Over the course of the past year, we have absolutely loved reading around the world with all of you – our fellow armchair travelers. The Book Voyage reading challenge has taken us to every corner of the globe. Now, for our final month of the challenge, we’ll be reading books that span multiple continents. This is a great way to compare and contrast the scenery and lifestyles of different regions around the world from the comfort of one book!
If you don’t have any souvenirs to commemorate your reading around the world accomplishment yet, now is the perfect time to order. You can get a 15% discount on your entire order through 11/24 by using the code Holiday15 at checkout. We get giddy about every order and appreciate your support!
As always, you are welcome to choose any book you’d like. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best books set in multiple continents, including a variety of titles to suit any reading mood. From harrowing non-fiction memoirs and family sagas to travelogues and even a light and enjoyable holiday novel, we hope you’ll find several books worthy of your TBR list.
Books That Span Multiple Continents
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we may earn a referral fee from qualifying purchases.
Throughout the list, we noted the books currently available as part of Kindle Unlimited Subscriptions.
Setting: Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, wartime London, and modern-day Los Angeles
Marian Graves was only an infant when she was rescued from a sinking ocean liner in 1914. She's raised along with her brother James in Montana, where they first encounter the miracle of flight when bi-planes pass through town. By 14, she drops out of school to pursue her love and enters into a dangerous partnership with a bootlegger. He subsidizes her planes and lessons, but at a great price. However, with his assistance, she's able to pursue her ultimate dream in the 1950s - circling the globe, including flying over the north and south poles.
In addition to Marian's story, you'll follow actress Hadley 100 years in the future as she plays the role of Marian in a movie. As Hadley digs deep into Marian's life, you'll see similarities in their self-determination despite their daily lives being so different.
The Books Girls Say...This is a long book at 600+ pages, and reviews are split on whether all those pages are necessary. We haven’t read it ourselves, but noticed some mentions of child abuse, abortion, and explicit scenes, so keep that in mind if you prefer cleaner reads.
Spanning three continents and three decades from WW2 to the 1970s, this story follows three different characters in three locations. Savitri is a servant girl in British-ruled India, Nat is the son of a small-town doctor in South India, and Saroj is growing up in the South American, British-ruled Guyana. Although the stories are far apart in both time and place, eventually, you'll discover how their lives are intertwined.
Nuri and his wife Afra live in the beautiful city of Aleppo, Syria. They have a great life as a beekeeper and an artist, until war comes to their doorstep. Like so many others, Nuri and Afra are forced onto the Syrian refugee trail. They travel through Turkey and Greece, even though Afra has been blinded, making their journey even more harrowing. The couple slowly works their way towards a cousin in Britain who has already started a beekeeping course for fellow refugees.
The author's volunteer work with refugees gave her the background to write the realistic tale. While the book is often heartbreaking, it also includes messages of hope of love.
Setting: Melbourne, Australia; England; Colorado, USA
Since the final month of the Book Voyage Challenge coincides with the Christmas season, we couldn't help but add this festive, funny, and heartwarming Christmas novel to the list. It's the perfect armchair travel read that balances friendship and romance!
Chloe, Jules, and Lucy met on vacation as kids and they've been best friends ever since, despite living on three different continents. Twenty-two years later, they decide to swap homes for Christmas... Lucy travels to snowy Breckenridge, Colorado; Jules escapes down under for a summery Christmas in Melbourne, Australia; and Chloe travels halfway around the world for a quiet holiday in a quaint English village.
The Book Girls Say... If you've seen the movie The Holiday, then the concept will sound familiar, but this book has even more to offer!
All three of the locations in this book were already very near and dear to Angela's heart, but the author captures each locale so perfectly that you'll feel like you've been there, too!
Also Consider... If you love traveling via rom coms, also check out the Holiday Romance series by Sandy Barker. The titles include One Summer in Santorini (set throughout the Greek Isles); The Night in Paris (set throughout some of Western Europe's most romantic cities); and A Sunset in Sydney (set in London, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia).
Setting: Canada, Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, India, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, & Somalia
As a child in an abusive houshold, author Amanda Lindhout used National Geographic magazine as her way to mentally escape to other parts of the world. At 19, she worked as a cocktail waitress, aggressively saving to visit the locations she had been dreaming of her entire life. But, unlike other teens who dream of backpacking through Europe, she had more dangerous sites in mind, even working as a TV reporter during her time in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2008, she took her journey to Somalia, where she was kidnapped on her 4th day in the country. For the next 460 days, she was held hostage. Her tale is harrowing and intense, and you may find yourself confused as to how she survived to write her story of compassion and perseverance.
