Along the Waterways: 10 Great Books to Read

There’s nothing quite like a good read, especially when you’re on holiday. If you’ve joined us on one of our luxury hotel barges, you may have spotted our quaint libraries that are often filled with inspiration from the very waterways you’re cruising through. Combine a good book with a refreshing drink from one of our crew, and top it off with the peace of our spacious decks – sheer bliss.

Whilst we can’t offer gorgeous surrounds and personal service just yet, we can offer no less some great books that inspired our love of the waterways and the destinations we visit. From foodie adventures in Italy to romance in Provence, here’s a list of 10 great books to read…

Holiday maker reading a book

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, follow Huckleberry “Huck” Finn as he leaves his new home for a series of adventures with his pal, Thomas “Tom” Sawyer. Huck faces a number of obstacles along his journey, including a run-in with his shiftless father. This book conjures up colourful images of life on the Mississippi River.

A year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Peter and his wife achieved their life-long dream of buying a gorgeous farmhouse in the picturesque region of Provence, in Southern France. In their new life, they experience the culinary delights of the region, its pastimes and just how to perfect the local accent.

Provence lavendar field

France the Quiet Way by John Liley

Divided into two parts, this is the story of the purchase, renovation and journey of a short boat named Arthur in 1970s England. At the beginning of this story, you’ll read of Arthur’s painstaking voyage to London along England’s East Coast, as there was no easy inland route from North to South. In part two, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief as Arthur finds herself cruising the sweeping canals of France, creating a wonderous image of life at the time.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Set in Delft in Holland, this charming 17th century fictional tale is told by 16-year-old Griet, who abruptly finds herself working as a maid in the home of a renowned local painter Vermeer and his wife Catharina, after her artist father is blinded in an accident. A secret friendship, desperation, stories of religion, jealousy and hidden talents make this 1999 novel worthy of a Hollywood movie.

A Steady Trade by Tristan Jones

Travel back to a young boy’s childhood in rural Wales pre-WWII, to a time when the ‘sail-in-trade’ of northern Europe brought coal, bricks and often animals around the world. Read stories of an ageless sea captain, conjure up visions of rugged sailing ships manned by shanty-singing sailors who fought the elements to bring the world their wares. And meet one small boy who is aching to grow up so he too can experience it all…

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

You’ll often find us talking about Chocolat as its setting is a popular stop on our Burgundy cruises. In our 10 Movies & Binge-Worthy Shows to Spark Future Travel Inspiration blog, we talk about how great the Hollywood movie was, but how better to picture yourself there than by the words of author, Joanne Harris. Read as a mother and daughter burst into the fictional French town of Lansquenet to open a chocolaterie during the Holy Month of Lent…

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

A charming childhood novel much-loved throughout the world, this is the story of two families who travel to England’s Lake District on a summer holiday, enjoying quintessential childhood pastimes such as camping, sailing, fishing, tree climbing and of course – exploration and piracy!

Sepulchre by Kate Moss

Immerse yourself into a fictional tale of mystery and adventure from 1891, as 17-year-old Leonie and her brother abandon Paris for their aunt’s home – Domaine de la Cade – near the historic French city of Carcassonne. It’s here, that she comes across a sepulchre with mysteries written in blood. Jump to the year 2007, where Meredith Martin visits the very same site to uncover the mysteries of the very night Leonie made her eerie discovery…

Carcassonne from above

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The perfect traveller’s holiday read, this gorgeous tale talks of romance, self-discovery and food – where the journey begins. And it’s here, that the reader instantly finds themselves consumed by the images painted in our minds. To Italy – home of fresh, comforting and delicious cuisine. It’s here, Elizabeth finds herself 25lbs heavier and a whole lot happier. But of course, these are the delights of Italian cooking… From pleasure to devotion, she heads to India for self-healing, before completing her personal journey in Bali where a short love affair finds her balance.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

This is a beautiful tale of a tragedy faced by a bookstore owner, who finds solace from grief in sharing his knowledge and time with his customers, who are in great need of his help. We love this novel so much, we gave it its own blog! Click here to read all about The Little Paris Bookshop.

A view over Notre-Dame de Paris from the banks of the River Seine. Reims is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Have our top 10 books to read inspired your wanderlust? Many of the destination mentioned can be visited on our luxury barge cruises. Talk to a member of our Sales Team for help in planning the perfect luxury barge cruise, or order a complimentary copy of our brochure.

You may also be interested in:

Share this article