As I typed the title of this post, a quote by Mason Cooley zoomed past my mind. “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are”. You may have heard this quote earlier, but I’m sure it hits different in the current pandemic situation. While we have to stay put where we are, books give our imagination a much-needed mental vacation!
What wouldn’t we give for an escape to faraway lands that gives us a sneak peek of their sight-seeing spots, food, and culture? Of course, some guidebooks are dedicated to pouring out extensive details of a country, its people, and its way of life. But for this post, we exclude that sort of travel literature. So, yes, here are seven books that will take you to various destinations as you flip the pages and immerse yourself in the tale regaled.
This is one of those books that will take you on a mental vacation to two different countries (actually three, in case you, dear reader, are out of India). This chick-lit by Elizabeth Gilbert is all about a woman, Liz (actually that’s herself; it is a fictionalised account of her life) embarking on a soul-searching journey at 30 when she realises that her life was falling apart.
Also Read: Books on Magical Realism by Malayali Authors
The book is divided into three – Italy, India, and Indonesia. The Italian part of it will give you a glimpse of the food scene in Italy. It also gives you major food lust as Gilbert indulges in some gustatory pleasure through melting pizza pies, double mozzarella margarita pizza and creamy pasta. I wouldn’t say you can experience much of India here, because it is all linked to exploring spirituality within the confines of an ashram. But you would want to fasten your seatbelts for the Indonesian part! The author takes you through sprawling fields that reflect the evening skies, charming rice terraces, and stunning sunsets by beaches.
Buy it here.
When we think of New York, our first associations are iconic buildings and shopping streets that ooze glamour. But the book Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave mentally transports us to a quintessential village in Hampton, New York. The protagonist Sunshine, a culinary star, loses her much-sought-after job. She returns to her hometown for some (you guessed it right!) self-discovery.
Also Read: 6 Books That Will Make You Smarter
As the story unfolds, we get to see a simpler and non-exotic side of New York like the Montauk Point Park with hiking trails and cosy fishing spots. One of the imagery stuck in my mind is the pretty Montauk Point Lighthouse. It is described as “an imposing force” on top of a hill where Sunshine and her sister munched on homemade sandwiches every Sunday.
Buy it here.
You’ll mentally fly to Ireland within minutes of reading this book. This book by Jenna Evans Welch revolves around the journey of Addie and her brother in a dinky car while they are on their mini-vacation in Ireland. The vivid descriptions of the ancient and countless castles, the grandiosity of the lush, green hunks of hills that culminate in cliffs are sure to take your breath away.
There are also multiple excerpts thrown in from the travel book, Ireland for the Heartbroken, which the protagonist chances upon at a hotel library. This book is more of young adult fiction. So if you’re into that genre, then be sure to check this one out.
Buy it here.
One of the best books to take you on a mental vacation! The story might make you feel gloomy, but the profound description of Alaska in this one is sure to make you add it to your list of must-visit places. Huddling around campfires, roasting hotdogs, and setting up a tent, and flying kites on the grey sanded beach. What fun! Watching the night sky turning a deep-lavender pink and finally settling down to savour some sweet and salty Dungeness crab. This book will make you feel as though you are accompanying the protagonist as you hop from page to page.
Buy it here.
Ah, just looking at the cover would be enough to send you on a mental vacation! This book is set against beautiful Greece. The lush description of the magical island of Erikousa, off the Greek coast, is a sure-shot imaginary ticket to the destination. Sure, there is a lot of magical realism and fantasy perched in these descriptions like the ghosts conversing with each other in castles and Cypress trees whispering secrets, as the title of the book rightly suggests.
But this book by Yvette Manessis Corporon will walk you on ancient Greek paths, majestic forts atop the grey peninsula, and have you daydream under the enchanting Cypress trees. Yvette’s depiction of the magnificent Greek beaches almost makes you hear the sound of waves and feel the scent of salt in the air. In case you are curious about the plot, it is about the bond an American woman shares with her Greek grandmother.
If you want to experience the charm of South Carolina, then you have got to grab this book! It is refreshing to read Marie Bostwick’s account of the marvellous architecture, history, and etiquette of the crowd of Charleston. The best part is that we get a contrast of what the village looked like when Marie was growing up vs now. She tells us that Charleston is as much about row houses, cottages, and mansions as it is about crepe cafes and piazzas.
Buy it here.
Also Read: LGBTQIA+ Books You Need To Read Right Now
Ever wondered what it would be like to live on an island? No, I’m not talking about the castaway kind after a shipwreck or plane crashed sort of island living. In the novel The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand the author heads to Nantucket, a cosy island in Massachusetts to earn some quick bucks, working at a hotel. If you are a sucker for spending holidays at the beach, then you will be at your happiest reading Elin’s elucidation of the protagonist lying on the deserted Dionis beach listening to the waves lapping onto the shore.
You might also want to stop and linger by the pink and white rosa rugosa (a species of rose that blooms on beach coasts) and the clear blue ponds that sparkle early in the morning. And trust me, you won’t be able to handle all the food. The descriptions of the grub served at the bistro are just too mouth-watering!
Buy it here.
There are tons of other books that would mentally transport us to various destinations like Memoirs of a Geisha (Japan), All The Light We Cannot See (Paris) and Half of a Yellow Sun (Nigeria). But I wouldn’t say it would give us a vacation feel as these are set against the backdrop of wars.
So, which books would you read to go on a mental vacation?