The best Modern Classics to transport you around the world

Fancy a trip? Henry Eliot, host of new podcast On the Road with Penguin Classics, lists his favourite reads to take you away, from Japan and Accra to the island coasts of New Zealand.

Henry Eliot
A flatlay of the recommended books
Image: Alicia Fernandes / Penguin

Books are hand-held rabbit holes. The imagination propels us into them and we fall down into marvellous other worlds. Literature allows us to experience what other people experience, in other times and other places. I love this mode of armchair transport  and I also love being where books are actually set, encountering real-world locations that are already strangely familiar. Visiting a literary landscape is an extraordinary experience: the physical topography is overlaid with imagined characters and events, heightening the lived experience of the place and enhancing the memory of reading the book.

With On the Road with Penguin Classics, our new podcast that brings these literary landscapes to life, I travel to a different location with a different guest to discuss a great work of literature. We explore the ways in which authors have drawn on  and transformed  the real world. I visit the coast of Cumbria with the actress Olivia Vinall to discuss The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, I make a Canterbury Tales pilgrimage with the poet Patience Agbabi, I digress around Tristram Shandy with the screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce and I explore George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss with the novelist Louis de Bernières. It has been a delight to put these episodes together.

For now, the episodes in Series One have all been recorded within the UK, but here is a selection of some of my favourite novels that transport readers to far-flung locations around the globe. All of these are on my post-lockdown bucket list...

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more