Paris in Spring: 21 Things to Do Outside

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Travelers in our Forums often look for book recommendations in the weeks leading up to their trips. Reading books about locales they’re planning trips to puts them in the vacation spirit, and gives them a deeper connection to the destination before they even set foot there. Below are a few of our members’ favorite titles related specifically to top destinations around the world.

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Africa

“Before this I read “Say You’re One of Them,” a collection of short stories about African children by Uwem Akpan. Brilliant, brutal, and unforgettable. One of the best books I’ve read in years.”– MyDogKyle

“I’m just starting to read “Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik: One Woman’s Solo Misadventures Across Africa” by Marie Javins. It’s entertaining and easy to read. Should be a good one for my next trip on Monday to Kenya.” — safarimama

“Just finished reading “What is the What” by David Eggers. It’s the story of one of the Sudanese “lost boys”. It’s stunningly poignant — particularly after having attended a talk by the book’s subject, Valentino, recently. ” — jayne_wagner

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Spain and Portugal

“I highly recommend “Roads to Santiago: A Modern-day Pilgrimage through Spain” by Cees Nooteboom. It’s one of the best books on Spain I’ve read in the travel literature genre. He is Dutch, but the book was translated into English around 1997 (it was first published in 1992) and should be readily available from booksellers. It is nonfiction travel writing.” — Christina

“I enjoyed Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago’s Journey to Portugal
and the chapter on Portugal in Frances Mayes “A Year in the World” –HappyTrvlr

“I was also going to mention James Michener’s “Iberia”. His book “The Drifters” also takes place a good deal in Spain. I lived in Lisbon for a year and when I got back ran into a book called “A Cottage in Portugal” by Richard and Barbara Hewitt. It’s about an American couple that decides to buy and renovate a small cottage in Sintra and tells of all their dealings with the locals. I loved it since spent so much time in that area.” — zelphiacat

“Driving Over Lemons” was such a fun read.” — caroltis

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Italy

“I love reading the Fodor’s forums, for all the wonderful advice, but also for all the inside tips which make a trip so memorable. I am traveling to Italy for the first time in March, and would love to have your advice on books to read before I go and during my trip. We will be visiting Rome, Florence, Venice and Pompeii.” — Binkieloo

“I loved the Dan Brown novels – especially “Angels and Demons.” I had read “Angels and Demons” prior to visiting Rome and the Vatican, and it was so interesting to have some background regarding how a new Pope is chosen.” — Attnymom

“Some of my favorite fictional novels are Pompeii and Imperium – A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris, In the Company of the Courtesan and Birth of Venus by Sarah Durran and City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.” — roadlesstraveled

“The Last Italian,” by William Murray (long-time contributor of “Letters to Rome” for The New Yorker). It’s a portrait of the Italian people.” — i_am_kane

“The World of Venice” by Jan Morris. Personal, evocative, a classic.” — BowenLinda

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Asia

“The River’s Tale: a Year on the Mekong”, by Edward Gargan. “After You, Marco Polo”, by Jean Bowie Shor. “Thunderstorm from the East: a Portrait of a Rising Asia”, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudun. I look forward to reading what others recommend.” — marya_

“Saigon and Peking” – both by Anthony Grey. “Bangkok 8” – John Burdett. “The Quiet American” – Graham Greene. Definitely read “Saigon” if you go to Vietnam. It provides an entertaining, well researched history of the country in an epic novel format” — crellston

“My absolute favourite is “A Fortune Teller Told Me” by Tiziano Terzani about a guy who decides to not fly for a year. He lives in Bangkok and he travels and see’s so much more by not flying a really charming read.” — Smeagol

“I have hoards of books on Asia. I read both fiction and non-ficton. I often enjoy reading ficton about a place when I’m there. Let me mention a few books others have not yet. Nepal: “Shopping for Buddhas” by Jeff Greenwald” — Kathie

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France

“I don’t know if this is what you are looking for, but I just finished reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France”. It was excellent!” — nolefan1

“Cara Black’s “Murder in the rue du Paradis.” If we can go back a little farther in time, Diane Johnson’s “In a Paris Quartier.” — Underhill

“Suite Francaise — Irene Nemirovsky (newly english-version paperback, finally!)
Luncheon of the Boating Party — Susan Vreeland (also new in PB)” — amyb

“I just read The Lost King of France – fabulous. A non-ficton book about Marie Antoinette, the revolution, Louis the XVI and the little boy who would have been king if it wasn’t for all that head chopping.” — 4totravel

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Hawaii

“Michener’s Hawaii is awesome – worth the extra weight.” — Barblab

“This one’s a contemporary memoir about a woman growing up with her Mom on Oahu. It’s gritty and egdy, but an excellent book: “West of Then” by Tara Bray Smith.” — suze

“Hawaii Pono by Lawrence Fuchs is my favorite. This is a very readable social history of the immigrants that shaped modern Hawaii.” — Sarah

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Alaska

“Best read – ever – involving an imaginary Alaska, and one of the best books I’ve read in the past several years, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. I’ll never think of Sitka the same way again.” — Gardyloo

“Sitka resident John Straley, 2006 “writer laureate” for the State of Alaska, writes great mysteries.” — enzian

“Also, Into the Wild — though it’s not fiction, it might as well be! The film is amazing as well (although it’s not all set in Alaska).” — ucsbalum

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