The Books Girls Say...Critics understandably chide the author for getting herself into such a dangerous situation, but there’s still value in the story beyond the poor choice.
Setting: Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Spain, North Africa, Iran, Turkey, India
Have you ever dreamed of hopping in a VW van and traveling around the world? One of our group members, Katie, did just that and wrote a highly rated memoir about her experiences. As newlyweds, Katie and her husband Tom put 39,000 miles on their van in a journey that spanned continents and oceans. And they did it all in a time before cell phones could guide your path. Travel with them through multiple continents as they try to keep their van going no matter the terrain.
The Book Girls Say...The author of this well-rated book is in our Facebook group and participating in the reading challenge this year!
Setting: Addis Abba, Ethiopia; Madras, India; Boston & New York City, USA; Italy; Sudan; Kenya
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, their mother dies in childbirth and their father disappears, leaving the brothers orphaned.
The twins are adopted by two other surgeons from the hospital and come of age in an Ethiopia on the brink of revolution, but it's love rather than politics that comes between them.
After finishing med school, Marion flees to America to intern at an overcrowded and underfunded hospital in NYC. Eventually though, the past catches up with Marion and he must turn to the two men he trusts least - his father and his brother.
The Book Girls Say... This is an epic saga (nearly 600 pages of small font) and can feel slow at the start, but it's one worth investing time in! It received 5-star ratings across the board from Angela's in-person book club. A tip, though - keep your dictionary handy if you're a little rusty on your Latin or anatomy.
The author, Abraham Verghese, was born and raised in Ethiopia where he attended medical school before completing his residency and fellowships in America. He is now a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His medical expertise is apparent throughout the book. This makes this the perfect read for those who love hospital stories, but some readers may find the lengthy descriptions of surgical procedures a bit too drawn out.
Setting: 17 countries, including Peru, Bolivia, India, Egypt, and more
Maggie Downs was an award-winning newspaper journalist, but she didn't have a long bucket list of travel destinations. Traveling was her mom's dream. As a child, Maggie doubted she'd ever have the courage to travel to the destinations her mom hoped to one day see, but her mom would always insist: "You're braver than you think you are."
When Maggie's mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, Maggie quit her job and set out to fulfill her mother's bucket list. Along the way, she learned to make every moment count. Over the course of one year, she lost a parent while discovering the world.
This is the story of a group of female friends who met at university in Bombay in the late 1970s. As students, all four of them challenged authority and fought for a better world. But in the intervening 30 years, they have drifted apart and their lives have taken very different directions.
When Armaiti, who has since moved to America, becomes gravely ill, she requests to see her old friends together one last time. For Laleh, the reunion is a bittersweet reminder of unfulfilled dreams and unspoken guilt. For Kavita, it is an admission of forbidden passion. For Nishta, it is the promise of freedom from her fundamentalist husband.
The Book Girls Say... This book is told from six different perspectives and paints a vivid portrait of both past and modern-day India, contrasted against life in America.
This multi-generation epic follows the divergent paths of two half-sisters born in 18th century Ghana, and their descendants over 300 years. Effia marries a wealthy Englishman and lives in a castle, but she doesn’t know Esi is imprisoned in the dungeon below. Esi is sold in the slave trade and shipped to America, where she, her children, and her grandchildren are raised in slavery.
The book continues to follow each generation of both Effia and Esi all the way to the present day and includes a range of historical time periods, including the American Civil War and Jazz Age.
The Book Girls Say… Despite this long history, the book is only 305 pages, so not a traditional epic with extensive storylines for each generation. Instead, each chapter introduces a new character, and the book reads more like a short story. Some readers are disappointed that not every chapter/chapter has a full arc and conclusion.
This novel begins during the Spanish Civil War. When Franco succeeds in overthrowing the government, thousands flee to the French border, including Roser, a pregnant young widow, and Victor, an army doctor and the brother of Roser's deceased love. To improve their chances of survival, Roser and Victor must marry despite neither wishing to do so.
Together with thousands of other refugees, they board the SS Winnipeg bound for Chile, leaving behind a Europe erupting in WWII. While starting over on another continent, both hold onto hope that they'll be able to return to Spain one day. But as they witness the battle between freedom and repression across the globe, Roser and Victor discover that home is closer than they thought.
Setting: Borneo, Vietnam, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Libya
Written by the long-time director and producer of Anthony Bourdain’s travel food show, In the Weeds takes you on an adventure around the world. They filmed in dangerous locations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, and Iran. The book covers what it was like to be on this journey around the world and how they managed to film in areas so hard for westerners to visit. There’s a focus on what it was like doing the traveling with Bourdain, on and off-camera.
