.
cape town, RSA 11/10/2011
Milan Kundera in Prague
I spent ten days in Prague at the beginning of the summer, and one day I stumbled upon the bookstore Shakespeare and Sons (yes, there's one in Prague, too)! I bought Laughable Loves, a collection of short stories by Milan Kundera, which I read in one day in gardens on Petrin Hill and Vysehrad. Literally couldn't put it down! The next day I went back and returned it for a little bit of credit and I bought Kundera's masterpiece, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It was such a joy to read Kundera in his own city, and to feel the main character's tumultuous journey come to life on the streets of Prague.
Williamstown, MA USA 10/11/2011
If traveling to Ireland, read Trinity by Leon Uris and if you have time, read the sequel, Redemption.
Both are long books, but they are excellent and you really understand the history of Ireland and the Irish people. I read both books before I went to Ireland and it really made the trip so much better in understanding the country.
You will be able to better understand what the guides are telling you with some background of the country.
Staten Island, NY USA 10/06/2011
Good Book for a trip to Bulgaria
If you are traveling to Bulgaria an excellent book to read is "East of the West" by Miroslav Penkov. It is a series of short stories which take place through out Bulgaria at different historical periods. Great read!
Casper, WY USA 10/06/2011
Ireland. Can't recall author' name but about a storyteller that travels on foot through many Irish villages. It was VERY good.
New Orleans, LA USA 09/26/2011
City of Falling Angels
The Citiy of Falling Angels by John Berebdt is a great read about Venice..read it anywhere, even if you are not in Venice!
Ashheville, nc USA 09/20/2011
For place-based recs for novels, articles, podcasts and travel TV for your travels try www.locallibris.com. Daily place-based reading recs on twitter @locallibris Paris? http://www.locallibris.com/France New York? http://www.locallibris.com/new-york/
Boston, MA USA 09/19/2011
Rick Steve's guidebooks
The Rick Steve's guidebook for your destination. I studied mine and knew exactly what I wanted to see. I could even identify who was in the portraits in Buckingham palace better than the guards.
Annapolis, MD USA 09/11/2011
Good reads on the way to Florence
Heading for Florence? Magdalen Nabb's series of mysteries solved by a marshal of the Carabinieri posted to the Pitti Palace gives a great sense of place. One even uses the Back Door favorite trattoria Casalinga for a scene or two. Nabb lived in Florence many years and knew it well.
San Mateo, CA USA 09/09/2011
If you are travelling to Budapest, I recommend the novel Prague. This book is totally set in Budapest in the 90's and follows a group of young-ish American expats. The title is a bit misleading, but come from the fact some of the characters are frequently talking about leaving Budapest and moving to Prague.
Yellow Springs, OH USA 09/05/2011
Paris based novel I liked
An Innocent Addiction by RobertWomack
Atlanta, Ga USA 08/23/2011
Seven seasons in Tuscany by Robert Rodi gives great info re Siena culture regarding the Polio.
Gettysburg, PA USA 08/10/2011
For the Cotswold Trail (the Cotswold Ring) try the Agatha Raison novels by M. C. Beaton. I read the first two novels during my trip and kept seeing the settings and names of Inns and Pubs in the novels. Even characters were named after grocery stores in the area. Lots of fun and perfect for the lovely setting of the North Cotswolds. http://www.agatharaisin.com/
Austin, TX USA 08/04/2011
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving is fascinating reading for Spain, particularly southern Spain. Written in 1829, it's filled with travel tales and evocative Moorish legends written while Irving was US Ambassador to Spain. It's really enhanced my travels here.
Seattle, Wa USA 08/03/2011
Pre trip reading
Planning a trip to Israel? I recently re-read The Source by James Michener. Good background material.
Ashland, MO USA 07/19/2011
Books to Read in Europe
Choose books with settings in the places you visit. On a trip to Barcelona I read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon. In Paris I read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and in England I read Elizabeth George's books; the Inspector Linley series. All perfect. On a tour bus in Barcelona we drove by one of the buildings in Zafon's story. Very exciting!
