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Six Novels to Read Before Traveling Abroad

cover2Books can transport us to other worlds–I mean look at all those celebrity “Read” posters at your public library. There is almost nothing better than pairing the perfect book with the perfect vacation. Whether you are lounging on the beach, sipping espresso in a dark cafe, or taking the train to some faraway place, books stimulate the imagination and inspire us to seek adventure. This week we have scoured the globe to bring you 6 books that will motivate you to turn off The Walking Dead, hop on the next plain, and travel to a place you thought only existed in fiction.

lord-of-the-rings-book-coverThe Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (New Zealand)
While J.R.R. Tolkien does not hail from this Pacific Island, The Lord of the Rings trilogy has put New Zealand on the map. As if there weren’t enough to love: beaches, mountains, a healthy nightlife, and nice people to boot. Tolkien’s world will transform you to the small hobbit holes outside the real-life town of Matamata or to the peak of Mount Doom (Mount Ngauruhoe).

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s triumphant romance takes place in the streets of Cartagena, Colombia. Marquez weaves his story with threads of vibrant tropical colors, talking parrots, and juicy fruit–enough to make anyone want to travel to Colombia. Fortunately for the modern reader, Cholera is no longer a viable threat so pick up the book and get swept away.


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (India)
Salman Rushdie’s novel begins on the midnight of India’s independence: August 15, 1947. The story follows Saleem Sinai, one of the children born at midnight and bestowed with magical powers. Rushdie’s novel offers a whimsical account of life in Delhi while still including many somber events in India’s history.

Call of the Wild by Jack London (Alaska/Yukon Territory)
Although often considered cliche, Jack London’s account of Buck, the domestic dog turned fearless sledge leader, is an exciting portrayal of the Yukon Territory during the gold rush of 1903. Although much of the Yukon and Alaska has changed in over a century, it is still considered the final frontier (sorry Star Trek) and stands as a beacon to all those seeking thrilling adventure.

2The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Paris)
Hopefully your stay in Paris won’t be anything like the ending to this book. However, if you’re looking for something to set the mood for a visit to France’s capital, Muriel Barbery’s novel is an excellent start. Mixed with French philosophy, romance, and a lovely friendship between two unlikely people, Barbery’s book is sweet, smart, and flavorful, everything a traveler might expect from a Parisian vacation.

The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh (Vietnam)
This heart-wrenching novel by a survivor of the Vietnam war, Bao Ninh, is not for the faint of heart. Ninh’s main character is given the task of collecting bodies after the battles of the Vietnam War and while doing so, he reflects heavily on Vietnam’s past. With a complex and rich culture, Vietnam has become a popular tourist destination. But like many countries that were once ravaged by war, it is important that visitors understand the past in order to truly appreciate the present.

By Caroline Kellough


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