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Top Book Picks for Literary Travel

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While many of us are social distancing and temporarily putting travel plans on hold, we can still dream of all the wonderful places we want to see. Now is the perfect time for armchair travel by immersing ourselves in books that transport us to another place.

Whether you’re revisiting your favorite destination using your downtime to start a new travel bucket list, literature that takes you on a journey might be just the thing you need right now. Take a look at our list of recommended destination reads for restless travelers who can’t wait to plan their next adventure.

 

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

Kyoto, Japan

The novel, told in first person perspective, tells the story of a fictional geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before, during and after World War II and ends with her being relocated to New York City. It’s engrossing for the story alone, but the setting of pre-war Kyoto is a wonderfully immersive cultural experience.

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John BerendtMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt

Savannah, Georgia

Classified as a “non-fiction novel,” this New York Times bestseller follows the story of an antiques dealer on trial for murder—but the city of Savannah, Georgia looms as large as any of the memorable characters. If you’ve ever visited the city, you’ll recognize many of the landmarks in this book.

 

Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances MayesUnder the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes

Tuscany, Italy

This memoir details the trials that Frances and her husband Ed had to go through to renovate their Tuscan villa. The Tuscan countryside in rural Cortana is the setting for Bramasole (its name comes from Brama, to yearn for, and Sole, for the sun), the house that Mayes felt an irresistible urge to buy back in 1990.

 

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

Italy, India and Indonesia

In this memoir of the author’s journey following a divorce, she spends four months in Italy, eating and enjoying life (“Eat”). She spent three months in India, finding her spirituality (“Pray”), and ended the year in Bali, Indonesia, looking for “balance” of the two and fell in love with a Brazilian businessman (“Love”).

 

Dark Star Safari- Overland from Cairo to Capetown, Paul TherouxDark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown, Paul Theroux

Cairo, Capetown

This insightful literary journey on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people takes readers the length of Africa by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train. Armchair travelers will fall in love with the continent through this book.

 

A Walk in the Woods- Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, Bill BrysonA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, Bill Bryson

Appalachian Trail

After living in Britain for 20 years, Bryson moves back to the states and decides walking the entire Appalachian Trail is a great way to reacquaint himself with his native country. While Bryson failed to hike all 2,200 miles of the trail, he succeeded with this entertaining and descriptive account of his travels.

 

The Paris Wife, Paula McLaineThe Paris Wife, Paula McLaine 

Paris, France

A fictionalized story of the romance, marriage and divorce of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, who marry and move to Paris soon afterwards. It captures Paris in the twenties through the eyes of Hadley and a literary group of American expats with the City of Lights as its backdrop.

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