Ultimate Summer #TripLit Reading List

The dog days stretch out in front of us in all their indolent or pulse-quickening glory, depending on your style. This sunny season is paved with compelling stories to be lazily read by the beach or gobbled up on a long-haul flight to your next adventure. Our summer reading list of new #TripLit ranges from fiction to memoir, but each read evokes a great sense of place—and is sure to inspire future travel. 

> Novels That Take You There:

The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters, by Michelle Lovric. Hair! The Swiney siblings have a lot of it in this fascinatingly odd tale, inspired by real-life sisters who gain fame and fortune for their ankle-length tresses in famine-plagued, Pre-Raphaelite-era Ireland.

Waiting for the Electricity, by Christina Nichol. “Here we have dancing, love, wine, sun, ancient culture, and beauty. But no money. Therefore, we have become a little unfashionable because, these days, money is the hero of the world.” So says the narrator (named Slims Achmed Makashvili) about his country, the republic of Georgia, in this laugh-out-loud debut novel.

Euphoria, by Lily King. New Guinea is the setting for this fascinating tale—of three cultural scientists studying river tribes who become enmeshed in a feverish love triangle in the 1930s—that was inspired by events in the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead.

> Mysteries in Great Settings:

The Corsican Caper, by Peter Mayle. As light and enjoyable as the best of croissants, Mayle’s latest mystery sees master sleuth Sam Levitt solving a murder amid the yachting classes in the glittery south of France.

The Bone Seeker, by M. J. McGrath. Half-Inuit teacher Edie Kiglatuk may be tackling her third mystery on Ellesmere Island, but we’re also along for the vivid descriptions of the 24-hour-sun-drenched Canadian Arctic and the insights on contemporary Inuit life.

By Its Cover, by Donna Leon. It’s springtime in Venice and with the budding of wisteria comes the arrival of towering cruise ships and the latest (number 23!) mystery for Commissario Guido Brunetti—this one involving a rare book theft from a prestigious Venetian library.

> Amazing Adventures:

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, by Ben Montgomery. The back-cover blurb pretty much sums it up: “Before Cheryl Strayed, there was Grandma Gatewood.” This biography of the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail (at 67 years old) in one season will be a kick in the pants to get your own long-held dreams going.

The Bicycle Diaries: My 21,000-Mile Ride for the Climate, by David Kroodsma. A climate researcher pedals from Palo Alto, California, to Tierra del Fuego, at the tip of South America, giving presentations along the way to raise awareness about climate change.

Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast, by Samanth Subramanian. “If Bengali cuisine were Wimbledon, the hilsa would always play on center court. It is the undisputed champion of fish in this corner of India,” writes Subramanian in this fresh take on fishy travels around the subcontinent.

> Memoirs That Reveal the World:

Savannah Diaries, by Brian Jackman. “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere else on Earth,” writes Jackman, who has spent 40 years traveling throughout the continent, championing wildlife preservation efforts.

Under Magnolia, by Frances Mayes. Moving on from “under the Tuscan sun,” the best-selling author turns her exquisite powers of prose to this recollection of a chaotic childhood in Deep-South Georgia.

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home, by Boyd Varty. The great-grandson of the founder of South Africa’s Londolozi Game Reserve, Varty has a treasure trove of harrowing and wonder-filled stories about growing up in the bush.

Amy Alipio is an associate editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her story on Twitter @AmyTravels and on Instagram @amyalipio.

What are you reading right now? Share your recommendations with the Intelligent Travel community in the comments section below or on Twitter by using the #TripLit hashtag.


  1. Justin Pamplin
    Terrytown, Louisiana
    April 19, 2015, 11:07 am

    You might want to check out Bookcrossing. BookCrossing is the act of releasing books into the wild and then following their journeys and the lives they touch.

  2. Adelaide campbell
    Near Tottenham, Ontario
    July 16, 2014, 11:53 pm

    I’ve ordered Shantaram based on what you said above, Marie-Christine. Have you read Inheritance of Loss? I love books that capture India as I want to go there, but so far only got as far as Sri Lanka.

  3. Msrie-Christine
    Montreal, Canada
    July 16, 2014, 4:47 pm

    Great list! It will for sure inspire my next reada!! But right now, am reading Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, which would have fit perfectly in your list. I LOVE it, makes me dream of going to India even more!!!

  4. Bette Lou Higgins
    Elyria, Ohio
    July 14, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Your listing of GRANDMA GATEWOOD’S WALK is appropriate. Not only did she have an amazing adventure, she was inspired to make that trip by reading a 1949 article about the trail in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC! At Eden Valley, we are working on a project to document her life. We already have a completed storytelling program (with an e-book and DVD) and a one-act play. We are now working on a PBS documentary! You can find out all about it at http://tinyurl.com/gatewoodproject