In times of turmoil, reading can be a great way to escape reality, travel to distant lands and spend time with people and characters you wish you could meet in real life. Now that Americans won’t be able to travel abroad as robustly as we used to, books that take place in the locales we long to visit will have to fill the void until it’s safe enough to see them in person. Here’s my list of wanderlust-inducing books to help get you through a summer without travel.
If You Wish You Were In France
While Ernest Hemingway’s A Movable Feast is the usual go-to suggestion for books about France, my personal favorite is The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, which tells a similar tale from the point of view of Ernest’s first wife, Hadley, and dives into the couple’s highs and lows during their early years.
Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop is another tale that begins in the French capital before taking you on a romantic journey down the Seine to Southern France as the lead character, Monsieur Perdu, a self-proclaimed literary apothecary, prescribes books to people as a way to help them deal with heartache and loneliness as he searches for his own lost love.
If you’d rather read about someone curing people’s ailments in a sweeter way, Chocolat by Joanne Harris—which stars Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp in the film version—offers another delicious French escape.
If You Wish You Were In Scotland
If you’ve got time to take on a whole series—once you read the first one, you won’t be able to put them down—the Outlander books transport readers (and the main character, Claire) to 17th-century Scotland several years before the ill-fated Jacobite rebellion against the British. There are eight books—Diana Gabaldon is currently working on book nine—as well as several spinoff novellas involving some of the side characters in case you really get into it.
If You Wish You Were In Australia
Follow along with travel writer Bill Bryson on his hilarious adventures as he explores the land down under in his ode to Australia, In a Sunburned Country (also called Down Under outside the U.S.). For the inspiring true story of how one woman crossed the desert with her beloved camels and wrote about it for National Georgraphic, check out Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson.
Incredible Round-The-World Adventures
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia takes us along on a one-year travel adventure through three countries as author Elizabeth Gilbert feasts on pasta and pizza in Italy, meditates at an ashram in India and falls head over heels (literally) for a handsome Brazilian guy in Bali.
In Around the World in 80 Dates, the brave leading lady, author Jennifer Cox, enlists the help of her international friends to arrange a series of blind dates with men all around the world. In a word, it’s brilliant.
Speaking of brilliant, I just finished What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman. The book lets us follow along as the author recounts her life as a television writer in L.A., and how she escapes to different countries for a few months every year, dates memorable characters, falls in love with Argentina and learns to embrace her alter-ego, “Kristin-adjacent” as she travels. If you are single and want to travel, don’t miss it.