Where You Should Travel Based On Hot Summer Reads
Great literature has the power to transport readers to places they have never been, both real and fictional. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend the long days of summer than getting lost in the faraway worlds of your favorite books. If you often find yourself wishing you could actually travel to the places you read about, you’re in luck. We’ve chosen some of the books that will be on every bookshelf this summer, and where you should travel after you read them to enhance your experience.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Sentenced to house arrest and confined to a cramped attic room in the Metropol hotel, Count Alexander Rostov must remain stationary as the lives of others move forward on the streets below. The year is 1922, the place is Moscow, and our worldly protagonist finds himself in a state of forced reflection, exploring the details of his daily routine in his limited social sphere. As the years turn to decades, the Count and his companions build their own fascinating lives within the confines of the hotel as Moscow morphs and grows just out of reach.
The Moscow of Towles’ novel may be unreachable, but this novel is not so much about the world outside as it is the world within. Capture the essence of living small by renting a tiny cabin just hours outside of your closest city. The company Getaway allows you to rent tiny cabins in rural areas near New York, Boston, and DC. Here you can take inspiration from the Count and find meaning in the restraint of your space and your habits, all while knowing the nearby city is bustling along without you.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
In small-town Shaker Heights, Ohio, the well-ordered inhabitants follow well-worn paths and life moves in its predictable rhythms. Elena Richardson and her family are no exception to this rule, until Mia Warren and her daughter arrive and take up residency in their rental home. Soon, this mysterious and magnetic duo draws the Richardsons in, and their seemingly perfect lives start to fall apart as secrets are revealed and the past comes back with dizzying force.
In a way, Shaker Heights is a type of American everytown. Those who grew up in the suburbs of America may recognize a kernel of their own hometown in Ng’s engaging narrative. For a taste of Shaker Heights with a bit more to do, visit Chagrin Falls, Ohio, only a 30-minute detour from Cleveland. Hometown to Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson, Chagrin Falls offers beautiful waterfalls, eclectic shopping options, and an interesting architectural blend. Its proximity to Cleveland means it’s easy to stop in for a few hours before heading into the city for a more well-rounded weekend excursion.
The Idiot by Elif Bautman
When Selin arrives at Harvard for her freshman year in 1995, she has no idea what to expect. Born to Turkish immigrants, Selin finds herself overwhelmed by newness and immediately drawn into a friendship with her intriguing classmate Svetlana as well as a gripping correspondence with a Hungarian student, Ivan. This unconventional coming-of-age story delves deep into the devastation of first love, the yearning for a sense of belonging, and the confrontation with the person you are destined to become.
Perhaps more significant than Selin’s time at Harvard is her journey to Europe, and more specifically Hungary. It’s easy to feel as swept up in the unfamiliar as Selin on a trip to Budapest, Hungary’s capital and a hub for students from across the globe. Budapest is inexpensive, making it easy to travel like a student even if you aren’t one. Further your education with a stroll through the Hungarian National Museum and listen to the chatter of different languages while you soak in one of the city’s world-renowned thermal baths.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
For Wade Watts and the other inhabitants of the dismal future that is year 2045, reality bites. To escape the misery of the everyday, Wade, along with many other players, plugs himself into the virtual world of OASIS, a gamer’s paradise. However, when an opportunity for wealth and power is presented to the players of OASIS, Wade must fight for his life as he is confronted with violence, betrayal, and terrible secrets in worlds both virtual and real.
With the recent release of the film, Cline’s 2011 book has sparked the attention of bookworms everywhere. Jump into Ready Player One’s world of divided society, pop culture, and youthful energy with a trip to super-cool Berlin. Immerse yourself in the history of the Berlin Wall, a physical and cultural barrier at which the realities of East Berliners and West Berliners diverged. Admire the statement street art, wander through lush city parks worthy of the OASIS, and finish with a stop at the Computer Games Museum, where you can dig into the history of computer games spanning more than sixty years.
Feel Free by Zadie Smith
This collection of essays by acclaimed author Zadie Smith explores topics from the influence of Jay Z to Brexit’s sweeping power to the persistence of Facebook to the intangible concept of joy. Smith shows herself to be not only a proficient author of fiction but also a keen observer of contemporary society. Her essays are sure to prompt discussions amongst friends as she explores her place, and the place of us all, in the world we have built.
Having lived in both London and New York, Smith speaks of them both with the fondness one reserves for home as well as the alien feeling of somehow not belonging. Americans may empathize with this best on a trip to London, a city that, while not American, is tinged with the familiar in a way few cities outside the U.S. are. London is a city that moves by you so fast that you are often left reeling, but being a stranger in this not-quite-foreign land also leaves room for the kind of heady contemplation Smith’s work inspires.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Born to the dominant sun god Helios and the captivating sea nymph Perse, Circe should be destined for greatness and yet seems out of place in the divine world she inhabits. Living amongst the mortals, with whom she feels a strange kinship, she uncovers her knack for witchcraft, which has her sent to the island that is her home in many of the famed stories of mythology. However, when Circe’s growing power threatens a powerful deity, she must confront her split life between the human world and the divine.
In mythology, Circe is said to have been banished to the small island of Aeaea. Accounts differ as to what present-day island is actually the Aeaea of legend, but a sure bet for the mythologically curious is the Greek island of Rhodes. Visit the staggering Colossus of Rhodes, a 30 meter statue of Circe’s father, Helios, and dig into the other ancient sites that earned this island UNESCO World Heritage Site protection. To get in touch with your witchy side, set out on a solo coastal hike to convene with nature while you experience dazzling views of the Mediterranean.
Killing It: An Education by Camas Davis
In this engrossing autobiographical account, Camas Davis explores her journey from disillusioned food and lifestyle writer and editor to butcher’s apprentice. Fleeing everything that was comfortable and familiar in the wake of a failed career choice and relationship, Davis moved toFrance with the ambition to finally be the kind of person she had spent her life writing about. Traversing oceans and her own boundaries, Davis lets readers in on her personal quest for transformation.
Although Davis starts her learning experience in France, she expands on what she learns as she enters the food scene in Portland, Oregon. Whether you are a meat-eater or not, readers will find themselves itching to take inspiration from Davis and learn more about how we eat. California’s thriving agri-tourism industry makes it an excellent destination for those looking to learn more about the business of how food is produced. Whether you’re interested in wine production, butchery, fishing, or produce, there are plenty of small farms that have opened their doors for curious consumers to take an inside look at their process.
Sing, Unburied, Sing! by Jesmyn Ward
Delving deep into rural Mississippi, Ward constructs a rich and haunting tale about a family and its ghosts, both literal and metaphorical. Leonie is a mother struggling against her own demons and her son JoJo is a boy on the cusp of becoming a man. When Leonie moves her family to fictional Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, the two are drawn into the spell of the American South, where they will both learn about themselves and their community through the complex past and unstable present of their new home.
For insights into the tangled history of Mississippi, it’s best to start in the capital and biggest city, Jackson. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum gives a good introduction, but the best history can be viewed on foot at various historical sites such as the Mississippi State Capitol building. Stop off in nearby Vicksburg, a classic Southern small town on the Mississippi River with its own rich history and interesting sights.
by Grace Henes