Back to top

pile of books on beach

Emma’s top 5 travel reads


Getting lost in a great book can be one of life’s simple pleasures, but in a busy working week, who has time to sit down and read from cover to cover? Travel can be a bookworm’s best friend; long-haul flights, bumpy bus rides and lazy days on the beach are perfect opportunities to get stuck into that novel that’s been sitting un-thumbed on the bookshelf for the last six months. Take a look at my top 5 travel reads, some of which have inspired me to hit the road and others that I’ve just taken along for the ride… “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Anna Quindlen
Decorative torn edge

The Other Hand- Chris Cleave

This book was given to me by a friend who had read it when she was travelling in Thailand. I began reading it when I went to Barcelona, and finished it in two days! The story is narrated by a young Nigerian refugee who is reunited with a middle-class British couple after a shocking incident in her home country. It’s a powerful and touching novel with a humorous touch that takes the edge off the more serious issues which underlie the story.

Eat, Pray, Love- Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, yes it’s a cliché travel read… but I refuse to let that exclude it from my list. I read this when I did a mini UK road trip last summer and it really gave me itchy feet to pack my bags and travel independently like the protagonist, Elizabeth. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible at the time but never say never! Eat, Pray, Love is a great travel read that I’d suggest to anyone who is uncertain of travelling alone, or is looking for a bit of travel inspiration.

A Year in the Merde- Stephen Clarke

Un bon livre de voyage! A glorious romp of a book… perfect for taking on holiday, especially in France, as the story follows an English expat (loosely based on Clarke himself) as he sets up base and begins to work in Paris. I took this with me when I travelled across the U.S.A, and even though I laughed out loud randomly on the greyhound now and again, it made the long distances a lot more bearable…

The Beach- Alex Garland

Oh to be alone with Mr DiCaprio on a paradise Thai island… So we’ve all seen the film – but have you read the book? You just can’t fail to be inspired by the story of a young backpacker who travels to Thailand in search of white sands, azure seas and adventure. I picked this travel read up when I was backpacking in South Africa, in a hostel just outside of Stellenbosch. It was totally battered but I like that- it made me think about all the travellers before me who had thumbed the pages in anticipation of the next chapter. Be warned – you will want to travel to South East Asia after reading The Beach. Just saying…

The Bellwether Revivals – Benjamin Wood

This was my main travel read on my recent Vietnam holiday. I picked it up at the airport mainly because I liked the cover (cringe). But it is also a chunky book (perfect for an 11 hour flight) and the blurb caught my attention; a story about a young man who excels at playing the Organ and believes that people’s minds can be hypnotised by scores of music. It questions the limits of sanity and kept me engrossed all through my Vietnam trip. If you are looking for a travel read that is a little bit different- try this!