Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Awaken The Travel Bug In Me


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Hi all! Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! This one is slightly difficult for me because it’s about books that make me want to travel and in all honesty I am not the travelling type. I’m an extremely nervous flyer and find the whole travelling process VERY stressful. However, putting aside the fact that I am unlikely to ever go to any of the places described in these books, I do still want to whilst reading them! There are some books that make you want to experience the exotic places written about and these ten are the ones that made even a anxious homebody like me want to sprout wings and fly there!

1. Tangerine by Christine Mangan


Summary: from Goodreads

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.


I read Tangerine a couple of months ago and I really enjoyed it. It was a really atmospheric and intelligent story but what I liked even more was how incredibly evocative it was. Mangan described Tangier, Morocco in a way that made even me, who HATES hot weather, want to go to this sweltering, heady and fascinating place. Tangerine made Tangier seem like another world entirely, almost like a mythical place and that’s what made me wish I could see what it is actually like!

2. The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin


Summary: from Goodreads

Though every citizen of the ‘Big Easy’ thinks they know who could be behind the terrifying murders, Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, is struggling to find leads. But Michael has a grave secret – and if he doesn’t find himself on the right track fast – it could be exposed…

Former detective Luca d’Andrea has spent the last six years in Angola state penitentiary, after Michael, his protégée, blew the whistle on his corrupt behaviour. Now a newly freed man, Luca finds himself working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as the authorities’.

Meanwhile, Ida is a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency.Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, Ida stumbles across a clue which lures her and her trumpet-playing friend, Lewis ‘Louis’ Armstrong, to the case and into terrible danger…

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim. And as the case builds to its crescendo, the sky will darken and a great storm will loom over the city…


First off let me just harp on about what a fantastic book this is! It is based very loosely on the real ‘Axeman’ who terrorised and killed in New Orleans a century ago which makes it even more sinister and creepy in my mind. The characters are so vibrant and exciting and it is a genuinely tense and great thriller which I highly recommend. I’ve been fascinated by New Orleans for a while and think it sounds amazing every time it crops up in a book I’m reading or in a film. This book really brought it to life for me as a real place and whilst I obviously wouldn’t want to be around when the Axeman was killing people, I would love to visit it now and soak up the rich history and character of New Orleans.

3. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard


Summary: from Goodreads

In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome “with passion and without technical jargon” and demonstrates how “a slightly shabby Iron Age village” rose to become the “undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean” (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating “the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life” (Economist) in a way that makes “your hair stand on end” (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this “highly informative, highly readable” (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.


I love Mary Beard’s work, she makes history come alive and feel totally real and intense. I am a history geek and I find Ancient Rome especially fascinating. This books takes the reader through the creation of the city of Rome and how the Roman Empire became so powerful. I’ve actually been to Rome and loved it but that was before I read this book. I would really like to go back armed with all the interesting stuff in SPQR and seek out some of the places Beard discusses.

4. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


Summary: from Goodreads

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam–a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion–a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?


My feelings about the Miniaturist are slightly mixed if I’m being honest. I think Burton is a great writer and she created an evocative and suspense-filled world but I didn’t love this book quite as much as I wanted to. Putting that aside though I do remember how much this book made me want to pop over to Amsterdam, preferably jumping back in time as well! Burton just makes 17th century Amsterdam sound so interesting and as previously mentioned I’m a history geek so I would love to go there and discover more about it’s past. I have been to Amsterdam but I was pretty young, and The Miniaturist made me want to go again and experience it as an adult!

5. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent


Summary: from Goodreads

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?


I’m obsessed with Iceland, it’s one of my bucket list countries and one of the few places I am willing to brave a plane journey to get to. This book honestly makes it sound like a pretty harsh place but it is set in 1829 so I’m thinking things will probably have moved on a bit since then! Even with the pretty bleak, gritty story true story that Burial Rites tells, Kent still makes Iceland sound like such a beautiful, majestic country with so much natural beauty and I really wanted to experience the unrelenting and stunning landscape for myself – plus I really want to see the Northern Lights! You can see them in some parts of Scotland (where I live) but it’s not very likely or frequent!

6. Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann


Summary: from Goodreads

Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha’s Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their ‘real lives’: Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.

Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena’s husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena—with their children, Daisy and Ed—try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same.


