100 books like Italian Ways

By Tim Parks,

Here are 100 books that Italian Ways fans have personally recommended if you like Italian Ways. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure

Kate McGovern Author Of Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen

From my list on trains from a train aficionado.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first cross-country train ride with my mom when I was seven years old. That gave me the train bug. Since then, I’ve been across the United States three times via rail, across Europe, and all over northern India with my husband, too. I think train travel is a very special way to see a place. You’re going past backyards and back roads. You see the whole landscape, and you meet so many people you wouldn’t otherwise. I’ve never set out to write a “train book,” but trains play an important role in two of my three novels. I can’t get away from them, even in my imagination. 

Kate's book list on trains from a train aficionado

Kate McGovern Why did Kate love this book?

I read Monisha Rajesh’s earlier travel memoir, Around India in 80 Trains, while planning my own train journey in India. In this one, she circumvents the entire globe (technically more than once in terms of mileage). It’s the kind of book I wish I’d written myself because I would love to do a train journey like this! I love Rajesh’s descriptions of the places she passes through and the people she meets along the way, and of course, how it changes her to see the world through this lens.

By Monisha Rajesh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Around the World in 80 Trains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER AWARD FOR BEST TRAVEL BOOK SHORTLISTED FOR THE STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 'Monisha Rajesh has chosen one of the best ways of seeing the world. Never too fast, never too slow, her journey does what trains do best. Getting to the heart of things. Prepare for a very fine ride' Michael Palin From the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet's Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Around the World in 80 Trains is a celebration of the glory of train travel and a witty and irreverent look at the…


Book cover of The Great Railway Bazaar

Matthew Stevenson Author Of Reading the Rails

From my list on getting inspired to ride a train.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an American writer who lives in Switzerland, in the vineyards outside Geneva, but I grew up in the 1960s riding night trains around the United States in the company of my father, who loved trains and rode them for his work. From the soaring columns of New York’s Pennsylvania Station, we took trains to Chicago, Wyoming, Denver, Albuquerque, New Orleans, and beyond. In my adult writing life, I've taken trains across Russia, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, Japan, and just about every corner of Europe. Once, I rode all the trains in East Africa between Nairobi and Johannesburg, during which excursion the Tazara Express was three days late into Kapiri Mposhi, Tanzania.

Matthew's book list on getting inspired to ride a train

Matthew Stevenson Why did Matthew love this book?

In the early 1970s, the prolific Paul Theroux decided to ride as many trains as he could find between London and Japan, and to come back on the Trans-Siberian from Vladivostok. There are a few gaps in his rail line (Afghanistan isn’t well served by trains but he does manage to catch a Kyber Pass local), but otherwise he stitches together an itinerary that takes him across the Balkans, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, and finally Japan. He chats up everyone he meets, and the book is a cross between a compelling account of numerous train journeys and novelistic dialogue with his fellow travelers (including poor Mr. Duffill who in Venice gets off and misses the train he and Theroux were on). Theroux can be cynical, but it is cynicism born of honesty, and it’s impossible to read this book and not want to ride night trains across India…

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Great Railway Bazaar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fired by a fascination with trains that stemmed from childhood, Paul Theroux set out one day with the intention of boarding every train that chugged into view from Victoria Station in London to Tokyo Central, and to come back again via the Trans-Siberian Express. This is his story.


Book cover of Oi! Get Off Our Train

Jules Brown Author Of Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave

From my list on rail journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jules Brown wrote travel guides for Rough Guides for over thirty years – if there’s a railway timetable somewhere he hasn’t studied, he’d like to know about it. He took his first InterRail trip around Europe when he was seventeen and, as a travel writer, he’s been on trains around the world, from Norway to New Zealand. Jules is the author of two travel memoirs, Don’t Eat the Puffin and Never Pack an Ice-Axe, which – after a lifetime of travel – are still the best bits of advice he has for anyone heading off on a journey.

Jules' book list on rail journeys

Jules Brown Why did Jules love this book?

