Travel Vicariously Through Books

We are all supposed to be sticking close to home right now. There is good reason for that, but it has also meant that many people have had to cancel trips.

Many of us love to travel. We love to visit different parts of the world and experience cultures that are different from our own.

The great part about being a reader is that you can travel around the world – or even out of this world – without ever leaving your home.

Here are some ideas for places you can travel to today, without ever leaving home.

France

Have you ever wanted to visit a city, but wished you could do it at a certain point in history? I’ve been to Paris, but my time-travel dream is to go there in the 1920s.

Part of the reason I’d love to go to Paris during that time is because of “A Moveable Feast,” by Ernest Hemingway. It’s one of my favorite books, and it makes you feel like you are right there in Jazz Age Paris. “The Paris Wife,” by Paula McLain, is a fictionalized account of Hemingway’s book, from the perspective of his first wife, Hadley. McLain, like Hemingway, does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the city and the era.

Africa

“Circling the Sun,” also by Paula McLain, is another worthwhile read, set in 1920s Kenya. “Circling the Sun” is historical fiction and features Beryl Markham, who you might be familiar with from “Out of Africa.” The descriptions of Kenya make you feel like you are there, and there is plenty of adventure too – Markham is a pilot.

Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” is his memoir about growing up in South Africa. Noah, who had a black mother and a white father, should never have been born because it was a crime for parents to have a relationship with one another. His memoir is an interesting look at race and gives an authentic idea of what it was like to grow up in a black neighborhood there.

Sweden

Swedish author Fredrik Backman became a worldwide sensation with his book, “A Man Called Ove.” It tells the story of a curmudgeonly man, named Ove, whose heart is softened when new neighbors move in next door. The book, and its characters, are sure to steal your heart as well.

Erik Larson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series is also set in Sweden. These books have great atmosphere, and Larson writes a great mystery, too.

United States

As we all know, we have plenty to do and see right her in the United States. Bill Bryson books are always good for a laugh. In “A Walk in the Woods,” he takes us on the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. It’s hilarious, and we also get to experience the landscape and various interesting characters along the way.

Space

If you’re looking for something truly out of this world, try “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Travel with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect as they travel the galaxy and encounter a cast of unforgettable characters. Plus, they make some interesting discoveries about life in the process.

This is just a small sampling of the different places you can go when you pick up a book. Here are a few others that come to mind.

Japan – “Pachinko,” Min Jin Lee

North Korea – “Every Falling Star,” Sungju Lee

Australia – “In a Sunburned Country,” Bill Bryson; “The Thorn Birds,” Colleen McCullough

China – “The Good Earth,” Pearl S. Buck

Afghanistan – “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” Khaled Hosseini

Russia – “Doctor Zhivago,” Boris Pasternak

England – “Wuthering Heights,” Emily Bronte, “Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens

Ireland – “The Heart’s Invisible Furies,” John Boyne

I feel like that’s still only the tip of the iceberg. Thank goodness for books, for allowing us to visit all the places we could ever want to go, even if we can’t get there in person.

Happy reading!

~Val