For language learners, every book is an adventure. With their magical ability to transport us to new worlds, each story introduces exciting people, places, and ideas.
That’s why, whether you’re gearing up for a big trip or filling your wanderlust between adventures, books that tell stories from around the world are the perfect motivation for language learning.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 language-filled, culturally diverse books to keep your bookshelves stocked with instant inspiration.
1. In Other Words | Jhumpa Lahiri
2. Ways To Disappear | Idra Novey
3. All That Man Is | David Szalay
In this collection of stories, Szalay holds a magnifying glass up to the lives of nine European men living in countries that are not their own. Through a brutally honest lens, we follow these characters as they navigate important moments every world traveler will recognize: the vulnerability of speaking a second language, the learning curve of a new culture, and the moments of insecurity that all humans experience.
4. A Clockwork Orange | Anthony Burgess
A literary classic, A Clockwork Orange is an unsettling, intriguing read for anyone fascinated with the trappings of linguistics. Set in a future world, the main character, Alex, speaks in an invented language with notes of English and Russian, narrating their sprees of criminal activity. Examining the role of language in understanding good versus evil, fans of dystopian literature shouldn’t miss A Clockwork Orange.
5. Umami | Laia Jufresa
6. Elephant Complex | John Gimlette
If your dreams are filled with visions of the cave temples and tropical seas of Sri Lanka, then this book is for you. Known for his innate ability to wax poetic about some of the world’s most fascinating destinations, Gimlette takes us this time to the often misunderstood Sri Lanka to give readers a deeper understanding of the culture, context, and wonder to be found on this Indian Ocean island.
7. The Bollywood Bride | Sonali Dev
Get to know modern Indian-American life through the eyes of a rising Bollywood star. For fiction lovers who take their cultural immersion with a dose of drama, this book (and any novel by Dev!) drops you directly into the family affairs, friendship woes, and perils of fame that define main character Ria Parkar’s complex life in the spotlight.
8. Reading Lolita in Tehran | Azar Nafisi
In this moving memoir, Nafisi takes readers inside the lives of women living in revolutionary Iran, where they are forbidden from reading Western classics. When Nafisi takes it upon herself to gather a group of young students, they explore the works that have a lasting impact on their enlightenment and freedom. Get a glimpse into the ideas, dreams, and boldness that stem from Nafisi’s courageous act of defiance.
9. The Indian Cooking Course | Monisha Bharadwaj
10. Things Fall Apart | Chinua Achebe
Now that you’ve traveled the world in books, it’s time to get ready for your next adventure!
With over 70 world languages and dialects to choose from, take your wanderlust on the road with language and culture training designed to prepare an adventurer like you for the experience of a lifetime.
What types of literature inspire you? Share with us the stories that have most impacted your life in the comments below!