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20 books to transport you around the world without leaving home

20 books to transport you around the world without leaving home

Whether planning your next adventure or simply dreaming of far-away places, books can transport us (without the long airport delays!) to places we love or would love to visit.

Would you enjoy a city break to Paris with The Elegance of the Hedgehog? Or to explore India in Booker prize winning The God of Small Things? Perhaps you’d like to relax in Crete with The Island? Or backpack to Thailand with blockbuster The Beach? Or maybe you’d rather the isolation of the Canadian tundra in The Tenderness of Wolves?

Whatever your travel dreams, let our selection of wonderful books transport you around the globe. Bon voyage!

 

1. Japan - Bullet Train

Isaka, Kotaro

Hardback

Five killers on a bullet train from Tokyo are competing for a suitcase full of money. Who will make it to the last station? An original and propulsive thriller from a massive Japanese bestseller. *SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING BRAD PITT AND SANDRA BULLOCK*Satoshi looks like an innocent schoolboy but he is really a viciously cunning psychopath.

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2. Antarctica - My Penguin Year

McCrae, Lindsay

Paperback

'Twelve men have walked on the moon. But how many have spent an entire season with the Emperors in Antarctica? Maybe more, likely less. Lindsay McCrae has - and this is his wonderful and frank story.' - Chris PackhamWhen the BBC asked BAFTA-winning cameraman Lindsay McCrae to go to Antarctica to film emperor penguins he was thrilled. After discussing it with his wife Becky they agreed that, although it would mean him being away for 11 months, he should do it. But then she became pregnant and it seemed like the worst idea in the world - not just to miss the birth of his first child, but the first 7 months of his life.

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3. Greece - The Island

Hislop, Victoria

Paperback

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more. Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone's throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga - Greece's former leper colony. Then she finds Fortini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip...

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4. Canada - The tenderness of wolves

Penney, Stef

Paperback

It is 1867, Canada: as winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township - journalists, Hudson's Bay Company men, trappers, traders - but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it? One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for 17 years, a Native American culture, and a fortune in stolen furs before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good. In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly waves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the books of the year.

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5. Egypt - Death on the Nile

Christie, Agatha

Paperback

Agatha Christie's most exotic murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything - until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: 'I'd like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.' Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems...

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6. Australia - Picnic at Hanging Rock

Lindsay, Joan

Paperback

**A BBC BETWEEN THE COVERS BIG JUBILEE READ PICK**'A sinister tale' GuardianThe classic, atmospheric Australian thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a group of young girls. A cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred... Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared. They never returned. Is Picnic at Hanging Rock fact or fiction? Only you can truly decide.

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7. India - The God of small things

Roy, Arundhati

Paperback

'They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.' This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother's factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt). Arundhati Roy's Booker Prize-winning novel was the literary sensation of the 1990s: a story anchored to anguish but fuelled by wit and magic.

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8. South Korea - The vegetarian : a novel

Kang, Han (Y)

Paperback

Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more 'plant-like' existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister's husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming - impossibly, ecstatically - a tree. Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

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9. France - The elegance of the hedgehog

Barbery, Muriel

Paperback

Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Rene lives with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turns moving and hilarious, this unusual and insightful novel is now an international publishing sensation, with sales of over 10 million copies.

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10. Ukraine - Death and the penguin

Kurkov, Andrey

Paperback

In today's Ukraine, all that stands between one man and the Mafia is a penguin. Viktor is an aspiring writer with only Misha, his pet penguin, for company. Although he would prefer to write short stories, he earns a living composing obituaries for a newspaper. He longs to see his work published, although the subjects of his obituaries continue to cling to life. But when he opens the newspaper to find his work in print for the first time, his pride swiftly tums to terror and he and Misha are drawn into a trap from which there appears to be no escape.

