It’s official, travel isn’t going to be how it was for a long while. BUT, that doesn’t stop us craving escapism and our sense of wanderlust. Here we have our top 8 travel fiction books to help you with your isolation travels.
You may have seen our posts about things to help keep you busy indoors and more things to do during isolation, including boyband bingo, but some of us might crave the quiet of getting away. Where else to go at this time, than into your imagination with an excellent travel fiction book to inspire you.
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This has the number one spot as it’s Jess’ favourite book about travel. The Alchemist is a beautiful story that most travellers cite as their favourite too. It dazzles in its wisdom and simplicity, its beauty and description. It’s about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest.
No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts. Travel fiction at its finest.
The Island is not only set in Greece but full of twists and turns that leave you not wanting to put down the book. 25 year old Anna leaves Britain for Crete (where her mum grew up) in the hope of finding out more about her heritage. We end up on a leper colony, not really where you think your escapist travel fiction would take you, but it does. It would be hard to imagine a more cheerless setting for a novel than a leper colony on a remote Greek island, but the community of Spinalonga provides a remarkable backdrop for this affecting, multi-generational saga. Full of love, intrigue, war and hope, it’s an incredible read to add to your travel fiction collection.
Supposedly the best Scicilian fiction out there (but the only one we’ve read), My Brilliant Friend is the first in a quartet of books about friendship, love and loss. When Elena Greco learns that her longtime friend Lila Cerrullo has vanished without a trace, she is prompted to write the history of their relationship. Beginning with their childhood in Naples, Italy, in the 1950s. In a compelling tale of competitive friendship, this Neopolitan tale is the first of four, and will leave you wanting to go to Italy.
The Caliph’s House is a beautiful and funny tale about Morocco, with a subtle undertone of post 9/11 issues throughout. The anti-Muslim senitment that Shah has faced through his journalistic career explain why this book was published. This actually isn’t fiction in the way that the rest of the books here are.
This book tells of Shah, his pregnant wife and their small daughter moving from England to Morocco. He had vacationed there as a child and this time he enters a realm of “invisible spirits and their parallel world.” Shah buys the Caliph’s House, once a palatial compound, now heavy with algae, cobwebs and termites. Unoccupied for a decade, the place harbors a willful jinni (invisible spirit), who Shah, the rational Westerner, reluctantly grasps must be exorcised by traditional means. As Shah remodels the haunted house, he encounters a cast of entertaining, sometimes bizarre characters.
This one isn’t TECHNICALLY a travel fiction book, but it is the pure escapism we all need right now. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is quirky, exciting and humorous, a tale of weird stuff happening to Arthur Dent, a regular Earth-person. But the real joy of this book is in the weird stuff; and there’s so much of it. When Arthur’s house gets torn down so a road can be built—and his day goes downhill from there. His friend Ford Prefect is an alien. That’s actually the good news of the day.
Ford is the one who can save both of them when the alien Vogons come to destroy the Earth. Ford and Arthur hitch a ride with the Vogon ship’s cooks. Unfortunately, the Vogons don’t like hitchhikers. So, Arthur and Ford get thrown out of the spaceship to die in the cold void of interstellar space, where not even Starbucks exists.
On the Road, again less about travel and more about American life. Sal Paradise, a young writer fascinated by the questionable “hero” that is Dean Moriarty. The novel involves, as you might expect, several road trips, sometimes with cars, and sometimes without. The first trip starts in New York (home base, effectively) and runs to Chicago (lots of jazz), then Denver (with Dean searching for his missing father, and hanging out with poet Carlo Marx), and to San Francisco to visit Remi Boncoeur.
This trip, as all subsequent trips, features sex, drugs, alcohol, and music. Sal ends up working as a night watchman in San Francisco, only to discover that he isn’t cut out for law enforcement or for staying in one place longer than a month. He takes off again. And then there’s the whole journey back too. It really increased our lust for the American road trip we all want to do.
You know the film, the one with Leo and the All Saints soundtrack. Yeah, the very same. The Beach, follows an optimistic and slightly delusional English tourist as he travels to Thailand seeking a Utopia. The book reflects the aspirations and dreads of Generation X.
The book covers the dream of utopia, the dangers of authenticity, human selfishness, and the nefarious lengths humans will go to in order to survive. The novel, told in the first person, opens to the protagonist, Richard, discussing how he found out about the beach on Ko Sanh Road while staying in a cheap hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. One day, his neighbor who went by the name Daffy, pinned a map to his door; the map led to a pristine seashore that showed no previous signs of human occupation; the beach is part of a National Park where tourists are not supposed to visit. The following day, Daffy was found dead, ostensibly killing himself. Richard decides to follow the map that Daffy left for him. Travel fiction at its finest.
Our final pick is one for the adventurous and by that we don’t necessarily mean in backpacking. Fear and Loathing, also a fabulous film, is wild. So wild. As wild as you could expect from Hunter S Thompson but still. The novel begins 100 miles southwest of Las Vegas.
The narrator, Raoul Duke, is driving a bright red convertible. Both he and his passenger (who is also his lawyer) have taken a large amount of drugs and are just starting to feel the effects. Duke explains that he is a journalist on a contract to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Las Vegas. He has brought his attorney friend along for the weekend. The men have amassed a huge stockpile of drugs in the trunk of their rental car, including ether, amyls, cocaine, pills, LSD, and marijuana. On the way to Vegas, the two men pick up a young hitchhiker. However, they quickly frighten him with their erratic behavior and he leaps out of the convertible. The rest of the book details the tricky situations and drug fuelled antics they end up in. So, although we can leave the drugs, we would love the Las Vegas travel!