Explore the diverse cultures, delicious foods, historic sites and gorgeous landscapes of Europe with intrepid travelers, curious backpackers and artistic soul searchers!
Included in this post are non-fiction books set in Europe and written by Travel By Book members Ronesa Aveela, Peggy Boyd, Pauline Conolly, Rebecca Hall, Rob Johnson, Daphne Kapsali, Ruth Livingstone, Roz Morris, Pamela Jane Rogers, Jeane Rhodes, and Paul Shore.
Learn about Bulgarian mythology, the perfect walks along the Thames and the English coast, growing olives in Greece, painting in Greece, or how to play boules in France. Hitchhike with two Australians through Europe or two seniors through Italy, teach English in a remote Greek village, search for the extraordinary in England, or journey to a Greek island and ‘find yourself’.
The complete list of books set in Europe can be found here on Facebook.
Travel By Book is a Facebook group dedicated to travel fiction and non-fiction. If you love to read or write books strong in setting, consider joining us!
Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore by Ronesa Aveela
A book for children and adults from 8 to 108 who would like to take a journey and discover Bulgarian folk tales, legends, and mythology. Whether you want to learn a little about their ancient Thracian origins, or you want to experience rituals practiced throughout the year with a fictitious Bulgarian family, or even if you’re only interested in traditional Bulgarian cuisine, this book has something for everyone.
Bulgarian culture is rich in folklore and traditions surviving since the days of the ancient Thracians. As pagan and Christian religions collided, many celebrations merged into one.“Light Love Rituals” will take you on a journey to discover these unique festivals.
“Light Love Rituals,” not only describes the rituals, but also makes them interesting and understandable to people of all ages. The book is divided into four seasons, beginning with winter. It includes activities where you can learn how to make martenitsi, survachka, and Easter eggs dyed with natural colors. A short quiz after each season lets you test your knowledge of what you’ve read. To help you engage in the traditions in the book, you’ll meet Maria and her family. They’ll open the doors of their home so you can participate in these celebrations along with them. For an added taste of Bulgaria, try some of the traditional recipes at the end.
Two Thumbs Out: Hitchhiking Adventures In 1950s Europe by Peggy Boyd (author) and Nick Westerman (editor)
This book details the first 8 months of that adventure as they arrive in Naples, Italy, and begin to get a feel for how to get around. Using their thumbs for rides they venture across Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal and Morroco, leading a life on the road that is far removed from what they left behind in Sydney.
This is a heartfelt memoir of a form of traveling that has all but disappeared. The book recounts the numerous adventures and encounters Peggy and her traveling companion Jane had all across western and southern Europe, experiencing the warmth and kindness of strangers that make thumbing a ride such a rewarding form of travel.
All Along the River: Tales from the Thames by Pauline Conolly
All Along the River: Tales from the Thames is an engaging and humorous guide to England’s most famous river, serving as a companion volume to more practical books about the Thames Path and the river’s settlements.
Both quirky and fun, it is packed with information about literary associations, local recipes, folklore, and a good many murders and mysteries! Pauline Conolly has spent the last two decades wandering the banks of the River Thames, investigating its social history and exploring from the river’s source in a Gloucestershire field to the flood barrier in London.
Her journeys have even taken her further, to the point where this majestic and historic river finally enters the North Sea. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the River Thames but didn’t know where to start, All Along the River is the book for you.
Girl Gone Greek by Rebecca Hall
Rachel is finding it increasingly difficult to ignore her sister’s derision, society’s silent wagging finger and her father’s advancing years. She’s travelled the world, but now finds herself at a crossroads at an age where most people would stop globetrotting and settle. She’s never been one to conform to the nine-to-five lifestyle, so why should she start now? Was it wrong to love the freedom and independence a single life provided, to put off the search for Mr Right and the children? Perhaps she could find the time for one last adventure…
So with sunshine in mind, Rachel takes a TEFL course and heads to Greece after securing a job teaching English in a remote village. She wasn’t looking for love, but she found it in the lifestyle and history of the country, its culture and the enduring volatility of its people. Girl Gone Greek is a contemporary women’s fiction novel. When Rachel moved to Greece to escape a life of social conformity, she found a country of unconventional characters and economic turmoil. The last thing she expected was to fall in love with the chaos that reigned about her.