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11. Afghanistan - The little coffee shop of Kabul

Rodriguez, Deborah

Paperback

THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING NOVEL. A TOP TEN SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER. HALF A MILLION COPIES SOLD IN THE UK. 'If you love The Kite Runner you'll love The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul' Look magazineIn a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together . . . SUNNY, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her cafe and customers safe. YAZMINA, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets. CANDACE, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil. ISABEL, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life. And HALAJAN, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules. As these five women discover there is more to each other than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that will change their lives forever. Because even in a place rife with conflict, love, friendship and hope will always survive . . . The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul is the heart-warming and life-affirming fiction sensation that captured the hearts of readers across the globe

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12. Mexico - Tequila oil : getting lost in Mexico

Thomson, Hugh

Paperback

'Try this tequila oil, Hugito. Just as the alcohol hits your stomach, the chilli will as well and blow it back into your brain. It will take your head off.' Explorer Hugh Thomson takes on Mexico. It's 1979, Hugh Thomson is eighteen, far from home, with time to kill - and on his way to Mexico. When a stranger tells him there's money to be made by driving a car over the US border to sell on the black market in Central America, Hugh decides to give it a go. Throwing himself on the mercy of Mexicans he meets or crashes into, Hugh and his Oldsmobile 98 journey through the region, meeting their fate in the slums of Belize City. Thirty years on, Hugh returns - older but not necessarily wiser - to complete his journey.

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13. Madagascar - The gardens of Mars : Madagascar, an island story

Gimlette, John

Paperback

A journey - both historical and contemporary - among the fantastical landscapes, resourceful inhabitants and isolated tribes of the world's fourth-largest island of enduring fascination for its rich biodiversity: Madagascar.'A beautifully written depiction of the history of this beguiling island' Literary Review'Courageous, exploratory, humane and with a wry sense of humour' Spectator'A feat of journalism, observation and determination' Dr Alyson Hitch'Wonderfully witty and wry' Benedict AllenWe think we know Madagascar but it's too big, too eccentric, and too impenetrable to be truly understood. As well as visiting every corner of the island, John Gimlette journeys deep into Madagascar's past. Along the way, he meets politicians, sorcerers, gem prospectors, militiamen, rioters, lepers and the descendants of seventeenth-century pirates. Insightful and wryly humorous, here's an encounter with the people, landscapes, politics and history of one of the most remarkable places on Earth.

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14. Thailand - The beach

Garland, Alex

Paperback

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Beach, a classic story of paradise found - and lost, the book that inspired the major film starring Leonardo DiCaprioRichard lands in East Asia in search of an earthly utopia. In Thailand, he is given a map promising an unknown island, a secluded beach - and a new way of life. What Richard finds when he gets there is breathtaking: more extraordinary, more frightening than his wildest dreams. But how long can paradise survive here on Earth? And what lengths will Richard go to in order to save it?'Fresh, fast-paced, compulsive and clever' Nick Hornby'A powerful narrative drive, exotic locations that unfold like a corrupt and mysterious flower, and a moody intelligence that holds everything together' J.G. Ballard'A gripping adventure, and a fascinating jigsaw' The Times

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15. Kenya - An African love story : love, life and elephants

Sheldrick, Dame Daphne

Paperback

Daphne Sheldrick's best-selling love story of romance, life and elephants, An African Love Story: Love, Life and Elephants is an incredible story from Africa's greatest living conservationist. A typical day for Daphne involves rescuing baby elephants from poachers; finding homes for orphan elephants, all the while campaigning the ever-present threat of poaching for the ivory trade. An African Love Story is the incredible memoir of her life. It tells two stories - one is the extraordinary love story which blossomed when Daphne fell head over heels with Tsavo Game Park and its famous warden, David Sheldrick. The second is the love story of how Daphne and David, who devoted their lives to saving elephant orphans, at first losing every infant under the age of two until Daphne at last managed to devise the first-ever milk formula which would keep them alive. 'Compulsively readable', Mail on Sunday'An enchanting memoir', TelegraphDaphne Sheldrick has spent her entire life in Kenya. For over 25 years, she and her husband, David, the famous founder of the the giant Tsavo National Park, raised and rehabilitated back into the wild orphans of misfortune from many different wild species. These included elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, zebra, eland, kudu, impala, warthogs and many other smaller animals. In 2006 she was made Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Queen.

