This should be the most important item in your carry-on.
Books have a way of deepening our appreciation of travel–even without ever leaving the house. From irresistibly juicy novels to candid short stories and non-fiction books that will change your view of the world, these books are the perfect travel companion. This spring, we’re introducing Fodor’s Book Club, a chance to read along with our editors as they choose a wanderlust-worthy book each season.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This hyped second novel from the writer of Conversations with Friends is more a series of vignettes and conversations than a traditional book. It’s a story about two people who are sometimes friends and sometimes lovers as they navigate the rough seas of their late teens and early twenties. It’s about a relationship, but the third-most important character in the book is arguably the setting: Trinity College in Dublin, with its cozy apartments, prestigious ceremonies, revered classrooms, and wild parties.
Where to read it: On your way to a college reunion or graduation ceremony to remember the good (or bad) old days.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
New in paperback this spring, The Salt Path was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards. The memoir tells the story of a couple who makes an impulsive decision to head out on a once-in-a-lifetime journey–the 630-mile Southwest Coast Path that winds from Somerset to Dorset along the coast of Cornwall and Devon. The trail takes them along on a rugged and wild journey with hardships and even a bit of humor.
Where to read it: On the blustery and grey Cornish coast.
This Is the Place I Was Telling You About by R’el Dade & Marcus Lloyd
Fans of the gorgeous Instagram account @theplaceiwastellingyouabout will love this new guide. Part coffee table book, part city guide, This Is The Place I Was Telling You About takes readers to the coolest cafes, bars, hotels, and street corners in New York City–all with gorgeous photography and heartfelt descriptions.
Where to read it: At home, while planning your next trip to Brooklyn.
Follow This Thread: A Maze Book to Get Lost In by Henry Eliot
Unlike any book you’ve ever seen before, this beautifully designed book makes the case for throwing away the roadmap and getting lost. The pages take you through the cultural history of mazes, from Greek mythology to The Shining, with words that are sideways and upside down, encouraging readers to interact with the book the same way they would with a maze.
Where to read it: On a park bench, contemplating the secret twists and turns of life.
La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World by Dianne Hales
Italy is an inherently romantic place, and this book will tell you why. From Renaissance paintings to modern film and fashion, La Passione explores la passione italiana, “the primal force that stems from an insatiable hunger to discover and create.” For both Italophiles and people who have never visited, this book might just end up luring you into purchasing a plane ticket to Italy this summer to experience la dolce vita yourself.
Where to read it: Lounging at one of the Amalfi Coast’s iconic beaches while sipping a limoncello.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
While Brexit looms on the horizon, all eyes are on Nothern Ireland. This nonfiction book brings light to a side of the country that most Game of Thrones tourists these days never see–curfews, violence, and political and religious divides.
Where to read it: On your way to a Brexit protest.
Instructions for a Funeral by David Means
With dark humor, David Means’ short stories are disturbingly transportative, teleporting readers to a time, a place, and a feeling. With both love stories and murder stories, Instructions for a Funeral shows us the tender, the weird, and the violent sides of life. From a story about FBI agents on a stakeout in Kansas to ruminations on addiction, it’s a portrait of America.
Where to read it: On a cross-country train trip a la Caity Weaver.
The Cook by Maylis de Kerangal
The Cook is a romantic whirlwind of a novella that focuses on one man and his kitchen education. Narrated by a mysterious admirer, the book is a love letter to the art of cooking. The writing is indulgent, descriptive, and nearly perfect, with each chapter told through the lens of a dish and a place from Berlin to Bangkok, but mostly in Paris. The mouth-watering descriptions and beautiful writing (translated from French) will have you googling flights to Europe (or making a dinner reservation at Balthazar) just a few pages in.
Where to read it: Sipping wine and nibbling olives at the bar at The Four Horsemen (or the coolest natural wine bar in your city).
The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager
An atlas for feminists, this coffee table book and guide to the world tells you exactly how human rights stack up in each country, from maternal death rates to gender income disparity. It’s an eye-opening examination of our world with facts displayed in infographics, charts, and maps. It’s fascinating to see how the United States compares (or doesn’t) to “first-world” countries and overexploited countries alike and it’s an invaluable resource for people who travel.
Where to read it: In your happy place, because this book is more depressing than uplifting.
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Sure to be an instant classic, Daisy Jones & the Six is like the book version of Almost Famous–but with a female lead singer. It’s a whirlwind of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, bringing readers on a wild ride through the ’70s with a fictional oral history of one of the country’s biggest bands.
Where to read it: In a rented bungalow in Venice Beach.
The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander
Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World by Anu Tarnath
The decolonization of travel is an important topic and one that most people don’t understand the nuances of. Beyond Guilt Trips seeks to educate people–from families planning a summer service trip to college kids studying abroad–on how to travel responsibly and how “doing good” might have unintended negative consequences.
Where to read it: On a staycation, as you contemplate how you travel and why.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ***Fodor’s Book Club Pick***
Delightful, absurd, and whimsical, this best-selling novel feels like a Wes Anderson film written as a book. New in paperback, A Gentleman in Moscow is about a Count marooned at one of Moscow’s finest hotels after the Bolshevik revolution. It will have you (oddly) longing to be transported to Stalinist Russia to live inside this hotel with the characters, plotting all sort of hijinks and mad capers.
Where to read it: In Moscow, of course. While the Hotel Metropole is not quite what it used to be, the nearby Ritz Carlton Moscow will fulfill your old-school Russian Count dreams.