The most recommended books on travelers

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to travelers, and here are their favorite traveler books.
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What type of traveler book?


Travels with My Aunt

By Graham Greene,

Book cover of Travels with My Aunt

Cookie Boyle Author Of Entitled: Life isn't easy when you're a book

From the list on a unique narrator perspective.

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian author who has been fascinated with how others see the world since I was a child. I was captivated by Charlotte’s Web. If pigs and spiders could be having unheard conversations, what else was I missing? I delight in stories that invite me into the distinct world of the narrator, so it’s no surprise that my novel, Entitled, is written from a unique perspective—that of a book. When done well, these stories let us see life through the eyes of someone else. If we all experienced our surroundings, just for a minute, as others did, perhaps there would be more humanity in this world. 

Cookie's book list on a unique narrator perspective

Why did Cookie love this book?

Henry Pulling, a reluctantly retired bank manager, meets his 70-ish-year-old Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than 50 years at his mother’s funeral. His Aunt is vibrant, even outrageous, and he is anything but—a man whose only hobby is growing dahlias. An Aunt myself, I love a story about a wild, non-traditional Aunt, and her relationship with her nephew. As the title suggests, the story is told through the eyes of Henry. His views of his life and their travels are filled with humor and insight. The joy of this novel follows the challenges that arise when two generations confront their expectations of each other and themselvesexpectations that are never more alive than when we travel. 

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Travels with My Aunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager, meets his septuagenarian Aunt Augusta for the first time in over fifty years at his mother's funeral. Soon after, she persuades Henry to abandon Southwood, his dahlias and the Major next door to travel her way, through Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, Paraguay... Accompanying his aunt, Henry joins a shiftless, twilight society: mixing with hippies, war criminals, CIA men; smoking pot, breaking all the currency regulations and eventually coming alive after a dull suburban lifetime.

The Last Great Road Bum

By Héctor Tobar,

Book cover of The Last Great Road Bum

Trebor Healey Author Of Falling

From Trebor's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Adventurous Friendly Curious Inspiring Altruistic

Trebor's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Trebor love this book?

A hybrid of biography and novel, Tobar has written a book that is at once a great adventure story and bildungsroman while at the same time a profound meditation on the ongoing conversation between the US and Latin America.

Tobar, from a Central American immigrant family himself, creates a kind of mirror between North and South in this thoughtful rendering of North American culture and the heartbreaking civil wars of Central America over the last few generations.

Many years in the making, Tobar had access to the diaries and novel-in-progress of the charismatic Joe Sanderson – son of the Midwest and adventurer extraordinaire who sets out to travel the world and write the great American novel and ends up accidentally becoming a Marxist guerrilla. It sounds implausible, but it’s all true, and Tobar beautifully weaves Sanderson’s writings in with his own musings on the Americas, idealism, and the urge…

By Héctor Tobar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Great Road Bum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the Los Angeles Times Top 10 California Books of 2020. One of Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Fiction Books from 2020. Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence and the Joyce Carol Oates prize. One of Exile in Bookville’s Favorite Books of 2020.

In The Last Great Road Bum, Héctor Tobar turns the peripatetic true story of a naive son of Urbana, Illinois, who died fighting with guerrillas in El Salvador into the great American novel for our times.

Joe Sanderson died in pursuit of a life worth writing about. He was, in his words, a “road bum,” an…

Book cover of The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

Zara Raheem Author Of The Retreat

From the list on the powers of sisterhood.

Who am I?

I’ve always had a soft spot for books on sisterhood. Perhaps it’s because I have a sister, but it’s partly because I’ve also lucked out on wonderful girlfriends who’ve taken the role of sisters at various stages of my life. There is an immense power in female relationships, and it’s a theme I often explore through my writing. Both my novels, The Marriage Clock and The Retreat center around strong women who consistently and generously show up for each other. I’ve compiled a list of books to celebrate the many sisters in our lives—through blood and friendship. I hope you find them as enjoyable to read as I have!

Zara's book list on the powers of sisterhood

Why did Zara love this book?

The Shergill sisters were never close, not even as children. But when their mother leaves a final letter instructing her daughters to spread her remains in her homeland of India, the three of them reluctantly agree to carry out this task.

As a child of Indian immigrants, I appreciated the rich descriptions of the setting and cultural traditions. I also loved how the Shergill sisters started off their journey estranged and distant but ended with a deeper understanding of themselves, their mother, and each other.  

