19 Books To Read to Inspire Your Travel Bug When You are Stuck At Home

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Sometimes you need to go somewhere. And sometimes, a pandemic gets in the way. Not to worry, we have a few ideas of where you can go in the meantime…

Going a little stir-crazy...

Well all, here we are on day 84503th of Covid-Quarantine. I don’t know about you but if you’re like me, you’re seriously feeeeeeeling it.  Mr. Rochester and I had a trip booked last year… in March… to go to China and Japan. Needless to say, that trip was cancelled by the booking company and we stayed in NC. We were so bummed- I have always wanted to see the Great Wall of China and Himeji Castle, but it looks like it may be a few more years until I do. 

We are avid travelers- there is nothing that we love more than to go discover a new place and expand our horizons… and well, the travel bug bit me very early. 

As you may have read, Anne studied abroad in the UK and Alice, our other BFF, and I all went together to visit her at College in London- and I fell in love.  

Funny story actually, Anne knows I’m one to drag my feet (perhaps one may call me a uh, flake) so she did something really sneaky and bought me a non-refundable ticket from London to Alicante, Spain. There was no way to back out of visiting her after that! But since then, I’ve traveled abroad a lot (though not as much as Anne!) and have studied abroad myself in Egypt and the UAE. But it’s never enough!

London!
Our Trip To London!

My top ten travel vignettes:

1) Walking across Abbey Road with my husband, only to realize he had no idea where we were until we had already crossed it. Oops- he made us have a re-do.

2) Eating koshari (recipe here!) on the terrace in Cairo, listening to the call to prayer.

3) Driving through the Black Forest on the way to Strausburg with my cousin, my goddaughter, and my husband (who are both deathly afraid of heights- and the Black Forest goes through some tall mountains), and looking down at these massive trees where you couldn’t even see the ground below. 

4) Eating fondue in Switzerland, because- hot cheese. My goddaughter was equally charmed, I think.

5) Skiing in the desert. Wha??!

6) Being so hungover with Anne after a night out in Spain that it was all we could do to eat cheetos. Alice was there, but was NOT hungover. Lame.

7) Going to see the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye- it was pouring so hard that we had to decide that we HAD seen them (we’re pretty sure we didn’t go far enough), and then go to Talisker Distillery to warm up. Scotland is SO gorgeous- if I could move anywhere, it would be there.

8) Wandering through a graveyard in Buenos Aires with Anne- talk about gorgeous.

9) Seeing the Northern Lights in the plane on our way to Iceland. (RIP WOW Air.)

10) The Cliffs of Moher- absolutely stunning.

 
Fairy Pools at Isle of Skye
Fairy Pools at Isle of Skye

So all that said, being unable to travel has been HARD. It feels like you can’t escape the Pandemic and all its effects- and it has hit my family hard. 

So maybe you’re a little like me, and need to get away. Maybe you too were stoked by the TWO albums that T. Swift released because they made you feel like you were somewhere else. Maybe you’ve been hit hard by not being able to go to the movies to pretend that you were somewhere else. Maybe you’ve been trying new recipes like me, to simulate the feeling of something foreign. If so, this list is for you.

These books all take you somewhere- they aren’t “travel” books exactly, but they do give you the feeling of going somewhere new.

19 Books To Inspire Your Travel Bug When You Are Stuck On The Couch

If You Like Fantasy/Sci Fi:

Dianne Wynne Jones

This is the ultimate travel book- the castle literally travels around the countryside. Not only that, but you’ll have a sweet escape as Sophie attempts to break the curse that an evil witch put on her.

David Weber

Well, you can’t travel much further than Basilisk Station. The first of the Honor Harrington series, Honor is assigned to command the furthest and most boring station in the galaxy. What could go wrong?

If You Want to be Lost at Sea:

Jules Verne

Ugh, what can I say about this book? I love it, it’s been in my top 10 ever since I read it. Not only is the story compelling, but you also get to travel the deep blue seas- ‘sea’ing every continent, and every form of sealife you can imagine.

Yann Martel

Maybe you’re one of those rare people who haven’t heard of or read this book. If so, now’s your chance to go on an adventure. It’s hard to give a synopsis because this book covers so much ground… er, sea… and the book gives its’ readers so much. The gist of the story is a boy getting lost at sea on a raft with a tiger, but that’s only scratching the surface.