Most books about train journeys follow the same pattern – off goes the writer, describing destinations, meeting characters, learning about or interpreting the world. But here comes John Burningham from an entirely different angle, with a charming children’s book that uses the train to weave together a story about species survival. The characters are all endangered animals, attempting to board a little boy’s fantasy dream train as he chugs through different landscapes, playing with his pyjama-case dog. And what do you do when an elephant or a sea lion tries to get on? Well, no idea what Paul Theroux would do, but any right-thinking child joins in with bellowing “Oi, get off our train!” until we learn the reasons why we have to let them climb aboard.

By John Burningham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oi! Get Off Our Train as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A little boy sets off on a round-the-world night train to dreamland with only his toy dog for company. But soon all sorts of endangered animals are asking if they can jump up and join them on their journey...


Book cover of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide

Jules Brown Author Of Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave

From my list on rail journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jules Brown wrote travel guides for Rough Guides for over thirty years – if there’s a railway timetable somewhere he hasn’t studied, he’d like to know about it. He took his first InterRail trip around Europe when he was seventeen and, as a travel writer, he’s been on trains around the world, from Norway to New Zealand. Jules is the author of two travel memoirs, Don’t Eat the Puffin and Never Pack an Ice-Axe, which – after a lifetime of travel – are still the best bits of advice he has for anyone heading off on a journey.

Jules' book list on rail journeys

Jules Brown Why did Jules love this book?

Back in the day, no self-respecting InterRail traveller would leave home without the iconic red Thomas Cook European timetable and while it’s still available in different formats these days, apps and websites have removed the urgency of travelling with a big book of timetables. But this sterling work, updated regularly, fills the gap between inspiration and destination – full of the nuts and bolts of European rail travel (what tickets, where, and how to buy) while featuring over fifty routes, complete with descriptions, diversions, recommendations, and discoveries. It’s brilliant for the armchair traveller, and invaluable for anyone eyeing a leisurely ride on the rails around Europe.

By Nicky Gardner, Susanne Kries,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europe by Rail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether you are making a long grand tour or just planning a couple of weekend breaks, Europe by Rail is the perfect guide. The book describes over 50 key routes in detail. Together, they span mainland Europe and - brand new for this 16th edition - now also the British Isles. Each route can be followed in its entirety or used as a building block in a longer itinerary. Beyond the main routes you will find worthwhile excursions well off the beaten track. Written by two highly experienced travellers, Europe by Rail contains useful tips about how to plan your…


Book cover of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

Neill McKee Author Of Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah

From my list on exotic Asian travel and adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, has won three awards. I hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Communication from Florida State University. I worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. I directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, popular multimedia initiatives, and have written numerous articles and books in my field. I worked and lived in Asia, Africa, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, I settled in New Mexico, using my varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Neill's book list on exotic Asian travel and adventure

Neill McKee Why did Neill love this book?

When I retired from my 45-year career as an international filmmaker and multimedia producer, I decided to concentrate on creative nonfiction writing, using my experiences and memories as a basis for the many stories I wanted to tell. I began to read and listen to travel memoirs to learn how to write in a captivating and entertaining way. Paul Theroux is one of the top writers in this genre and Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is one of his best. He doesn’t make it to Borneo, but reaches many familiar places I traveled to during my years in Southeast Asia. I love his style, full of descriptions of those old haunts, and his dialog with the people he encounters on his journey.

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ghost Train to the Eastern Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is a journey from London to Asia by train.

Winner of the Stanford Dolman Lifetime Contribution to Travel Writing Award 2020

Thirty years ago Paul Theroux left London and travelled across Asia and back again by train. His account of the journey - The Great Railway Bazaar - was a landmark book and made his name as the foremost travel writer of his generation. Now Theroux makes the trip all over again. Through Eastern Europe, India and Asia to discover the changes that have swept the continents, and also to learn what…


Book cover of Inspector Colbeck’s Casebook

Jim Eldridge Author Of Murder at the Natural History Museum

From my list on by the greatest writers of crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved history, from ancient Egyptian times up to recent history (the 1950s and 1960s). Put history in the context of a crime and the history becomes even more fascinating. A book where the history of that time comes vividly alive for the reader is the greatest pleasure a reader can experience.