By Balli Kaur Jaswal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Grab your passport and let the Shergill sisters take you on a journey...

Meet the Shergill Sisters.

The know-it-all, Rajni.
The drama queen, Jezmeen.
The golden child, Shirina.

They have never been close. But their mother's dying wish was for them to take a pilgrimage across India together, to carry out her final rites. And so, the sisters are thrown together for one last (and very strange) family holiday.

The three women seem to have nothing in common, apart from the fact that each of them has a secret she would prefer to keep hidden. But as one unlikely adventure…

Unsuitable for Ladies

By Jane Robinson,

Book cover of Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers

Janna Graber Author Of A Pink Suitcase: 22 Tales of Women's Travel

From the list on travel for women.

Who am I?

Travel teaches and molds us. It certainly changed my own life. At age 19, I picked up my backpack and schoolbooks and moved from America to Austria. That experience opened my eyes to the world, and I’ve never looked back. Today, I’m a travel journalist, author, and editor at Go World Travel Magazine. I’m always on the lookout for fascinating tales of travel, but I especially appreciate learning from other female adventurers. They continue to inspire me. I hope these books will inspire you, too.

Janna's book list on travel for women

Why did Janna love this book?

Florence Nightingale, Freya Start, Gertrude Bell, Karen Blixen, and many other well-known women share their travel adventures in this wildly audacious and inspiring collection of stories. From encountering a madman in the Amazon to surviving a shipwreck, these intrepid globe-trotters overcome many challenges in their dauntless explorations. This book will show you a different side of these famous women.

By Jane Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unsuitable for Ladies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Real ladies do not travel - or so it was once said. This collection of women's travel writing dispels the notion by showing how there are few corners of the world that have not been visited by women travellers. There are also few difficulties, physical or emotional, real or imagined, that have not been met and usually overcome by these
same women.
Jane Robinson's first book,Wayward Women, was a guide to women travellers and their writing, and having read over a thousand of their books she is uniquely qualified to compile this anthology. Life is never dull for her intrepid…

The Lost Girls

By Jennifer Baggett, Holly C Corbett, Amanda Pressner

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

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From the list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Who am I?

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.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Why did Susan 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 Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

Lori Mortensen Author Of Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

From the list on children’s books about people who made a difference.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books, including many biographies. I first fell in love with biographies when I was a child and read about young blind and deaf Helen Keller. Blind and deaf? I couldn’t imagine. Yet, page by page, as I stepped into little Helen’s world, I felt as if I experienced her struggles, triumphs, and tragedies right along with her. I discovered that in spite of her great challenges, she succeeded. That’s why I love biographies and why I write them. I hope my biographies open a door into someone else’s world that can remind readers that they can succeed too, in spite of obstacles in front of them. I try to write the sort of picture books I love—funny, whimsical, captivating, and unforgettable.

Lori's book list on children’s books about people who made a difference

Why did Lori love this book?

I’m a big fan of Don Brown and this is one of my favorites. In this biography, we follow the adventure of Alice Ramsey who was the first woman to drive across the United States. It was 1909, so no easy task since there weren’t any interstates, road maps, or gas stations. Yet, Alice, along with her companions, set off. Magically, Brown lets us go along with them as they ramble past farms and fields, muster their way down roads clogged with pigs, dig themselves out of muddy holes, and urge the car across vast moonlit deserts, and over the grueling Sierra Nevada mountains. Alice’s grand adventure not only celebrates a woman’s first, but takes us along for the long, extraordinary, bumpy ride. Bravo Alice! Bravo Don Brown!

By Don Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don Brown introduces us to yet another little-known heroine. On June 9, 1909, twenty-two-year-old Alice Ramsey hitched up her skirts and climbed behind the wheel of a Maxwell touring car. Fifty-nine days later she rolled into San Francisco, becoming the first woman to drive across America. What happened in between is quite a tale! Through words and pictures, the author shares this story of a brave and tenacious young woman who followed her vision to conquer the open road - even when the road was nothing more than a wagon trail. Alice Ramsey's adventure offers a unique perspective on turn-of-the-century…

In a Strange Room

By Damon Galgut,

Book cover of In a Strange Room

Michiel Heyns Author Of A Poor Season for Whales

From the list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa.

Who am I?

