In addition to being a travel fanatic, I am an unrepentant book nerd and recovering bookseller. I believe strongly that books and travel go together. Books inspire travel and travel encourages reading.
Reading an atmospheric book invokes an acute sense of place, which can inspire travel. Conversely, traveling somewhere will give you that special insider knowledge about the place which is later rewarded when reading a book set there. It’s for that reason that I’m co-hosting the Travel Reading List Challenge and inviting you to participate.
We’ve designed this challenge to encourage you to read more…and read more widely. The basic challenge has 24 book prompts and the advanced challenge adds another six for thirty total.
Just for kicks, you can also check out the 2019 challenge.
Join the Travel Reading List Challenge
Are you up for the challenge? Great! Here are four easy actions that you can take right now.
- Check out the challenges below. I’ve listed all thirty challenges with two suggestions for each.
- Download this printable copy of the challenge. It’s designed as a check list with space for you to keep track of the books you’ve read.
- Join our Travel Reading List Facebook group where you can engage with other book nerds and get book ideas for your challenges.
- Subscribe to the Wayfaring Views newsletter. Each missive contains at least one book recommendation as well as rad travel tips and inspiration.
2020 Reading Challenge: Basic List
Get started with the following basics.
1. A book with a destination in the title
Cool Grey City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, Gary Kamiya
Round Ireland with a Fridge, Tony Hawks
2. A book published in 2020
American Dirt, Jeanine Cummins
Weather, Jenny Offill
3. A book with a white cover
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
The Nanny Diaries, Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus
4. A book with an animal on the cover
The Tusk that Did the Damage, Tania James
White Fang, Jack London
5. A book with the word “travel” in the title
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
Also, some of these great travel books also feature other “travel” titles.
6. A book set in South America
The Gods of Tango, Carolina De Robertis
Also, anything from this list of books set in Colombia.
7. A fiction book based upon a real person
A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James
Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
8. A book with a two-word title
The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
The Dry, Jane Harper
9. A book with a subtitle
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memior, Jenny Lawson
10. A book with a number in the title
Nine Kinds of Naked, Tony Vigorito
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
11. A book set in a destination that you haven’t visited
Sicily: The Inspector Montalbano series, Andrea Camilleri. (Going there in March.)
Any of these books set in Jordan, which I will be visiting in April.
12. A book that takes place in the winter
The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
Snow Falling on Ceders, David Guterson
13. A YA book
The Serpent King, Jeff Zentner
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
14. An alternative history novel
Dread Nation, Justina Ireland
The Underground Railroad, Colsen Whitehead
15. A book about politics or politicians
Becoming, Michelle Obama
16. A banned book
A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Find more challenged books on the American Library Associate banned books lists by decade. You’ll be surprised to find Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary on the list. Seriously– who are these people who hate knowledge?
17. A book that takes place on an island
18. A book with a badass chick as the lead character
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor
19. A book recommended by a local bookstore or librarian
Burial Rites, Hannah Kent
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
20. A book set in Eastern Europe
The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, Alina Bronsky (Moscow)
The Man Who Spoke Snakish, Andrus Kivirahk, Christopher Moseley (Estonia)
21. A book set in Scandinavia
22. A book written by one of your fave authors from 2019
The Overstory, Richard Powers
The Empire of Gold, S.A Chakraborty
23. A book with magic
Rivers of London Series, Ben Aaronovitch
Shades of Magic Series, V.E Schwab
24. A bestseller from 2019
Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
2020 Reading Challenge: Advanced List
25. A book in a genre that you usually don’t read
The Happiness of Pursuit, Chris Guillebeau
26. A book featuring climate change
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
California, Edan Lepucki
27. A book set in India
Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
28. An Essay Anthology
The Best American Travel Writing 2019, Jason Wilson, Alexandra Fuller
The Best American Food Writing 2019, Samin Nosrat, Silvia Killingsworth
29. A book written by someone over 60
The Testaments, Margaret Atwood
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
30. A book recommended in the TRL Facebook Group
The Secrets We Kept, Lara Prescott (recommended by Annette)
Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda (recommended by Mickey)
READ MORE BOOKS!
Start with this list of the very best travel books. It includes great reads about how travel is transformative, offering wacky tales of derring do, epic quests and stories of authentic travel.
You should also check out the following series of book lists for specific destinations:
Challenge your friends on Pinterest to join the Travel Reading List: