Bookpacking Through Europe: British Isles: Part I

Can't make it to Europe to backpack? How about a "bookpack" through Europe? Travel through the British Isles with a selection of books, all from the comfort of your own home at no cost!

Let's begin in Ireland.

  • Dubliners by James Joyce: What could be more Irish than a book named after Ireland's capital by Ireland's most famous author?
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue: Based on true stories of Irish "Fasting Girls" of the 1800s, who thought they existed on manna from heaven.
  • The Sea by John Banville: A middle-aged widower goes back to an Irish seaside town to cope with his grief. 2005 Man Booker winner and 2006 Irish Novel of the Year. 
  • An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor: The first novel in the "Irish Country" series, meet a young doctor in the town of Ballybucklebo and all its unique residents.
  • In the Woods by Tana French: French's bestselling debut novel, first in the "Dublin Murder Squad" series, about a detective investigating a murder that reminds him of his hidden past.
  • The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne: Ireland from the 1940s to today from the eyes of a child born out of wedlock, adopted, and trying to make his way.
  • A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy: Everyone in a small Irish coastal town knows everyone. Spend a week with the residents in Irish author Maeve Binchy's final novel. 
  • Ma, He Sold Me for A Few Cigarettes by Martha Long (nonfiction): A memoir about growing up abused and in poverty in Dublin in the 1950s.
  • Philomena by Martin Sixsmith (nonfiction): An Irish woman searches for the son she gave to Catholic nuns for adoption 50 years ago.
  • The Farmette Cookbook by Imen McDonnell (nonfiction): More than just a cookbook, Imen falls in love with an Irish farmer and moves to County Limerick.
  • My Father's Wake by Kevin Toolis (nonfiction): A memoir about the Irish wake, life and death from the perspective of a man who lost his father.
  • The Graves Are Walking by John Kelly (nonfiction): An in-depth look at the Irish Potato Famine.
  • A Course Called Ireland by Tom Coyne (nonfiction): Because you can't think Ireland without thinking of lushly verdant greenery...and golf.
  • Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas: A young girl believes her secretive mother is a selkie and when she disappears, she and her sister search for her. For children.

Next, onward to Scotland.

  • Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon: Widely considered one of Scotland's most important novels, first published in 1932, a young woman's life in her rural community is affected by the First World War.
  • Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin: An Edinburgh cop tries to unravel a series of murders while trying to hide from his own demons, and he has all the pieces to the puzzle to solve it.
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: A fantastic epic romance history series (there are a planned 10 books) about a woman who time travels back to the 1740s and meets a dashing lad.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks: A celebrated Scottish writer, read four of her best-known short fiction works.
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: A writer visits a castle to find her mind slipping back in time to early 1700s Scotland and a hidden betrayal.
  • Rob Roy by Walter Scott: An outlaw in the Scottish highlands plus a scheming family feud, this is a classic from the author of Ivanhoe.
  • A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch: A man realizes he's in love with his brother's intended in 1806 Scotland.
  • The Lost Queen by Signe Pike: The story of a sixth-century forgotten Scottish queen mixed with the mythology of Merlin. First in a trilogy.
  • At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen: A young woman is left alone in WWII Scotland while her husband searches for the Loch Ness monster.
  • Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton: Scottish highland cop Hamish Macbeth's first novel about a drowned tabloid reporter.
  • Culloden by Trevor Royle (nonfiction): The last major battle fought on British soil was in 1746 between the English Royal Army and the Scottish forces who wanted a Stuart on the throne.
  • An American Caddie in St. Andrews by Oliver Horovitz (nonfiction): A young man spends his gap year caddying at Scotland's most famous golf course.
  • The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet S. Fox: During the Blitz, children are sent to a brooding castle haunted by some dark magic. For children.

Then down to England (and Cornwall!).

  • The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths: An archaeologist investigates bones on a desolate beach only to discover the bones are two thousand years old.
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier: A young woman goes to live with her sister in a decrepit inn in Cornwall where much of the townspeople purposefully run ships aground.
  • Ross Poldark by Winston Graham: A young man returns home to Cornwall after the war in America to find his intended is engaged to another and his father is dead.
  • Snapped in Cornwall by Janie Bolitho: First in a series. A party gone wrong when a hostess is found dead under a balcony in Cornwall.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: A classic romance set in the early 1800s England about class, pride and family.
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett: First in a trilogy about intertwined lives around the building of a cathedral in medieval England.
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: A glimpse into disappearing high society before WWII. 
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: A young orphan boy in Victorian London must find his own way.
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: A novel about a day in the life of a single woman in the 1920s.
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan: In 1934, a tragic crime sends repercussions through a family and into modern times. 
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: A butler reminiscences about two world wars during a short vacation.
  • The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: A crime changes everything for a tight-knit family, and only fifty years later will all the answers come to light.
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: No list about England would be complete without a novel by the mistress of crime.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory: A novel about Mary and Anne Boleyn, caught between Henry VIII.
  • Maisie Dobbs by Jaqueline Winspear: A young housemaid becomes a nurse during WWI and then becomes a private investigator. First in a series.
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale: Because England does true crime so well, read about a shocking Victorian murder that fascinated the entire country.
  • Will's Words by Jane Sutcliffe (nonfiction): In addition to being the world's greatest playwright, Shakespeare also invented words and phrases still used today.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling: An orphaned boy learns he's a wizard. First in a series. For children (and really, all ages!).
  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond: A bear arrives in London and creates some heartwarming havoc for his adoptive family. For children.

Wales is last.

  • Between Two Fires by Mark Noce: In medieval Wales, a woman is betrothed to the Hammer King but falls for a knight instead.
  • Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy: A young boy strikes up a friendship with a Polish POW during WWII.
  • Sleeper's Castle by Barbara Erskine: Dual narratives between 1400s Wales, a brewing war and young love, and 2015, when a woman dreams of a girl from the past.
  • From Across the Ancient Waters by Michael R. Phillips: A troubled boy is sent to his uncle's Welsh estate and strikes up new friendships.
  • The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston: A widow exhibits magical powers similar to a Celtic witch when she moves into the home she had hoped to live in with her husband. 
  • Murder at the Castle by Jeanne M. Dams: After a choir member and soloist are murdered at a Welsh music festival, a husband and wife must work together.

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