The Book Girls Say...Skip this one if you’re sensitive to the topic of suicide. Vitale shares some morbid comments Bourdain made over the years on the subject of death, prior to taking his own life. If you enjoyed Bourdain’s style and cynical worldview, there’s another travelogue titled The Great Railway Bazaar that you may enjoy.
Setting: London; New Orleans; Cape Cod; New Zealand
Georgia has it all from the outside. She’s a wife, mother, and successful neurosurgeon in London and has been named the first female Director of her department. However, when her daughter Lara starts insisting on more information about her biological father, Georgia’s mostly under-control anxiety attacks return in full force.
Because Georgia’s memories of that portion of life are so repressed, she doesn’t know the answers to Lara’s questions. When therapy fails, she heads to across the sea to New Orleans where she met Lara’s father, and then to the small island in New Zealand where he died. Will she be able to piece together her own history and hold her family together?
The Book Girls Say...If you read and enjoyed A Drop in the Ocean from our Australia list, this is the same author.
Based on a true story, this novel will transport you to two vastly different time periods and locations. In 1939 Paris, Odile works for the American Library. When Nazis arrive in Paris and threaten the library, Odile and her fellow brave librarians join the resistance.
Forty-three years later in Montana, teenager Lily becomes interested in her widowed neighbor. As they begin to form a bond, Lily tries to learn more about how her French neighbor ended up in Montana. They have no idea that a dark secret connects them.
This compelling true family history was written by the author of the Children's Blizzard novel. The book traces three branches of his Jewish family over the course of 150 years as they left Russia and diverged to Palestine, the US, and Europe.
Those who went to Palestine were pioneers and participated in the formation of Isreal. Those in the US formed the successful Maidenform Bra Company. Sadly, those in Europe suffered greatly during WW2 and the holocaust. While this is non-fiction, it's said to be a page-turning account of one family's experience throughout many historical events.
Setting: Thailand, Australia, Serbia, Dubai, San Francisco, Finland
This page-turning romantic mystery follows Louise as she flies to Thailand looking for her mother after the tragic Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. She locates her mother's distinctive bag, but inside the bag, there's something unexpected - a beautiful atlas with notes and mementos from a travel journalist.
Louise journeys across Thailand, trying to make sense of Claire's atlas while searching for her mother, eventually uncovering unexpected secrets.
The Kindle version is currently free with Kindle Unlimited. The book has an alternate title of The Atlas of Us.
Despite the title, this book is set across three seasons and will whisk you through three of the world's most glamorous cities: New York, London, and Paris.
Cassie married young and ten years later, with a failed marriage and no career, she needs to find herself again. She leaves her quiet life in Scotland to travel for a year, staying with her best friends as she tries on each of their cities for size.
The Book Girls Say... There are two books by this title, but only one that lets you travel the globe, so be sure to look for the one by Karen Swan. She's the same author who wrote The Spanish Promise, which was a popular choice on our Western Europe reading list. She's also written a number of books set in other European cities, as well as additional Christmas titles.
Lonely Planet has produced travel guides to every corner of the globe, but the company was not always destined for success. In 1973, founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler self-published a couple of guides about how to travel around Asia on a tiny budget. They revolutionized the travel industry by catering to a new generation of independent and budget-conscious travelers who wanted to explore less-visited destinations.
After thirty years in the travel business, the Wheelers - banned from one country and declared dead many times in an assortment of gruesome and greatly exaggerated accounts - have some incredible anecdotes. Through it all, their passion for the planet and for travel remains unscathed.
Unlikely Destinations tells the Wheeler's personal story as well as the evolution of their business. The result is a mix of autobiography, business history, and travel book.
This is book one of Ken Follett's The Century Trilogy. This epic story of love, hatred, war, and revolution begins in 1911 on the Coronation Day of King George V.
The complex plot of this nearly 1,000 page book includes many intertwined characters, including a Welsh coal-mining family, the aristocratic coal-mine owners, a spy at the German Embassy in London, an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, and two orphaned Russian brothers.
They say that behind every great love song is a great love story, but this is the story of song that winds its way around the world, telling more than one love story.
Concert pianist Diana has long been engaged to Arie. The two are finally ready to marry, but not until Diana returns home to Australia from her world tour. While on tour, she composes a love song for Arie.
Late one night, her love song is overheard. Tragedy strikes before Diana can play it for Arie, but the song is already on its own journey across the world.
