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European Tour Reading List!

(29 Posts)
MidLifeCrisis2017 Mon 17-Apr-17 20:20:44

Sorry, not as grand as it sounds.

I'm driving a motor home round Europe on my own for five months and would like to read some books, fiction or non fiction, relevant to the countries I'm visiting. I'm interested in modern history if that helps at all. The countries are:

The Netherlands

I hope.....


tobee Tue 18-Apr-17 00:32:19

How about The Beauty and the Sorrow: an intimate history of the First World War by Peter Englund? It's contains first hand accounts, diaries etc in chronological order of experiences during the war. Unsurprisingly it contains accounts from Britain and Germany, which are not on your list but also includes France, Belgium, Italy etc. It's quite a tome but I found it fascinating. In a similar, but different vein, is 1913: The Year before the Storm by Florian Illies which is an often very amusing account of various novelists, philosophers, playwrights and artists and what they were up to throughout that year, including young Adolf Hitler. They do concern the same period but are more European centred than British.

Clovis1 Tue 18-Apr-17 08:43:22

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

BarbaraofSeville Tue 18-Apr-17 09:45:42

envy envy envy sounds amazing.

I've read loads of travel books and a lot generally touch on the history of the places visited, so hopefully some of these will tick some boxes?

Belgium - A Tall Man in a Low Land by Harry Pearson
Albania - One Hit Wonderland by Tony Hawks

French Revolutions by Tim Moore

There's also a book called The Balkan Odyssey by Jason Smart.

MidLifeCrisis2017 Tue 18-Apr-17 12:50:02

Thanks - keep them coming! Pure fiction welcome too.

I've actually read the Belgium one as I used to live there - I think I had more fun than he did!

Laska5772 Tue 18-Apr-17 12:57:38

All Fiction:

For Croatia try The Hired Man by Aminatta Forma

and for France/Netherlands Summer House with Swimming pool Herman Koch

Greece Fiction , have a look at Victoria Hislop

AuldHeathen Tue 18-Apr-17 13:35:36

Go to library and check the back of all relevant Rough Guides. Local lit is listed there. And do a MN search as there was a thread a couple of years ago on reading round Europe. You are a very lucky person. I am v envious. Bon voyage.

MidLifeCrisis2017 Tue 18-Apr-17 13:40:24

I'm about to be a very poor person too but for once in my life everything fell into place.....had a very tough five years so I'm treating myself to five months of sunshine, eating and reading!

AuldHeathen Tue 18-Apr-17 13:52:19

But poverty is okay if the sun is shining, non?and if you have food and books. smile

one of the Anne Michaels' books is set in Greece, not sure which. Set on an island in ww2. Reading some Ancient Greek might help prepare for the visit to Greece.

There is series of short stories based on some European cities.e.g. City-Pick Amsterdam.

Cees Nooteboom has several books out on NL and it's place in Europe.

MidLifeCrisis2017 Tue 18-Apr-17 17:10:12

Thanks- I'll check out the Rough Guide lists.

Another excellent Greek one is Eleni by Nicholas Gage, based on his mother's life.

GeorgeHerbert Tue 18-Apr-17 18:23:18

Anything by Elena Ferrante for Italy - particularly if you go to Naples.
Second vote for Eleni

AuldHeathen Tue 18-Apr-17 19:03:05

Just read I said it's instead of its. Can I confirm I know what's right. Blame my machine not me!! And I meant Ancient Greek stories. No idea what thought

waycat Wed 19-Apr-17 15:13:39

Try Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan for Italy.

It's a novel but based on a true story of Nazi occupied Italy, and one young man's epic tale of courage and bravery.

It is at times heart breaking, at times totally uplifting, and certainly one book that the reader can learn a lot from.

Highly recommended.

MidLifeCrisis2017 Wed 19-Apr-17 17:50:40

That sounds right up my street, thanks

YoungYolandaYorgensen39 Wed 19-Apr-17 19:44:47

NL- Brilliant Orange
Italy - The Leopard
Albania - something by Ismail Kadare. Chronicle in Stone maybe.

tormentil Thu 20-Apr-17 13:07:25

Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis.

This book was given to me as a thank you gift by a young Greek man who recently came to stay at my house. I've just started it, so can't say much about it, but I like what I've read so far. It was written in the 1950s and seems to be about a larger than life character called Zorba.

LiveLifeWithPassion Thu 20-Apr-17 15:41:21

I haven't got any books to recommend but just wanted to say Wow! Your 5 months sounds amazing. Are you going to have a thread or blog about your travels? Please update me us.

tripfiction Thu 20-Apr-17 20:43:30

Here you go:


Igneococcus Thu 20-Apr-17 20:49:18

I just finished Elena Ferrante's Naples quartet and it's a fantastic but not an easy read. Highly recommend it.

lucydogz Thu 20-Apr-17 22:43:33

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Written just before the start of WWII, he walked from Rotterdam to Istanbul, reaching Hungary by the end of the book. A perfect book for your kind of journey, I think

lucydogz Thu 20-Apr-17 22:44:52

Oh, and The Vagabond by Colette for France, or her collected short stories

KeithLeMonde Mon 24-Apr-17 14:09:05

David Szalay, All That Man Is - crisscrosses Europe through a series of chapters, touches on quite a number of the places you are visiting.

Rose of Sarajevo by Ayse Kulin (Yugoslavian war)

SecretSpi Mon 24-Apr-17 15:29:35

I second the suggestion of 'A Time of Gifts' by Patrick Leigh Fermor and would add the second part 'Between the woods and the water' and the third which was published after his death, 'The Broken Road'. They are fantastic!

lucydogz Mon 24-Apr-17 15:51:27

there's also a writer who recently followed Legh Fermor's stepped and wrote a book about it.

bibliomania Wed 26-Apr-17 12:01:50

Madly jealous of your trip.

Albania: I loved The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kidare (and it's a wonderful country - I've only been to Tirana but I'd love to explore it properly).

France: I've heard good things about The Discovery of France, by Graham Robb, although I haven't actually read it.

I also agree with the Patrick Leigh Fermor recommendation.

I'll admit to liking Tim Moore's Continental Drifter, although it's a bit trashier than the above.

Not modern history, but I really enjoyed Harry Mount's Odyssey.

Also, as an enjoyable read about why we travel, I love Taras Grescoe's The End of Elsewhere: Travels among the Tourists.

Can I come with you?

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