A few years ago a dear friend told me about how, when she knows she’s going to travel to a place, she likes to get novels that are set in that place and read them before, during, and after the trip. I couldn’t believe I had never thought of that. Mind = blown.
Since then, I’ve adopted the habit whenI travel. Fiction allows us to immerse ourselves in the local culture, landscapes, and historical context. Through vivid descriptions and compelling narratives, novels can transport us back in time, revealing the layers of history that have shaped a particular location. Whether it’s a classic novel set in the ancient streets of Rome or a contemporary tale unfolding in the vibrant neighborhoods of Tokyo, reading fiction while traveling helps us understand the nuances of a place, its people, and the events that have shaped its identity.
Of course, I share all this because, after three long years, I am finally doing some travel again this summer, which has me thinking about my TBR pile for the coming months.
I’m traveling to Denver for a dear friend’s bachelorette party at the end of this month.
For that trip I think I’ll read Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams. It’s described as “the story of Will Andrews, a young Bostonian and Harvard dropout, who instead of taking a year’s study abroad, is inspired by reading Emerson and others to come West in the early 1870s to Colorado — both to find himself and to explore America’s great frontier.” Sounds great.
In early July we’re finally traveling back down to Ecuador for a long overdue visit with my husband’s family there.
For that (very long) plane ride, I’ll be bringing The Queen’s Necklace by Teresa Proença. I love old town Quito and this novel is said to “transport readers to the 16th-century Quito during the Spanish colonial era. The story revolves around the stolen necklace of Inca Atahualpa and the quest to recover it, intertwining the history and folklore of the region.” Delicious.
In early August we’ll be traveling up to visit my dad for his 80th birthday. He moved to Port Townsend recently, on the Olympic peninsula, so I’m thinking The Loop by Nicholas Evans. It’s described as “the story of a wildlife biologist investigating a series of wolf attacks, while delving into themes of conservation, family dynamics, and the power of nature.”
Australia and New Zealand
If you know anything about me, you know I married into a soccer family. Every four years we do a big family trip to where ever the Women’s World Cup is happening. This time around, it’s Australia and New Zealand and while I ABSOLUTELY intend to rewatch the Lord of the Rings trilogy on the plane, I’m also packing the Kindle.
For New Zealand I’m thinking Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (“This poignant novel follows a young Maori girl named Kahu who defies cultural expectations and strives to become the leader of her tribe. Set in a coastal community in New Zealand, the book beautifully explores themes of tradition, heritage, and female empowerment.”)
And for Australia, maybe Cloudstreet by Tim Winton (“This award-winning novel tells the story of two working-class Australian families who share a house in Perth for two decades. Through their experiences and interactions, the novel captures the spirit of post-war Australia and explores themes of family, identity, and the search for meaning.”)
An Awesome List
Looking over this list, I’m almost as excited about the books as I am the travel. I mean, there’s a lot here to savor.
Of course, I’m open to suggestions and would love, love, love to hear from anyone out there who has a connection to any of these places and could make a more informed recommendation.
If you’ve got thoughts, drop them below in the comments. And thanks!