Anywhere you go in Europe, you’ll be immersed in centuries of history and fascinating culture. Even if you can’t afford to take a trip to Europe, you can still visit the nation of your dreams by reading about it. The best book to read while traveling Europe is “On The Road”
Even though I’ve sailed all over the world, there are still many corners of the globe I’ve yet to explore. Since visiting Europe isn’t in the cards anytime soon, I’ll have to settle for reading about it instead. The good news is that I’ve read nearly a thousand books in my life, and among them are ten masterpieces of contemporary literature, each of which is set in a different European country.
Here are 21 books that can transport you to any European country within minutes, regardless of your reading preference or where you happen to be.
15 Books To Read While Traveling Europe
1. On the Road
All travelers, backpackers, and those seeking an alternative lifestyle should read Jack Kerouac’s groundbreaking masterpiece. Discover the underground America of the 1950s with Kerouac as he hitches rides across the country in quest of jazz, drugs, sex, and the meaning of life in his novel On the Road. Among the list of novels, I enjoy reading most on trips
2. Last Man in Tower
The Twenty-First Century Dharmen Shah, the real estate mogul of Mumbai, has lofty goals for the city’s future. If the residents of the rundown high-rise he wants to purchase an agreement to sell to him, they will all become filthy rich.
However, not everyone is eager to leave; some locals feel at home there and have no plans to ever leave. As emotions escalate among the once-peaceful neighbors, those who oppose the offer gradually give way to the majority, until only Masterji, a retired schoolteacher and once the most respected man in the building, stands in Shah’s way.
Masterji’s neighbors, formerly pals but now foes or co-conspirators, may do everything to get their hands on the demolition money as the deadline approaches. It’s one of the most moving books I’ve read on India, and it completely altered my impressions of the country.
Shantaram was the first novel I read about India, and it was so captivating that I immediately bought a one-way ticket to Delhi and spent the next 14 months seeing the country. An escaped Australian convict travels to India, where he experiences love, working for criminals, fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, imprisonment in Bombay, becoming a professional forger and an amateur doctor, and living in an Indian slum. This account may or may not be genuine.
This is one of the best novels to bring along on a trip to India because it is well-written and gives a realistic, if slightly idealized, an image of life in the subcontinent.
4. Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe
Expo 58 is a light read about a London civil officer in 1958 who is assigned a six-month assignment in Brussels. The story follows a man who is tasked with watching over a tavern that serves as the nerve center of the British participation at Expo 58, the largest World’s Fair of the century.
5. The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Girl With a Pearl Earring gives a human face to one of the most famous paintings in the world by telling the story of an artist and his muse. More than five million copies of this fictitious account have been sold all over the world.
6. The Expats by Chirs Pavone
Kate Moore is an American mother who recently relocated her family from Washington, DC, to Luxembourg. Even though she seems to have it all, she is harboring a secret that could spell disaster for her.
7. White Truffles in Winter by N. M. Kelby
This fictionalized account of the triangle of passion between the great French chef Auguste Escoffier’s wife and an actress is a must-read for all gourmands. After relocating to Monaco with his mistress, he prepared a special meal in her honor.
8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The extraordinary true story of Liesel, a young girl of nine whose parents have been sent to a concentration camp, is told in The Book Thief, which is set in Nazi Germany in 1939. Lisel risks her life by stealing books from a large home in an attempt to flee the conflict.
9. Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
The love tale of Edith and Mr. Neville is told in Hotel Du Lac, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. This is a tale about finding your own way in the world after being cast out by your family for humiliating themselves.
10. Escape to Liechtenstein by Ed Dunlop
Being completely forthright, I had a hard time tracking down a good book about Liechtenstein. My search turned up nothing but Escape to Liechtenstein. The tale follows two kids as they rescue a Jewish youngster hiding from the Nazis in Austria and help him make his way to freedom.
11. The Royal We By Heather Cocks And Jessica Morgan
The British monarchy is often the first thing that springs to mind when people think of England. When a prince marries a commoner, millions of people tune in to observe the ceremony. This is a fairy tale come true.
That’s what we get in a love story based on William and Kate. Bex, an American student at Oxford, befriends Nick, a local. Nick, however, is not just any guy; he is the rightful heir to the throne of England.
This book imagines what it’s like to be thrust into the not-so-very-kind spotlight, a subject that may be even more prevalent in the British media now than when it was written.
12. France The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah
We visit the past in a French novel set during World War II. Sisters Vianne and Isabelle are struggling to make it through life in occupied France. When Vianne realizes she has to keep the peace in her family, Isabelle resolves to break free.
It’s a sad tale, really, about what happens to the wives and mothers left behind when the men go to war. I cried, and towards the end, I loved both sisters, despite their differences.
13. Italy Love & Gelato By Jenna Evans Welch
In the present day, while still within the realm of young adult literature, Lina is in Tuscany, fulfilling her mother’s dying request by meeting her father. While visiting her father in Florence, Lina begins to get to know Lorenzo, the youngster who lives next door.
In the process of deciphering her mother’s writings, she stumbles into surprising family history information that affects every remaining relationship in her life.
Finding your roots and reuniting with loved ones from your past are important themes in this beautiful coming-of-age tale. Lorenzo introduces Lina to the culture of European teenagers, which is both wholesome and distinct, and to the joys of gelato. Fans of romantic novels and imaginary vacations will not be disappointed by the savory descriptions of Renaissance buildings and Italian cuisine.
14. The Shadow Of The Wind By Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Daniel, the son of an antiquarian bookshop, finds a book titled The Shadow of the Wind in a Barcelona that has just emerged from the Civil War. It appears that the mystery book is the last remaining copy of the author’s work, as all others have been destroyed. Daniel’s search for the writer leads him down a rabbit hole filled with extortion, murder, and hidden libraries.
The story’s gorgeous prose and love of literature captivated me. Someday, I hope to make it to a library as fascinating as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
Likened to “a huge magic performance in which Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Umberto Eco, and Jorge Luis Borges all make appearances.” —The Book Review of The New York Times
The Shadow of the Wind is essentially a love letter to literature, written for readers who are as enthusiastic about stories as the book’s youthful protagonist. Entertainment Weekly’s Pick (Editor’s Pick)
15. The Song Of Achilles By Madeline Miller
Miller’s first novel gives a new twist to the sad tale of Achilles and Patroclus. These two are destined for tragedy, as is the case in all Greek tragedies.
This one’s a surefire tearjerker, but it’s incredibly poignant in its sorrow. It is straightforward and true to the original myths, making it suitable for a wide audience.
Having more time to catch up on my reading is one of my favorite aspects of traveling. I can read two or three books a week while hitchhiking, camping, or backpacking throughout the world.
Last year, I spent a lot of time researching and compiling a list of the top novels for backpackers to read. Look it through and tell me in the comments if there are any gems I’ve missed.
If you want to get the most out of a book like Shantaram or The Martian, read it in the country it is set in. This is especially true with books about foreign countries. So, without further ado, here are the 50 finest books to read while on the road.