Good books to read are hardly in short supply – but in our humble opinion, there’s nothing quite like an adventure book to take you away from reality.

And let’s face it, we all need a little distraction at the moment. These 9 bestselling travel books are sure to help pass your time in self-quarantine. Get ready for laughs, love, insights and a bit of travel inspiration thrown in.

Pssst! Self-identifying bookworm? Check out the world’s most beautiful libraries here to plan a visit (when the earth’s ready for it again).

Your #1st must-read book… Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens (2018)

Two trees rise from the shimmering water of the North Carolina Swamps
Source: Shutterstock / JoMo333

The tale of social – and literal – outcast, Kya, growing up isolated and abandoned in the swamps of North Carolina, is not the classic coming of age story.

Anything but conventional, ‘the Marsh girl’ has learned most of what she knows from the nature she sees around her. And to top it off, she may or may not be a murderer.

Owens’ debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, enjoyed 30 weeks at the top of the New York Times Fiction Bestellers lists over 2019 and 2020 and if you needed any more convincing, it also happens to be a favorite of Reese Witherspoon, who is currently producing the movie version. AKA, it’s a must-read book! And as a bonus, you’ll learn a little about the fascinating swamps of North Carolina while you’re reading.

A trip to the USA from your couch. 😉 Get this on your list of books to read ASAP.

#2nd up… The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain (1868)

An orange desert valley from setting of must-read 'The Innocents Abroad'
Jordan Valley, Israel.

Sure, it’s a little older, this one – and no less worth the read. (Particularly because you can literally get this as an ebook free on Kindle.)

The Innocents Abroad is one of the bestselling travel books – ever. It follows Twain’s ‘Great Pleasure Excursion’ through Europe to the Holy Land with a load of his American fellow travelers. And it’s really, self-consciously, funny. No-one and nothing escapes Twain’s satyrical, if rather judgmental, eye – including his travel companions, society and history itself. All seen from the 19th-century eye.

This is one of those books to read that are classic for good reason. Make sure to add this golden-oldie to your basket (for free, people!).

Lucky #3rd… The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla (2017)

A row of colorful houses in Oxford, Britain
Shukla’s collection of essays were lived and written all over the UK. This scene is a street in Oxford, England.

Fast forward to modern-day life, and we have editor, Nikesh Shukla’s, selection of 21 essays. He explains the focus is on “what it means to be a person of colour” in Britain today, as written by black, Asian and minority ethnic writers.

These insanely interesting insights into British post-imperialist culture and the ridiculous stereotype of the so-called “good” and “bad” immigrant makes for a book you simply have to read.

The book opens a much-needed dialogue about racism in our modern world – which is of course also a conversation often opened by traveling. So think of this as your book to discover and learn about new perspectives while you’re not allowed to travel.

Check out The Good Immigrant USA for the USA version.

Must-read book #4… A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson (2015)

A dense green woodland under blue skies on the Appalachian Trail
Glorious views from the Appalachian Trail Bryson follows.

In case you haven’t read any of Bryson’s other books, then you should be warned… he’s hilarious.

After around 20 years in Britain, Bryson rediscovers his home country in New Hampshire. The woods – and walking in them – feature heavily… in the form of the famous and beautiful 2100 mile Appalachian Trail.

Bryson recaps his exploits here amusingly, but he also makes a pretty good case for the conservation of our (amazing) nature. ? This is a soon-to-be-classic travel book, which any self-declared globe-trotter absolutely has to read!

Have you added it to your list of books to read yet?

#5: The ultimate classic travel book… Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

A trail of old windmills in front of a castle
Source: Shutterstock / Richard Semik

Technically called The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha; this is perhaps the Neil Armstrong of modern travel literature.

Nobleman Alonso Quixano becomes Don Quixote in his slightly mad quest to revive the chivalry of old. Along with his partner in crime or ‘squire’, the peasant Sancho, he encounters (makes up?) adventures in a world rather lacking in magic.