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16. United Kingdom - The book lover's bucket list : a tour of great British literature

Taggart, Caroline

Hardback

Exploring the gardens, monuments, museums, and churches with walks both urban and rural, from the Bronte parsonage in Haworth to Zadie Smith's North London and Shakespeare's Stratford, The Book Lover's Bucket List takes you through some 100 wonderfully described literary sites and landscapes, complete with colour destination photographs and illustrations from the British Library collections. Start with Chaucer, Dickens and Larkin in Westminster Abbey. Spend an afternoon at Colliers Wood Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire and take in the lake D. H. Lawrence described as 'all grey and visionary, stretching into the moist, translucent vista of trees and meadow'. Venture south to Cornwall and work your way up to the Scottish Highlands, taking detours to Northern Ireland in the west and Norfolk in the east - or simply drop in on the place nearest to you. Wherever you are in the United Kingdom, you're never far from something associated with a good book.

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17. South Africa - The last hunt

Meyer, Deon

Paperback

'The undisputed champion of South African crime. Meyer grabs you but the throat and never lets you go' Wilbur Smith'From its startling opening to its tense and thrilling conclusion, Deon Meyer's The Last Hunt takes you on a whirlwind safari across two continents. In the whole of the Benny Griessel series so far, the stakes have never been higher or the odds so much against' Peter Robinson***A cold case for Captain Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido of the Hawks elite police unit - not what they were looking for. And a difficult case, too. The body of Johnson Johnson, ex-cop, has been found beside a railway line. He appears to have jumped from South Africa's - perhaps the world's - most luxurious train, and two suspicious characters seen with him have disappeared into thin air. The regular police have already failed to make progress and others are intent on muddying the waters. Meanwhile in Bordeaux, Daniel Darret is settled in a new life on a different continent. A quiet life. But his skills as an international hit-man are required one more time, and Daniel is given no choice in the matter. He must hunt again - his prey the corrupt president of his homeland. Three strands of the same story become entwined in a ferocious race against time - for the Hawks to work out what lies behind the death of Johnson, for Daniel to evade the relentless Russian agents tracking him, for Benny Griessel to survive long enough to take another huge step in his efforts to piece together again the life he nearly destroyed - and finally ask Alexa Bernard to marry him. The Last Hunt shows one of the great crime writers operating at the peak of his powers.

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18. China - Do not say we have nothing

Thien, Madeleine

Paperback

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016 WINNER OF THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE 2016SHORTLISTED FOR THE PARAGRAPHE HUGH MACLENNAN PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016. In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming. As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao's ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China's relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to. Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming - and for Marie. Written with exquisite intimacy, wit and moral complexity, Do Not Say We Have Nothing magnificently brings to life one of the most significant political regimes of the 20th century and its traumatic legacy, which still resonates for a new generation. It is a gripping evocation of the persuasive power of revolution and its effects on personal and national identity, and an unforgettable meditation on China today.

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19. America - Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values

Pirsig, Robert

Paperback

Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

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20. Brazil - The seven sisters : Maia's story

Riley, Lucinda

Paperback

The Seven Sisters is a sweeping epic tale of love and loss by the international number one bestseller Lucinda Riley. Maia D'Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home - a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva - having been told that their beloved adoptive father, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalising clue to their true heritage - a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil . . . Eighty years earlier, in the Belle Epoque of Rio, 1927, Izabela Bonifacio's father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into aristocracy. But Izabela longs for adventure, and convinces him to allow her to accompany the family of a renowned architect on a trip to Paris. In the heady, vibrant streets of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again. The Seven Sisters is the first book in the spellbinding Seven Sisters series, inspired by the mythology of the famous star constellation. It is followed by The Storm Sister. 'A brilliant page-turner just soaked in glamour and romance' - Daily Mail

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