We’ve all been traveling less. A lot less. I’ve found myself turning to tv, movies and social media to help me feel connected to the world I love to explore. But I have to say, there is just something about books that really immerses you in a place, without leaving your favorite reading nook. I love losing myself in a book, and I have to say, I’ve never felt guilty after reading for a few hours. I can’t say the same for time I’ve spent binge watching the hot show of the moment. With that in mind, here are nine novels that will transport you to a faraway place.
*Pssst! If you are able, please purchase from your local, independent bookseller. It really makes all the difference.*
Travel through time and space with this female protagonist driven thriller. Alice and Lucy, former college roommates, reunite in Tangier in 1956 when Lucy appears at Alice’s Moroccan doorstep without calling ahead. Also unannounced is Lucy’s plan to pry Alice out of her marriage and carry her off for a series of globe-trotting escapades. The story is great, but you’ll fall in love with Tangier’s markets, cafes and neighborhoods circa 1956.
Ever dreamed of a romantic trip to Bora Bora, where you stay in one of those fabulous over-water rooms? Well, you might change your mind after reading this (nah, you will still want to go). Something in the Water is a psychological thriller featuring Erin, a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, and her new husband Mark, a handsome investment banker with big plans. The couple embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water… Word on the street Reese Witherspoon has optioned the book for a future project. Here’s your chance to actually read the book before you see the movie!
Who says you have to save beach reads for the actual beach? This breezy tale takes place on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard during the summer of ’69. All of the elements of that iconic year get woven throughout the story, including the moon landing, Vietnam, Woodstock, Chappaquiddick, and more. Add in summer romances, a coming of age story, secret affair, and poof! You’re done reading this book in no time.
Kevin Kwan earned his place in the hearts of readers with his Crazy Rich Asians series. His latest book lets us be flies on the wall during at an over-the-top wedding on the island of Capri. Protagonist Lucie Churchill sets eyes on fellow wedding guest George Zao (who happens to be very good looking and successful) and she instantly can’t stand him… we’ve all heard this story before, but it doesn’t make it any less fun to read. Especially when you add in all the fabulous imagery you can only find on the island of Capri.
India is a country I have yet to visit. Shantaram definitely taps into the passion this author has for the country, both in its beauty and physical despair. The story is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for streets of Bombay. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay’s underworld, encountering beggars and gangsters, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries.
Let’s embark on an over-the-top, luxurious European cruise with the Perkins family. When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits an essay to the Become a Jetsetter contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young, when she was a single mother who meant everything to them. When she wins the contest, the family packs their baggage—both literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote one of the most iconic travel memoirs of our time (yep, that would be Eat Pray Love). And I will admit that anywhere she’s going—from a writing standpoint—I am happy to tag along. Her latest book (a novel), City of Girls, transports readers to New York City of the 1940s. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There’s parties, showgirls, romance, cocktailing, singing, dancing, dressmaking, and of course, drama. I live in New York, and yet it’s still one of my favorite places to travel… especially if Elizabeth Gilbert is driving.
Raise your hand if you want to be on a vacation in Mallorca, Spain? Raise your hand if inviting your extended family might make way for… a lot of drama? That’s what you get in The Vacationers. It was supposed to be the perfect trip: Franny and Jim are celebrating their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Their daughter, Sylvia, graduated from high school. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.
Any book that takes place in Alaska piques my interest. It’s so wild… and exciting… and harrowing. The Great Alone is exactly that. Set in 1974, Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his wife and 13-year-old daughter north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. What could possibly go wrong? For a family in crisis, it’s the ultimate test of survival.
What’s your novel for inspiring wanderlust? Share in the comments!
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