These novels touch down in multiple countries or are more about the journey itself.
- Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne: This action-packed classic will take you everywhere from India to the American frontier.
- The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain: While not a novel in the strictest sense, this book tells the story of Twain as he travels from New York to Europe to the Holy Land.
- The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano: Beginning in Mexico, this novel spans several continents to tell the story of a group of young poets, based largely on the life of Bolano himself.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: Follow a young boy in this fable as he travels from Spain the the pyramids in search of his dreams.
- The Epic of Gilgamesh: Check out this book to hear a tale thousands of years old about King Gilgamesh and his travels throughout his kingdom and beyond, giving you a peek not only at a different culture, but a different time as well.
- The Names by Don DeLillo: In The Names, DeLillo takes readers on a journey through Greece, the Middle East and India.
- The Odyssey by Homer: Travel back to ancient Greece as this fictional novel details the trials of Odysseus as he attempts to return home to his wife.
Read these novels to explore Canada and the United States.
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac: A classic of the beat generation, in this novel you'll take a road trip with some artsy types back and forth across America.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thomson: While much of this novel takes place in a drug-addled daze, that isn't much different than many people's experiences of this frenetic and sometimes sin-indulging city.
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London: Told from the perspective of a dog, this story gives readers a glimpse into the wild parts of the American wilderness.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Check out this classic book to travel down the Mississippi.
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler: This detective noir novel explores the dark underbelly of Los Angeles in the 1930s.
- Suttree by Cormac McCarthy: Follow the lives of outcasts, robbers and ne'er do wells in this novel set in 1950s Knoxville, TN.
- The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx: One of the reasons this Pulitzer-winning novel was so well-regarded was its depiction of a sleepy fishing town in Newfoundland.
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Travel to the American South during the Civil War era in this engaging tale.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Through this novel you'll not only get a taste of life in the South but also the struggles many people faced before and during the Civil Rights movement.
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: The Great Depression was a hard time for many American families. In this novel you'll be able to travel from the dusty state of Oklahoma out to the promised wealth of California.
- The Meadow by James Galvin: This novel depicts over 100 years of ranch life along the Wyoming-Colorado border.
Set in both the past and present and set everywhere from Greece to London, these books are a great way to learn more about Europe.
- Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway: Learn more about the culture of Spain and the sport of bullfighting in one of Hemingway's classic novels.
- A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: This fictional story follows an English man as he moves and attempts to adapt to life in Paris.
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: Aside from the engaging mystery, you'll also stay entertained by the travels of this train from Paris to Constantinople in this novel.
- The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert: This novel takes place in Nazi Germany, and gives readers not only a slice of life during those times, but a view of the beauty of Bavaria and the city of Hamburg.
- Colomba de Prosper Mérimée by Patrick Berthier: Check out this novel for a frank look at life in Corsica.
- Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin: This mystery novel will take you through the canals, back alleys and homes of Venice.
- The Day of Judgment by Salvatorre Satta: In this novel you will learn much about the people, culture and land of the ancient town of Nuoro in Sardinia.
- A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter: The ill-fated love story of this novel is set against the rich background of several small French towns.
- Death in Venice by Thomas Mann: This novel capitalizes on the decaying city of Venice, almost creating another character out of the city itself.
- Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys: In this book — one of a series — the author's fictionalized life is depicted, taking her from Dominica to the quite different climes of England.
- Little Infamies by Panos Karnezi: Explore a nameless Greek village in this collection of charming stories.
- Dubliners by James Joyce: Curious about Dublin? Check out these acclaimed short stories to learn more.
- The Information by Martin Amis: This semi-autobiographical novel will give you a taste of life in London.
Take off to the chilly reaches of Russia through these novels.
- Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart: This novel documents a wealthy Russian who has been living in America as he tries but fails to get a visa back to the US.
- Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak: Check out this great literary work to gain a better understanding of Soviet-era Russia.
- Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman: In this novel you'll get an epic account of the siege of Stalingrad during WWII.
- The Odessa Tales by Isaac Babel: Through these stories, you'll gain a better pictures of the Ukraine under Soviet control.
- Chapaev and Pustota by Viktor Pelevin: Also called The Clay Machine Gun this prize-winning novel is a strange read indeed, but will still give you insights into what life is like for those living in St. Petersberg.
- Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol: This novel was never truly finished, but in the pages that were completed, Gogol gives readers a great picture of Russian society in the mid-1800's.
Central and South America
These novels will give you a sense of the culture and landscape of Central and South America.
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This epic tale of patient love spans decades and provides an interesting peek into a city that is suggestively located in Colombia, where García Márquez spent his early years.
- The Lighthouse at the End of the World by Jules Verne: Check out this book for a tale of crime and intrigue that takes place at the far southern tip of South America.
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck: In this fable, a fisherman in a small Mexican village finds a pearl of great value, teaching lessons not only about peace and happiness but about the Mexico of the past as well.
- Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado: This novel about a widowed woman falling in love again will help bring the vibrancy of Brazil to life for readers.
- I, The Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos: Banned from print and causing his exile, this novel skewers Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, Paraguay's dictator for life. The story depicts his fictitious deathbed reminiscences, covering years of Paraguayan history.
- Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa: Use this novel to travel to a remote area of the Andes where mysterious disappearances have sparked an official inquiry.
- The Dark Bride by Laura Restrepo: Through this novel you can gain insights into the city of Tora, Colombia–known for producing oil and servicing the often rough men who work at extracting it.
- Santa Evita by Tomás Eloy Martínez: Most readers will be familiar with Argentinean leader Eva Peron, but in this novel you will get a unique and fictionalized look at the transportation of her body after death.
- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende: This dramatic saga takes place in Chile, offering a taste of Chilean history as well as a fictional tale of one family.
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: In this novel, readers can travel back to turn-of-the-century Mexico.
If a trip to Africa is out of the question, consider these novels to learn about the continent without leaving home.
- The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles: In this well-known novel, a couple and their friend travel to North Africa, falling into trouble because they are unaware of the many dangers that surround them.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: Travel to the depths of the Congo with this classic novella.
- The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell: These lush and imaginative novels are set in Alexandria, Egypt during the 1940s.
- Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage by Maria Thoma: Read this collection of stories to get a glimpse into the world of East Africa.
- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith: In these charming detective stories, you'll learn more about life in Botswana.
- What is the What by Dave Eggers: This book tells the heartwrenching true tale of a boy forced from his home by violence in Sudan. Throughout the story you'll learn more about the region today and in the past.
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: In reading this novel you can learn about native Nigerian culture as well as the impact colonialism had on the region.
- The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover: Kingslover's novel follows a family of missionaries in the Belgian Congo–a trip not good either for the natives or the family themselves.
- Whiteman by Tony D'Souza: This novel takes a frank approach to many of the issues that affect the real Ivory Coast every day, telling the tale of Jack Diaz, a young American relief worker in a Muslim village in the Ivory Coast.
- True at First Light by Ernest Hemingway: This fictionalized memoir has readers on a safari hunting for big game in East Africa with Hemingway and his wife.
In these works you'll travel to the warm but sometimes tumultuous Caribbean islands.
- The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: While much of this book takes place in the U.S., readers will still find it an engaging read for learning more about the history and culture of the Dominican Republic.
- Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau: This Caribbean epic mixes time, languages and styles to tell the story of Martinique and a family of freed slaves.
- Far Tortuga by Peter Matthiessen: In this stark novel, readers will follow a small turtle-hunting vessel and its crew as they travel around the Bahamas and through the Caribbean.
- A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes: With pirates, horror and drama aplenty, this novel will show you not only Jamaica, but the Caribbean at large.
- The Dragon Can't Dance by Earl Lovelace: In this novel you will learn a great deal about the culture and society of Trinidad.
- A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul: Many may not know that as a British colony Trinidad became the home for many Indian immigrants. This novel tells the story of one such man, searching for his place in an adopted land.
- Brother Man by Roger Mais: One of the better known Caribbean novels, this story follows a young Rastafarian as he gets caught up in various intrigues in Kingston, Jamaica.
In these books you can learn more about Thailand, Vietnam and China.
- The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham: This novel offers readers the chance to see life in rural China during a time of a cholera outbreak while also offering a compelling tale of one woman's spiritual journey.
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck: Check out this Pulitzer Prize winning novel about life in rural China when the last emperor reigned, before many of the modern upheavals were to change life forever.