In Scotland, Evie has been drifting for years since leaving Australia with a dream of becoming a poet. Now she spends her days making coffee, her nights serving beer, and she questions her relationship with her boyfriend.
Then one day, through a twist of fate, she hears an exquisite love song... Diana's love song that has been passed from musician to musician. Will this song ultimately bring two lost souls together?
The Book Girls Say... This book is recommended for fans of Jojo Moyes and Josie Silver. Reviewers say it has a Love Actually quality.
Setting: Arctic to Sahara, and much more in between
Climb into the cockpit with Captain Terry Reece for a journey around the world and a look into the world of aviation.
Reece's first flying lesson didn't end very well, but his love of adventure pushed him forward. Soon he was navigating his plane to far-flung locales. He and his wife fought to keep his dream of flying alive through the years, allowing him to pack many amazing adventures into one lifetime.
This short and fast-paced biography (256 pages) is filled with a mix of humor, compassion, and danger.
The Kindle version is currently free with Kindle Unlimited.
Setting: Iceland, Bhutan, India, Qatar, Singapore, Moldova, and more
Author Eric Weiner spent a decade working as a foreign correspondent reporting largely about unhappy people living in unstable states. Despite being a self-proclaimed grump, Weiner is also a self-help book aficionado and found that while his experiences made for good copy, they didn't make for good karma.
That's what motivated him to set out on a year-long journey around the globe in search of the "unheralded happy places." The book is equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and philosophical, and the results are quite unexpected.
The Book Girls Say... Reader's compare the writing style of this book to that of Bill Bryson, but with even more snark and a bit of melancholy. The audio version of this book is highly recommended, and the audio is available with no wait times via library systems that are connected with Hoopla.
The Penguins Stopped Play is a holy grail of a multi-continent book. You’ll laugh your way around all seven continents with a group of eccentric men from England.
The author had the zany idea to be the first person to play cricket on every continent around the world. He gathered an adventurous group of 10 others to form a team and join his quest. Readers describe it as laugh-out-loud funny as they experience different regions on and off the field, including an invasion of penguins onto the pitch in Antarctica.
The Book Girls Say...While this book is a little harder to get than we prefer, it is available at affordable prices used on Amazon.
by Elizabeth Gilbert Setting: Italy, India, and Bali
In her early 30s, Elizabeth Gilbert seemingly had it all - she was well educated, with a successful career, a husband, and a nice home. But rather than feeling fulfilled, her modern American success left her feeling unhappy and a bit panicked because she wasn't sure why.
After a painful divorce and a failed rebound relationship, she decided to leave it all behind and set out on a year of solo-travel to three distinct destinations. In each, she immersed herself in the culture while exploring a different side of herself.
In Italy, she gave in to pleasure - especially food. In India, she spent four months at an ashram focusing on uninterrupted spiritual exploration. Finally, on the Indonesian island of Bali, Gilbert to sought to find balance between enjoyment and transcendence. Bali is also where she unexpectedly falls in love.
The Book Girls Say... In the years immediately following its publication, this book became too popular for its own good. Liking it became almost cliche. Critics call Gilbert self-absorbed and point to the fact that she funded her year of travel with an advance from her editor after pitching the idea for this memoir.
Angela read this book early on before all the hype and criticism, and enjoyed every minute of it! If you skipped reading this book the first time around, and especially if you love to travel, or have a case of wanderlust, now might be the perfect time to give this book a chance and form your own opinion.
THANK YOU again for reading with us this year. We’ve learned so many new things and seen so many people and places from fresh points of view. We hope you’ve had the same positive experience!
On 12/1, we’ll be sharing next year’s brand new challenge theme AND the January’s book list. If you’re not already in our Facebook group, now is a great time to join! We will announce the new challenge in the group, and that’s also where we’ll chat about the books throughout the year. Once it’s announced, you can also find the new challenge details on the reading challenge page of this website.
Don’t worry, if you’re not done armchair traveling yet, you aren’t alone. We’ll be circling the globe again as well!
Thank you to the Book Girls for selecting my book as part of the December challenge. I am quite honored to be included on a list that includes top authors such as Maggie Shipstead, Abraham Verghese, Thrity Umrigar, Isabelle Allende!
For ease in finding Wherever the Road Leads and reviews of my memoir, note that the published author name is K. Lang-Slattery.
Jennifer L Price
Saturday 20th of November 2021
I have really enjoyed this challenge even though I haven't always kept up with posting. You really put together some great lists; thank you!