Scott O'Dell

This is a YA book, so it’ll be a quick read. This was one of the first books that I read that truly took me somewhere new. Karana, left alone on an island off California by unfortunate circumstances, survives through her own ingenuity and grit. 

If You Adore History:

Erik Larson

If you’re an anglophile, this may be the one for you. This is a new take on Churchill’s leadership during the Battle of Britain- a quasi-study of the people surrounding him. If it interests you, you can read Churchill’s accounts as well of that time in “The Second World War”. (though I’d recommend reading it through a contextual lens.) 

Amitav Ghosh

This is an interesting account of Egypt’s history with India. There’s not a really clear way to define this book, or to even really describe it. But if you want to get a taste of the travel, history, and sociology of Egypt, this is an incredibly interesting read.

If You Need Something More Serious:

Leslie Silko

Tayo, returning home to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation after serving in WWII, contends with PTSD and rejection. He’s searching for a way to find peace, both with his experiences in the war and with his dual ancestry.

Elizabeth Wetmore

This book is all about atmosphere- you’re taken to a dusty town in Texas where you meet several female characters and their takes on a horrible rape case. This book isn’t for the faint of heart, but you will definitely feel like you’ve been transported to another time, another place.

Khaled Hosseini

Taking place in Kabul, this is the story of two friends (Hassan and Amir) who grow up in different economic circumstances, and how the events of a kite flying competition affects the trajectory of both their lives.

Arthur Golden

A fictional account of a geisha growing up and working in pre- and post-WWII Kyoto. (As with a lot of these books, there is a movie by the same name that you can watch as well.)

Film

This is a bonus! If you love movies and want to go to Egypt, I can’t recommend this film enough. This movie has almost totally replicated how I felt when I studied in Cairo. It’s a quiet, sweet story- no blockbuster action, but melancholy in the best way. 

If You Need a Laugh:

Jon Ronson

Okay, this one is a weird one. Maybe you’ve seen the movie with George Clooney and Ewan McGregor? I couldn’t stop laughing in the theater, though sadly I was the only one doing so. This may not really count as taking you to another place per se, but the book describes something called “remote viewing” and I just felt like I couldn’t leave it out. A quick synopsis- a ‘true’ story of the US military’s foray into psychic warfare.

Lauren Weisberger

Did you miss a trip to NYC Fashion Week? I didn’t (ask anyone, I have no style.) You’ll feel like you have after reading this! (Bonus, see the movie if you’ve been living under a rock- Meryl Streep is amazing as usual.) There is a sequel now, and it’s equally fun!

Further Reading: 22 Hysterical Rom-Coms

If You Need a Road Trip:

Ernesto Che Guevara

This is a political adventure as young revolutionary Ernesto “Che” travels with his friend from Buenos Aires through South America. Check out the movie!

Diana Gabaldon

Okay, I gave it away above that I looooove Scotland. You too can pretend that you’ve been transported to another time where a hot Scot is waiting for you. This is a long book series that actually ends in… NC! You may have seen the Starz Show- the books are an equally fun romp and will easily make you feel like you’re somewhere else for a few hours.

If You Need Some Travel with a Side of Thriller:

Scott Smith

This is a oddly terrifying book set in the Yucatan (Mexico), where a group of friends investigate Mayan ruins (ohhh, that’s the name of the book!) None of you will be shocked, but they certainly are when a horrible series of events occurs as they delve the ruins’ secrets.

Michael Crichton

Norman is stuck miles under the ocean with a group of people that he handpicked to investigate a possible alien craft. So relatable. What could go wrong? Honestly, this may not be Crichton’s best book- but it’s a fun one that is perfect for the beach!

If You Want To Go Down South:

John Berendt

What can I say? Yes there is a movie- but the book is so much better. Savannah’s idiosyncrasies are on full display in this book- from the crazy characters to the sweltering settings. 

Charlaine Harris

Okay, you’ve probably seen True Blood on HBO. But have you read the books? Racy Louisiana vampires, werewolves, witches- oh my. You’ll definitely feel the southern heat when you read this series! 

So where else should I go?

 

Do you have any favorite books that take you somewhere? Please please please, rec below.

Happy traveling,

Jane

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