Dreaming of a holiday, but can’t take one? Why not take a holiday with a book? Some of the best books convey us to another world, making them the perfect escape. Here are some of our favourite books for travelling vicariously.
It’s often given as a reason for inspiration for travelling, and for good reason; Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert covers Italy, India and to Bali, where she goes to find pleasure, devotion and balance. The journey of growth part of the story appeals to many readers, but the descriptions of the countries are also pretty impressive, making you feel like you’re travelling with her.
Anne of Green Gables is a children’s classic (and now a Netflix series as well), the story of an orphaned girl who finds happiness and love with Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert. Anne’s descriptions of Prince Edward Island in Canada are majestic, especially the changes in the scenery in the seasons. Many of the books devotees travel to the island to see for themselves, and it’s one of the major tourism draws.
Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe is a must read for any backpacker or wannabe backpacker. Dave travels to India with Liz because he thinks he might be able to get her into bed. Liz travels to India with Dave because she wants a companion for her voyage of spiritual discovery. She loves it. He does not. This is a laugh out loud satire on student travel, perfectly describing some of the people you’re bound to meet travelling. Absolutely recommended.
We probably could have mentioned any of Bill Bryson’s travel writing here, and with good reason. Notes From A Small Island was voted as the book that best represents Britain in a national poll, and will give you an insight into the intricacies and oddities that make the UK what it is. This is a laugh out loud funny book, and provides the feeling of touring the country without leaving your armchair.
A book that’s been read by many travellers, Marching Powder by Rusty Young is the true story of the life of an English drug trafficker in a notorious Bolivian prison. After writing this, Rusty went on to live and work in Colombia for seven years, and was determined to write about the child soldiers he encountered. Colombiano is a fictional account of rural villages held to ransom, jungle drug labs, cocaine supermarkets, torture and revenge. A remarkable insight into the problems faced in modern day Columbia.
With it’s iconic cover, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is a total experience of a book. The book is set over twenty five years, starting from 1929 to the post war years. This is the story of Japan’s dramatic history, told through the eyes of a geisha. She reminisces about the perfection and ugliness of life behind the rice-paper screens, and how they were taught to beguile the land’s most powerful men.
The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green is the story of a group of five different women who come together to form a bookclub, to overcome the isolation of life in the Northern Territory in 1978. We read of the of the power of friendship, and the descriptions of the outback, of the wet and the dry, the beauty and the remoteness add a powerful aspect to the story.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris is a true treat of a book. Vianne Rocher arrives in a small French village and opens a chocolate shop directly across from the church, leading to the priest to declare her a serious moral danger. The descriptions of the sinfully good food will make you feel like you’re in France, enjoying all the food on offer!
If you fancy a trip to the Big Apple, why not try The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger? Believe it or not, the job in the book sounds even worse than the one in the movie! This is a very entertaining novel showing us a glimpse of Manhattan that most of us will never get to see. The parties, the glamour, the fashion… and what happens when it’s a sacking offence to wear anything lower than a three-inch heel to work.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is a worldwide bestseller and has got more positive reviews than we can count, and for good reason. Set in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, this is the store of two girls and their friendship that effects the rest of their lives. Beautifully and subtly written, this is also the story of a society on the verge of a dramatic change.
Another backpacker classic, The Beach by Alex Garland is the modern classic coming of age novel about paradise found – and lost. Richard lands in East Asia in search of an earthly utopia, and thinks he has found it on a secluded beach in Thailand. What seems idyllic soon becomes fraught with danger though, despite the heavenly surroundings.
Journey to Afghanistan with A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This is a truly remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. The story of two generations of characters thrown together through the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives — the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness — are inextricable from the history playing out around them.