There are books that are almost just as good as being at the destination their plot is taking place at. Other books will make you like the destinations where they are set so much, you will end up visiting them.
As a child, I used to read any book I could lay my hands on. Including the Encyclopedias at home. One of the volumes was dedicated to ancient Egypt. Flipping through the pages, I “visited” the Tomb of Tutankhamun and the Valley of Kings. I savored the spectacular images, and learnt about mysterious gods and pyramid construction methods. Under the influence of this Encyclopedia volume, I traveled to Egypt at a later age, to see for myself what the pyramids in look like in reality.
Here are some books that will inspire you to travel the world:
My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell
An autobiographical novel by the well-known author and zoologist, who describes with comical exaggeration his childhood with his family, in the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s.
The descriptions of the lively tavernas, and cheerfulness and hospitality of the locals in My Family and Other Animals, made me include Corfu in a trip to Greece.
In Corfu I discovered a beautiful lush island with spectacular bays and cliffs that rise above clear blue waters. I liked the historic Corfu Town, with its’ alleys and Italian influenced architecture, which distinguished it from other Greek islands. The island is no longer the unspoilt heaven depicted in Durrell’s book. Largely due to the author’s successful books, putting Corfu “on the map”. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly still worth a visit.
Suitable for: nostalgic humor lovers who want to read about life in a piece of idyllic paradise. Animal lovers will especially love it.
The Slow Waltz of the Turtles – Katrin Pancol
A fun read about a mother-of-two, who reaches a crossroad, after becoming rich after secretly writing successful novel under a pen name, for her sister. The story takes place in an upscale apartment building in the heart of Paris. The Parisian setting of The Slow Waltz of the Turtles adds a distinct flavour to it. It just would not be the same book, if the protagonists did not have distinctly French names and the novel took place in another city.
Suitable for: lovers of urban Francophilia, with elements of romance and suspense.
Sex and the City – Candice Bushnell.
Before the Television series, there was Candice Bushnell’s book – Sex and the City. The book is based on a column she wrote in the New York Observer in the 1990’s. While the series is lighthearted, the novel is no fairy tale. It takes a more alienated, critical outlook on the lives of the Manhattan women it describes. The characters go out to fashionable parties, have emotionally detached sex and take drugs as part of a pursuit, to climb up Manhattan’s social ladder.
Suitable for: readers who can stomach sharply observant almost cruel depictions of a decadent era and society in New York.
NEW YORK – once again
Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The book, considered groundbreaking in American literature, will make you feel as if you are experiencing Manhattan along with the main character, Holden Caulfield.
Some say that the Manhattan in the Catcher in the Rye is a metaphor for Holden’s troubled mental state. The city plays a central role in the story-line, as Holden drifts through the city’s most famous attractions. Although the book was published in 1951, it stands the test of time . The landmarks mentioned in it, have stayed mostly unchanged and should not be missed if you come to Manhattan.
Suitable for: American classic’s enthusiasts with a fondness for the sincerity of rebellious youth.
Sushi for Beginners – Marian Keyes
Marianne Keys’ books which have sold in tens of millions of copies) are considered light hearted and humorous and usually take place in the city of Dublin. Although they make be considered “Chick Lit”, they can touch on darker themes like depression and alcoholism. If you are looking for a guilty pleasure to make you feel like you are a young Irishwoman living in vibrant Dublin, Sushi for Beginners is the book for you.
Suitable For: anyone looking for a romantic, cheeky, clever romantic novel.
AROUND THE WORLD
Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
In Around the World in Eighty Days Verne makes use of suspense, amusing characters, geographical facts, and a skilled plot construction in his unique way. Way back in 1872, that Jules Vern succeeded in engaging his readers’ imagination and make them want to travel the world by every means of transport available. The book even brought to the reader’s awareness important women’s rights issues such as Sati (widow burning in India). Standing the test of time, Around the World in Eighty Days will still make you want to take your own trip around the world.
Suitable for: tweens and adults wanting to revisit an intriguing easy to read childhood classic.
What books made you want to travel to the destinations they were written about?