As an African author, I find that my books end up on the ‘African fiction’ shelf in the bookstore, which can be a disadvantage if my novel is, say, about Henry James or the Trojan War, both of which I've written novels about. As a lecturer in English literature, I've become acquainted with a vast and varied array of literature. So, whereas of course there are many wonderful African novels that deal with specifically African themes, I think the label African novel can be constricting and commercially disadvantageous. Many African novelists see themselves as part of a larger community, and their novels reflect that perspective, even though they are nominally set in Africa.

Michiel's book list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa

Why did Michiel love this book?

Damon Galgut recently won the Booker Prize for his riveting, satirical The Promise, but, much as I admire that novel, Galgut’s earlier (also Booker-nominated) semi-autobiographical novel, In a Strange Room, remains my favourite. It comprises three long short stories, all centred on a character called Damon, alerting us to the autobiographical element of the stories. And yet Galgut resists the total identification of autobiography, partly by his device of switching disconcertingly between first and third-person narration (sometimes ‘Damon,’ sometimes ‘I’), and present and past tenses. But the novel is more than technical trickery: the shifting perspectives allow us different angles on the complex relationships depicted in the different sections, rather as a cubist painting affords us a multifarious perspective on its subject. And like other books on this list, this one features a protagonist who travels: something of a trope in South African writing.  

By Damon Galgut,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In a Strange Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A young man takes three journeys, through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way - including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge - he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian. Yet, despite the man's best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his whole life.

A novel of longing and thwarted desire,…

Brave the Wild River

By Melissa L. Sevigny,

Book cover of Brave the Wild River: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon

Amber J. Keyser Author Of Pointe, Claw

From Amber's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Paddler Circus artist Evolutionary biologist Storyteller Introvert

Amber's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Amber love this book?

I’ve had Grand Canyon under my skin since 2022, when I took a twenty-one-day raft trip from Lee’s Ferry to Pearce Ferry.

I felt an instant kinship with female botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter, whose real-life adventures unfold in Brave the Wild River. Like them, I’m a scientist. Like them, I’ve had to deal with sexism in my profession as well as on the river. Like them, I was utterly captivated by the surreal beauty of the region.

This book is top-notch science writing and rip-roaring storytelling. Sevigny delights with vivid descriptions of whitewater, natural history, and geology. She takes great care to present Indigenous perspectives and to frame the explorations of white men in the American West in the context of colonization.

By Melissa L. Sevigny,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Brave the Wild River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1938, botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter set off down the Colorado River, accompanied by an ambitious expedition leader and three amateur boatmen. With its churning rapids, sheer cliffs and boat-shattering boulders, the Colorado River was famed as the most dangerous river in the world. But for Clover and Jotter, it held a tantalising appeal: no one had surveyed the Grand Canyon's plants, and they were determined to be the first.

Through the vibrant letters and diaries of the two women, science journalist Melissa L. Sevigny traces their forty-three-day journey, during which they ran rapids, chased…

Last Bus to Wisdom

By Ivan Doig,

Book cover of Last Bus to Wisdom

Neta Jackson Author Of Uphill Both Ways

From Neta's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Playful grandma Relationships builder Racial reconciler LGBTQ ally

Neta's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Neta love this book?

This novel is my favorite “just for fun” read of the year! Drawing on his own memories of growing up in Montana in the 1950s, Doig created a coming-of-age-road-trip adventure from 11-year-old Donal Cameron’s POV.

Orphaned and raised by his grandmother, Donal is sent to live with unknown relatives in Wisconsin when Grandma needs “female surgery”—along with his prize autograph book, which he tries to fill with signatures from the cast of characters he meets on the way.

The bus trip alone is worth the read—but when grouchy Aunt Kate decides to send Donal back to Montana, her fed-up spouse, Herman the German, flies the coop with Donal, and the two “fugitives” have more fun and get into more scrapes than two raccoons in a farmer’s kitchen. Delightful!

By Ivan Doig,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Last Bus to Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by the Seattle Times and Kirkus Review

The final novel from a great American storyteller.

Donal Cameron is being raised by his grandmother, the cook at the legendary Double W ranch in Ivan Doig’s beloved Two Medicine Country of the Montana Rockies, a landscape that gives full rein to an eleven-year-old’s imagination. But when Gram has to have surgery for “female trouble” in the summer of 1951, all she can think to do is to ship Donal off to her sister in faraway Manitowoc, Wisconsin. There Donal is in for a rude surprise:…

Book cover of The Arabian Desert in English Travel Writing Since 1950: A Barren Legacy?

