European Adventures: Help! Assembling a Reading List

I'm heading to Europe. For a month. Seven cities, 30 days:


This doesn't *quite* feel real yet, though the trip is only a few weeks away. I've gone out and gotten myself a decent backpack, a pair of exceedingly comfortable walking shoes, and a solid raincoat (for the Ireland/Scotland portion of the trip more than anything else). But what I haven't yet considered: my reading list. Which is where I need help, because I know that the combined internet-brain of all my reader friends out there is more powerful than any Google searching I can do.

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The Goal: 

Seven books, one set in each city on the itinerary. Plus maybe one eighth book on traveling in general for the flight there/back again.

The Parameters:

  • Because I'm packing in a backpack, I'm only bringing my small e-reader. Which means all books need to be available as e-books from either Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Google Play.
  • I'm looking for books where the setting is an integral part of the story, not just a passing mention and then never considered again.
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I've tossed around Tana French for Dublin and Ian Rankin for Edinburgh. Shadow of the Wind for Barcelona and The Count of Monte Cristo for Marseille. But these are all names and titles I've already read (which is why I know them well enough to know the settings), and I'm hoping to broaden my horizons. So... anyone have any suggestions?

And out of curiosity, how do you pick books to read while you travel?



18 comments

  1. Have you read any of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries? ONE GOOD TURN is set in Edinburgh.

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  2. Someone just recommended Case Histories to me on Twitter, which I own but haven't read yet. Think they need to be read in order?

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  3. Emily@AstheCrowe FliesAugust 10, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    I could help you with those countries, but mostly not those specific cities, I'm afraid. I know there are key parts of The SUn Also Rises set in Barcelona. I've not read it, so this isn't a personal rec or anything...
    Peter Mayle has a light mystery called The MArseille Caper. I've not read that one, but I've enjoyed some of this other books.

    I know some excellent Harry Potter fanfiction, a trilogy set in Rome, Cairo, and Paris, respectively, but I don't suppose you're in the market for that.



    I hope you have an amazing adventure!

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  4. When are you going to be in Paris? I'll be there the first week of September so maybe we could meet up if you're there then? And I'm so jealous that you're going for a whole month. The husband and I are working on doing that in the future.

    And I'm gearing up for Paris with a few ARCs I got from Netgalley that were either written by a Parisian or about the city. CANNOT WAIT!

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  5. For Paris why not some Alan Furst - atmospheric and haunting spy thrillers set in the period between the wars. Catch them here - http://www.alanfurst.net/. A lot of them feature Paris, my favourite is Dark Star but I can't remember exactly how much is set there.

    For a SF, dystopian future Edinburgh try Paul Johnston - http://www.paul-johnston.co.uk/pages/books/quint.htm.

    OK, bear with me on this one. Most people laugh. Colleen McCullough, author of The Thornbirds, also wrote a series of political, historical novels on the fall of the Republic and rise of Augustus. I think they are good, albeit about ancient Rome - http://www.goodreads.com/series/43716-masters-of-rome

    Hope that helps!

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  6. Oh, I'd never heard of the Marseille Caper, but sounds interesting. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  7. I'll be there the 11-16th... so not the first week, but maybe your trip goes a bit beyond the first week? How fun would it be to meet in Paris of all places!?


    What ARCs do you have lined up?


    Another Paris book for you, that's an odd read but very atmospheric: Pure by Andrew Miller. Old Parisian history, very strange, very interesting.

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  8. Awesome, thank you Richard! I've never read Alan Furst though I've heard good things about his novels. And I'm not laughing at the Colleen McCullough recommendation at all! I love it; really thinking outside the box.


    By the by, hope all's well with you!

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  9. OMG, I'm going blank! Gah!!!! if you need a break from Europe, try J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Tropical!

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  10. Darn! We'll be leaving the 7th. That would have been SO much fun. And I'm adding your suggestion to the list because strange and interesting sound PERFECT! Thanks. And have the best time. :)

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  11. This looks excellent - I'll definitely have to pick up the first two.

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  12. I was really trying to think and the only thing I could come up with was All the Light We Cannot See for Paris, which is actually half set in Paris and half set in the south of France. It's gorgeous, if you haven't read it yet!

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  13. Bummer! Oh well... one of these days we'll end up in the same state/city at the same time. And I hope you like Pure. It really is odd, but I enjoyed it. Can't wait to see your photos!

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  14. Oooh... I haven't heard of that, but maybe for my next beach read?

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  15. That could be perfect -- spending a few days in Marseille as well! Adding to the list. :-)

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  16. May-be! It's fantabulous, hilarious non-fiction. There's a sequel: Getting Stoned with Savages, and he's also written about China and he has a newer book out, too, I think. I'll read anything he writes.

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  17. I may be overtired, as I dive into an hour long webinar at 5:40pm, but Getting Stoned with Savages is the most amazing book title I've heard in a good long while. I'm dying over here.

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  18. It's very old school but what about A Room With a View by E.M. Forster? It's about travel in Italy. Beautiful. Because it's so old I'm sure it's e-free.

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