Travel checklist: Must-read books and must-watch movies

Or is it when you fall in love with a book or a film and resolve that one day, somehow, you’ll buy a ticket to the land where the story began?

Their choices range from globally renowned classics — like Austria’s choice of Carol Reed’s Vienna-set film “The Third Man” — to quirky new releases, such as Malta’s “Limestone Cowboy,” about a family dealing with a delusional father’s ambition to become Prime Minister.

23 literary journeys with the world's great writers

“One theme we noticed is a focus on nature,” says Julie Hansen, Babbel’s newly appointed US CEO. Wildlife documentary “Colombia, magia salvaje” (2015), for example, showcases the country’s glorious landscapes for an international audience more used to seeing them in the context of crime series like Netflix’s “Narcos.”

“Another common thread amongst the recommendations was love,” adds Hansen, “a theme that has inspired stories in almost every human culture in history.”

When immersing ourselves in a new culture, a nation’s fictional works — the stories it tells about itself — offer insights as valuable as those we can receive from its non-fiction.

“Non-fiction [works] well in depicting the history that shaped a country and the can’t-miss experiences that a visitor should see,” says Hansen.

“Fiction works wonderfully to boil down the experiences, beliefs attitudes, and characteristics of a country and its people. It is often better than non-fiction at capturing a zeitgeist.”

The full list of recommendations is below and you can read more about the project here.

The ambassadors’ selections:

Austria (Ambassador Wolfgang A. Waldner)

Azerbaijan (Ambassador Elin Suleymanov)

Bhutan (Ambassador Kunzang C. Namgyel)

Canada (Ambassador David MacNaughton)

Chile (Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés)

– Film: “No” (2012), directed by Pablo Larraín

Colombia (Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón)

Denmark (Ambassador Lars Gert Lose)

Estonia (Ambassador Eerik Marmei)

Finland (Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi)

– Book: Moomin books (1945-1959), by Tove Jansson

Germany (Ambassador Peter Wittig)

– Book: “Tschick” (“Why We Took the Car”) (2010), by Wolfgang Herrndorf

Greece (Ambassador Haris Lalacos)

Iceland (Ambassador Geir H. Haarde)

Ireland (Ambassador Anne Anderson)

– Film: “Once” (2007), directed by John Carney

India (Ambassador Navtej Sarna)

Jamaica (Ambassador Audrey Patrice Marks)

Malta (Ambassador Pierre Clive Agius)

New Zealand (Ambassador Tim Groser)

Norway (Ambassador Kåre R. Aas)

– Book: Harry Hole series (1997-2017), by Jo Nesbø
– Film: “Kon-Tiki” (2012), directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Slovenia (Ambassador Božo Cerar)

Sweden (Ambassador Björn Lyrvall)

– Book: “Nordic Ways” (2016), by András Simonyi, edited by Debra Cagan
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