The best travel memoirs for women about women (and men) who travel

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.


I wrote...

Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

By Susan Pohlman,

Book cover of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

What is my book about?

Tired, empty, and disillusioned with married life, Susan Pohlman was ready to call it quits. As soon as she and her husband, Tim, wrap up a business trip in Italy, she planned to end their eighteen-year marriage. As they walked along the Italian Riviera, Tim fantasizes aloud that they could live there. Defying all logic, the couple find a school for their children and sign a lease for an apartment. Maybe a life in such a charmed setting could help them find their way back to each other. 

Together with their fourteen-year-old daughter Katie and their eleven-year-old son Matt, they trade in their breakneck Los Angeles pace for adventure and a slower, more intimate lifestyle slipping out of the constraints of the traditional American Dream into a dream of their own. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Under the Tuscan Sun

Susan Pohlman Why did I love this book?

I remember seeing this book for the first time on my mother’s bedside table.

As a mother of six children (five boys and a girl—me), I strongly suspect she dreamed of escape from time to time. A mother now myself, I understand feelings of overwhelm.

When I read this book back in the late ‘90s I saw a woman brave enough to step into her dreams and create a beautiful and sensuous life. It was bold, and it allowed me to dream of a bigger life. It made me curious if I could ever do such a thing.

Read the story of how she and her husband transformed an old villa as well as their lives!

By Frances Mayes,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Under the Tuscan Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the New York Times bestseller that inspired the film. The perfect read for anyone seeking an escape to the Italian countryside.

When Frances Mayes - poet, gourmet cook and travel writer - buys an abandoned villa in Tuscany, she has no idea of the scale of the project she is embarking on.

In this enchanting memoir she takes the reader on a journey to restore a crumbling villa and build a new life in the Italian countryside, navigating hilarious cultural misunderstandings, legal frustrations and the challenges of renovating a house that seems determined to remain a ruin.

Filled with…


Book cover of A House in the Sky

Susan Pohlman Why did I love this book?

There have been only a handful of books that I have been unable to put down.

This memoir is one of them. In 2008, Amanda Lindhout began her career as a reporter by traveling to Somalia. On her fourth day, she and another journalist were abducted and held for ransom.

She recounts her harrowing experience in captivity (460 days) in vivid, and heart-wrenching detail. When she is most desperate, she travels in her mind to A House in the Sky enabling her to block out her dire circumstances and let in a ray of hope.

This is a true story you will never forget.

By Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A House in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BREAKING NEWS: Amanda Lindhout’s lead kidnapper, Ali Omar Ader, has been caught.

Amanda Lindhout wrote about her fifteen month abduction in Somalia in A House in the Sky. It is the New York Times bestselling memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most remote places and then into captivity: “Exquisitely told…A young woman’s harrowing coming-of-age story and an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph” (The New York Times Book Review).

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the…


Book cover of The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World.

Susan Pohlman Why did I love this book?

This is just plain fun and inspiring to read!

Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high-pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world.

From the first chapter when they were invited to dance with the Maasai in Kenya, I was swept along with them for an unforgettable journey!

By Jennifer Baggett, Holly C Corbett, Amanda Pressner

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A triumphant journey about losing yourself, finding yourself and coming home again. Hitch yourself to their ride: you’ll embark on a transformative journey of your own.”  — Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of My Life

Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world in The Lost Girls.

With their thirtieth birthdays looming, Jen, Holly, and…


Book cover of Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the U.S.

Susan Pohlman Why did I love this book?

This book helped me fall in love with travel memoir long before the thought of living in Italy ever crossed my mind.

Beppe Severgnini is laugh-out-loud funny. He and his wife move to Washington D.C. and must navigate and make sense of the American lifestyle. If you are looking for a few giggles, grab this one.

By Beppe Severgnini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the U.S. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the wry but affectionate tradition of Bill Bryson, Ciao, America! is a delightful look at America through the eyes of a fiercely funny guest — one of Italy’s favorite authors who spent a year in Washington, D.C.

When Beppe Severgnini and his wife rented a creaky house in Georgetown they were determined to see if they could adapt to a full four seasons in a country obsessed with ice cubes, air-conditioning, recliner chairs, and, of all things, after-dinner cappuccinos. From their first encounters with cryptic rental listings to their back-to-Europe yard sale twelve months later, Beppe explores this foreign…


Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Susan Pohlman Why did I love this book?

A classic journey memoir, I could not create a list that did not include Wild

I loved this book for two reasons. First, it is an account of a young woman dealing with the profound grief of losing her mother too soon. With literally nothing to lose, she sets out to solo hike the 1000-mile Pacific Crest Trail though she has never hiked before.

The second reason is Strayed’s writing. This is a pro at work weaving a difficult tale with expertise and vulnerability.

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…


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Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

Book cover of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired english professor

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Gabrielle found her grandfather’s diaries after her mother’s death, only to discover that he had been a Nazi. Born in Berlin in 1942, she and her mother fled the city in 1945, but Api, the one surviving male member of her family, stayed behind to work as a doctor in a city 90% destroyed.

Gabrielle retraces Api’s steps in the Berlin of the 21st century, torn between her love for the man who gave her the happiest years of her childhood and trying to come to terms with his Nazi membership, German guilt, and political responsibility.

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

What is this book about?

"This is not a book I will forget any time soon."
Story Circle Book Reviews

Moving and provocative, Api's Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.

After her mother's death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather's war diaries-only to discover that he had been a Nazi.

The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api's…


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Interested in Italy, grief, and Somalia?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Italy, grief, and Somalia.

Italy Explore 380 books about Italy
Grief Explore 79 books about grief
Somalia Explore 13 books about Somalia