Once upon a time I was an avid reader. I still am, but now with all this adulting stuff going on I just read 1-2 books per month instead of the 7-8 I used to. Some people say that travelling inside the pages of an interesting book is as fulfilling as a more conventional trip, but with me the story is, as usual, a bit more complex: I feel like a helpless child whose sweet was taken, every time I finish a book that puts me into a wanderlust state.
It’s easy to get itchy feet when reading books like The Beach and The Pilgrimage whose stories are intrinsically about travelling, but another one of my talents is seeing beyond the obvious, and sometimes, alleged innocent books become really inspirational to the explorer inside me. Whether that or it’s everything a very cheeky excuse my brain finds to serve my own purpose… Who knows?
If one or another we’ll probably never know, but I actually made a list with 10 very unusual books that have inspired me to go and see some places and put others in my bucket-list. If you’re also a book-traveller-worm like me, I’m sure you will enjoy:
One of the best-selling books in history, The Alchemist tells the story of a young Andalusian shepherd called Santiago who after having a prophetic dream, decides to go to Egypt to find a treasure. After selling everything he had, he departs to an adventurous journey, meeting new people who become really important friends, as well as the love of his life along the way. Enough said!
Probably my favourite book ever, the story of The Shadow of the Wind takes place in the Barcelona of post-World War II and is a mixture of romance and suspense that keeps you glued to the book until the very end. As an architect, I should say my main reason to visit Barcelona for the first time was to experience Gaudi’s architecture, but deep inside me I know it was actually the detailed descriptions of Barcelona written by the author that made me want to walk its streets. Even when I’m reading the book for the 356th time.
Although most of the Dan Brown’s books are set in Italy, as an Italian citizen myself, the one that actually makes my feet get itchy is The Lost Symbol, which story takes place in Washington DC. Before reading this book, I’ve never felt especially motivated to visit the USA capital, but after all the symbolic architectural details Mr. Brown provides along the plot, I had to put the city in my bucket list.
I’m not exactly his fan, but it’s difficult not to get excited about Che Guevara’s memories of his and his friend’s motorcycle journey through the South America of the early 50’s. There is no doubt that the trip that took them nine months to complete was probably what turned a simple middle-class medical student Che Guevara into the historic revolutionary we all know and some even admire.
Anne Rice is one of my favourite authors and this was the first book I ever read by her. Most of her books are set in New Orleans, again another place that wouldn’t be on my priorities list if it wasn’t for her amazing descriptions of this French-American city and all the history and mystic culture that I got to know by reading the book. It will be rather disappointing for me to visit the city and not having any kind of supernatural experience though!
In this book the plot is set at the glamourous Cannes Film Festival and between an intrigue and another the author immerse the readers into the beauty of the French Riviera and all its sophistication that makes us want to have a taste of luxury and fame. I’ll get there one day!
Those who have already read this book know how scarily descriptive it is – we can actually smell the things along the story with the character! Although this book is set in the Paris of the seventh century and things have definitely changed since then, the story reminds me that every place, every town has a different feel, and actually a different smell that gets impressed deeply in our memories. And guess what? That makes me want to discover other smells…
The second book of the Millenium trilogy is my favourite amongst the others because in it, Lisbeth Salander, the main character has to run away from lots of threats and to do so, she takes the reader into the Swedish countryside, that despite being horrendously cold, it’s meant to be also very pretty. Cities like Gothenburg, Uppsala and Lake Yngern now may be part of my tour when visiting Sweden. In the summer, obviously.
After reading ALL of the Agatha Christie’s books (yes I did!), I’ve developed a certain affection for the English countryside and for me it’s always a joy to go and explore all those charming muddy little villages (I’ve even lived in one!). Ironically enough, my favourite of Agatha’s books,And Then There Were None (also known as Ten Little Niggers or Ten Little Indians) is plotted in Devon, an English county I haven’t been to yet! But hopefully soon, the wait will be over.
Venice is probably one of the most fascinating cities in the world and nobody needs to read a book about it to feel motivated to go and see it with their own eyes. However, all the knowledge the author puts in this book, all the history and the descriptions, make you wish to not only visit the city, but actually tempts you to stay there forever!
What about you? What books make you want to hit the road? Tell us in the comments!