Have you been hit with a bit of wanderlust lately?
We've traveled around the world and developed the perfect list for you to take our exact trip... all from the comfort of your living room. Something we’ve learned since the time we were children was that one of the best ways to “escape” for a bit is to cozy up to a great book and get lost into another world. Here are ten books, new and classic, that will have you booking your next flight to a land far away:
The Five Forty-Five to Cannes by Tess Uriza Holthe
Written in 2007, this train takes you through modern times on the 5:45 train linking Northern Italy with the French Riviera connecting the lives of strangers with a devastating accident. From seaside Italian villages to villas perched in sleepy French towns along the Riviera, and the world known star-filled playground of Cannes, this book and it’s characters, take you on the train ride of your dreams. The landscape and the train almost become characters themselves. Who says the romance of train travel is gone? Tess Uriza Holthe’s novel paints Euro rail travel for it's beauty and it's truth: a dusty, sometimes hot, sometimes crowded and even a bit dodgy inter-country subway system, that happens to go through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. And on this train everyone has a story.
The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters
While we’re in the area, let’s stop in one of my favorite places in the world, the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of Italy. Famed for places like Le Cinque Terre — the 5 seaside towns of Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Manarola — and glitzy Portofino here’s where you’ll find the best pesto in Italy. Writer Jess Walters takes us to a lesser known, albeit invented inlet of Porto Vergogna, translated Port of Shame, in the 1960s. There’s old Hollywood intrigue, a love affair set in a cliff-side picturesque town.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
Maybe romantic nostalgia is not your thing. In your fantasy world you’re more of a Bond. There is nothing like seeing the Eternal City, Rome, through the eyes of novelist Dan Brown's protagonist Robert Langdon, in his best selling thriller, Angels & Demons. Rife with Illuminati conspiracy theories, Catholic Church lore, as you race through Roman landmarks that you read about in art history books. Angels & Demons is a thrilling way to see this beautiful city and will definitely have you booking your next flight.
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca byTahir Shah
How many times have you had the Under the Tuscan Sun dream? You know, when you start over in a beautiful exotic location. New life, new home, new you? Well Anglo-Afghan travel writer Tahir Shah takes us on his true adventure of leaving London and doing exactly that (although with his pregnant wife and toddler in tow), in a centuries old hidden palace rising over slums in Casablanca. Beautiful rooms, overgrown courtyards, lavender and orange blossom trees transports us into the idyllic enclaves of this often thought of as hotbed region. Through Shah’s eyes we encounter hilarious cultural exchanges, frustrations and the thrill of embarking upon a new life, in a stunning Caliph mansion with archways, fountains and Moroccan tiles. The Caliph’s house will certainly rewrite your vision of Casablanca away from the eponymous film.
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
There are few times and locations in modern history as romanticized about as much as France in the 1920s. The hotbed of creativity that was Paris and Gertrude Stein’s salons producing the likes of Picasso, Man Ray, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and so many more. Then there was the French Riviera which they all seemed to migrate to and where this wanderlust inducing novel, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald is set. We witness a marriage as precarious and pristine as the French Riviera cliff-side villas and resorts where it takes place.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Ah, to be young, listless and wealthy in the Jazz Age. In the classic that put him on the map, Ernest Hemingway takes us through Paris, France, Burguete, Pamplona and Madrid, Spain. We first experience the frivolity and excitement of the creative scene in the 1920s Paris. Like the protagonist, Jake, we too soon need a break and the bucolic Spanish countryside of Burguete is a welcome change. Ever dream of running with the bulls? Hemingway then takes us through the excitement of the small Spanish city of Pamplona and it’s San Fermín festival with the yearly running of the bulls. The author’s immense respect and admiration for the sport / art of bullfighting shines through in his beautifully descriptive prose. We complete our tour of the Basque region in San Sebastian, resting seaside before heading into the city of Madrid.
The Saffron Gate by Linda Holeman
At the tail end of the Jazz Age in the 1930s, novelist Linda Holeman takes us through Northern Africa, at a time when it was like a romantic wild west. The books main character, Sidonie treks from a sheltered life in upstate New York to Marrakesh, Morocco in search of answers from her fiance who just disappeared. Immediately upon arrival she is confronted with vibrant, chaotic and beautiful, sights, sounds and smells. 1930 Morocco has only recently been “pacified” by the French and most American and European travelers stay on the trail of Tangiers, Fes or Casablanca definitely setting the stage for cultural clash, intrigue and mystery in Morocco.
Waiting in Vain by Colin Channer
The novel, taking it’s name from the famed Bob Marley song takes us to the beautiful island of Jamaica as well as the other usual haunts in the Caribbean diaspora, New York and London. We witness a wild-ride of a love story between Fire, the Jamaican-born painter and novelist and magazine editor Sylvia as they take us through the art communities of Soho, brownstones of Brooklyn, nightclubs of London, streets of Kingston and one of my favorite places, his tree-house in Portland. Trust me, you’ll want to head to Jamaica after reading this novel, the Jamaican Tourism board even approves this book!
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
This is the perfect summer beach read and even made the New York Times best-seller list. Emma Straub takes us through the pangs of a family in transition with this novel set in the Balearic island of Mallorca. Mountains, beaches, Spanish culture and island life is a character in and of itself. Oh and ladies, don’t worry, of course there is the prerequisite Latin lover.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Here’s a glimpse at how the other half lives. We’re not just talking well off, we’re talking crazy rich. Set in Singapore, Kevin Kwan’s novel let’s us peek into the lives of his home country’s elite. This tiny island nation is one of the wealthiest in the world and from gems, private jets, to private islands and hidden mansions we’re privy to the kind of people that will buy a hotel in order to fire its manager upon a perceived slight. Kwan also treats us to wonderfully descriptive prose about another one of Singapore’s favorite pastimes, eating. Singaporeans even have a word to describe sheer pleasure and happiness as derived from food, shiok.