Unfortunately, many of our summer plans have been postponed or canceled due to the current pandemic that looms over the world. Although you can no longer travel overseas to places you’ve dreamt of all year, you can still enjoy your summer and travel by snuggling up with a good book. Here is a list of five books that can transport you to a different country. These books will take you from traditional tea ceremonies in Japan to the Andes Mountains in Chile, the city of lights (Paris), and much more! No need to buy expensive tickets, or leave  your home; just curl up on your couch, sip on some tea, and allow your imagination to go on an international journey. 

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende (Chile):

The first country you’ll visit is Chile. Isabel Allende’s House of Spirits dives into both the essence of Chilean culture and the history that has built Chile into the nation it is today. It is an unforgettable and epic novel that brought fame to Allende. In the novel, she elegantly weaves in her personal experiences, politics, and the power of love, magic, and fate. The main characters—the Trueba family— take you on a journey through the political and social disruption that took place in the 1970s, which continues to influence the social and political climate that currently exists in Chile. This is a story of magical realism and history that will allow you to envision the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes mountain staring back at you, and learn about the idiosyncrasies of Chilean culture and society. 

Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorites. Arthur Golden takes you on an exciting adventure that passes through many regions in Japan. From a small, cold fishing town to Kyoto (the infamous Geisha district of Japan) and the beautiful islands near Okinawa. We get to experience how Japan was during World War II.

At the age of nine, Chiyo and her sister were taken to Kyoto, only to be separated from one another. While Chiyo’s unique blue-grey eyes led her to fall under the hands of the “mother” geisha, her sister did not have the same fate and was sold elsewhere and disappeared from the story. Golden describes the sacrifices Chiyo makes to build a life for herself in the solitary world of the Geisha. Golden teaches us some about the Japanese culture, the reality of what a Geisha symbolizes, and the multiple accomplishments and duties that they must fulfill to maintain their beauty, elegance, and status. This is a novel of unconditional love, beauty, and truth; it will take you on an unforgettable journey.  

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Japan):

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (France): 

Who doesn’t love the city of lights? For me, freshly baked baguettes and croissants you can enjoy from a boulangerie are hard to beat. Going up the Eiffel Tour and being consumed by the view while enjoying a wonderful meal makes for a great vacation. This is what All the Light We Cannot See evokes. 

Anthony Doerr takes you to Paris during World War II, and he traces the lives of two characters from completely different backgrounds. Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father, a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History.  Sadly and unexpectedly, she becomes blind at a young age; however, her father helps her overcome that obstacle and teaches her how to navigate the city independently. In 1940, Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo due to the challenges brought on by the German occupation. In parallel, Doerr also gives us a peek into 8-year-old Werner Pfennig’s life. He lives with his sister, Jutta, at an orphanage in Germany. It is a beautiful novel that gives us a taste of French life during WWII and showcases the loving friendship developed among two very different children, who ultimately find comfort, solidarity, and love within one another in such a painful time. 

The next destination on our travel list is Italy with Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes opens the door and pushes us through to dig into Italian traditions and amazing Italian cuisine. Mayes tells us about the efforts to renovate an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside.

The book is packed with Mayes’s Italian recipes and gardening advice. It takes us to the vineyard near her garden, the nearby hill towns, and the lively markets filled with enchanting people. She is so lyrical and poetic throughout the book that you can close your eyes and feel like you are by her side, watching her navigate her Italian village.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (Italy): 

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (United Kingdom):

Our final destination is London, home of Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and so much more. In A Week in December, Sebastian Faulker explores the holidays in 2017 London.

For seven days, Faulk tracks the intersecting lives of seven people. The novel points to how the lives of seven very different people are strongly intertwined. Some obstacles the characters face are terrorism, the internet (and how it is taking over human relations), greed, and unconditional love. Enjoy this satirical novel which gives us a private tour of modern-day London!

We hope these books can inspire you to travel using your imagination! We know in stressful times, there is nothing better than preparing some tea and diving into a world completely different from our own! Find them all at DiscoverBooks.com

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