Being interested in history, when I travel I bring along a book that can really immerse me in events that occurred where I am visiting. Last spring I went to Charleston, South Carolina and my book was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. The story explores the lives of and relationship between a slave girl and a plantation owner’s daughter. It is rich US’ slave history and its treatment of women. Reading the book while I traveled made it easier to vividly imagine the setting, but also brought depth to seeing the slave houses at plantations I visited and government buildings in Charleston. In addition, it was a spectacular read! Read more about my visit to Charleston. Enjoy reading about more books that have inspired travel in others…
A Walk Across the Sun
A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison is a book set all over the world. After a natural disaster, two girls from India who just lost their parents find themselves in the world of human trafficking. No matter how hard they try, they get separated. On the other hand, we read a story of a detective who’s loved one is Indian and who decides to fight against human trafficking directly in India, which is a work almost impossible, as he was told by many. This story shows how awful our society is, yet it shows that there is still hope. From the way the older sister talked about India, about her homeland, I started loving the place despite its dark and dangerous reputation.
The Lord of the Rings
Odoardo from http://www.queidue.it/
Incredibly enough, the book that most inspired me to travel takes place in a fictional world. The Lord of the Rings describes both a journey as a travel and a journey towards personal maturity. The book can be summarized with one of the most famous lines of Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost”. One of the best tributes to travel ever written! To read more of what Odoardo thinks about this book read here.
Elizabeth from A Suitcase Full of Books
My favorite childhood book series is Enid Blyton’s Famous Five mysteries. It was a dream come true to visit Corfe Castle and the surrounding Dorset countryside in England, as this area inspired the setting of the series. I was most excited to visit the real life Ginger Pop Shop, named for the shop frequented in the book by the five quite often, and of course the castle. The castle ruins rose from a hilltop and stood like stone monuments, representing a dark history of the infamous prison castle it once was. Yet in the context of simple castle ruins that inspired Blyton’s books, I could not imagine a more perfect place!
Read the full post about her visit to Corfe Castle here.
While Winston Groom is most known for writing Forest Gump, he’s published several acclaimed history books, one of which sent me on a journey to the battle fields from World War I. In ‘A Storm in Flanders’, Groom writes about the 4 years of battles surrounding Ypres, Belgium during World War I. To this day in the UK, the hamlet of Passendale (Passchendaele), where the 3rd Battle of Ypres was fought, is synonymous with the folly and waste of war. I visited Ypres in June of 2011, just as the poppies in Flanders field were in bloom. Just as in Groom’s book, I trekked the 12 km from the Menin Gate, now a monument to the 54,000 missing soldiers in Ypres, to the hamlet of Passendale to visit Tyne Cot Cemetery. In the cemetery, there is a cross built atop of a German bunker that marks the farthest advancement of British troops during the battle; several hundred yards of advancement at the cost of thousands of casualties. Every evening at 8 PM since 1928, local buglers from Ypres sound out the “last post” in memory of the fallen. It’s a moving experience, to say the least.
City of Fallen Angels
Venice, Italy – City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
We were planning our itinerary for our first trip to Europe together. My husband and I had our list of sites and cities that each of us was interested in. We had agreed upon starting in Paris and wandering through France, visiting palaces, castles and cathedrals. We booked our flights; we booked two of our hotels; we bought Eurail passes… And then I was given a thick, hardback book. I read so much at university that I was done reading once I was out (not really, but you get it). I picked up this book, not knowing anything about the story but being familiar with the author, as John Berendt as he also wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I was captured immediately and couldn’t stop reading. I was halfway through the book when I realized that it was a non-fiction written as a novel.
The main story is around the Fenice Opera House fire, including the grand cast of Venetian characters who had a hand in investigating and rebuilding it, and finally its resurrection. The character development was genuine. The city of Venice itself was a character. The details of the backstreets of the city, the mystery, the levels of society, history: together they made such an impression that I just had to include Venice in our trip.
I sprang the news on Chris (my husband) and we cancelled more than half of our plans. We veered south a from Nice, France and crossed into Italy. From there we camped in Cinque Terre in a yurt, ran through Pisa in less than three hours with huge packs on our backs, toured Florence when everything but the Uffizi was closed…and ended up in Venice. And were we glad we did. It was everything I thought it would be from reading City of Falling Angels. From the bustling Grand Canal to the collapsing palazzos, back alleys ending in the water and picturesque foot bridges, everything about Venice was perfect and just what was depicted in the book. We weren’t let down and every moment away from our original itinerary was amazing.
All the Way to the Ocean
Jacksonville Beach, Florida – All the Way to the Ocean by Joel Harper
At home, we read stories all of the time. We have our favorites and one of them is All the Way to the Ocean. While the literary value isn’t found in a dramatic story line or humorous characters, it’s our oldest son’s fave. The premise of the children’s book is that one kid litters and the other corrects him and they learn about trash going all of the way to the ocean and destroying habitats and lives. Why is this important?
At home, we live across the street from the beach, and despite ours and our neighbors efforts and proper behaviors, there is still trash that ends up on the beach. We don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there. When we remember we bring a bag with us on walks to collect any trash we find. That’s life and we try to make it better.
We arrived at Jacksonville Beach just before sunset one night… and the beach was completely clean. It was amazing. We’ve visited many beaches in our travels, but never have we come across a beach that was so well respected. The only waste anywhere on the shoreline was a washed up jellyfish and some beach grass. It was exactly as any beach anywhere should be. The clean beach gave us the perfect opportunity to relate back to the kids exactly why it’s important to act responsibly and remember that everything that falls on the ground goes all of the way to the ocean.