Geoffrey P. Nash Author Of From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East 1830-1926

From the list on understanding Imperialism in the Middle East.

Who am I?

I graduated from Oxford University in 1975 at a time of social and economic crisis for Great Britain. My country has since unraveled from being a world imperial power to a petty nationalist rump on the western fringes of Europe. In addition to England I’ve taught at universities in North East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, areas of the world where the British Empire once held sway. And I’ve also participated in conferences on various Middle Eastern topics in venues in the United States, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Morocco to name but a few. Hence my fascination with the Middle East and how the Western empires have impacted upon it.

Geoffrey's book list on understanding Imperialism in the Middle East

Why did Geoffrey love this book?

A book that deconstructs shibboleths of Britons’ patrician identity and their romantic urge to escape modernity in the Arabian desert, A Barren Legacy reorders and erases the imperial world of From Empire to Orient. The author has spent decades working as a civil servant in Oman and has written several Lonely Planet Guides about Middle Eastern countries. Here, she reviews the Arabian journeys of some media-savvy contemporary British travellers and articulately delivers the genre of Arabian travel-writing into the post-modern era. 

By Jenny Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Arabian Desert in English Travel Writing Since 1950 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Broadly this book is about the Arabian desert as the locus of exploration by a long tradition of British travellers that includes T.E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger; more specifically, it is about those who, since 1950, have followed in their literary footsteps. In analysing modern works covering a land greater than the sum of its geographical parts, the discussion identifies outmoded tropes that continue to impinge upon the perception of the Middle East today while recognising that the laboured binaries of "East and West", "desert and sown", "noble and savage" have outrun their course. Where, however, only a barren legacy…

Breath, Eyes, Memory

By Edwidge Danticat,

Book cover of Breath, Eyes, Memory

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Author Of Patches of Grey

From the list on Black family dynamics.

Who am I?

Reading and writing about family dynamics, particularly Black families, has always appealed to me. Particularly when it comes to the generation gap between parents and their children that causes them to see the same world through different lenses. Who we choose to see as our true family, the ones who define the place we call home, may or may not be defined by blood. I am fortunate not to have personally experienced most of the drama and trauma found in novels that I am drawn to, and in stories I have felt compelled to write. Otherwise, I would have turned to memoir writing rather than fiction.

Roy's book list on Black family dynamics

Why did Roy love this book?

As a teenager, Sophie leaves behind all that she knows in Haiti to be reunited with her mother. In New York, she falls for a man closer in age to her mother than herself. Her mother rages against him, or any man deemed unsuitable. Desire to guard Sophie's purity drives a wedge between them. The patriarchy of Haiti has lingering effects, resulting in maternal protection that resembles cruelty. Sophie tries to make a marriage work out in different ways and for different reasons than the women (mother, aunt, grandmother) who raised her and formed her ideas of womanhood. Stories of family often center on the differing priorities and expectations of different generations. This aspect of the gracefully written Breath, Eyes, Memory is what drew me in and kept me hooked.

By Edwidge Danticat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Breath, Eyes, Memory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti--to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

Gertrude Bell

By Georgina Howell,

Book cover of Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

Harriet Segal Author Of The Expatriate

From the list on commitment, courage, and perseverance against odds.

Who am I?

I am mom to three daughters, grammy to seven grandchildren. I am a storyteller and a voracious reader. There’s nothing better than to immerse myself in books about history, espionage, and family sagas. Growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania, I never suspected that I would travel the world one day, although I always dreamed of writing novels. Living in India for a time, I developed a passion for international affairs. I try to make the settings and culture of my novels as authentic as possible. To research the background for The Expatriate, I traveled to England, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and the Eastern Republics of the former Soviet Union. 

Harriet's book list on commitment, courage, and perseverance against odds

Why did Harriet love this book?

Who believes men alone have redrawn the maps of the world? Gertrude Bell, beautiful adventurer, mountaineer, archaeologist, writer, linguist, and self-taught photographer, championed Arab self-rule, advising the British military in creating the nation of Iraq after World War I. Thwarted in love, this Victorian debutante set forth on a life as colorful as Lawrence of Arabia, with whom she became a close friend. I marveled at her courage, traveling alone in the vast desert of Arabia with a few native guides, dining with Bedouin chiefs who had never deigned to receive a woman before. It’s impossible to describe her life in a few sentences, but it was a revelation to me that a woman of the Victorian era could accomplish what few men had, while remaining a correct English lady.

