Some say that people travel to escape life. Well, I say those people are idiots. Travel is about living life. When I do want to escape, I pick up a book (technically I pick up my Kindle Paperwhite loaded with my library of eBooks, but you get the point). Books transport us to another time, another place, another life. Painted by the brush of the author’s words on the canvas of our imaginations, books often inspire us to do new things and go to new places. At least they do for me, and here are my recommendations of five real-life books to fuel your wanderlust:
What it’s about: A nurse from New Zealand travels to the ancient city of Petra in 1978. Back then the Bedouin tribes still lived inside of the Rose Red-City carved into the stone and when a kind Bedouin craftsman invites Marguerite back to see his cave and attend a traditional Bedouin wedding with him, she can’t resist. She could have never guessed that one night night would lead to falling in love. After Marguerite marries Mohammad, the book chronicles her move to Petra and her daily life as she learns the ancient Bedouin traditions.
Why you’ll want to travel: If Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade didn’t leave you wander-lusting for a visit to Petra, Married to a Bedouin certainly will! Marguerite gives a fascinating look at the Bedouin life as she trades in her modern ways for life in a cave in Petra. Though the Bedouins have since been moved from Petra, it’s such an intriguing look at the culture and a city only known to the modern world for the last 200 years that you’ll almost be hoping a Bedouin would invite you back to his cave too.
What it’s about: Barry convinces his wife Debbie to leave their life in Florida and move to Venice, Italy for a year. Maybe because I myself live in Italy in a little town quite close to Venice, I literally found myself laughing out loud at they try to navigate the often frustrating bureaucracy of living in Italy. Scenes like carrying their turkey up and down bridges just to find an oven big enough to cook it in so that they can celebrate an American Thanksgiving sounded a lot like my own existence in Italy.
Why you’ll want to travel: Barry’s humorous outlook at what 365 days of living in Italy is like will leave you wanting to experience every moment yourself. But if you’re not ready to pack up and move to Italy, you’ll at least want to visit and Barry peppers his memoir with the names of his favorite bakeries, gelato shops and restaurants. Be sure to take notes for your next trip to Venice!
What it’s about: In Paris for a weekend, Elizabeth has lunch with a Frenchman…and never goes home again. An American in Paris, she tells the story of her love affair with her Frenchman and with French food while trying to crack the crusty exterior of the Parisians in her new life. I love that the book is also like a cookbook and has recipes for the dishes Elizabeth learns to master.
Why you’ll want to travel: Because Paris! If that isn’t reason enough, Elizabeth’s escapades to the markets and learning to cook French cuisine will leave you mouthwatering for your own romp through Paris’ food scene. Anyone up for a cooking class in Paris?
What it’s about: In February 2003, after two years of casing Antwerp’s Diamond District, a group of thieves made off with $108 million worth of diamonds and other valuables.
Why you’ll want to travel: Antwerp was never even on my radar until I read Flawless. The book’s authors track the crime from Belgium to Italy, describing places you can’t but want to see in real life. So that’s exactly what I did! Though the Diamond District itself wasn’t so exciting, I found a lively city that is my favorite in Belgium.
What it’s about: Three friends leave their conventional jobs in NYC for an unconventional life on the road. Each of the girls plans a part of the their around-the-world-trip that takes them to four continents.
Why you’ll want to travel: While I’ve never had to itch to live my life out of a backpack, each of the 14 countries the girls visit during their trip has its own allure. When I read the book long before I was blogging, I certainly never dreamed I’d find myself in Myanmar one day. And at the time, I couldn’t fathom a forced digital detox in a country where internet basically didn’t exist could feel like rehab.
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