See the World: Fiction and Non-Fiction Best Books for Globetrotting Women

Do you dream of faraway places brimming with colorful vendors markets, tree-lined cobblestone streets, and perhaps a bit of—dare we say—jet-set love? (Self-love counts too, ladies!)

Following planes, trains, and automobiles, books are some of our most reliable vehicles of transport. Those canvas-bound companions usher us into diverse worlds of otherworldly triumphs, tribulations, and transformations. 

What lies ahead are a collection of stories befitting those in search of enriching travels, geographical explorations, and cultural perspective. 

Here, dear reader, is your ticket. All you must do is set sail on the far-flung journey before you—are you packed? 

The Dancing Girls of Lahore—Louise Brown

Image source: https://bookshop.org/books/the-dancing-girls-of-lahore-selling-love-and-saving-dreams-in-pakistan-s-pleasure-district/

Louise Brown’s stunning novel bestows illuminary insight into the true story of Pakistan’s Diamond District and its illustrious courtesan trade. The Dancing Girls, once clandestine and cherished personifications of Mughal artistry, now live in a reality far from sovereign reverence. 

Armed with a sociologist’s studious approach, Brown offers a beautifully scripted and intimate observation into the experiences of one woman—Maha, an artful courtesan trained in song, dance, and seduction within the Walled City.

A walled city indeed, as her daughters preemptively face the same fate.

Impactful, heart wrenching, and, at times, playful, The Dancing Girls of Lahore is Brown’s written discovery.

Malala Yousafzai, Literati’s Fearless Book Club Luminary, commends the storytelling for its vibrant depiction of her home country

“It’s not a travelogue but this book does feel like travelling. On every page, I could feel like I was there, walking along the streets right beside the author and the people she meets.”

Why this book is the perfect travel companion:

  • Telescopic, equipped with a sociological lense
  • Immersive, pull-you-in prose
  • Resilient women who spar hypocrisy and cultural corruption
  • Stark, illuminating realities

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country—Helen Russel

Image source: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-year-of-living-danishly-uncovering-the-secrets-of-the-world-s-happiest-country/ 

An enjoyable and enlightening read, The Year of Living Danishly offers its readers a neighboring seat alongside its author as she pursues hygge—a defining Danish trait and notion of cozy contentment.

With her medley of interviews and personal anecdotes, Russell nourishes readers with all that it means to live and be Danish—and yes, that includes pickled herring.

Why this book is the perfect travel companion:

  • Interviews with bad-ass feminist academics
  • Home decor insight into hygge homes
  • Whimsical musings into unusual traditions
  • Environmentalism as well-ingrained as Danes’ Viking legacy

In the Time of the Butterflies—Julia Alvarez

Image source: https://bookshop.org/books/in-the-time-of-the-butterflies 

Alavez depicts a fictionalized retelling of Rafael Trujillo’s pervasive Dominican dictatorship—through the words of the sisters who lost their lives standing against it. 

Her beautiful novel In the Time of the Butterflies threads political and familial themes amidst ribbons of exquisite poetic humor. The voice of each narrator is that of each sister, converging into an intricate rendering of life in the mid-twentieth-century Dominican Republic. 

We see them first as young girls, and continue along as each sister grapples with love, identity, and her responsibility during times of political upheaval. It’s undoubtedly worth the read— but the story of the Mirabal sisters isn’t always rainbows and butterflies…

Why this book is the perfect travel companion:

  • Historical perspective
  • An unbreakable bond of sisters
  • Unrelenting and compelling choices to be made
  • A revolutionary love story 

Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road—Lands of Lost Borders

Image source: https://bookshop.org/books/lands-of-lost-borders/

It was during her childhood that Kate Harris realized her dreams to be an explorer were dead. 

With “swashbuckler” reluctantly crossed off her list and her childhood friend in tow, the author armed her feet with pedals and traversed the illustrious Silk Road on two wheels. She was in pursuit of wild and unbounded discovery.

Of course, the most expansive discovery was the one she found within.  

Lands of Lost Borders weaves a heartwarming account of travel, philosophy, and connection that’s as reflective as it is wry.

Why this book is the perfect travel companion:

  • Tenacious women who trek across fabled trading routes
  • Enduring and inspiring female friendships
  • History, philosophy, and science, oh my!
  • Befitting a night under the stars

Next Year in Havana—Chanel Cleeton

Image source: https://bookshop.org/books/next-year-in-havana/ 

Did someone say forbidden romance? Oh my, let’s dive in.

Chantel Cleeton’s transporting historical novel Next Year in Havana weaves the stories of two generations—a lovestruck sugar baron’s daughter and her granddaughter, a freelance writer determined to understand Cuba’s past… and its present. 

It’s atmospheric, evocative, and politically insightful. Two love stories take the helm—one past, one present—each steeped in questions of identity, secrets, and swoon-worthy passion. 

The most concealed love story, however, exists not between people. The novel lauds Cuba’s natural and cultural beauties, which are fortified by vivid, expressive, and compelling prose that’s just as colorful as Cuba itself. 

Why this book is the perfect travel companion:

  • A beloved grandmother with a hidden past
  • Clandestine affairs with wistful rebels (Romeo and Juliet vibes)
  • A peek into Cuba’s political evolution
  • Always a secret waiting to be revealed

Embark to New Lands with Literati

Books take us to extraordinary places, from far-off lands like Pakistan’s Diamond District to China’s mythical expressways. And perhaps unknowingly at first, those bounded chariots deliver us to uncharted precipices of new understandings, too. 

And isn’t that what travel is all about? The unbounded, unfettered, uncharted journey of it all?

Explore new places, people, and things with Literati’s Luminary book clubs for transformative and transportive novels that encourage you to expand your own borders. Our curations offer the best books to read that challenge, adventure, and entice. 

Sources: 

Historical Novel Society. Next Year in Havana. https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/next-year-in-havana/ 

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