By Georgina Howell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gertrude Bell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A marvelous tale of an adventurous life of great historical import

She has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. She was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. Born in 1868 into a world of privilege, Bell turned her back on Victorian society, choosing to read history at Oxford and going on to become an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author (of Persian Pictures, The Desert and the Sown, and many other collections),…

Book cover of A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

Silvia Pettem Author Of In Search of the Blonde Tigress: The Untold Story of Eleanor Jarman

From the list on mysterious and intriguing women in history.

Who am I?

I've been writing for decades, as one genre evolved into another. Local Colorado history led to the identification of "Boulder Jane Doe," a murder victim. During that journey I learned a lot about criminal investigations and forensics. I devoured old movies (especially film noir), and I focused on social history including mysterious and intriguing women. Midwest Book Review (see author book links) credits In Search of the Blonde Tigress as "rescuing" Eleanor Jarman "from obscurity." So true! Despite Eleanor's notoriety as "the most dangerous woman alive," she actually was a very ordinary woman. I've now found my niche pulling mysterious and intriguing women out of the shadows.

Silvia's book list on mysterious and intriguing women in history

Why did Silvia love this book?

Many years ago, when I first moved to a small cabin in the Rocky Mountains, a friend gave me a copy of A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains and inscribed it to "one of the bravest mountain ladies I know."

I relished the book and learned a lot about the history of my new home through the eyes of an English woman who, in 1873, traveled alone and on horseback, to places I now know and love. Instead of fading into the past, Isabella Bird pulled herself out of the shadows. I even named my cat after her. 

By Isabella L. Bird,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cosmopolitan, middle-aged Englishwoman touring the Rocky Mountains in 1873, Isabella Bird had embarked upon a trip that called for as much stamina as would have been expected of an explorer or anthropologist — and she was neither! Possessing a prodigious amount of curiosity and a huge appetite for traveling, she journeyed later in life to India, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, and Canada and wrote eight successful books about her adventures. In this volume, she paints an intimate picture of the "Wild West," writing eloquently of flora and fauna, isolated settlers and assorted refugees from civilization, vigilance committees and lynchings,…

Book cover of The Future of Another Timeline

Felicia Watson Author Of We Have Met the Enemy

From the list on sci-fi featuring awesome female leads.

Who am I?

In school, science and reading were always my favorite subjects so is it any wonder that I grew up to be a scientist who writes? Before I entered my teens, I entered the realm of science fiction through the stories of Asimov, Bradbury, and Le Guin, and I never willingly left that realm. Back then, the one thing I hungered for but so rarely found was a compelling female character. Avid readers all want to find that character to identify with, don’t we? Fortunately, our sci-fi world is now populated with many great female MCs so I’m sharing five of my favorites here with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. 

Felicia's book list on sci-fi featuring awesome female leads

Why did Felicia love this book?

If you are a fan of alt-rock and alternative history, then this book is for you. It features two MCs: Beth, a Riot Grrrl fan from the 1990s, and Tess, a time-traveling scientist from the future, both of whom are trying in their own way to fix the past. Beth is dealing with the aftermath of using deadly force to defend her friend from a rapist while Tess is hellbent on changing the timeline to fight the "Comstockers” – a group of men who used time travel to change history and remove all women's rights, especially those of the reproductive sort. Newitz manages to thoroughly entertain while telling a riveting story that deals with admittedly heavy subject matter.

By Annalee Newitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A revolution is happening in speculative fiction, and Annalee Newitz is leading the vanguard."--Wil Wheaton

From Annalee Newitz, founding editor of io9, comes a story of time travel, murder, and the lengths we'll go to protect the ones we love.

1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend's abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting…

Nala's World

By Dean Nicholson, Garry Jenkins,

Book cover of Nala's World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe

Dion Leonard Author Of Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart

From the list on animal and human connections.

Who am I?

Dion Leonard is an Australian/British ultra runner who competes around the globe in endurance ultra running events ranging from 100 miles to over 240 miles in some of the most extreme conditions known to man. He has numerous top 10 finishes in some of the toughest races on the planet. An international bestselling author with 5 books in over 21 languages; Dion’s story has been featured on CNN, NBC Today Show, Good Morning Britain, CBS, CNBC, ABC America, Associated Press, ESPN, Pickler and Ben, CCTV, BBC, and many others. Dion is an inspirational speaker, animal welfare advocate and raises money and awareness for animals in need.

