Wherever you sojourn this summer, blur the lines between fiction and reality and feed your wanderlust with a book to complement your new climes.
The American Road Trip
Hit the high road to the sound of grinding gears and pay homage to the literary legacy of epic journeys through great American states, amid vast landscapes and cheap motels. An obvious but apt choice is Jack Kerouac’s On the Road whose classic Beatnik novel sees Sal Paradise trip back and forth from the east coast to the west in freewheeling spirit.
Elsewhere get under the skin of the American dream façade with Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, a sharp observation of the country and its people, done in his trademark humour.
A Chic European city break
Going to Amsterdam? Amble around the city’s cobbled canal-side paths with last year’s blockbuster The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton in your pocket. This historical fiction novel set in the 17th century follows Petronella as she tries to adjust to a new city, home and husband – whilst she unravels the identity of a mysterious miniaturist.
If you’re jumping on the Eurostar to Paree, take a glimpse behind the French capital’s iconic Haussmann blocks and observe how Georges Perec unpeels everyday life in his seminal book Life: A User’s Manual. For those saying ‘si’ to the Italian sunshine, mirror Lucy Honeychurch’s tour and set your sights on the romance of Florence and Rome thanks to E.M Forster’s classic A Room with a View.
Backpacking through South East Asia
If you find yourself in thick humidity in Hanoi waiting for your noodles at a street food stall, enhance the everyday hubbub with The Lover by Marguerite Duras, a tale of a clash of cultures between a French girl and her Chinese lover in colonial era Vietnam. Over in the Laos border, Dervla Murphy’s account of journeying through the country in One Foot in Laos yields a travelling companion of sorts, providing an insight into how this developing nation is coping in a fast-changing modern world.
A short Air Asia flight away, it’s Alex Garland’s The Beach you should flick open in Thailand. What better way to capture the heart-stopping scenery with this adventurous observation of Western perceptions of the East.
Island hopping in Greece
Choose Zorba the Greek to keep you company as you bob around on Greece’s emerald seas and stay in its iconic white washed villas. Nikos Kazantzakis’s classic novel evokes the scent of sweet citrus and the glistening Aegean Sea – ideal reading material while you bathe under the hot Cretan sun.
For lovers of the Greek myths, The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Millar is a literary feat that took ten years to pen and retells in vivid style the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. If you prefer the real deal when it comes to ancient texts – filled with vengeful gods, sirens and sword-swinging action – then pack Homer’s Odyssey and tread the dirt paths and sail the waters that inspired his enduring text.