Top 10 Tuesdays: Books that Awaken the Travel Bug In Me

I think this is the first time that I’ve been genuinely stumped by a Top 10 Tuesday topic. Despite trying to think of books that fit for several days now, I still couldn’t really come up with anything definite. I think what it comes down to is that I generally don’t have that much of a travel bug. There are several countries that I’d love to see at some point, but none that really motivate me enough right now to actually go ahead and book a trip either. What makes picking books for this week’s prompt even worse is that I’m not a huge fan of travel descriptions in books, nor are the places that I’ve read about ones that I’d really want to travel to. Many of the books I’ve read are set in Australia or England, which don’t necessarily seem all that different from Canada or the US. I’ve also read quite a few books set in Africa, the Middle East, or various Asian countries, but the nature of the specific stories that I’ve read often don’t make the country seem particularly appealing to visit. I’ve done my best to come up with a list of books that have a setting that I might be interested in visiting, but this is easily one of the most difficult prompts I’ve had!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Tales from Gombe by Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers

21563972I think this is the one book on the list where I can truly say that I would love to visit the setting, at least in theory. I’ve always been fascinated by the great ape studies, and especially Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees at Gombe. This book consists of just over 300 pages, most of which are absolutely stunning photos of the chimpanzees in their natural habitat with captions describing their behaviour and personalities. There are also brief sections at the beginning of each chapter which offer more detail and anecdotes about specific chimps and what was observed. I honestly would have been just as happy with the book if it had been nothing but pictures. I don’t think I would really like to be at Gombe because I generally don’t do well in the wilderness like that, but I would love to be able to see the chimps in real life.

2) The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

101384Even the character in this book is not sure how much she wants to travel! This book is about a young woman named Priya who left India when she was 20 to study in the US, and finally returns seven years later to visit her family, keeping her engagement to an American man a secret from them. Given that Priya herself was reluctant to return, it didn’t seem like the book offered the most flattering impression of India in general. Most of what I remember is that it was described as unbearably hot and not very clean. However, I did enjoy the descriptions of Indian food and the window into the culture that the book offered. I enjoyed the story overall and the ways several of the characters developed through the book and chose to stand up for themselves and their choices. It didn’t exactly make me want to visit the country, but it at least got my interest in the culture.

3) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

8490112I’m not 100% sure it makes sense to include a fantasy book on this list, since I’m not sure how realistic the setting was, however this book made Prague sound incredible! This book is about a 17-year-old art student named Karou who lives in Prague and was raised by chimaera who collect teeth in exchange for wishes. I have absolutely no idea what Prague is really like but I loved the descriptions of the art world that Karou was involved in, as well as her visits to other countries including Morocco and Paris. I thought Laini Taylor did an amazing job at describing each place and blending whatever elements of them that are real in with the fantasy world that she created. I’m definitely interested in visiting some European cities and countries in real life, and although Prague has never been on my list, it seems like one that may be worth looking into if I ever decide to really travel.

4) Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

6952I think I’m the exception here, but I have never had any interest in visiting Mexico. Several of my classmates and coworkers over the years have raved about their trips, but it has honestly never appealed to me. This book is about a young woman named Tita, who is forbidden to marry because of a tradition requiring her to remain at home to look after her mother until her mother’s death since she is the youngest daughter in the family. Tita falls in love with a man named Pedro, who decides to marry her sister instead in attempt to remain close to Tita. I found it interesting how food played such a significant role in the story, and although I did not find the recipes particularly interesting to read in detail, the food all sounded delicious. I often found myself thinking how great a dish sounded and wanting to try it, even knowing that it was not something I’d ever really eat since I tend to be pretty picky. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book in general, but I like the way the author described the setting and the culture, especially through use of cooking.

5) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

25756328I’ve mentioned recently how I found this book pretty disappointing overall, although I did like some of the descriptions of Italy. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of gelato — and I’m pretty quickly realizing that the best way to tempt me to travel seems to be through the food. I’m not quite sure how to feel about that. This book is about a teenage girl named Lina who travels to Italy after her mother’s death to meet her biological father for the first time, and soon discovers her mother’s journal about her own time in Italy. If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of books that are heavy on descriptions of characters exploring the city, but there was enough in here to reignite my interest in going to Italy one day. I think the biggest appeal of this book for me, aside from the gelato, was the secret bakery that the characters visited. If nothing else, I’d love to visit Italy just to try some of the delicious food!

