The power of a good book is that it sets the scene for a reality which you otherwise never knew. It can transport you to a time and place with characters so real that when you close the book, it’s easy to genuinely believe their lives go on — albeit in a parallel literary universe. You can smell the Adriatic Sea (The Talented Mr. Ripley), hear the aggressive horns of midtown Manhattan traffic, experience an after-hours Parisian party as if you’re really just protagonist’s plus one for the evening (A Moveable Feast). Books like these can simultaneously ignite and sate the travel bug. They are also much more legit and easier to navigate than the Yelp reviews of restaurants and hotels you’ve never heard of. Next time you travel, take notes from one of these and land at your destination ready to take it on like a local.
Here’s a quick round up of some of our favorite books that paint a picture of cities around the world and inspire travel if nothing else, through the imagination.
Sicily, Italy: Much Ado About Nothing
San Francisco (and then some), California: Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Manhattan, New York: The Andy Warhol Diaries
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam: The Lover
Florence, Italy: A Room With A View
Rome & The Amalfi Coast, Italy: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Victoria, Australia: Picnic at Hanging Rock
Paris, France: A Moveable Feast
Macondo (ok, fine, it’s fictional, we’ll take Cartagena), Columbia: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Yorkshire, England: Wuthering Heights
Tokyo, Japan: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle