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 hosting the Travel Reading List Challenge and inviting you to participate.
I’m joined in this challenge my several other travel bloggers who are also avid readers; Mary Jo at Traveling with MJ, Amanda from Maroc Mama, Tam from The Traveling Book Junkie and Ruby from A Journey We Love.
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.
Join the Travel Reading List Challenge
Are you up for the challenge? Great! Here are four actions that you can take right now.
- Check out the challenges below. I’ve listed all thirty challenges and will help you get started with a few suggestions for each. Bookmark this page and come back often as I’ll be updating it monthly.
- 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.
- Sign up for the monthly Travel Reading List Challenge newsletter. It will tell you what we are reading and give you book ideas.
- Join our Travel Reading List Facebook group where you can engage with other book nerds and get book ideas for your challenges.
(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)
The 2019 Basic Challenge List
Here is the basic challenge. It includes twenty four prompts for an average of two books per month.
1. A book by an author of a different nationality than you
(I’m white/anglo from the US, so my suggestions will reflect that.)
Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan. Also works for a series and 2018 best seller.
The Color of Earth, Dong Hwa Kim
2. A book with a destination in the title (country, city, state, geographic region)
Hotels of North America, Rick Moody
The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, Michael Booth. Also works for author of another nationality.
Murder in the Marais, Cara Black
3. A book about food
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
Food Rules: An Easter’s Manual, Michael Pollan
4. A book published in 2019
Internment, Samira Ahmed
5. A book set in a destination you want to visit
A Long Way from Home, Peter Carey, Victoria/Melbourne Australia
The Sound of Things Falling, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Bogota Colombia
6. A book about a controversial topic
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi. Often found on lists of books that that been banned or challenged. Also good for Muslim main character, different nationality and conflict zone.
Looking for Alaska, John Greene. Challenged for having “offensive language” and sexual content.
Choose anything from the American Library Association’s list of books that have been challenged by uptight people who live in fear and hate creativity (emphasis all mine.)
7. A book that inspires you to travel
The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road, Paul Theroux
Best American Travel Writing 2018, edited by Cheryl Strayed
8. A book where the main character is female
Florence Gordon, Brian Morton
Mislaid, Nell Zink
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maris Semple
9. A book on the New York Times bestseller list
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris. Also a best seller for 2018 and in a conflict zone.
Becoming, Michelle Obama. Also a person of color.
10. A book that is a debut novel
There There, Tommy Orange. Also a person of color.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain
11. A book that is the first in a series
Hounded (Iron Druid series), Kevin Hearne. All of these books have one word titles.
Oryx & Crake (Madd Addam series), Margaret Atwood
12. A best seller from 2018
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng. Also female characters.
Less, Andrew Sean Greer. Also a one word title.
13. A book written by a person of color
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas. Also challenged as a controversial book, and a best seller for 2018.
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
14. A book with a one-word title
Reamde, Neal Stephenson
Doc, Mary Doria Russell
15. A book about a historical event that happened in your lifetime
Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Woodward. Also works for red cover.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari
16. A travelogue
The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain. Also written before 1900.
The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux. Or any of his non-fiction.
17. A book published by a small press
A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, Eimear McBride
Check out this list of small presses for more ideas.
18. A book set on the continent of Africa
What is the What, Dave Eggers. Set in Sudan.
Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor. Set in Nigeria. Also part of a series and could qualify for author of a different nationality.
Zoo City, Lauren Bukes. Set in South Africa.
19. A book about a quest
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
20. A book on one of your hobbies
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose. For readers, writers and language lovers.
How To Cook Everything, The Basics, Mark Bittman. For aspiring cooks.
21. A true crime story
Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman. Also has a red cover.
22. A book about books (bookstores and/or libraries)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey, Gabrielle Zevin
The Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George
23. A book with a red cover
Killed at the Whim of a Hat, Colin Cotterill
The Power, Naomi Alderman
24. A book that is next in a series you enjoy
Rivers of London Series, Ben Aaronovitch. Police procedural with magic.
Broken Earth Series, N.K Jemisin. Apocalyptic sci-fi that also works for an award winner (Hugo Award).
The 2019 Advanced Challenge List
Here’s the advanced challenge with an additional set of prompts.
1. A book with a Muslim main character
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid
Finding Nouf, Zoe Farraris
Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson
2. A book published before 1900
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
3. A book set in a war or conflict zone
The Book Thief, Markus, Zusak (WWII)
Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene (Cold War)
4. A book set in or about a natural disaster
Distant Marvals, Chantel Acevedo. (Hurricane) Also good for small press.
The End of the World Running Club, (Meteor apocalypse) Adrian J. Walker
5. A book that won a literary award
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Pen Faulkner Award)
Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre (Man Booker award)
6. A book in the humor genre
“B” is for Beer, Tom Robbins
Everything written by David Sedaris
Get More Book Ideas
Here are some additional resources to help you get ideas for your reading challenge.
Spark your wanderlust with this list of 51 travel books and discover touching moments of kindness, travel mishaps and wacky adventures.
Peruse my Good Reads profile for books that I’ve read and want to read.
Check out the Get Booked book recommendation podcast from Book Riot.