Still going stir-crazy? Itching to adventure further than your backyard in 2020? I totally understand, this pandemic has certainly left us grounded BUT I have a travel solution. I’m reviving my Travel by Book series to help with the no-go blues. So, like last time let’s travel through books. Here’s some top destinations you could visit from the comfort of your couch, chair, bed, bath… based off your suggestions via comments / Instagram. Click the titles to be taken to Indigo Chapters if you’d like to get the book(s). Please note that I am an affiliate with Indigo and will benefit from your purchase but it will not affect anything on your end.
Wishing that was your bicycle parked on the bridge? Check out these titles to help get you there.
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.
How amazing would it be to take in this sight? Here’s a few ways you can pretend you are:
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: A first-date dud, socially awkward and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, genetics professor Don Tillman has given up on love, until a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire—to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling, and looking for her biological father a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with.
- The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman: After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
You might not be able to explore all that striking architecture in person, but a book or two may help you imagine it:
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil”s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she”s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
2. The Trick: A Novel by Emanuel Bergmann: Sweeping between Prague during World War II and modern-day Los Angeles, “The Trick is a lyrical, uplifting, and funny story that will tug at all of your heartstrings” (Armando Lucas Correa, bestselling author of The German Girl) that follows a young boy seeking out a cynical, old magician in the hopes that his spells might keep his family together.
How picturesque! This is definitely a location I’m dreaming of so let’s go there with these novels but make it dark:
1. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo: One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day. Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow. But this is a killer who makes his own rules… and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web.
2. The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl: In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire. And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive.
Serene yet chilling. Are you ready for Iceland? :
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.
- The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley: A young woman obsessed with uncovering a family secret is drawn into the strange and magical landscape, language, and history of Iceland. Freya Morris is living in New York, far removed from her family and her past, when she is summoned back to the formative place of her youth, a remote Canadian village called Gimli, where her Icelandic ancestors settled long ago. Her ancient grandmother, a woman who knows all the family stories, now clings to life. In Gimli, Freya picks up the thread of a secret–one that leads her through her history and ultimately back to Iceland. Along the way, we learn the story of her early visits to Gimli, the truth about her exuberant, mercurial aunt, and the full scope of a tragedy that shattered her childhood in an instant.
Let’s warm this up with our last destination!
- Blood-drenched Beard by Daniel Galera: The young man’s father, dying, at last tells him the truth about his grandfather–or at least the truth as he knows it. The mean old gaucho was murdered by some fellow villagers in Garopaba, a town on the Atlantic now famous for its surfing and fishing. It was during a Sunday dance at a community hall. The lights went out suddenly and when they came up, his grandfather was lying in a pool of blood … or so the story goes. It is as if his father has given him a deathbed challenge. So with no strong ties to his current life, the young man travels up the coast, finds an apartment by the water, and begins to make enquiries. But information doesn’t come easily. A rare neurological condition means that the young man doesn’t recognize the faces of people he’s met. And the people who do know about his grandfather are fearful to give anything away.
- Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon by Jorge Amado: Ilhéus in 1925 is a booming town with a record cacao crop and aspirations for progress, but the traditional ways prevail. When Colonel Mendonça discovers his wife in bed with a lover, he shoots and kills them both. Political contests, too, can be settled by gunshot. No one imagines that a bedraggled migrant worker who turns up in town–least of all Gabriela herself–will be the agent of change. Nacib Saad has just lost the cook at his popular café and in desperation hires Gabriela. To his surprise she turns out to be a great beauty as well as a wonderful cook and an enchanting boon to his business. But what would people say if Nacib were to marry her?
Have I inspired you to pick any of these up? Which ones?
Also, would you like to see another installment of this later on with other locations? Let me know! And feel free to toss in a few places you’d like to go to.