Travel The World In A Few Pages
There are so many countries, cities and landscapes in the world that I would love to travel to. I dream of far-flung places that require a rough-terrain backpack and a pair of strong boots as much as I fantasize about a cheeky weekend in Dublin or a short break pounding the streets of Paris. Sadly it isn’t possible to visit all of these places at once, and so to satisfy my thirst for dreamy destinations while I’m waiting, I travel through my books.
Books are a great way to test the culture and flavor of a desired destination and they’re an even better way to find new ones! (the reason I travelled to the Himalayas as a teenager is because I read Isabel Allande’s Kingdom of the Hidden Dragon.) Reading about the places I would like to visit fuels my love of them and gives me a familiarity with the destination that doesn’t make it seem quite so scary. Here I’ve compiled a list of 5 destinations and their literary counter-parts:
1. Paris – A Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
This little baby is just the right size for a weekend break to Paris. It contains a true account of Orwell’s experience of homelessness and forces you to see the city with different eyes.
Bonus: You’ll look rad on the metro reading this.
2. India – Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Only a beast of a book like this could accurately contain the vastness of India. But don’t be put off by the size of this tome, it is essentially a quick read because the story is so darn delicious you won’t be able to put it down. This tells the tale of author, Roberts, who escapes prison and flees to India, becoming involved in the underworld of Bangladesh.
Bonus: You’ll feel majorly badass while reading this.
3. South America – Eva Luna and Other Stories by Isabel Allende
We had to have an Allende on here somewhere. To be honest, any Allende book is a good idea, but being a collection of short stories set all over South America, Eva Luna and Other Stories is bound to make you itchy to visit Brazil/Chile/Ecuador/All of the places. Allende’s writing is lyrical, beautiful and always a joy to read. Her landscapes are somehow whimsical and yet simultaneously realistic.
Bonus: You’ll cry with the beauty of this book.
4. Scotland – The 44 Scotland Street Series by Alexandra McCall Smith
Alexandra McCall Smith is the master of easy-reading and there is nothing more relaxing than his Scotland Street Series. Set in Edinburgh, these delightful tales are funny, pleasant and downright good. They contain a cast of wonderful characters set against a bustling, beautiful city.
Bonus: You’ll be reaching for the tartan and shortbread in no time.
5. China – Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
Wow so where do I start with this one? Wild Swans is one of those “this will change your life” books and I promise, it really will. I knew virtually nothing about China before reading this and it was like a condensed history had just exploded in my face. The book is shocking, wonderful, terrifying and inspiring. It was my first point of contact with the Chinese culture and the reason I’m desperate to visit.
Bonus: You’ll be telling everyone you know for weeks after reading this that they need to read it too and you’ll appear poised and super-intellectual (but don’t use words like ‘super’ or you’ll ruin it – I’ve learnt the hard way).
Where would you like to travel to? What books would you read?