Photo by Jill Clardy, feature photo by brewbooks

The Matador team has a few suggestions on novels, novellas and short stories that evoke as strong a sense of place as good travel narratives.

I ENJOY WRITING and reading both fiction and non-fiction, and when I finish a great book, quite often the characteristics that made me love it have nothing to do with whether or not the story is true. In fiction workshops, I’ve heard the advice “read outside your genre” given quite frequently; sci-fi writers should read romance, romance writers should read thrillers, commercial writers should read literary (and vice versa), and so on.

I feel the same advice can be given to travel writers. Our goal is the same – to tell a story with developed, real characters and a setting that rings true, be it the badlands of Wyoming or a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.

Here are over forty suggestions for your fiction reading pleasure from the Matador team. This is by no means a definitive list; we’d love for you to share your own fiction favs in the comments.

1. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
2. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
3. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
4. Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon
5. War by Candlelight by Daniel Alarcon
6. Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles by Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes
7. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
9. My Name is Red by Orhan Pahmuk
10. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

11. Cathedral by Raymond Carver
12. True North by Jim Harrison
13. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
14. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
15. A Bend In the River by V.S Naipaul
16. Drop City by T.C Boyle
17. Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar
18. Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
19. Time and Again by Jack Finney
20. The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

21. Strange as This Weather has Been by Anne Pancake
22. Siddharta by Herman Hesse
23. The Odyssey by Homer
24. New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
25. A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
26. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck
27. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
28. Independent People by Halldor Laxness
29. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chan
30. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

31. The Magus by John Fowles
32. The Book of Dave by Will Self
33. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
34. Don Quixote by Cervantes
35. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
36. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
37. Underworld by Don DeLillo
38. Beatniks by Toby Litt
39. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
40. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

41. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis
42. London Fields by Martin Amis
43. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
44. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
45. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Community Connection

We’ve got non-fiction favorites too – check out the 50 Greatest Travel Books of All Time. Feeling zen? Pick up one of the 10 Most Influential Spiritual Books of the Past 50 Years. And of course, share your own favorite novels in the comments!