Looking for books to read when travelling?

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a new website about books to read when travelling….

I love reading and I love travelling although I get to do a lot more of the former than the latter. Nevertheless, the idea of combining both pastimes holds infinite appeal for me.

When travelling in Australia earlier this year, for example, I read (on the recommendation of one of our hosts) This House of Grief by Helen Garner, a true crime story based in Winchelsea, Victoria.

I love making reading connections in this way and now I’ve discovered a new website, Reading The City, that follows the same principle. The website owner doesn’t reveal his name but he does admit to being the son of architect and artist Gabriel Feld.

Here’s how he describes the impetus for the site:

Growing up, whenever we would go on vacation, my father would explain to us the history of where we stood. Without fail, as we would take a break and rest our feet at a coffee shop, he would grab the closest napkin and map out the city for us to better understand why and how it came to be the way it was today. He could turn any city into an endless curiosity.

To date, the site has identified books for six cities:

  • Berlin
  • Boston
  • Johannesburg
  • Vienna
  • London

I’ve already visited two of these cities (Vienna and London) and am going read the book suggested for each. (The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler for Vienna and NW by Zadie Smith for London.) I hold a particular fondness for Vienna, which has one of the best public transit systems in the world (clean, large, inexpensive and frequent) and, of course, superb architecture.

I’m eager to see which books the site is going to choose for New York and Paris, two cities apparently “coming soon.” And I’ll be giving some thought to whether or not there are any books I can recommend for cities that haven’t yet been covered. Please consider doing the same. This is a fascinating website!