Books Recommended by Women That Inspire Travel

by | Dec 9, 2019

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Last updated on March 22nd, 2022

Books that inspire travel 

by Carolyn Ray, Journeywoman Publisher

Over the past several weeks, we asked you what books have inspired you to travel, and you delivered! We had so many suggestions that we thought it would be more helpful to share the list by the country it’s about.

Thank you, dear readers, for all these wonderful suggestions! Keep sending those ideas in!

Armenia “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian I read a book called “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian. It was about the Armenian Genocide. Totally motivated me to visit Armenia and learn more about this part of the world.


Botswana “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” Series by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith set in Botswana. Oh my, what an introduction to a country I had only heard of as a former British protectorate (from letters from my great grandad). It’s on my bucket list.

Read the number-one Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith so I wanted to go to Botswana. It was wonderful just like the book described. They are very interested in their cattle we had to wash our shoes in antiseptic before we could enter the country and the people were wonderful.


China, India and Tibet “Forbidden Journey: The Life of Alexandra David-Neel”, by Barbara and Michael Foster On my list to read!


Canada Louise Penny’s series of mystery novels Louise Penny’s series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache gave me the inspiration to go to Montreal and Quebec.


“Paddle to the Sea” by Holling C. Holling Holling’s Paddle-to-the-Sea had me travelling this summer from Michigan through Canada along the Saint Lawrence Seaway, almost to the Atlantic. I detoured through New Brunswick to camp on Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton, before heading back along Maine’s coast and inland through New York.


Chile Mercedes Ducci For me it was not a book but a TV show hosted by Mercedes Ducci, a great Chilean journalist who spoke about different parts of the world, as well as the local newspaper featuring travels about the world. In the 80s Chile was of the radar and we were literally in the last corner of the world. Dreaming about the unknown was fantastic!!! And led to my errant life still not to my satisfaction. LOL 😜


Czech Republic “The Last Palace” by Norman Eisen It reminded me of how much I enjoyed exploring Prague and the Czech Republic, plus offered an insider view of Prague (Jewish) history. Recently ( refilm) I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Chaplin’s World in Corier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. Film, books, politics…so much to reflect upon. Obviously, I particularly enjoy destinations with literary connections!


Egypt “The King’s Man” trilogy by Pauline Gedge Reignited my interest in Egypt.


England Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes I majored in English Lit in college, so the land of Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, the Romantic poets/other poets, etc., was first on my agenda; my first trip overseas was nearly 3 weeks in Great Britain & Ireland. Plus, that’s my ancestry. 🙂🇬🇧. same here. I actually visited Beatrix Potter’s museum in the Cotswolds…good thing as my 3-year-old granddaughter is addicted to Peter Rabbit stories!


Rick Steeves travel video It caused me to stay in London a few more days so I could see the Cotswolds.


France “That Summer in Paris” by Morley Callaghan Morley Callaghan’s That Summer in Paris started a roll out of reading and travels… also love to get lost in Naomi Duguid’s cookbooks.


“A Woman of No Importance” by Sonia Purnell I just finished reading and Lyon, France is now on my must visit list.


Greece and Corfu “My Ikaria” by Spiri Tsintziras A story of a journey, not only to another country but a journey to gain the knowledge to make dramatic changes to the author’s life. Along the way she also brings about change to the lives of her family members.


“The Island”, “The Thread”, “The Sunrise”, “Cartes Postales From Greece”, “Those Who are Loved” by Victoria Hislop I have read all of Victoria Hislop’s books. All are based in history with a fictional story intertwined in the narrative. They are a wonderful read and very informative. Do check them out.


Mary Stewart When I was a teenager, my mom introduced me to Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels. My favorites were set in Greece and Corfu, and I began to yearn to visit the places Stewart so vividly described. I finally got the chance to go to Greece many years later and loved every minute of it!


Greece, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt “From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the shadow of Byzantium” by William Dalrymple


Guernsey “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

Loved the book. I had to figure out how to get there without going on a boat, finally found that I could fly out of Gatwick. I am off to Guernsey next week with my daughter.

