Last week we were on the road – or rather, runway – to sunny Croatia. Thundery Zagreb,woman reading by lake where the days were scorching hot and the evenings brought dramatic clouds, torrential rain and lightning. Travel helps us to see things through fresh eyes, so it’s no wonder so many writers are inspired by visiting somewhere new. These are our favourite novels which have travel itself as a central theme.

1. Graham Greene – Travels with my Aunt

 

Perhaps one of the best-known 20th century travel classics, this story treats serious themes with a dry, absurd sense of humour that we just can’t resist. The contrasting central characters are a boring retired banker and an adventurous older lady. Follow them on their travels, both geographical and personal.

 

2. Magnus Mills – Three to See the King

 

In our opinion this is the best synthesis of Mills’ spare, deceptively simple writing style with the more expansive themes found in some of his books. His writing is incredibly evocative and at the same time meditatively soothing. Just why is Michael Hawkins so compelling?

 

3. Jostein Gaarder – The Solitaire Mystery

 

A boy – Hans-Thomas – and his father travel across Europe to find his mother, who has gone to become a model in Greece. On the way, Hans-Thomas is given a sticky bun containing a tiny book. We follow their travels and the story in the sticky bun book until we are left wondering where one ends and the other begins.

 

4. Ursula Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness

 

Is it still travel when it’s sci-fi? We think interplanetary travel counts, and this is a prime example of its genre. Not a space battle in sight but plenty of conflict. If you want a novel that deals with a clash of cultures, this has it in spades.

 

5. Dervla Murphy – Full Tilt

 

OK, we cheated. This is more of a biography than a novel. In 1963 Dervla Murphy cycled from Ireland to India, and this book is based on her diary. If you thought women were chained to the kitchen sink ‘in those days’, you can think again! You don’t have to be a cyclist to enjoy this book.

 

Do you have some favourites that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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