Jim's book list on by the greatest writers of crime fiction

Jim Eldridge Why did Jim love this book?

Edward Marston’s Railway Detective books, set in Victorian England and featuring Inspector Colbeck, have become under-the-wire best sellers internationally. This book features a dozen short stories where he and his sergeant investigate crimes happening in different railway companies. It is a wonderful introduction to the whole Railway Detective series and these short stories can be savored at leisure as a starter for the main course of the full-length novels.

By Edward Marston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inspector Colbeck’s Casebook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eagerly awaited collection of brand new, specially commissioned short stories from the master of historical crime fiction Edward Marston, featuring his quick-witted Railway Detective, Inspector Robert Colbeck.

In this thrilling selection of stories, a young porter is found dead in a coal tub; Colbeck devises a trap to catch a thief; and a burnt train carriage holds a gruesome secret in a small coastal village. As Colbeck and his trusty aide Sergeant Victor Leeming begin to piece together clues and motives for each crime, it becomes clear the pair must stay a step ahead of the culprits to solve…


Book cover of The Railway Detective

Chris Turnbull Author Of The Planting of the Penny Hedge

From my list on fiction with an historical twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Yorkshire writer with a passion for historical fiction. My love of history came as a surprise to me in my late teens, as I had originally thought history was not my thing. However, I soon discovered the incredible stories throughout history, and how many authors carve fictional stories around these time periods or historical events. I love researching for my own historical writing, whether it be to find out what kind of jobs people did, or what they ate for breakfast. I love reading and writing historical fiction in multiple eras, such as WW2, Victorian times, and further back to the Romans and ancient Egyptians. 

Chris' book list on fiction with an historical twist

Chris Turnbull Why did Chris love this book?

I have always loved reading crime detective books, no matter what time period they are set in. However, The Railway Detective series manages to merge two of my favourite genres, crime and historical. Set in the mid-1800s when railways were still relatively new, this series has a brilliant set of characters and is written so brilliantly that you can picture every scene in your mind down to the last detail. 

By Edward Marston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1851 England, the city of London anticipates the grand opening of the Great Expedition. Excitement is mounting with each engineering triumph of the railways, but not everyone feels like celebrating. A sudden attack hits the London to Birmingham mail train and it is looted and derailed. Planned with military precision, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck fights to untangle a web of murder, blackmail and destruction. As Colbeck closes in on the criminal masterminds, events take an unexpected turn when the beautiful Madeline, daughter of the injured train driver, becomes a pawn in the criminals game. With time running out, good…


Book cover of Around India in 80 Trains

Rajendra B. Aklekar Author Of India’s Railway Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

From my list on railways and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rajendra B. Aklekar (born 1974) is an Indian journalist with over 25 years of experience and author of best-selling books on India’s railway history and heritage. He is also the biographer of India’s legendary railway engineer Dr. E Sreedharan. With museology from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharasj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, Aklekar is also a Google-certified Digital Marketer. Aklekar, associated with the Indian Railway Fans’ Club Association, Indian Steam Railway Society, Rail Enthusiasts Society, has contributed significantly while setting up the Rail Heritage Gallery at the UNESCO-listed Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, formerly Victoria Terminus building, Bombay, and documentation of heritage relics of India’s first railway.

Rajendra's book list on railways and trains

Rajendra B. Aklekar Why did Rajendra love this book?

This out-of-the-box book that takes you on a very Indian train trip on the lines of the iconic work of eminent Jules Verne has been my instant favourite right from the title and idea. The author, the Indian British Tourist went on a trip to the sub-continent on trains and has covered everything from commuter trains to hospital trains. I personally love this book for the various narratives and the “people stories” that reflect as the author goes on trips across the country in trains. The small stories capture the essence of India and bring out the magnitude of railways and how deeply it is connected to Indian social life. As one of my favorite rail authors Ian J. Kerr once told me in a historical context, “No railways, no India.” on how the iron web of railways brought together a nation.