Although we – and perhaps the rest of the world? – are still a little confused about the real message of the novel, we do know it’s an entertaining one.

So consider it a must-read book and let us know what you thought Cervantes was commenting on!

Your #6th travel book to read… A Year of Living Danishly, Helen Russell (2015)

A row of colorful houses before a river from the setting of this must-read
Nyhavn in Denmark.

Ever been intrigued by what life might be like in the world’s HAPPIEST country? Because we have.

Russel moved from London to the birthplace of Lego, AKA Jutland in Denmark. And it’s there that she created this easy to read and handy would-be manual for living in Denmark.

All in all, sounds like Denmark could be worth the move! Read the book for facts, interviews and interesting traditions.

On a side note, Lego is fun, right? Legoland in Denmark also just happens to be one of our favorite six cheap, European holidays for families. Check it out!

#7: The one you already knew… Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)

Three people cycle under three trees in Indonesia
Scenes from Indonesia, Gilbert’s final destination in Eat Pray Love.

If you haven’t heard of this one, then… Well, we’re not sure where you were hiding in 2010 when Julia Roberts was busy popularizing the film version.

We’re not sure about the movie? But Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia makes for a great vacation (or vacation inspiration) read.

It follows the story of Gilbert herself post-divorce, as she sets off to see the world. Her first stop is Italy, then India and finally Indonesia, where she rediscovers ‘food’, spirituality, and – you guessed it – love.

Some have criticized it as an overly simplified version of life, but most agree it’s intelligent and entertaining. Let us know what you think!

And by the way, if you’re a fellow traveler who focuses on the EAT part of destinations, you should take a look at these top cities for foodies worldwide. Let’s get inspired!

Must-read #8: The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

A foggy day in the Congo over a lake surrounded by trees
Shutterstock / Sergey Uryadnikov

Set in the late 1950s, the Poisonwood Bible follows a family of six, who in turn follow their overzealous, unyielding missionary father to the Congo in Africa.

The mother and four daughters act as the narrators in the book and we see them slowly change their feelings of cultural superiority towards the local population which, as it turns out, has a lot to teach these women. Their father meanwhile refusing to listen, angers the increasingly hostile people during a dangerous time, refusing to evacuate his family when advised to do so.

The book is completely engrossing. Each character is forced to totally confront what they thought was the truth by discovering a different culture. It is ABSOLUTELY your next travel book to read!

Last but not least #9… Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart (2006)

A wintery view of rooftops in Russia, where one of our top books to read is set
Moscow, Russia – inspiration for the fantasy city Absurdistan?

Intrigue. Satire. Hilarity. A little bit rude. This one’s a true must-read.

Misha – son of a rich Russian business man (1238th richest man in Russia as it happens) and himself the lucky possessor of a virtually never-ending bank account – thirsts for reentry into the USA, where the love of his life lives. He’s stuck in Absurdsvanϊ, also called Absurdistan, because of his father, who’s just had someone murdered. Pretty soon after his father gets assassinated in turn, Misha has to choose sides in a civil war between two ethnic groups…

So much excitement! And basically everyone who’s read it raves about it. A travel book to read ASAP. Plus you can probably relate to being stuck somewhere, longing to travel back to your favorite country?

BTW if you are struggling with lockdown, make sure to take a look at our guide to staying social despite the social distancing. You’re absolutely not alone if you’re finding it tough!

Not quite cured your wanderlust?

Woman sits reading one top travel books to read in window
Let us know what we’ve missed off our top travel books to read!

Check out these 9 travel movies, picked especially to help ease our pangs of travel longing during lockdown 2020. To be honest, they’re all a pretty good watch even if you’re not stuck inside!

And once it’s okay to travel again, make sure you’ve booked a trip to one of 2020’s 20+20 most amazing destinations all around the world.

P.S. Comment if we’ve missed your favorite must-read travel book from the list!


Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?

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