Each summer, without fail, I find myself nosing around online for the best books of the season. And as someone who travels frequently, I wanted to do a special round up of best books to read while traveling. No, this list will not mention On the Road or Eat, Pray, Love (although I do envy that woman for eating infinite amounts of pizza and pasta). This list will focus on stories that transport their readers to far off destinations, be they Eastern Europe or rural Ohio. Without further ado, here are books that will give you a serious case of wanderlust.:
1. In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar
In her debut novel, Alvar presents nine stories from Filipinos. While all of the characters share a common heritage, their present locations are scattered around the globe. Get hooked as a diverse cast of characters seek out what it means to belong and what makes you call a place “home.”
2. The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
Yuknavitch is credited for being a beautiful writer, even when it comes to matters of sex and violence. While at times graphic in nature, The Small Backs of Children sprouts from a war-torn city in Eastern Europe. A photographer snaps a photo of a young girl caught in the middle of gruesome warfare, and what unfolds is as baffling as it is intriguing. Follow a nameless but gripping cast of characters as they explore worlds in the East and West, as well as virtual and real.
3. Re Jane: A Novel by Patricia Park
Noted for being a contemporary retelling of the classic Jane Eyre, Re Jane: A Novel takes readers on a journey from Queens, New York to Seoul, Korea and back again. Jane is half Korean, half American, and one hundred percent bored with her life. After taking up a position as an au pair, she quickly begins a tumultuous affair with her (married) employer. Soon after, Jane is summoned to Korea to handle a death in the family, and must reevaluate the life she was living and the man she was loving. Park does an exquisite job of navigating what it means to be an outsider, and how ultimately, all that matters is being true to one’s self.
4. The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein
A Brooklyn native and a Russian immigrant from New York City travel from their respective homes to escape their lives, and most importantly, to escape heartbreak. But a summer in Norway won’t exactly quell all their problems. The two find each other within the impossibly long days of the Arctic Circle, and discover what impact love has in our lives, be it romantic or familial. A debut novel from Dinerstein, The Sunlit Night is at times humorous as it is heartbreaking.
5. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Itching for a tale of love triangles, 1920s mystique, and African safaris? Circling the Sun delivers. Beryl Markham is the story’s heroine, and her life has been quite remarkable. From being abandoned by her mother and raised in Kenya by her father, to more wild and boundary-pushing experiences in aviation, Beryl is a bold character within her time period. But as the Serengeti unfolds before her, Beryl finds she must navigate landscapes as well as explore the map of her heart. Gripping and adrenaline-inducing, McLain’s story will have you dreaming of the stunning plains of Africa.
The list could go on, but I wouldn’t want to keep you here all day. Have you read any travel-inspiring books this summer?