Discover novels that inspire great travel adventures

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A good read draws you into a world of its own but can also move you to explore the broader world around you. While the literature of many kinds has influenced us, here are more than a dozen titles that stir us (in some cases very literally) to travel.





Novels from Painted Caves to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo take you on a journey from ancient archelogy to Sweden.

Welcome aboard to novels that take you soaring to beautiful places.

Begin your journey with the following novels to find your travel inspiration.

The land of Painted Caves, by Jean M. Auel, brings the ice-age epic Earth’s Children series to an extraordinary conclusion. Ayla, one of the most remarkable and beloved heroines in contemporary fiction, continues to explore the world and the people around her with curiosity, insight, and above all, courage.

As the story opens, Ayla, Jondalar, and their infant daughter, Jonayla, are welcomed by the Zelandonii, but problems arise. They face new challenges, not just the ordinary trials of sheer survival, but the complications posed by many groups of people who need to live and work together. However, the wisdom that Ayla gained from her struggles as an orphaned child, alone in a hostile environment, strengthens her as she moves closer to the leadership of the Zelandonia.

Ayla and Jondalar’s priority is the care for their golden-haired child, Jonayla, and the well-being of their amazing animals, Wolf, Whinney, Racer, and Gray. In addition, the two participate in hunts to provide food and travel to Summer Meetings for decision-making and social activities. Whatever the obstacles, Ayla’s inventive spirit produces new ways to lessen the difficulties of daily life:

  • Searching for wild edibles to make delicious meals.
  • Experimenting with techniques to ease the long journeys the Zelandoni must take.
  • Honing her skills as a healer and a leader.

And then, there are the Sacred Caves, the caves that Ayla’s mentor–the Donier, the First of the Zelandonia–takes her to see. These cave walls are remarkable with art–paintings of mammoths, lions, aurochs, rhinoceros, reindeer, bison, and bear. The powerful, mystical aura within these caves sometimes overwhelms Ayla.

Ayla’s final preparations for her initiation as a Zelandoni bring The Land of Painted Caves to a riveting climax. So much time apart from Jondalar has caused him to drift away from her. The rituals themselves bring her close to death. But through those rituals, Ayla gains A Gift of Knowledge so important that it will change the world.

Four Seasons In Rome by Anthony Doerr has received many awards—from the New York Public Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Then came the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, with a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned of the award the day he and his wife returned from the hospital with newborn twins.

Exquisitely observed, Four Seasons in Rome describes Doerr’s varied adventures in one of the most enchanting cities in the world. He reads Pliny, Dante, and Keats—the chroniclers of Rome who came before him—and visits the piazzas, temples, and ancient cisterns they describe. He attends the vigil of a dying Pope John Paul II and takes his twins to the Pantheon in December to wait for the snow to fall through the oculus. He and his family make friends with the butchers, grocers, and bakers of the neighborhood, whose clamor for stories and personal child-rearing advice is as compelling as the city itself.

This intimate and revelatory book is a celebration of Rome, a great look at new parenthood, and a fascinating story of a writer’s craft—the process by which he transforms what he sees and experiences into sentences.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was an international bestseller, garnering awards in Sweden and Britain and a coveted spot at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Published in 2005, but libraries are still promoting it as a must-read book. I read it out of curiosity, pure and simple, not intending to write a review. This book is part thriller, part mystery, part social commentary. With a cast of memorable characters, an intriguing “locked room” style scenario, and a cold case, it is easy to see why this book gained popularity.

The plot is complex, but to summarize in a paragraph: a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, is asked by wealthy businessman Henrik Vanger to investigate his granddaughter’s probable murder many years previously. Blomkvist ends up enlisting the help of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, a strange young adult with a troubled past and serious personal problems, to solve the mystery. Together, they uncover the dark family secrets at the root of the Vanger girl’s disappearance.




The Messenger of Athens is the first in Anne Zouroudi’s unique series of award-winning mysteries, where mythology meets murder in the beautiful and timeless landscapes of almost-contemporary Greece, and investigator Hermes Diaktoros’s origins are as baffling as the mysteries he solves.

Fans of Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon, Barbara Nadel, and Neil Gaiman’s American Godswill love the mysterious, enigmatic Greek detective Hermes Diaktoros, ‘half Poirot, half Deus-ex-machine (Guardian).






Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton – Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, 19-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest – until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary. Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who needed to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. But, arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast between Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate.




Find your travel experience

If these novels inspired you to travel, here are suggestions for each novel’s location.

The land of Painted Caves

Archeology for Jean Auel fans includes the archaeological sites referred to by Jean Auel in her series of books.

Four Seasons In Rome

Things to do in Rome you discover feats of civilization, ancient and modern alike, this 2,500 -year-old metropolis

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Check out 10 of the Best Things to See and Do in Sweden

The Messenger of Athens

Lonely planet shares Greece- Hedonists rejoice! Greece is ancient sun-bleached ruins piercing blue skies, the balmy Aegean lapping an endless coastline and a culture alive with passionate music, wonderful cuisine, and thrill-seeking activities.

Next Year in Havana

Cuba Travel will share geography, nature, society, culture, and weather.

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Judy Kundert

Judy Kundert, a recipient of the Marquis Who’s Who Excellence in Authorship award, loves storytelling, from folk and fairy tales to classics for elementary school children. She authors award-winning middle-grade novels designed to inspire and intrigue children. After she left her career as a United Airlines stewardess, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University, Chicago and a Master of Arts from DePaul University, Chicago. Most recently, she completed a master’s Certificate in Public Relations and Marketing from the University of Denver. For fun, she likes reading (usually three or four books at a time), watching movies from the oldies to the current films, traveling, biking, and hiking in vast Colorado outdoors with her husband. Learn more at can find me at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains hiking, biking

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