Dion's book list on animal and human connections

Why did Dion love this book?

Nala's adventure shows how the love of an animal can change the trajectory of a man's life. Dean set out to explore the world on his bike. Along the way he met and fell head over wheels (!) with a kitten, whom he named Nala. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. He couldn't leave her to her fate, so he put her on his bike and then, with the help of local vets, nursed her back to health. Soon on his travels, they forged an unbreakable bond -- both curious, independent, resilient and adventurous.

By Dean Nicholson, Garry Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nala's World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'As a chronicle of an extraordinary friendship between man and animal, and its unexpected consequences, it's entirely delightful' DAILY MAIL

'This uplifting retelling of their adventures together proves a welcome tonic' THE SUN

'Heartwarming and utterly charming' GUARDIAN

'A heart-warming and captivating travelogue' THE i

'A gorgeous book about their adventures, complete with photos that will melt your heart' Lorraine Kelly, ITV


Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world Dean Nicholson reveals the full story of his life-changing friendship with rescue cat Nala and their inspiring adventures together on a bike journey around the world.

When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson…

A Sense of the World

By Jason Roberts,

Book cover of A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler

M. Leona Godin Author Of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness

From the list on blindness and the brain.

Who am I?

Thanks to a degenerative retinal eye disease, I’ve lived on pretty much every notch of the sight-blindness continuum. While going blind super slowly I’ve engaged with the science of seeing and not-seeing as an  academic and artist for about 25 years. I like to say that there are as many ways of being blind as there are of being sighted, there are just fewer of us. Besides teaching literature and humanities courses at NYU, I’ve lectured on art, accessibility, technology, and disability at universities and institutions around the country. I love sharing stories about the brain on blindness, and hope you find my recommendations as fascinating as I do.

M.'s book list on blindness and the brain

Why did M. love this book?

If the word “echolocation” pricked up your ears in my previous recommendation, I think you’ll love this book which is both a biography and a deep dive into how one blind person used the senses he had to become the first person to go around the world. James Holman (1786-1857) lost his sight at the age of 25 while he was an officer in the British Royal Navy. His career was cut short and he refashioned himself as an author and adventurer known as the “blind traveler.” Roberts explains how Holman used his gentleman’s walking stick not only to detect obstacles and level changes in his immediate environment, but also used the sound of the metal tip bouncing off objects to guide him through far-flung regions of the world.

By Jason Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He was known simply as the Blind Traveler -- a solitary, sightless adventurer who, astonishingly, fought the slave trade in Af-rica, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, and helped chart the Australian outback. James Holman (1786-1857) became "one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored," triumphing not only over blindness but crippling pain, poverty, and the interference of well-meaning authorities (his greatest feat, a circumnavigation of the globe, had to be launched in secret). Once a celebrity, a bestselling author, and an inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton,…


By Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft (translator),

Book cover of Flights

John Dalton Author Of Heaven Lake

From the list on that take you on extraordinary journeys.

Who am I?

I am the author of two novels, and I currently teach fiction writing in the MFA program at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I’ve long been fascinated with journeys both real and literary. In the early 1990’s I lived in Taiwan and traveled across China—from Guangzhou to the far northwestern desert province of Xinjiang, an extraordinary journey that informed my first novel. 

John's book list on that take you on extraordinary journeys

Why did John love this book?

There are dozens of journeys contained within this unclassifiable work of fiction. With each episode or story or exploration, the reader begins to perceive how travel transforms and erases us, even as it shows us the true strangeness of the world. If that sounds vague, then I’d say that you don’t read Flights for its many stories, as you do for Tokarczuk’s quiet, steely, attuned prose and exhilarating ideas.  

By Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



A visionary work of fiction by "A writer on the level of W. G. Sebald" (Annie Proulx)

"A magnificent writer." — Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize-winning author of Secondhand Time

"A beautifully fragmented look at man's longing for permanence.... Ambitious and complex." — Washington Post

From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin's heart is carried back to Warsaw in…

An African in Greenland

By Tete-Michel Kpomassie,

Book cover of An African in Greenland

Karen Oslund Author Of Iceland Imagined: Nature, Culture, and Storytelling in the North Atlantic

From the list on why anyone would want to freeze in the Arctic.

