8 Books to satisfy your wanderlust!!
The Covid-19 Pandemic has locked the entire world in their respective homes. Even if traveling is off the radar, there is no limit to your imagination. Books have the power to ignite your minds and transport you to places you have never been.
The next best cure to travel has always been the company of good books. Introvert by nature, I always find solace in beautiful stories and I must agree, my imaginations remain captivated by the story long after it has been completed.
Being an avid traveler, I did find myself in a closed tunnel after the world was forced to have been locked in our respective homes due to the unforeseen scenario, created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainty lingered around when we could go back to our normal travel planning, or could we make it to our cancelled trips any time soon, or how would travel change after the covid-19 pandemic was over!!
All of this is definitely making me anxious and the undeniable fact that people were dying every day. Thus, to divert my anxiety I am investing my time in the books that could take me different places and times, that I could not practically be in.
If you are someone who has not been able to travel owing to numerous reasons like in-sufficient funds, caring for an elderly family member or just because of the current covid-19 pandemic, here are a list of books you can confine your wanderlust in and they would satisfy your curiosity for the quest of unknown lands!
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1) 'Seven Years in Tibet' by Heinrich Harrer -
Genre - Non-Fiction / Travel Literature
This is a true account of an Australian mountaineer who shares his journey from the Karakoram mountains followed by almost a year of captivity during the British reign in India, then his escape on foot through the Himalayan villages and finally his secret journey through Tibet until he reached the capital town of Lhasa. He eventually became a good friend of the Dalai Lama who was then in his boyhood.
The story is based around the years 1943 to 1951, when the World War 2 had a significant impact everywhere. The most interesting part about this book is its stories from Tibet, a mystic Himalayan Kingdom which then was so much unknown to the world and till date remains shielded from the masses. The last part of the book also recounts the Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet when it was takenover by the Chinese troops.
It is a classic travel literature or travelogue which has been loved be many since it was first published in 1953.
2)'Eat Pray Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert -
Genre - Non-Fiction / Travel Memoir
This was the first Travel novel I ever read. This book has been a best seller, ever since it was published. This book was the reason I started reading more of this genre. It is about a modern 30-something woman, who had a life chalked out ahead of her with a husband wanting to start a family, a stable job and everything one needs to be content in the conventional sense. Yet, she found herself in a mid-life crisis.
The life she was embarking upon did not seem as exciting anymore and she left everything behind to explore the world and in-turn heal her inner self. The author takes you around the carefree life of Rome in Italy, an spiritual awakening in an ashram in India and the island country of Bali.
The stories are more about her healing and enlightenment through her journey, which may seem self-centric at times but the author has a style of writing, to captivate her readers and though you may want to question her journey, you cannot help but connect with her throughout.
I loved it and I would always recommend this book even if you are not a travel buff.
3) 'The Stationery Shop of Tehran' by Marjan Kamali -
Genre - Romance / Historical Fiction
This book is a love story set in 1953, Tehran amidst the political turmoil of Iran. The book gives you a glimpse of the Persian culture in that era, the struggle of the people to thrive amidst the political unrest in the country . This is the setting of a young teenage love story tested by time.
The story does flow though the entire span of the lives of its characters, often drawing parallels with the people who moved to the United States and those left behind to see the course of Iran's changing image. Eventually the lost teenage lovers do meet in their 70's only to discover how they were separated and no matter where they were currently in their lives, they still shared the same feelings as young teenagers.
Iran, is mostly out of our travel radar and this book is a glimpse into the Persian culture, tradition, politics, cuisines and much more. If curious about Iran, its history and people, why not check the book out?
4) 'The Far Field' by Madhuri Vijay -
Genre - Cultural Literature / Fiction
The Far Field is the authors debut book set in India, partly in Bangalore and partly in a Himalayan village in Kashmir. The story is about a Kashmir salesman named Bashir Ahmed who visits Shalini and her mother in Bangalore but suddenly disappears. After her mother's death, Shalini embarks on a journey to look for Bashir Ahmed all alone. But this journey reveals a lot of unknown stories from the Himalayan mountains and the life of people in its villages.
The story set in the beautiful mountain village also takes the reader through Kashmir's age old politics, victims of militancy and the not so normal lives of the Kashmiris.
Also Read: My experience in Kashmir Valley
5) 'Before the Coffee gets Cold' by Toshikazu Kawaguchi -
Genre - Japanese Literature / Fantasy
'Before the coffee gets cold' is a story translated from Japanese Literature. Its about a strange cafe in Tokyo that lets you travel back in time and meet people in their past. Obviously, the owners of the cafe warn people of the many conditions that apply to this time travel but still a few people agree with the conditions to meet a loved one in their past.
The story flows through four people who visit the cafe and travel back in time. It does have a sweet message by the end of the book, and makes you realise, no matter how much you keep thinking about the past, it will never change your present. The book leaves you with a beautiful thought to linger on for some time and you cannot deny the fantasy or magical part of the whole story.
6) 'Pachinko' By Min Jin Lee -
Genre - Historical Fiction
This is a story of a Korean family spanning through four generations. The story starts in a small island village of Korea colonized by then Japan and takes you through the post World War era weaving along the hardships of a Korean family trying to survive in Osaka city of Japan. It is an insight into the Korean history which I had not read before. The story throws some light on struggle of the Koreans who stayed back in Japan, deprived of equal right as the Japanese counterparts.
For the lack of decent livelihoods, the family of Sunja is forced to struggle through odd jobs until they finally land into the Pachinko business which does brings a lot of money. But eventually, the expansion of Pachinko parlours, become hotspots for the Yakuzhas or Japanese mafias, prostitution and other illegal activities. The war-torn Koreans are forced to take the path which they never dreamt of.
Overall, its a story of emotions, love, dignity, resilience, struggles and generations of lives wronged by history!
However intriguing the story, it might seem quiet lengthy because of the several generations and characters referenced. It is a 500 pages book.
7) 'The Beekeeper of Aleppo' by Chirsty Lefteri -
Genre - Historical Fiction
Set in Aleppo, a town in Syria, it is the story of a passionate bee keeper whose life is devastrated by the war in Syria and is left with no option but to flee from his home leaving behind everything that was once very dear to him. Nuri, the beekeeper and his wife, Afra are then struck by the reality of immigrant lives travelling through Turkey and Greece until they find hope in their cousin who like them has moved to Britain and has been training other refugees the art of bee keeping.
A compassionate and touching tale of immigrant lives in war-struck regions of the world and their spirit that still gives hope to humanity.
If you love traveling through stories, add some of these to your 'To be Read' list.
Dream on your couch until you can dream on the road!!
"Books have a way of making you homesick for a places you have never been to"
P.S. If you cannot buy new paperback books, try reading their Kindle Version or listen to their audiobook versions. All these recommendations are currently available in either Audible or Storytel, the popular audiobook books.
Other book recommendations -