Coronavirus has affected every part of the world. Most countries are under lockdown and people have been asked to self-isolate and maintain social distance. While I wait for things to turn around, I’ve been relying on books to uplift my mood. Curled up on my chair with travel books on my Kindle, I feel less restless and anxious about what’s happening around me. And, it’s a great way to ignore news items, WhatsApp conversations and social media updates about Coronavirus.
So if you’re a fellow traveller who’s finding it hard to sit still, I recommend these travel books that you can easily find online. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the app on your phone or iPad and buy the books. Or, Google books is also pretty neat as an app and has loads to offer.
The Summer Of Chasing Dreams
I discovered author Holly Martin on Kindle Unlimited and it’s a delight to read her novels. This one is a light-hearted, sweet story of an introverted designed in London, Emma, who has recently lost her mother. She discovers a list of things her adventurous mother wanted to do, but didn’t get a chance to. So, she hires a guide and sets off on an adventure. There’s romance, but there are also sweet moments that helped me connect with both Emma, and the charming guide, Thor. Apart from the obvious romance, there are so many destinations and activities–Eiffel Tower, windmills at Amsterdam, Burj Khalifa, Taj Mahal, Aurora Australis and many more. It has helped me add one more thing to my travel bucket list: tulip festival in Amsterdam. Take a trip around the world with Emma and Thor and you might just feel better about being able to travel right now.
It’s free for Kindle Unlimited members. Read here
One Hundred Proposals
Another one by Holly Martin that I’ve read last week. Now this one is again based in the UK, and narrates the story of two best friends who run a proposal business. Out of a challenge, Harry promises that he’ll give Suzie a marriage proposal that she can’t say no to and thus starts their journey around the world. You’ll definitely find amazing proposal ideas in unbelievable locations, but the destinations themselves are unforgettable. Pick this one up if you enjoy light romance novels, something to switch off for a couple of hours.
Now a popular Netflix series, Virgin River is the story of a rustic mountain town, in the middle of nowhere in California. There’s one bar, one doctor and one store in Virgin River when Melinda moves here from LA. The nurse and midwife has a backstory, as does everyone here, and she’s starting over in this beautiful town: going fishing, clicking deer in her backyard, driving on serpentine roads and encountering bears. Robyn Carr’s popular series has more than 13 books and you can spend days falling in love with the bar owner Jack, who’s kind of the town hero and the love of Mel’s life.
This one is a little different than the rest. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, is the story of a 50-year-old gay novelist who is running away from his problems. His boyfriend is getting married to someone else and rather than confront those feelings, he accepts all invitations to attend conferences and literary events around the world. Arthur travels to Morocco, Paris, Berlin and India and his emotions unfold piece by piece at every destination. This satirical novel has won a Pulitzer Prize.
A Month of Sundays
Casually browsing at the Sydney airport, I picked up two novels by Australian authors; A Month of Sundays is one of them. Author Liz Byrski writes about four women in Australia who are part of an online book club. Then an opportunity arises for them to continue their discussions in person, together, in a cottage in the Blue Mountains. It’s a poignant tale of friendship, kindness, aging (all women are 50+) and loss. I’m recommending this book because it’s true that books help us self-reflect and our favourite books reveal something about us. A little more than casual reading, for me.
It’s unfortunately not available in India till May, 2020, but you can bookmark it for later. Check here
The Pepper in the Gumbo
Another sweet romance, but the setting is so different. Think modern day Pride and Prejudice meets You’ve Got Mail with a bookshop owner Alice and a tech entrepreneur Paul. Alice is a bibliophile, a cat owner and a hater of all things modern in the small town of Natchitoches. Paul designs and sells video games and he’s a successful entrepreneur, who moves back to his town to show the finger to everyone who underestimated his geek. Paul moves into the historic building that Alice owns and makes modifications and all hell breaks loose. Unbeknownst to both, they have interacted with each other, as fellow poetry lovers, online. Why is this on this list with other obvious travel books? Well, it takes you to a small town in Louisiana, US that you otherwise might not have discovered!
Free with Kindle Unlimited. Read here
This one is a true story. Written by Joy Adamson in 1960, Born Free will take you to wild Africa, where Joy and her partner George raise a lion cub, Elsa. In a rescue in Kenya, the couple bring home three lion cubs; while the other two are sent to a zoo, Elsa stays with them, and raises hell. Set in the African bush, Joy introduces readers to life in the wilderness and teaches them the valuable lesson that nature runs its course. From encountering elephants in a herd to learning to hunt, Elsa goes on many adventures and it’s a thing of beauty to read her grow up with her human family. Born Free was also adapted into a movie and there’s a Born Free Foundation that rescues, rehabilates and protects wild animals–their aim is to stop captivity of wild animals as pets and in zoos.
Neither Here Nor There
Travel writer Bill Bryson has a comic take on Europe. As he retraces his journey into Europe as a student 20 years later, he makes a lot of observations, good and bad. He starts with Norway, then goes to see Paris, Brussels, Naples, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Yugoslavia and Istanbul (I’ve omitted a lot!). He gets robbed, eats bad food, faces different weathers and has some really bad experiences at accommodations. Trials that we all face as travellers are elaborated in this book, but it’s funny when it’s happening to someone else. While you’re reading this, send a little prayer to Europe and hope you get to experience these cities soon.
The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. It is fascinating to read about art, history and Christ, while taking a tour of Paris, England and Rome with Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. After the book was released, tourists flocked to The Louvre and the Saint Sulpice Chapel, trying to find the Rose Line and the Holy Grail. It’s like a map for art and mystery lovers, with so much information about symbols, cryptic messages and art. The book is definitely more descriptive than the movie, but the film has Tom Hanks in it and that’s a great reason to watch it!
Istanbul: Memories & The City
I was looking for another book by Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, and when I couldn’t find it, Raffles Istanbul gifted me this one. Istanbul: Memories & The City is a memoir that’s about the author’s love for the rapidly changing city. He grew up in Istanbul and this book describes how he sees the Ottoman Empire, its monuments and old alleys and ancestral homes. If you’ve always dreamt of going to Turkey, the East Meets West country, then this book will give you a great start.
If none of these have caught your attention, then you can flip the pages of a travel magazine for free. Travel+Leisure India & South Asia (the love of my worklife) has made their latest issue free on Magzter. Read this for more information.