Reading is a form of escape for many people, but why not read to escape to actual destinations you can plan a trip to? These five books range from journalistic self-help, nonfiction, and autobiography to chick-lit travel romance — but they are all equally worth a read. Take a break, pick a recommendation, and settle down into your next adventure.
1. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
This book follows former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner as he investigates both the happiest and unhappiest places in the world to discover what makes people happy and where that happiness can be found. His years as a journalist pay off with observant, thoughtful accounts not only of the places he visits and the experts and locals he meets there but also of the history behind these countries’ cultures and ways of life. The result is a fascinating exploration of the entire globe, from the unhappy streets of Moldova to happiness in India, Bhutan, Iceland, Qatar, and more. Reading this book really embeds you into the cultures of each of these countries and makes you feel as if you have some semblance of an understanding of their communal philosophies. To top it all off, Weiner’s own grumpy disposition and self-help style of writing make the account honest, humorous, and absolutely engaging from start to finish. Reading this book won’t simply make you want to travel, it will make you want to travel to find happiness.
2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
For those not necessarily interested in taking an international trip across a variety of countries, get inspired to take a hiking trip with Cheryl Strayed’s harrowing account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. Wild is an autobiographical account of Strayed running from the death of her mother, dealing with her crumbling marriage, and recovering from a heroin-filled past. Strayed’s journey is captivating largely because she has no backpacking experience so the reader is forced to figure out her journey alongside her. She is also extremely honest about her past, her own selfish tendencies, and her inabilities, making the journey feel transparent and ultimately empowering.
3. Finding It by Cora Carmack
If you want a more lighthearted suggestion, consider checking out Cora Carmack’s Finding It. This somewhat steamy romance novel is the third in Cormack’s Losing It series, but you don’t have to have read the first two books to follow Kelsey Summers as she travels around Europe. Summers attempts to find a sense of home and escape the undesirable parts of her life by emerging herself in a never-ending party lifestyle, only to discover someone who just might make her want to slow down. The romance is absolutely enchanting, and all the best moments take place against stunning backdrops of exciting and exotic European destinations.
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Another light romance, Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss takes place in a school in Paris and prominently features a sweet French boy named Etienne. This book isn’t intellectually stimulating or an in-depth exploration of Paris, but it does include lovable and relatable characters amid the charm of France. If you want a quick read that follows an authentic narrator, showcases genuine friendships, and gets just dramatic enough to keep your interest — this is the book for you, and it just might have you packing your bags for a Parisian getaway.
5. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Self-confessed Anglophile Bill Bryson puts pen to paper to satirically, endearingly, and thoroughly explore all the reasons he appreciates England and its iconic culture. This novel showcases Bryson at his best; he is equal parts engaging and honest and makes observations that truly make you want to start exploring the island for yourself. This book is an easy and charming read that will inspire you to find your own adventure, documenting all the things you love and hate about a new place to call home.