Travel by book: 10 reads to transport you

07 May 2020

At a time when walking between the sofa and the fridge seems like an epic journey, foreign lands feel further away than ever.

But wait! That’s where books come in. Dive into any of our choices below and be whisked away, for a small amount of money and zero carbon footprint, to Barbados, or Tokyo, or …

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Shortlisted for the Booker Prize | Winner of the Giller Prize

This beautiful, rich story will bundle you into an 19th century flying machine and transport you to another place and time.  

Washington Black tells the epic story of a young slave who escapes his plantation and travels the world in search of a place to call home. On his journey he meets unforgettable characters, develops a deep interest in marine biology, deep dives for a rare octopus and eventually arrives in London to establish the world’s first aquarium. Washington Black asks what it means to belong, and whether we can find a home when our world has been destroyed.

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the pine islands



This short (192pp), funny and thoughtful book will whisk you away on a spontaneous trip to Japan with the hapless Gilbert. Upon arrival in Tokyo, Gilbert befriends Yosa, a young Japanese student, and together they set out on a pilgrimage to the pine islands of Matsushima.

Marion Poschmann’s The Pine Islands, translated by Jen Callelja, was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and the German Book Prize and called ‘miraculous’ by the Guardian.

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Vikram Paralkar’s Night Theatre is a spellbinding, magically real story set in a rural Indian village. As dusk approaches, a surgeon goes about closing up his dilapidated clinic in rural India, when he is visited by a family – a teacher, his wife and their son. Victims of a senseless attack, they reveal to the surgeon wounds that they could not possibly have survived – and which the surgeon must mend before sunrise so that they may return to life.

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BOOK OF DISQUIET‘Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.’ Never a truer word said – or one more timely.

Narrated principally by an assistant bookkeeper named Bernardo Soares – an alias of sorts for Pessoa himself – The Book of Disquiet is ‘the autobiography of someone who never existed’, a mosaic of dreams, of hope and despair; a hymn to the streets and cafés of 1930s Lisbon.

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word for woman


Narrator Erin is 19 and has never really left the area she grew up in. She’s watched Bear Grylls and wonders why it’s always men who get to have all the fun. So she decides to go to Alaska, alone. This is a beautiful tale of a one-woman expedition into the wilderness – the feminist adventure story the world has been waiting for. 

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In Pointe-Noire, in the small neighbourhood of Voungou, on the family plot where young Michel lives with Maman Pauline and Papa Roger, life goes on. But In March 1977, just before the arrival of the short rainy season, Comrade President Marien Ngouabi is brutally murdered in Brazzaville, and not even naïve Michel can remain untouched.

Starting as a tender, wry portrait of an ordinary Congolese family, Alain Mabanckou quickly expands the scope of his story into a powerful examination of colonialism, decolonization and dead ends of the African continent.

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A shadow hangs over what was supposed to be an idyllic family summer holiday. Erik and Julia set off for the house by the sea in Finland with their two young children. But when they get there, happy childhood memories are marred by the arrival of an old friend, and over the course of the summer, the family start to wonder whether the holiday could be the undoing of them.

LANCASHIRE, UKhollow in the land

A staycation for those not wishing to roam too far…
Welcome to the Hollow in the Land: from its neglected high streets to the isolated wilderness of the surrounding moors, this Lancashire valley bursts with unforgettable characters, minor intrigues and all the rich strangeness of life in England today. Readers of Jon McGregor, Raymond Carver and Alice Munro will love this book.

heaven my homeTEXAS, USA

As well as being a bestselling author, Attica Locke also writes for screen – most recently she’s been on the writing team for the TV adaptation of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.
In Heaven, My Home, Ranger Darren Mathews is investigating a case of racial violence down Highway 59, Texas. Darren has to battle centuries old prejudices as he races to save not only a vulnerable young boy, but himself. This remarkable book is the winner of a CWA Steel Dagger.




Yona has worked for years at a travel company specialising in package holidays to destinations ravaged by disaster. One day, in an attempt to bury her complaint of a sexual assault, the company offers her a free ticket for one of their most sought-after trips, to the desert island of Mui.

On Mui the major attraction is a supposedly-dramatic sinkhole. When the customers start to complain, Yona realises that the company plans to fabricate an environmental catastrophe – but soon discovers she has put her own life in danger.