Cultural and creative life

10 great reads for armchair travel

From well-known authors like Bill Bryson to talented newcomers, explore the world with these titles suggested by our City of Sydney librarians.

Escape to places you’ve never been and explore far-off destinations in another time. You don’t need a passport to enjoy this great list of reads recommended by our librarians.

They’ve delved into our collection of books, ebooks and audiobooks to suggest 10 titles that will help you travel from the comfort of your own home.

Our library offers all titles below to borrow. If you're not a City of Sydney library member, join now. Membership is free if you live in NSW.

Armchair travel book covers
Armchair travel book covers

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (book and ebook)

Travel to 1920s Paris with Hemingway’s memoir about his earlier years as a struggling unknown writer. Hemingway recounts his interactions with other writers who shared the city of romance with him, including James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (book and eaudiobook)

What happens when a woman has nothing to lose and takes an impulsive journey? Follow the author’s epic solo trek through the wilderness from Mexico to Canada. With no experience as a long-distance hiker, Strayed learns how strong and brave she can be in order to rebuild her life.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (book, ebook and eaudiobook)

Enjoy this love letter from Bryson to Britain, his adopted home of 20 years. Before returning to live in the US, Bryson took one last trip around the country to write this hilarious travelogue. The book has been voted as the country’s favourite book on modern Britain.

The Lotus Eaters by Emily Clements (book)

A young woman confused about her future finds herself adrift and alone traveling through Vietnam. In this memoir, which is Clement’s debut book, you’ll find an empowering narrative about finding independence even in times of great vulnerability.

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (book)

Journey across Europe with this account of Fermor’s extraordinary journey from Holland to Constantinople (now Istanbul) on foot in 1933. The first in a trilogy, the book covers the 18 year old’s adventures as far as Hungary in a remarkable time when Hitler has just come to power but war is still ahead.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell (book)

A startling statistic, that the Danes are the happiest people on earth, prompts Helen Russell to explore the Scandinavian secrets of happiness. Her account of a year in rural Jutland is a funny, poignant record of how we ourselves might benefit from living a little more Danishly.

Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler (book, ebook and audiobook)

Join ABC’s Richard Fidler on a journey to Istanbul and exploration of the 1,000-year history of legendary Constantinople. This is an utterly captivating blend of the historical and the contemporary, realised by a master storyteller.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche (book and audiobook)

A classic girl meets boy story with a twist: boy plans to sail across the Pacific; girl is terrified of the ocean but decides to go along for the adventure. Touching and entertaining, this memoir finds a good balance between the romance of sailing, the dangers of the open sea and the realities of such a journey.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux (ebook)

Join Paul Theroux during the mid-1970s on the ultimate railway odyssey from London to Europe and through India and Asia. The homage to train travel takes you on the Orient Express, through the Khyber Pass, on the Delhi Mail from Jaipur, and on the Trans-Siberian Express.

On the Trail of Genghis Khan by Tim Cope (book)

Australian adventurer Tim Cope travelled 10,000 km on horseback in an epic journey across Eurasia that took 3 years. Inspired by the legendary nomads, Tim’s experiences of both generosity and danger, fending off wolves and would-be horse thieves are captured in this fascinating book.

Published 18 November 2020, updated 3 February 2022

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