Virtual Travel at Its Best
This year has not allowed for much travel or sightseeing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience new places. Take a trip around the world through the eyes of someone else.
Start your journey in Italy with these books featuring beautiful descriptions of the country. The memoir Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes brings the cuisine of Tuscany to life. Romance and an upper class lifestyle are featured in The Invitation by Lucy Foley. Strong female friendships are at the core of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Verrante. Follow several generations of women centered around a family bar in The House at the Edge of the Night by Catherine Banner. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay sees art restorer Emily accompany her boyfriend to Italy to meet his family. A Room With a View by E.M. Forester published in 1908, a time when women were gaining independence, follows Lucy travelling to Florence with her uptight cousin and learning to live more freely.
Books set in France include Chocolat by Joanne Harris with magical realism, romance, and of course lots of chocolate. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle is a relaxing memoir of his time living in an old farmhouse with his wife and dogs, experiencing all there is to enjoy.
For fans of Scotland there’s the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, in which a married woman time travels from 1945 to 1743 and falls in love.
Heading to Greece, The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell is a set of memoirs. The first book is called My Family and Other Animals; he writes about his unique childhood on Corfu in the 1930’s with plenty of animals.
For a fun story about a senior citizen going on a multi-country European adventure check out A Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh, where a woman walks out of her retirement home for more excitement, or The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick about a widower following clues to his late wife’s past. In A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, young men Monty and Percy leave London for a gap year but are chased through 18th century Europe by pirates while looking for a special cure for Percy, and also dealing with their feelings for each other. Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn Mckinlay is about a woman who retraces her steps on a trip through Europe finding her exes in Ireland, Frace, and Italy.
Onto Africa, check out My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, a dark comedy set in Nigeria. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is an autobiography about the TV host’s childhood and politics in South Africa. Chronicle of a Last Summer by Yasmine El Rashidi is a novel about Egyptian politics and a young woman in 1984. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) is a memoir published in the 1930’s about the Danish author’s 17 years spent in Kenya living on a coffee plantation. A thriller starts with a stolen passport in Morocco in The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida.
Cutting Back by Leslie Buck is a memoir about an American woman working as a landscaper in the Kyoto gardens of Japan. The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee follows a group of American women living in Hong Kong.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is a historical romance in Cuba. The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams takes place in The Bahamas in 1941 among the upper class as a reporter arrives and finds more scandal than she bargained for.
Some books take their characters globetrotting. If you want a grand adventure then take a look at these books. If you really want a world-wide experience you’ll have to read Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, a classic about a man who makes a bet that he can do a full lap of the globe in 80 days. It will take you through England, France, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Japan, and the USA towards the end of the 19th century. Less by Andrew Sean Greer is about a writer who ends up travelling around the world to avoid his ex’s wedding.
Visit the Amazon jungle with Dr. Marina Singh as she tries to locate her former mentor in State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Two british women go on a search for a rare beetle in New Caledonia in Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce.
Look at life from a new perspective with memoirs of people who went on long solitary journeys in nature. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and Wild by Cheryl Strayed take place in North America. Tracks by Robyn Davison is one woman's trek across 1700 miles of Australian Outback.
For more non-fiction there’s The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, a look at what makes somewhere the “happiest place” by exploring various cultures and human behaviour across countries. Other books by Bill Bryson, who has many humorous memoirs, are In a Sunburned Country about his time in Australia, and Notes from a Small Island about England. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux recounts his travel through Asia by railway in the 1970s. Horizon by Barry Lopez doesn’t have one particular focus, but he’s been to all types of regions around the globe and writes about history, nature, and the human experience.
Check out the full list of books here.
-Guest post written by Alison Bray, Digital Literacy Instructor