Around the world in ten books

Are you longing for a holiday? So are we! It’s that time of the year when the holidays are so close yet so far away. If you can’t wait to take a break, we’ve put together a list of our favourite fiction from the past year set in far flung locales around the globe, and what’s more – you can win the lot!

From Bali to New York, Rome to Tokyo (and a bonus trip around Australia), let your mind take a wander—and hopefully your body can go along at a later date. Have a look at our map, and find out more about the books below, as well as your opportunity to win our selection.

1. Bali

Fearless by Fiona Higgins

Bali is one of the most popular travel destinations for Australians because of its beautiful beaches, friendly locals, great food and cheap shopping—but it’s not without its dangers. Fearless takes you right into the heart of this exotic paradise.

bali image

Six strangers from across the world meet on the tropical island of Bali to attend a course designed to help them face their fears. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their fears—which range from flying, public speaking and heights, through to intimacy, failure and death.

Friendships and even romance blossom as the participants are put through a series of challenges which are unusual, confronting and sometimes hilarious. A week of fun in the sun suddenly turns into something far more serious, however, when the unthinkable happens…

2. Rome

The Lover’s Guide to Rome by Mark Lamprell

This is the place where passions are aroused, senses inflamed, and lovers fall into each other’s arms. It all appears to unfold like magic – but I will tell you what really happens. Rome – glorious, eternal, intoxicating. Could there be a better place on earth to fall in love?

Piazza Campo dei Fiori, Rome:
Piazza Campo dei Fiori, Rome – photo courtesy Myrabella

The Lovers' Guide to Rome by Mark LampressThe Lovers’ Guide to Rome is a gorgeous multi-stranded story of three couples and their adventures with love in the eternal city. It makes the perfect read for anyone with a hankering to explore this fascinating city.

3. Paris & Ireland

Happy People Read & Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand

Happy People Read and Drink CoffeeJourney from the streets of Paris to the picturesque west coast of Ireland in this charming novel.

Diane has the perfect life as a wife, a mother and the owner of a literary café in Paris called Happy People Read and Drink Coffee. But when Diane suddenly loses her beloved husband and daughter in a car accident her perfect world is shattered. One year on, Diane shocks her loved ones by leaving Paris to move to a small town on the Irish coast to rebuild her life.

At once heartbreaking and uplifting, this is the inspirational story of a woman finding new meaning—and love—in the wake of devastating loss.

4. Tokyo

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami translated by Allison Markin Powell

The Nakano Thrift ShopImmerse yourself in a very idiosyncratic neighbourhood in Tokyo in this novel about a second-hand shop and the community surrounding it: employees and customers, treasure hoarders and secret-seekers, bargain-hunters and would-be lovers.

A tender and affecting exploration of the mystery that lurks in the ordinary, this novel traces the seemingly imperceptible threads that weave together a community, and the knots that bind us to one another. Hiromi Kawakami is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary novelists, famous for her literary, off-beat fiction and makes the ideal guide to life in Tokyo.

shibuya crossroads

5. Russia

The Memory Artist by Katherine Brabon

The Memory ArtistThis book offers the perfect cold escape through the vastness of Russia — from St Petersburg to Moscow to the Arctic North. Pasha Ivanov is a child of the Freeze, born in Moscow during Brezhnev’s repressive rule over the Soviet Union. As a small child, Pasha sat at the kitchen table night after night as his parents and their friends gathered to preserve the memory of terrifying Stalinist violence, and to expose the continued harassment of dissidents.

Through recollections and observation, Pasha walks through the landscapes of history, from concrete tower suburbs, to a summerhouse during Russia’s white night summers, to haunting former prison camps in the Arctic north. Pasha’s search to find meaning leads him to assemble a fractured story of Russia’s traumatic past.

The Memory Artist was the winner of the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2016.

6. New York

The Museum of Modern LoveThe Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

For anyone with a hankering to visit the Big Apple, this is the book for you. Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

MOMA artis is present

7. London, South of France, Geneva, Rome, Paris

Maestra by LS Hilton

Maestra by LS HiltonFrom the auction houses and private clubs of London to the luxury of a mega yacht in the South of France, Maestra is a thrilling, decadent look into the world of the fabulously wealthy through the eyes of a very flawed heroine. Tour Europe in style and delve into a novel of art, fashion, sex and murder.

Desperate to make something of herself, Judith knows she has to play the game. She’s learned to dress, speak and act in the interests of men. She’s learned to be a good girl. But after uncovering a dark secret at the heart of the art world, Judith is fired and her dreams of a better life are torn apart.

8. Los Angeles

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With MeNow for a change of pace, we travel to the sprawling, sunny city of Los Angeles and revel in the old school glamour of Hollywood in a book starring a very special and endearing boy.

Meet Frank—a modern nine-year-old boy with the wit of Noel Coward and the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star. Meet Mimi Banning—a reclusive literary legend and mother to Frank. Mimi has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years, keeping her secrets, hiding from the world. Until Alice. Meet Alice—a level-headed young woman who finds herself thrust into the Banning household, charged with looking after Mimi’s unusual son. In so doing, Alice discovers a part of herself she never knew was missing.

9. Scotland

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

Outer Hebrides in Scotland, photo by Sarah Maine
Outer Hebrides in Scotland, photo by Sarah Maine

The House Between TidesSet in Scotland’s picturesque and wild Outer Hebrides, a chain of more than 100 islands off the west coast of Scotland, this is the perfect novel if you have a hankering for windswept coastline and a place soaked in history.

Following the deaths of her last living relatives, Hetty Deveraux leaves her strained marriage behind in London and journeys to Scotland to inspect her inheritance: her ancestral home, now in ruins. As Hetty dives headfirst into the repairs, she discovers a shocking secret protected by the house for a hundred years. With only whispered rumours circulating among the local villagers and a handful of leads to guide her, Hetty finds the power of the past is still affecting her present in startling ways.

10. Holland, New York and Sydney

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting of Sara de VosIn this novel, not only can you journey to Holland, New York and Sydney, but you can travel across time as well.  In one of our stand-out novels of the year, Dominic Smith brilliantly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the Golden Age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated Australian art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth.

‘Highly evocative of time and place, this stunning novel explores a triumvirate of fate, choice and consequence, and is worthy of comparison to Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch . . . A masterly, multilayered story that will dazzle readers.’ Library Journal

Bonus Travel Destination – Australia

Wife on the Run by Fiona Higgins

Wife on the RunFor a holiday a little bit closer to home, why not come along on a family road trip around Australia in a caravan?

When two technology-related disasters hit within days of each other, Paula knows her comfortable suburban life has been irrevocably blown apart. With her world unravelling around her, Paula does the only thing that makes any sense to her: she pulls her children out of school and takes off on a trip across Australia with her elderly father and his caravan. The only rule is No Technology – no phones, no Facebook, no Instagram, no tablets, games or computers. It’s time to get back to basics and learn how to be a family again. What could possibly go wrong?

WIN our fictional travel picks!

For your chance to win a book pack of all our travel suggestions, or a runners-up prize of Fearless by Fiona Higgins, fill in the form below:


For more fictional travel, why not check out our five fictional small Australian towns we think you should visit?


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