If your New Year’s Resolution this year is to travel more, you’re not alone. But what if you don’t get to travel as much as you would like? Short of throwing off the shackles of life and and work and becoming a nomad backpacker (time to stock up on dreadlock wax and fisherman’s pants!) it’s likely that 2014 is going to be similar to most other years – so many dream destinations, so little time.
For me, that’s where novels come in. Like a lot of people, I often read fiction as a way of experiencing far off places, and feeling, for just for a fleeting moment, that I’m somewhere else entirely. In my opinion, the best books depict the place itself almost as a character, as much a part of the story as the heroic loner or the horny housewife (depending on what type of books you’re into…). And unlike characters, places rarely conform to stereotypes, which makes them even more interesting (to me, anyway).
Even if you do get to travel as much as you like, fiction is a great way to research and learn about a place you’re going, in a more meaningful way than a plain old wiki search (bearing in mind that fiction books aren’t always completely accurate, but to me that’s half the fun). With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite books about places, perfect fodder to prepare for any upcoming trips this year!
In case you’re wondering, this list also makes up some of my favourite novels (clearly I love a read that inspires a touch of wanderlust) which I’ve wanted to share for a while, but couldn’t decide the best way to do it – I know that recommending books can be tricky because everyone’s different. I’ve linked them all via Amazon so you can read the synopsis and download them, but most of them are a few years old so you can probably also find them in bookshops (or at the library). Enjoy!
Barcelona – The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Paris – Perfume* by Patrick Suskind
Scotland – Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Ireland – Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Turkey – Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres
Mexico – The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Colombia – One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
China – Wild Swans by Jung Chang
Florida – Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen
Dominican Republic – The Brief Wondorous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz
Newfoundland – The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
South Africa – Riotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe
Congo – The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kindsolver
This is obviously the tip of the iceberg when it comes to good books about places so please share any favourites (or even just your favourite books) in the comments, I’m always on the lookout for a new read. Here’s to lots of travel and reading in 2014!
* my particular favourites