- The Beach by Alex Garland: Search for a utopian island off the coast of Thailand along with the main character in this intriguing and mysterious novel.
- The Quiet American by Graham Greene: This classic story about the turbulent decades of conflict in Indo-China suggests that even good intentions can lead to bad results.
Check out these novels to travel vicariously to India.
- The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott: This series of books will show you a window into the last years of British rule in India, the remnants of which still survive today.
- Kim by Rudyard Kipling: Like many of Kipling's novels, this one is set in India, bringing to life the sights, smells and culture of the country.
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: This classic novel creates a fictionalized version of the life of the Buddha, taking readers on a spiritual and cultural journey.
- Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie While much of this novel is highly fantastical, readers can still enjoy the Indian setting in Bombay, exposing many of the challenges faced by the newly independent nation.
- A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry: If you'd like to learn more about the lives of everyday people in contemporary India, then you can't do much better than Mistry's compelling tale in this novel.
- A Passage to India by E.M. Forster: See colonialism and the bitter tensions between native Indians and the British at their best and worst in this classic novel.
- Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas: In this book, you'll follow three people across three decades and three continents, exploring India, England and Guyana along the way.
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: Set in India, this award-winning novel is at once a mystery, a drama and a completely innovative work in the English language.
- Bombay Time: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar: This story brings to life the middle-class denizens of a Bombay apartment complex.
- What the Body Remembers: A Novel by Shauna Singh Baldwin: Here you'll take a trip to the Punjab to see the violent 1947 partition of India.
These novels share intimate portraits of what life is like in Japan.
- Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata: Read this novel to spend time in the mountainous slopes of Western Japan while watching a doomed love affair unfold.
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami: Like most of Murakami's work, this novel has a dreamlike quality. At the same time, readers will get a crash course in Japanese WWII history.
- Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto: Learn more about the food and culture of contemporary Japan in this novel.
- The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki: Follow four sisters who are part of the fading Japanese aristocracy in years leading up to WWII, offering great insights to both domestic and social life at the time.
- The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel by Liza Dalby: Check out this novel to learn more about the life and times of 11th-century Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu.
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: Become party to the exotic world of the geisha in this compelling novel.
- The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki: Written in the 11th century, this novel will show you the enduring qualities of human nature across time and space.
- Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki: Amidst a disintegrating marriage you'll get a glimpse into Japanese culture and aesthetics in this novel.
From Israel to Afghanistan, these novels will allow you to peek into Middle Eastern life.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: For those who know little of Afghanistan in the years prior to 9/11, this novel reveals a compelling history and a beautiful story of friendship.
- A Woman in Jerusalem by Abraham B. Yehoshua: While set in Jerusalem, this the themes of this novel often transcend national boundaries.
- Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa: Through this novel you'll get to hear about the creation of the Israeli state from the Palestinian perspective.
- Adventures in the Galilee by Yehoash Biber: Think the Middle East has always been a place of conflict? These stories tell the tales of the Galilee area of Palestine before 1948, when Arab, Druse, and Jewish farmers and bedouins lived together in peace and goodwill.
- Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres: Set in a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, this novel represents the great changes that took place as Turkey entered the modern world.
- The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra: Through this novel you will see the effects of the Taliban regime.
- Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali: While this novel is not set in the Middle East, the conflicts it represents–those between Muslims and Christians–have been at issue for centuries.
- Cities of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif: Passing through numerous Middle Eastern countries, this novel brings to life many of the political issues that have plagued the Mideast for most of this century.
Even if you can't afford a real trip down under you can get an hint of the continent's beauty in these books.
- Eucalyptus by Murray Bail: This modern fable is set in New South Wales, pitting true love against a father's scheme to find a suitor.
- Cloudstreet by Tim Winton: This sometimes dark novel tells the story of a family struggling for survival in WWII era Australia.
- Tree of Man by Patrick White: In this Noble Prize winning book, readers will travel to the wilderness of Australia.
- Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay: Through this book, readers can gain a real sense of the era and landscape of Australia.
- 1915 by Roger McDonald: Follow two young men as they set out to war, only to get a disastrous result at Gallipoli.
- The Second Bridegroom by Rodney Hall: In this story you'll learn about a man exiled as a convict to Australia, where he escapes and joins the Aborigine.
Source: Online Degrees