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Experience world travel through literature

Posted 24/04/2020 : By: Melissa Brazier

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Whilst we may be grounded for now, there is nothing stopping us looking forward to the next trip. And with time on your hands what better way to spend it then indulging in a book about your next destination. The recommendations below will help you understand the diverse history and culture of a selection of countries One Traveller visits.

All books are available to download or order on Amazon or similar platforms.



The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

The Tobacconist (translated into English by Charlotte Collins) is set in 1937 just before the German occupation. It follows 17-year-old Franz, who moves to Vienna to become the apprentice in a tobacco shop.


The Eighth Life by Nino Kharatishvili

Nino Kharatishvili’s highly acclaimed novel, The Eighth Life (for Brilka), tells the multi-generational story of one Georgian family trapped in the turbulence of the 20th century. The book is set during the rise and fall of the totalitarian communist regime and reflects critical societal transformations and tragedies, betrayals and fights, hopes and survival.


Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf

Tschick is about two 14-year-old boys, both social outcasts, one from a bourgeois background, the other a Russian returnee, who 'borrow' a car, take a road trip, and develop an unusual friendship.


Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

A middle-aged Swiss teacher called Raimund Gregorius leaves his life behind to embark on an adventure in Lisbon. He makes this decision on a whim, after discovering a book by a Portuguese author that contemplates the decisions people make in life.


A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse—set against the looming horrors of the battlefield.



A Woman of Angkor by John Burgess

A historically accurate and a very imaginative telling of the history of World Heritage site and famous temple, Angkor. Told through the eyes of mother Sray, who lives a typical rural life of that era. One day her family is invited by the King to the palace because he heard Sray’s husband is a master of making silk parasols.


The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The story of a man whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the Vietnam War, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer.


Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

The story of three generations of women in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history.


Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins

The Freedom at Midnight book describes events around Indian independence and partition in 1947-48, beginning with the appointment of Lord Mountbatten of Burma and ending with the death (and funeral) of Mahatma Gandhi.

Sri Lanka

Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje

A great family memoir of a baroque Dutch-Ceylonese family and the story of man returning to his roots in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s.



Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile, 1849–1850, Florence Nightingale (1854; published 1987)

Travelling upriver, the future nurse wrote copious letters to family and friends—A very valuable look at Egypt at the dawn of tourism there.


The Spider's House by Paul Bowles 

Set in Fez, Morocco during the country's 1954 national uprising, The Spider's House deals with the political upheaval against the French colonialists. The book explores the difference between cultures with the dilemma of an outsider in an alien society but the knowledge of a local.

North America


Alone Against the North by Adam Shoalts

When Adam Shoalts ventured into the largest unexplored wilderness on the planet, he hoped to set foot where no one had ever gone before. What he discovered surprised even him, and made him a media sensation.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Against popular opinion, a lawyer defends a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama.

South America


In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

Chatwin's meandering masterpiece about visiting the arid South American plains in search of a mythical brontosaurus relic—and finding instead a lonely haven of European refugees—scored nominations from six writers.


Child of the Dark by Carolina Maria de Jesus

A first-hand account of life in the streets of Sao Paulo from 1955 to 1960, details the plight of an artist, writer and single mother of three children who, while living in a hotel, supported her family by digging through the garbage for paper and scraps to sell.


The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Fusing the personal with the political and fact with fantasy, it tells Chile’s recent history through several generations of the Trueba family, ending with a savage military coup that leads to the death of a president.


My Father’s Ghost is Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron

The story is semi-autobiographical, and is based on events that were and are common, namely the disappearances of underground opposition fighters and the lack of will by the government to investigate. It's a depiction of past and current problems in Argentina, and provides a perspective from a younger generation of Argentinians who don’t remember much, or even any, of the dictatorship, but live in a society that is still traumatised by it.

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