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10 Books that Will Inspire You to Travel the World

If you love virtually exploring foreign landscapes and cultures, these books are your next must-reads.


The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier, by Thad Carhart

A captivating delight for Francophiles, and everyone else, Carhart’s personal account of recapturing a long lost, childhood passion for piano, is seeped, in the scents, sights, and essence, of a Paris, few experience first-hand. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is a jewel of a book, which abundantly, and joyously, transports the reader to a musical, hidden world, unrealized by most mere mortals, on any continent. Here are 12 other biographies you should have read by now.


Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy, by Frances Mayes

Told in prose so poetic, you can practically taste the luscious, regional recipes, Mayes includes in this biography, without ever entering a kitchen. A renowned poet, travel writer, and chef, Mayes tells the story of her life in Tuscany as an expat, and new home owner. If you enjoyed the movie of the same name, that’s great, but don’t pass up the book because you think you already know the story. Under the Tuscan Sun weaves a completely different tale in print, then it did on the screen. Check out these books that are better than the movies they’re based on.


How Fast Can You Run by Harriet Levin Millan

Many people have heard of Africa’s lost boys, but none tell their story quite so well as Harriet Levin Millan, who shares her first-hand account, in this elegantly written book. As inspirational as it is lustrous, the book follows the journey of lost boy, Michael Majok Kuch, as he sets off to find his mother, after his village is burned down in Southern Sudan. “When I met Mike, a South Sudanese ‘Lost Boy’ who told me his story, I was given this tremendous gift. I wanted to document his story in a way that would inspire people. I felt a tremendous desire to do this, before it was erased, the way my family’s history, fleeing anti-Semitism in Russia, and Eastern Europe has been. I never knew my grandparent’s real names, the names of the towns they came from, or the conditions of their migration to the U.S. There is power in understanding. I felt it was important to document Mike’s story so that people could begin to understand the situation in South Sudan, and open their hearts to refugees. The displacement that happened to Mike and his family, could happen to any one of us. The perpetrators may change, but the history of humanity is a refugee narrative,” shares Millan. Check out the most popular book from the year you were born. 


The Inspector Gamache Book Series, by Louise Penny

Mystery lovers, rejoice! If you haven’t thrilled to the murders and mayhem, brilliantly solved by likeable, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Surêté du Québec, you’re in for a delicious treat. Set in Three Pines, a cozy, rural hamlet just north of the American border, each novel tells the story of a crime, against the backdrop of wintery-cold, Canadian life in a small town, to brilliant perfection. Start with Still Life, and make your way through the entire 13-set series. Here are 12 amazing page-turners you’ll also love.


Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Part travel guide, and part historical romp through Australia’s multifaceted past, Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country, belongs in the back pocket of anyone planning to take a trip to the land of kangaroos and crocodiles. And for those not so fortunate, this delightful gumdrop of a book is not to be missed. Told with wry wit, and well-researched candor, Bryson’s obvious delight in the Australian countryside is apparent on every page. Find out how to read books online for free.


The Heat and Dust Project: The Broke Couple’s Guide to Bharat by Saurav Jha and Devapriya Roy

A young married couple, who seemingly have it all, opt to chuck their cushy life in South Delhi for an extended romp across their country’s eclectic panoramas. A land of contradictions, the magic of India is poignantly juxtaposed against its seamier side, in this true tale of exploration and its affect on their relationship. The Heat and Dust Project explores the terrain of the heart, as strikingly as it does Bharat.


The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones

A heartwarming, coming-of-age novel, The Alaskan Laundry tells the story of Tara Marconi, a young, unmoored woman, who finds her sea legs, and then some, in the rugged, harsh, Alaskan wild. All the majesty of the Rock, a frigid, remote, Alaskan outpost, comes alive, as Tara finds her strength, and carves out her destiny, in a stereotypical, man’s world. Check out the 18 good books you can read in a day.


Ready to Burst by Frankétienne, translated by Kaiama L. Glover

Written by one of Haiti’s most beloved poets, Ready to Burst paints a vibrant picture of the island, while laying bare the tyranny, and brutality, of François Duvalier’s dictatorship. Seen through the eyes of a young, Haitian man, the astounding power of this novel comes alive, through the masterful use of poem and prose.


How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan

A brilliant story of love after divorce, the real star of the story is the island of Jamaica, in the West Indies. Sundrenched, sexy, and dripping with a languorous vibe, the land of “Aye, Mon” is the perfect place for Stella to re-emerge into the land of the living, from the land of failed marriages. How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a great beach read and a feel-good novel, you won’t want to miss.


Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff, by Rosemary Mahoney

Determined to travel the Nile, alone, in a small row boat, Mahoney battles astounding obstacles, including extreme heat, political unrest, and way more crocodiles then she bargained for. With the help of an understanding Muslim sailor, Mahoney survives the odds, and lives to tell her tale through a triumphant lens. The majesty of Egypt, juxtaposed with the extreme poverty of rural Egyptians, creates the backdrop for this remarkable story of place, and personal passion.

Corey Whelan
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer and reproductive health professional who has worked with infertility patients and adopting parents for over 25 years. Her work has been featured in multiple media outlets, including Reader’s Digest, The Healthy, Healthline, CBS Local, and Berxi. Follow her on Twitter @coreygale.