A Kilo of String by Rob Johnson
After living in Greece for thirteen years, writer and reluctant olive farmer Rob Johnson has got used to most of the things that he and his partner Penny found so bizarre at the beginning. Most, but not all.
A Kilo of String is the story-so-far of this not-particularly-plucky couple’s often bewildering experiences among the descendants of Sophocles, Plato and Nana Mouskouri with occasional digressions into total irrelevances.
This is a book which is almost guaranteed not to change your life, but what it will do is answer many of the fundamental questions about life in Greece, such as:
How do you avoid ordering a double tomato for your pine marten when booking a hotel room? Should olive harvesting be registered with the Dangerous Sports Association? Why are chicken livers useful (other than to the chickens themselves)? Why is it a good idea to wear your underwear inside-out? Why is playing the bassoon bad for your health?
Oh yes, and there are some serious bits too about how life in Greece has changed since the beginning of the economic crisis. A Kilo of String is loosely based on Rob Johnson’s podcast series of the same name.
100 days of solitude by Daphne Kapsali
A personal journey that inadvertently became an accidental self-help guide to doing what you love and living as your true self, whoever that might turn out to be, 100 days of solitude is inspiring thousands of people to claim the time and space they need to find themselves and live their best lives.
This is not one of those 100 day challenges, nor is it about hardship and isolation and going off the grid; if anything, it’s the opposite of that. In giving up her life in London to spend 100 days living alone on a small Greek island, Daphne was searching for a better way to live, and for deeper connections with her true self and those around her. The things she gave up turned out to mean very little, and most of the challenges she faced came from within, from her own preconceptions and the Antagonist that we all carry around in our heads.
Part memoir, part fiction, part philosophy and part travel writing, 100 days of solitude is a collection of one hundred stories, all of them connected and each one self-contained. One hundred essays on choosing uncertainty over security, change over convenience, seeing things for what they truly are, and being surprised by yourself; on love, loss, death and donkeys; on reaching for your dreams, finding enlightenment on a rural road, peeing in public, and locking yourself out of the house; on dangerous herbs, friendly farmers, flying Bentleys and existential cats; and on what it feels like to live in a small, isolated island community through the autumn and winter, to live as a writer who actually writes, and to live as your true, authentic self, no matter who that turns out to be. And to write your own story, the way you want it told; to find your voice, and the courage to let it be heard.
Going the Whole Way: Walking the English Coast: A Beginner’s Guide (Book 1) by Ruth Livingstone
This is a wonderful and practical guide to walking the English coast, and a must-have for newcomers to the world of long-distance walking.
In this book, the first in a series of four, you are introduced to many good reasons why you should leave your couch and pull on your hiking boots. Walking improves your health and happiness, and the coast is an excellent place to start a walking adventure. Whether you fancy trekking across the cliffs, strolling along the sands, or marching through marsh and shingle, the coast offers a unique and invigorating walking experience.
What are you letting yourself in for? Discover the length of the shoreline of England, estimate the amount of time it will take you to cover the entire route, and decide exactly what type of walker you intend to be. Using practical examples based on the experiences of other coastal walkers, this book guides you through your various options.
Not Quite Lost by Roz Morris
In Not Quite Lost, Roz Morris celebrates the hidden dramas in the apparently ordinary. Her childhood home, with a giant star-gazing telescope on the horizon and a garden path that disappears under next door’s house. A tour guide in Glastonbury who is having a real-life romance with a character from Arthurian legend. A unit on a suburban business park where people are preparing to deep-freeze each other when they die.
But even low-key travel has its hazards, and Roz nearly runs down several gentlemen from Porlock when her brakes give up on her. She takes her marriage vows in a language she doesn’t speak, has a Strictly-style adventure when she stumbles into a job as a flashmob dancer, and hears an unexpected message in an experiment in ESP.
Wry, romantic, amused and wonder-struck, Not Quite Lost is an ode to the quiet places you never realised might tell you a tale.
Greekscapes: Illustrated Journeys with an Artist by Pamela Jane Rogers
A twist of fate sends this American artist to Greece on a painting workshop in 1982. After a luxurious swim in the Aegean, an epiphany in an olive grove inspires her to continue her life’s journey with art – and either mend her broken marriage or end it. Her mission is to learn from her past and resurrect faith in her intuition and her love of art.
Yearly art workshops abroad give unparalleled inspiration for her painting for seven more years, ending with a devastating loss. The dark curtain lowers when her mentor leaves the earth.
Divorce and plans for a secure future as an interior designer are put in motion as a foreign light continues to beckon; the generous culture, peals of laughter, the people, nature’s landscapes, the olive trees, the mountains, the turquoise sea, the light, the epiphany… the most exhilarating moments of her 40 years have all been in Greece! Can living there allow the serenity she seeks? Most everyone agrees – it’s irrational for a middle-aged woman on her own with minimal financial resources to simply follow her heart.
Maybe it’s only a dream, yet isn’t it worth a try? With courage, hope, and a sense of humor she journeys forth from her unfulfilled past to “trust in the process” of art and life on a Greek Island. Will the enchantment last?
Rhodes on Italian Roads: Discovering and Rediscovering the Magic of Italy by Jeane and Larry Rhodes
Accompany two senior travelers on their tenth trip to Italy. Enjoying a full two months on this trip, they visit famous sites and lesser known ones with abundant curiosity and enthusiasm. Using blog and journal entries written while traveling, Jeane and Larry Rhodes bring the reality of traveling in Italy to life, including both the challenges and the rewards.
This book will also appeal to those who must travel on a budget, but are far past the age of enjoying hostels and sleeping in train stations.
In these pages you will learn the importance of planning and the importance of being open to unplanned surprises; the advantages (and challenges) of traveling off-season; the individuality of the travel experience (how two people can experience the same thing differently). You will find bonus pages at the end of the book, providing travel tips, and details on Airbnb rentals, hotels, restaurants.
These pages will inspire you to begin planning your next trip!
Uncorked: My year in Provence studying Pétanque, discovering Chagall, drinking Pastis, and mangling French by Paul Shore
Will having smoke repeatedly blown in his face deter a foreigner from breaking in to French culture? Find out, as Paul Shore’s evocative story telling, wry wit, and big heart, inspire and entertain you, as he tells the tale of how he gained acceptance inside a charming village in Provence.
Uncorked celebrates the “uncorking” of a few tightly held traditions that are near and dear to hearts of the locals of the Cote d’Azur and Provence – being taught to play pétanque (boules) under the clandestine cover of darkness; learning vernissage etiquette; drinking pastis before noon; navigating narrow village roads at top driving speed. Shore also “uncorks” personal awakenings about the value of following roads-less-travelled and making time to smell-the-roses, as we cultivate friendships and traditions. And, through exposure to the life of artist Marc Chagall, Shore reflects on the challenges that all newcomers face to gain acceptance in a foreign land.
Shore’s humorous and heart-felt accounts of his year living in Provence will touch and amuse, and evoke fond memories of travel to fascinating places — and they might even trigger reflection on the importance of being afforded new chances in life.
TREAT YOURSELF TODAY to some belly laughter and fond reminiscing about your own past travels!
Check out the growing list of Travel By Book fiction and non-fiction titles set in Europe here on Facebook. Be sure to stop back next month to learn more about Travel By Book titles set in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean!