Those embarking on a European sojourn this year may find that selecting the right novel to take on your travels is no easy feat. From the book’s subject to its ease of fitting inside your already over-stuffed backpack, you have to be very careful about the books that you bring.
A trip to Europe also presents the perfect opportunity to wade into works of both European authors, and the writers who have been endlessly inspired by the continent.
Whether you will be reading while lazing on a Mediterranean beach, tackling a two-day bus journey or watching everyone else’s holiday pictures longingly from home, this is your ultimate European summer reading list.
My Brilliant Friend By Elena Ferrante
My Brilliant Friend is the first in the quartet of works (known as the Neapolitan novels) by Italian author Elena Ferrante. The novels follow the intense and complicated friendship between Elena and Lila, two girls grow up in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples in the 1950s.
If you haven’t been struck by Ferrante fever yet then consider this your last warning—it’s impossible to not become obsessed with the world of the Neapolitan novels.
Buy My Brilliant Friend here.
Bonjour Tristesse By Francoise Sagan
In Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan transports us to the French Riviera, where 17-year-old Cecile is spending the summer with her father and his current mistress, Elsa. The novel, which scandalised France in the 1950s, explores the notions of love, marriage and sexual freedom. You’re not going to want to put it down.
Buy Bonjour Tristesse here.
Call Me By Your Name By André Aciman
We can’t put together a European summer reading list without including Call Me By Your Name. Whether you have seen the hit movie or not, the original novel, which follows an intense summer romance between 17-year-old Elio and his father’s older house guest Oliver, is still worth reading.
Buy Call Me By Your Name here.
Hot Milk By Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy’s hypnotic novel Hot Milk, follows 25-year-old Sophia, who rents a house with her demanding mother, Rose, on the hot southern coast of Spain. The pair, who are there to find a cure for Rose’s unpredictable limb paralysis, face their own monsters and desires within the transient desert community.
Buy Hot Milk here.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is a classic for a reason. The novel’s luscious prose, portrays the adventures of American and British travellers on the Camino de Santiago, and the beauty, passion and horrors they come across. This is one to savour.
Buy The Sun Also Rises here.
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley is a psychological thriller set on the Amalfi Coast. The story follows Tom Ripley, a sociopathic young man who becomes obsessed with the wealthy lifestyle of his friend, Dickie Greenleaf. A hedonistic escapade ensues.
Buy The Talented Mr Ripley here.
A Room With A View by E.M Forster
You can’t go to Florence without reading E.M Forster’s A Room With A View. The novel, which humorously critiques upper middle-class English society in the 20th century, also offers a romantic portrayal of Florence in the same era.
Buy A Room With A View here.