I’m still wanting to go to Guernsey after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!


India William Dalrymple’s “City of Djinns”

Loved the book. I had to figure out how to get there without going on a boat, finally found that I could fly out of Gatwick. I am off to Guernsey next week with my daughter.

I’m still wanting to go to Guernsey after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!


« des chameaux et des hommes » An article in a magazine about Pushkar’s fair in Rajasthan sent me to India. Have returned many times and am still fascinated by Rajasthan. The article was called « des chameaux et des hommes » in a French magazine. Kept it.


Ireland “The Quiet Man” by Maurice Walsh The Quiet Man…my favorite Irish movie filmed in Cong. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.


Ballykissangel by Kieran Prendiville A BBC television drama.


“Ryan’s daughter” by David Lean Inspired me to go to Dingle Bay and discover Ireland.


Italy “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante Makes you want to walk the streets of Naples.


Enchanted April Makes you want to pack your bags & take off on an adventure!


“Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes My first yearning to go to Italy was after I saw the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. It took me a while to get there but I have been to different parts of Italy and Sicily twice now. Love love loved it! and I will go back.


“A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle Peter Mayle’s books about Provence & Frances May’s books about Tuscany! Both were wonderful trips with my daughter!


“The Agony and the Ecstasy” by Irving Stone I just saw Agony and Ecstasy. Highly recommend prior to a Sistine Chapel visit!


Kenya “Out of Africa” by Karen Blixen Out of Africa – all I wanted to do was go to Africa. And I did! It was life attitude changing.


Mexico Gary Jennings’s “Aztec” and “The Journeyer” by Karen Blixen


“Night of the Iguana” by Tennessee Williams Night of the Iguana + Burton/Taylor = Puerto Vallarta, Ballykissangel = Ireland


“Nothing to Declare – Memoirs Of A Woman Traveling Alone” by Mary Morris I picked this book up some 20 yrs ago and it’s been my “Bible”. I still carry a copy when I travel and read it for inspiration. I doubt the author knows the effect this little paperback had no my life. It tells the story of a woman traveling alone in Guatemala, Honduras and Northern Mexico – from Mexico City to San Miguel De Allende (where I now live) and the things she goes though throughout her travels – her words inspired me to take more risks and new adventures. I loaned my copy to a friend and never got it back, as the book is no longer in print, it took me years of hunting through used bookstores to find a new copy – actually became an adventure to find the book again. Today it’s the first thing I pack and when I am having a bad day I take it out and read it again.


Morocco and Egypt “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho Got me visiting Morocco and Egypt


Rhodesia “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood” by Alexandra Fuller Recommended at Judy Blume’s Books & Books bookstore!


Scotland “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon Outlander will take me to Scotland soon.


Spain “Driving over Lemons” by Chris Stewart I read Driving over lemons” by Chris Stewart recently and I think my next trip will be to Barcelona and maybe a train trip through Spain.


Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Mozambique “The Drifters” by James Michener A long time ago, when I was in high school, I read it. Started it all for me….



“Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan

“The Women” by T.C. Boyle

After reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan and The Women by T. C Boyle I was hooked on learning everything Frank Lloyd Wright. I began to follow Frank’s architectural path on my travels which took me to several cities where he either lived, was inspired or left his mark, including, Fiesole, Italy; Oak Park, Illinois; Scottsdale, Arizona; Buffalo, New York and next month I will visit, Inuyama, Japan to see Frank’s Imperial Hotel! And I have plenty more FLW pilgrimages to make after Japan.


“Tales Of The City” by Armistead Maupin Back in the 70’s I read the Armistead Maupin series called Tales of The City. It inspired my friend Greg and me to explore magical San Francisco.


“Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck My first road trip out west (drove from Virginia to California) I read Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It really opened my eyes to interpret more of the history of the country than what I was physically seeing.


“Travels with Charlie” John Steinbeck Travels with Charlie started it all!


All over “A Bike Ride” by Anne Mustoe A Bike Ride by Anne Mustoe!


As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

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