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Escape Through Pages: 5 Must-Read Books for Your Summer Travel Adventures

One day in Maastricht? Singehandedly, I can spend it all day in Dominicanen Bookshop or Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht

Summer vacations and a good book go hand-in-hand. My very blog won’t be named as such if I don’t pack at least three books with me wherever I travel. It is just a force of habit because you will never know one book will never be enough. Talking about books, whether you need a gripping trilogy for the whole of your two-week escape at an all-inclusive resort in Bermuda, some serious and sophisticated literature for a weekend in Florence, or a thrilling page-turner to last for one shore excursion to Blue Lagoon Island, we’ve got you covered! Here are five must-read books to pack in your luggage that will kickstart your summer travels.

U.Story Restaurant in Tigbao, San Juan
Rereading Alice Munro’s “The Progress of Love”

1. “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle’s sun-drenched classic is a quintessential summer read. A vivid, engaging portrait of life in the French countryside, this autobiographical memoir of Mayle’s own experiences moving from the UK to a historic farmhouse in Provence will transport you there too. 

Why Read It? 

Mayle’s moving, immersive descriptions of life in rural Provence, from the charming local markets to the eccentric, even bizarre behaviors of his neighbors have you smelling the lavender and tasting the bouillabaisse. Filled with wry humor and gorgeous warmth, it is the perfect accompaniment to a summer escape. 

2. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

This timeless classic is one of the most popular books of all time and has inspired millions of readers and writers across the globe. This twisting, allegorical adventure follows Santiago, a young shepherd from southern Spain, who dreams of ancient symbols and hidden treasures located somewhere within the pyramids of Egypt. 

Why Read It? 

“The Alchemist” is far more than just a travel book or a vacation read. It is a complex philosophical exploration of what it takes to follow your dreams and the benefits of listening to the rhythms of your heart. Coelho is a master author with a wonderfully lyrical style, matching readability with powerful messages to create an inspiring, motivational, spiritually uplifting read. 

3. “In Patagonia” by Bruce Chatwin

Travel books are the lynchpin of most ‘summer vacation read’ lists, so we thought we’d include a classic of the genre. “In Patagonia” by Bruce Chatwin is an incredible, soaring, roller coaster ride of a novel, effortlessly capturing the rugged beauty and mystery of the Patagonian region as he explores the furthest reaches of South America.

Why Read It? 

Filled with stories, myths, and personal anecdotes, Chatwin’s narrative is as adventurous as it is enlightening. It is a wonderful blend of personal accounts with historical context, and he is a master at bringing personalities, characters, and even the landscapes he travels through to life. 

Reading Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus”

4. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Made famous by the film of the same name starring Julia Roberts, “Eat, Pray, Love” is one of the most famous and popular memoirs of all time. It is a deeply personal account of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-long escape from a painful divorce, as she travels across Italy, India, and Indonesia in an attempt to rediscover her sense of self. 

Why Read It? 

Each section of this wonderful book covers one aspect of her journey, both literal and figurative. From pleasure in Italy and devotion in India to balance in Indonesia. Her writing style is painfully honest and effortlessly engaging, and it is a fascinating, thoughtful read. 

5. “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

Another great blend of literal and metaphysical journeys, Cheryl Strayed’s powerful memoir takes in an incredible solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as her process of grief following the death of her mother and the collapse of her marriage. 

Why Read It? 

“Wild” is raw, emotional, and upsetting, but ultimately it is a story about healing, self-discovery, and the resilience of the human spirit. Strayed is completely candid, painting a vivid and at times painful picture of her emotional state, as well as captivating readers with her descriptions of the trail itself.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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