Fallbrook, CA USA 07/07/2011
Birds without wings by Louis de Berničres. The book is set in a small villiage shared by Christians & Muslims who all speak Turkish during the end of the Ottoman Empire. I haven't finished the book yet (3/4) but I love how it has helped me to understand the mindsets & cultural differences/similarities between the two groups and some of the old customs. There are lots of references to foods and places. And it is just a damn good read! :)
Missoula, MT USA 06/23/2011
The Paris Wife
My dad, mom, and I have all been reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain while travelling through Paris. It's been very entertaining to learn about Hemingway's Paris through a different set of eyes - his first wife's.
Jackson, CA USA 06/15/2011
Mark Twain, of course!
Others have mentioned this, and I'm mentioning it again because it's fantastic: The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain. He wrote about his actual travels on a highly-publicized excursion through Europe and the Middle East. Reading his 19th-century descriptions of places you are seeing with your own eyes is fascinating--and his own opinions/insights are a lot of fun.
Belle Plaine, MN USA 06/12/2011
The Good Thief's Guide to Paris, by Chris Ewan. This is a mystery. It's hard to put down. Lots of action in and about Paris apartments, museums and Shakespeare & Company (next door to Hotel Esméralda), etc.
Pearland, TX USA 05/17/2011
Ian Rankin's detective Rebus. I had not planned to go to Scotland, but enjoyed it even more having read a number of these books based soley on their own merit.
Cleveland, Oh USA 05/12/2011
Dario Castagno's Books
All of Dario's books are great fun to read before or during a tour in Chianti. My favorite is Too much Tuscan Wine & my husband loves An Osteria in Chianti. Lots of local history including information about the Palio in Siena.
Eagle, Co USA 05/06/2011
if you are planning a trip to venice, i suggest you read the donna leon mysteries, all set in venice, and all with her main character: inspector brunetti. they are all fun reads and give you a distinct flavor of venezia. you will love these books. and , oh by the way, brunetti is really into food!!
brockport, ny USA 05/01/2011
The Botticelli Secret
The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato is a great adventure style historical novel which takes place all over Italy. From Naples to Florence to Genoa the main character and her monk sidekick defuse a eleborate plot by unlocking the secret behind Botticelli's La Primavera. Fun read if you are exploring Italy or have seen Botticelli's works in the Uffizi!
Naples, Italy 04/01/2011
With all the fine Scandinavian mystery writers being published today, the potential traveler has a lot to choose from. I'm particularly fond of the Icelanders Erlendur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdurdatter, but the old standby Henning Mankell is always good for a somewhat dark view of modern Sweden, and Karin Fossum writes interesting tales about Norway. But be aware that these are rather grim, not "cozies" by any stretch.
Minneapolis, MN USA 03/24/2011
Probably been said before, but Hannibal is great for Florence. It gives you a very different perspective.
Brisbane, QLD AUS 03/23/2011
Cara Black's novels about tech detective Aimee Leduc take place in 12 arrondissements, and give you much insight to the streets of Paris.
Prague, CZ 03/03/2011
Irish Historical Fiction
If you're planning a visit to Ireland bring along one of Morgan Llywelyn's "Irish Century" series novels...gives an insider's historical perspective on the Emerald Isle.
Brandon, FL USA 02/26/2011
I just read again Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. Rome such a chaotic wonderful city and Doerr experiences Rome as the new dad of baby twins. Excellent prequel to a Rome trip
Kenilworth, Illinois USA 02/25/2011
British Mystery novels
The "Inspector Lynley" mystery series by Elizabeth George are a lot of fun to read, before or after a trip to England. Lots of references to things and places that will be recognizable, as well as just plain good reads!
Philadelphia, PA USA 02/25/2011
Two favorite books about Paris are Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris" which tells so much about architecture and Sharon Upp's "House on the Bridge: Ten Turbulent Years with Diego Rivera" which is like a walking tour of the city.
portland, or USA 02/18/2011