6) What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

25663781This is another example of a book where although I enjoyed the descriptions of the country, I don’t think I’d ever want to go there. This book is about a young woman named Ganga from Sri Lanka who immigrates to America with her mother after a childhood trauma, the effects of which have consequences throughout her life that ultimately lead to one unforgivable act. The beginning of this book describe the main character’s life in Sri Lanka, which seems to be a kind of paradise with a beautiful landscape and a very interesting culture. I knew next to nothing about Sri Lanka before going into this book so I found it very interesting to read about the country and some of its history. I was also interested in reading about how the main character’s culture affected her experience in American when she and her mother moved there. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected, and although I’m not particularly interested in traveling to Sri Lanka, I think this book gave me a good taste of what it might be like.

7) An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

20775020This is a book I probably never would have picked up if it hadn’t been for my reading challenges. I chose it for a prompt requiring a travel memoir, a genre that generally does not appeal to me at all, because I’d read and enjoyed Relish, Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel about her life through food. This book documents her experiences traveling through several European countries, including Sweden and France. Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Relish, and I was a little disappointed to find that the illustrations in the copy I read were all black-and-white, I loved the storyline. I loved how Lucy Knisley addressed all the anxieties and challenges that go along with traveling to a place where you don’t speak the language, which is something I’d be very worried about! I especially enjoyed the discussion of the term “an age of license,” which Lucy first heard of in France, that seems to be an obscure phrase for a period of life where people are free to explore and figure out who they are. I thought this was a great message and a very relatable phrase for people of Lucy’s age. I think for that alone, I can say it sparked an interest in travel (although one that I have never followed through).

8) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me-before-you-jojo-moyes-cover-195x300This is another book that I picked because of the whole spirit of travel, moreso than any specific setting. This book is about a young woman named Lou Clark who becomes a personal support worker for Will Traynor, a man who has become paralyzed after an accident. A huge topic in this book is how Will struggles with the fact that he believes he is no longer able to have the kind of life he has always valued, which included a lot of travel, extreme sports, etc. The bond that develops between Lou and Will was one of the most interesting relationships I’ve read in a long time, and the main reason I chose this book is because of how Will tries to encourage Lou to live her life to the fullest and get outside of her comfort zone to explore the world before deciding what she wants. That to me is the whole spirit behind the “travel bug.” It also helps that this book is set in England, which is one of the handful of countries I am most strongly interested in visiting at some point.

9) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

374147It has been a very, very long time since I read this book but it is still one of my favourites. I was absolutely blown away by this book when I first read it. It is the story of a woman named Sayuri who describes her life as a geisha, beginning when she was sold into slavery at age 9. This was such a powerful story, but is another example where I’m not sure the country comes off in the best light in terms of making me want to visit. To be fair, this book begins in 1929 and I know that Japan has changed considerably since then. The book offered very vivid descriptions of what life was like for Sayuri and the people around her at the time, and it was so easy to imagine being there. I loved how the book described the culture, and especially what it was like to be a geisha. I am long overdue for a re-read of this one. It’s books like this that sometimes make it tough for me to imagine traveling to a place since I tend to focus more on the characters’ experiences than on the setting itself, and I would definitely not want to have Sayuri’s life! This was still a fascinating book and a great window into Japan of the past, enough to interest me a bit in finding out what it is like there now.

10) The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

8I’m completely taking the easy way out on this last one, but considering how difficult this prompt was for me to begin with, I’m giving myself a free pass. Aside from wanting to travel to the Wizarding World in general, this was probably one of the first books that sparked my interest in traveling to England. As soon as I started reading this book, I was drawn right into the world and found it interesting to see what was different between Harry’s life and mine (I still haven’t figured out what a “knickerbocker glory” is!). The more the world expanded in the series, the more interesting it became and I loved how it started to incorporate wizards and witches from so many other countries around the world. I was never the type to believe I might actually stumble across a wizard if I went to England or any of these other countries, but the books definitely sparked my interest. At the very least, I’d be interested in traveling there now to see some of the places mentioned in Harry Potter and try out the Harry Potter-themed events, like the Warner Bros. studio tour and the variety of other attractions and tours available.







10 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesdays: Books that Awaken the Travel Bug In Me

    • Good to know it wasn’t just me who found it difficult! I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to traveling anywhere, so it’s hard for me to imagine visiting any of the places I’ve read about.


  1. Pingback: 2018 End of Year Book Survey | Abyssal Librarian

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