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Our Favourite Books Set on Trains

Wednesday 20 December 2023

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As long as we’ve been hopping on board trains, we’ve been carrying our favourite books alongside us to entertain us on the journey. In fact, so important is the railway to literary history that paperbacks were first developed to accompany rail passengers! When Allen Lane, a publisher, noticed a gap in the market for cheap, lightweight travel books when travelling from Exeter St. David’s to London, Penguin Paperbacks were born.

So, a long train journey is the perfect excuse to get started on a good book. With the countryside rolling past, the quiet mutter of train conversation and the excitement and expectation of your nearing destination, this simple hobby can suddenly seem quite romantic. For CrossCountry, books and trains go hand-in-hand, and here you can check out our favourite books set on trains to prepare for your journey.

From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming

In From Russia with Love, 007 returns for the fifth instalment of the iconic James Bond series to confront a devious plot orchestrated by Colonel Rosa Klebb aboard the Orient Express. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the gripping tale is the perfect entanglement of romance and danger to lose yourself in on a long train journey. Fleming’s storytelling is timeless and exhilarating, the perfect novel for a long-distance journey with CrossCountry.

In fact, From Russia with Love has just over 250 pages, which means it’s perfectly possible to read the entire novel on one our lengthier journeys. For example, you could easily read the whole thing on the thirteen-hour direct train from Aberdeen to Penzance. If you’re an especially speedy reader, the six-hour journey from Bristol Temple Meads to Edinburgh Waverly!

Genre: Espionage.

Length: 253 pages.

First Published: 1957.

Our Rating: 4/5 Voyager Trains

Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith

Strangers on a Train follows a chance encounter of two men on a train bound for Texas. After a series of drunken confessions, the two men enter into a diabolical plot to murder each other’s family members. This novel is a psychological rollercoaster that begs the unsettling question: can anyone be driven to commit murder? This novel will have you casting suspicious glances at the commuter sitting opposite you!

Genre: Psychological Thriller.

Length: 256 pages.

First Published: 1950.

Our Rating: 4/5 Voyager Trains.

Person wearing a denim jacket reading a book on the train.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants is a poignant tale set Great Depression era America. Jacob Jankowski joins a travelling circus and falls in love with Marlena, the beautiful star of the horse-riding act, while also forming a charming bond with Rosie the elephant. The novel follows the trials and tribulations of life on the circus train, leaving readers with a palpable sense of joy and heartbreak. With so much emotion set on a train, why not bring this novel on a long journey and see if you can spark up your own train romance?

Genre: Romance.

Length: 331 pages.

First Published: 200.

Our Rating: 3.5/5 Voyager Trains.

The Great Train Robbery, Michael Crichton

The Great Train Robbery is based on the true story of the 1855 Gold Heist, where 224-pounds of gold were emptied from safes on board the train, an amount that would total over £1million today. This novel tells the gripping story of Edward Pierce, his team of petty criminals, and their plan commit the first great robbery aboard a moving train. Don’t get any ideas!
Fun fact: this book was turned into a film starring Sean Connery, making it the second book on our list to star Connery in the film adaptation.

Genre: Crime/Historical.

Length: 266 pages.

First Published: 1975.

Our Rating: 4/5 Voyager Trains.

Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

Most of us have heard of Christie’s chilling murder-mystery set on one of the most famous trains in the world, but we had to give it a special mention. With the mystery and riddle-solving all taking place on board the decadent Orient Express, and an eclectic mixture of characters all raising suspicions in individual ways, this is a novel that will have you scratching your head. We just hope you can finish the whole thing before reaching your destination, or you’ll be left wanting more!

Genre: Murder mystery.

Length: 288 pages.

First Published: 1934.

Our Rating: 4/5 Voyager Trains.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

the lives of those she watches as she journeys past. With an unreliable narrator, you’ll be on the edge of your set reading this thrilling novel.

Genre: Thriller.

Length: 320 pages.

First Published: 2015.

Our Rating: 3/5 Voyager Trains.

Murder on the Flying Scotsman, Carola Dunn

In Carola Dunn’s Murder on the Flying Scotsman, Daisy Dalrymple, an amateur sleuth, finds herself on the iconic Flying Scotsman from London to Edinburgh. When a fellow passenger is murdered in cold blood, Daisy must unravel a series of secrets and red herrings to solve the mystery. This charming historical novel serves as a compelling and fun story, a perfect read to celebrate the Centenary of the Flying Scotsman !

Genre: Mystery.

Length: 256 Pages.

First Published: 1996.

Our Rating: 3/5 Voyager Trains.

If you’re planning to read one of these fantastic novels on an actual train ride, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

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Written by Julia

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