Tigers In Red Weather seems to be a bit of a love it or hate it book, the reviews are very mixed! However I loved it, I remember reading it so clearly and it felt very Great Gatsby-ish and really elegantly written. It takes place largely in Martha’s Vineyard in a grand old house and the book makes it seem like such a glamorous, sophisticated location. Honestly the cover alone awakened the travel bug – I mean, look at it! The setting feels so seductive and I would love to lounge around a place like Tiger House in beautiful elegant clothes and a cocktail in my hand!

7. The Hunters by Kat Gordon


Summary: from Goodreads

A sweeping, coming-of-age story set against the richly atmospheric backdrop of colonial Kenya in the 1920s.

THE HUNTERS is narrated by Theo Miller, fifteen when he first arrives in the country, the son of the new Director of Kenyan railways.

Falling under the spell of the glamourous Happy Valley set, he is seduced by rich, reckless Freddie and enchanting Sylvie.

But behind their allure lies a dangerous cocktail of love, lust and betrayal that Theo must navigate and all the while, dark clouds are gathering over his family and fortunes as Africa changes around them.


This is such an amazing read! It’s one of my firm favourites of this year and is a great story with fascinating characters. It’s set in Kenya in the 1920’s and shows both the beauty and the darkness of the country in equal measure. If i’m being realistic, I could never actually go to Kenya because I can’t stand hot weather but The Hunters made me want to forget that and head straight over. It’s mostly the wildlife that would attract me – this book describes so many beautiful animals and I would love seeing them in their natural habitat.

8. Beartown by Fredrik Backman


Summary: from Goodreads

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


I could go on and on about how much I love Beartown and it’s sequel Us Against You but lets just say they are phenomenally good. Beartown is a fictional forest town in Sweden – a place I really want to visit someday. What really attracts me to the setting Backman describes is how freezing cold it is! It is basically winter for most of the year in Beartown and never gets too hot – this is honestly my ideal climate. It gets pretty cold here in Scotland too but not as cold as Beartown and I would love to live somewhere snow is a very frequent visitor, it would be so scenic and beautiful! I also love forests, I think they are magical and atmospheric places and I think it would be very cool to have one on my doorstep! I so hope I get to go to Sweden at some point soon and then I can pretend I’m a Beartown resident.

9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy


Summary: from Goodreads

Acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel, Anna Karenina provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature – with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author’s own views and convictions.

Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments, ‘He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title, ‘Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.


To be clear, I would not want to go to present day Russia but I think it would be seriously cool to visit the world of Anna Karenina! The beautiful balls and palaces definitely made me want to see the places that influenced Tolstoy. I also think that Russia has such a fascinating turbulent history and there are so many layers to the country. I wouldn’t be brave enough to go but books like Anna Karenina make me wish I was!

10. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante


Summary: from Goodreads

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.


These books are so great and sweeping in scope. They are set primarily in Naples and both the main characters live in a pretty poor area so in that respect it wasn’t particularly enticing. However, the novels cover their whole lives and for parts of the books they are in other areas of Italy and Naples that are far more tempting. I have been to many cities in Italy and I have enjoyed them all. These books, however, made me want to see Italy again bearing in mind these characters who felt so incredibly real and I would love to go to Naples (which is not one of the places in Italy I have been) and see where Lila and Elena could have hypothetically lived!

So that is it for another Top Ten Tuesday – I really enjoyed this one! I’m so excited to read everyone else’s contributions and see which books made you want to jump on a plane. Please let me know your thoughts on my list in the comments and a link to your TTT – I can’t wait to get chatting!

56 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Awaken The Travel Bug In Me

  1. Barb (boxermommyreads) says:

    What a great list. I’m a homebody as well and have no real plans on traveling much. I have heard wonderful things about Beartown and it makes me want to pick up A Man Called Ove, which I at least own. Thanks for sharing so many great locations and great books!

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Norrie says:

    Oh New Orleans!
    Another one for my list! Don’t remember reading any book set there. I saw the one you listed in the charity shop but it was in quite a ratty condition so didn’t get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chelsea says:

    Wow what a terrific list of places! I wish we could travel in time as well as place too since 17th century Amsterdam and Tolstoy’s Russia both sound really interesting. I loved Burial Rites as well and I’ve heard only good things from friends who have visited Iceland.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elen @ The Dragon Reader says:

    SPQR has been on my TBR for so long! It would be amazing to go and see some of the places that Mary Beard describes (especially if we could literally time travel and see them before they were ruined!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. @lynnsbooks says:

    I haven’t read any of these but it’s a lovely looking list and I’m very intrigued by the Axeman’s Jazz – will definitely go and check that one out.
    I’ve been to Iceland fairly recently. It’s a completely unique place and unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been too. I hope you get the chance to visit.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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