By Monisha Rajesh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Around India in 80 Trains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Crackles and sparks with life like an exploding box of Diwali fireworks' -William Dalrymple

'One can only envy Monisha Rajesh as she embarks on this epic journey' -Tim Parks

When she was a child, Monisha Rajesh's family uprooted to Madras in the hope of making India their home, but soon returned to England with a bitter taste in their mouths. Two decades on, Monisha turns to a map of the Indian Railways and takes a page out of Jules Verne's classic tale, embarking on an adventure around India in 80 trains, covering 40,000km - the circumference of the Earth.

Her…


Book cover of The Girl on the Train

Mallika Narayanan Author Of In the Dark I See You

From my list on Suspense/thriller books with great plot twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of suspense/thrillers and psychological thrillers, I’ve always loved thrillers and suspense books where I can’t guess the ending. And this list of books is additionally close to my heart because of the way they made me feel when I read them: breathless; restless to know how they were going to end; and most of all, they made me think about and question the psychology of the characters. I hope you will like them as much as I did!

Mallika's book list on Suspense/thriller books with great plot twists

Mallika Narayanan Why did Mallika love this book?

A multiple POV thriller that kept me up all night. This book awed me with its multiple POVs combined with unreliability and timeline jumps.

As the book shifted from one POV to the other and from one timeline to another, I loved how the author weaved in the backstories of the characters by showing the impact it had on the present timeline.

The writing. The style, the words used, and the way the sentences spun the story is something I still think about, years after I first read this book. It drew me in, lulled me into a false sense of security, then sprung a small nugget of what really happened. A brilliant tactic.

By Paula Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girl on the Train as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year and now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt.
 
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple having breakfast on their deck. She's even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It's…


Book cover of Japan by Rail: Includes Rail Route Guide and 30 City Guides

Sneed B. Collard III Author Of First-Time Japan: A Step-By-Step Guide for the Independent Traveler

From my list on travel guides for conquering your Fear of Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although my travels had taken me to Asia numerous times, Japan eluded me until my teen daughter and I spent three weeks there following the country’s re-opening from covid. The trip exceeded all of our expectations, but facing the country’s impenetrable language and complex transportation system felt intimidating. To prepare, I devoured a shelf full of guidebooks. I learned that each has its strengths and weaknesses, but these books and our own adventures greatly informed my decision to write First-Time Japan. I was especially fortunate to collaborate with Japan tour guide Roy Ozaki, who contributed greatly to the book and gave me essential insights into Japan’s people, places, and culture.

Sneed's book list on travel guides for conquering your Fear of Japan

Sneed B. Collard III Why did Sneed love this book?

If you intend to travel Japan by rail—and who isn’t—this can be a tempting choice.

The book attempts to duplicate the kind of detail found in Fodor’s and Lonely Planet guides above, and largely succeeds, giving both historical context and transportation details on a wide selection of destinations.

As its title suggests, it heavily focuses on train routes, timetables, passes, costs, and other public transportation information. Especially if you are a rail buff, you will soak this up, but for the average traveler it can be a bit much.

Just as important, a lot of these details change frequently. I read the 4th edition of this book, but a newer edition is available. Even that, though, probably has been outpaced by recent changes in costs for Japan Rail Passes and other details. A good choice for the at-home library, but use the internet for the latest costs and timetables.

By Ramsey Zarifeh, Anna Udagawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japan by Rail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Japan is steeped in legend and myth, perhaps the greatest of which is the popular misconception that the country is simply too expensive to visit. The truth is that flights to Japan are cheaper than they've ever been, accommodation can be great value, while the warm hospitality which awaits every visitor costs nothing at all. The real secret to travelling around the country on a budget, however, is the Japan Rail Pass. Use this comprehensive guide in conjunction with a rail pass to get the most out of a trip to Japan. * Practical information - planning your trip; when…


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