Who am I?

I grew up in Los Angeles, California, which is frequently imagined as well as experienced. As a child, we lived by the beach and in the foothills of Angeles National Forest. The leaps of faith you make in this landscape were always clear: earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides occur regularly. The question asked often about the Arctic: “why on earth do people live there?” applies also to California: life in beautiful landscapes and seascapes is risky. Then, I made my first trip to Iceland alone in 1995, and have now been to Iceland ten times, Greenland twice, and Nayan Mar, above the Russian Arctic Circle, each time with fascination.

Karen's book list on why anyone would want to freeze in the Arctic

Why did Karen love this book?

Why, and how, did a man from Togo in West Africa go to Greenland? And what did he think when he arrived there?

Wouldn’t you like to know what circumstances drive people from one end of the earth to the other? This book has surprising answers, and tells you facts about both Togo and Greenland which you never knew! 

By Tete-Michel Kpomassie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An African in Greenland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tété-Michel Kpomassie was a teenager in Togo when he discovered a book about Greenland—and knew that he must go there. Working his way north over nearly a decade, Kpomassie finally arrived in the country of his dreams. This brilliantly observed and superbly entertaining record of his adventures among the Inuit is a testament both to the wonderful strangeness of the human species and to the surprising sympathies that bind us all.


By Rosita Boland,

Book cover of Elsewhere: One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel

Merri Melde Author Of Tevis Cup Magic: Taking on the World’s Toughest 100 Mile Endurance Ride

From Merri's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Horse lover Traveler Hiker Photographer Raven fanatic

Merri's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Merri love this book?

Rosita's travel stories are beautifully written, and they reinforce my belief that the world really is a small place, and through shared experiences with different people in places elsewhere, even if we don’t speak the same language, we can relate in some intimate way with everybody that we meet.

I have the same fierce urge as her to travel and discover new places and cultures around the globe, and I have spent over two years doing that. It’s about the journeys, the amazing places you see, the people you meet, and the personal growth you undergo when you get out and explore the world.

I’ve had some of these same travel experiences - both good and bad - like a dangerous bus ride or places of gut-wrenching beauty.

By Rosita Boland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


From her first life-changing solo trip to Australia as a young graduate, Rosita Boland was enthralled by travel. In the last thirty years she has visited some of the most remote parts of the globe carrying little more than a battered rucksack and a diary.

Documenting nine journeys from nine different moments in her life, Elsewhere reveals how exploring the world - and those we meet along the way - can dramatically shape the course of a person's life. From death-defying bus journeys through Pakistan to witnessing the majestic icescapes of Antarctica to putting herself back together in Bali,…

Without Reservations

By Alice Steinbach,

Book cover of Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman

Joan D. Heiman Author Of Life with an Impossible Person: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Transformation

From the list on by women grieving the loss of a quirky partner.

Who am I?

My mom handed me one of those little girl diaries with a lock and key when I was in third grade. I wrote my heart into those diaries until I needed more space and shifted to regular-sized notebooks. Writing is my way to know myself and make sense of my life. The journal I kept in the last months of my husband’s life helped me reassemble the trauma-blurred memories of his dying, and then, it supported my emotional rebirth during the year of intense grieving. It is with surprise and delight that I hear from readers who say I articulate their innermost emotions related to love and loss.

Joan's book list on by women grieving the loss of a quirky partner

Why did Joan love this book?

Without Reservations gave me hope following the death of my beloved husband of 37 years. Living with his unique and nontraditional worldview, I’d grown into and inhabited a wider, less conventional way of being than my suburban middle-class upbringing had prepared me for. But once he was gone, what and who was I going to be? Steinbach’s travelogue goes to many of the places my husband and I traveled in England and Europe, and that brought reminiscences of great pleasure. But it was her inner journeying in search of her soul that gave me the courage to embark on the inner travels toward self-discovery and the independence I faced in a newly widowed existence.

By Alice Steinbach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Without Reservations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

American journalist Alice Steinbach took a year off to live in four cities - Paris, Venice, London and Oxford - when she realized she had entered a new phase of life. Her sons had graduated from college; she had been divorced for a long time; she was a successful journalist. While there was nothing really wrong with her life, she felt restless. Could she live independently of her family, her friends, her career?
Steinbach searches for the answer to this provocative question firstly in Paris, where she finds a soul mate in a Japanese man; in Milan, where she befriends…