The Fourth of July may be over, but summer is heating up. Even though the three day weekend is behind you, you can still find an escape in travel books that will transport you this summer, even if you're trapped in an office all week long.
Beach reads are summer reading staples, but what are you supposed to do if, instead of digging your toes in the sand, you're eating a sad desk lunch at work? You may feel like you're stuck inside all summer long, but that doesn't mean your mind has to be. In between sweat commutes, endless morning meetings, and lengthy conference calls with people who were smart enough to travel out of the office this summer, you can set your imagination free — with the right book, that is.
For a summer spent indoors, the only real cure is a book about wild adventures, exotic travels, and the occasional magical experience. When you can't add stamps to your passport, you can a least add them to your library card, because a journey from your office desk, even a fictional one, is better than no journey at all. If you need some travel inspiration, here are 12 travel books that will transport you to somewhere brand new.
1. The Yoga of Max's Discontent by Karan Bajaj
A #1 bestseller in India, Karan Bajaj's The Yoga of Max's Discontent will take you from the cold wintery streets of New York City to the dangerous slopes of the Himalayas to a small ashram in South India on a fascinating journey, both physical and spiritual. After growing up the poor child of immigrants in the projects of the city, Max has come a long way to become the successful Wall Street analyst he is. But after a violent altercation, Max is left questioning everything he thought he knew, so he embarks on a trip that will alter his mind, body, and soul. A truly thought-provoking read.
2. Far and Away: Reporting on the Brink of Change by Andrew Solomon
If you prefer nonfiction over fiction, you can still get away this summer with the help of reporter and essayist Andrew Solomon's Far and Away. A collection of writing about places going through dramatic changes — from a failed coup in the Soviet Union to the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and just about everywhere in between — this book is a beautiful mix of modern history, personal insights, and world travel. A riveting, enlightening read about out ever changing world, Far and Away will do just that: take you far and away.
3. Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey
Decided not to go to the Summer Olympics this year? Don't worry, because Idra Novey's Ways to Disappear will take you on a trip to South America you won't soon forget. After celebrated Brazilian author Beatriz Yagoda disappears, her American translator Emma leaves behind the snowy streets of Pittsburgh, not to mention her boyfriend and two children, to track her down. With the help of Beatriz's children, Emma searches the hot, sticky streets of Rio only to discover that maybe the author was leading a more colorful life than anyone imagined.
4. Shining Sea by Anne Korkeakivi
From California's beautiful beaches to the once-in-a-lifetime party at Woodstock, London's sweat nightclubs to Scotland's remote inner islands, Anne Korkeakivi's Shining Sea draws you into the complicated world of the Gannon family. A gut-wrenching story about war, family, and the persistance of memory, Shining Sea will take you all over the globe without so much as leaving your reading chair.
5. Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
Who says you have to go abroad to have an adventure? If you read Kim Wright's Last Ride to Graceland, you'll join protagonist Cory Ainsworth, a struggling blues musician reeling from the death of her mother, as she travels from her family home in South Carolina to Graceland in an attempt to find out the truth: is Elvis Presley her father? A light, fun read with interesting characters and an intriguing mystery, you'll want to go along for the ride — the Last Ride to Graceland, that is.
6. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
In his unique and imaginative novel Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones takes readers on a perpetual road trip through the American south lead by a young boy, his Aunt Libby, and his Uncle Darren as they slip in and out of darkness, trying to keep their identities hidden. But the older the boy gets, the more he begins to wonder if he belongs with his family, or if his place is somewhere else entirely. At once funny and heartbreaking, Mongrels is unlike any summer reading you've done before.
7. The Queen of Night by Alexander Chee
Crack open Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night and find yourself instantly transported to Paris, the city of lights and love. When Lilliet Berne, a beautiful, legendary opera singer, finally lands an original role of her own, she couldn't be more thrilled — that is, until she realizes that the libretto that was written for her was also written about her. Frantically searching for clues that could lead her to the truth about who is trying to expose her hidden past, Lilliet recounts her adventurous, remarkable life in brilliant detail. A fascinating story with characters you won't soon forget, The Queen of the Night is an enchanting summer read that will sweep you off your feet.
8. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Get ready for a laugh-out-loud, globe-trotting adventure in Phaedra Patrick's The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. A year after his wife's death, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper finds a piece of jewelry in his wife's things he has never seen before, a seemingly small event that sets him off on a journey from London to Paris to India on an epic quest for love and the truth. Starring incredible characters you won't help but fall in love with, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a witty, joyful read that will give you the pick up you need for your summer, stuck-indoor-all-day blues.
9. Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
Inspired by the real-life memoirs of Frances Conway, Allison Amend's Enchanted Islands will transport you to a world like no other: the Galapagos. After a quiet, cramped, and poor childhood in the midwest, Fanny's life takes one unexpected turn after the next, the most exciting being an opportunity to work as an undercover spy for the U.S. during WWII. But just how many secrets can Fanny keep, and what secrets do her new island home hold? You're gong to have to read Enchanted Islands to find out.
10. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
If you're looking for an adventurous YA to get your imagination out of the office and into trouble, look no further that Heidi Heilig's The Girl from Everywhere. A book that will take you not only across the globe but across time itself, this first installment in the series introduces readers to Nix, a young girl who has spent her entire life on her father's mystic ship, searching for the one map that will reunite her dad with her mom— and possibly erase Nix out of existence. Set mostly in 1868 Honolulu, The Girl from Everywhere is fun and fantastical tropical adventure that will leaving you wanting more.
11. Siracusa by Delia Ephron
Bestselling author Delia Ephron takes readers on an Italian vacation in Siracusa, a novel about friendship, marriage, love, and lies. Set in the small coastal town of Siracusa, Ephron's novel follows two couples vacationing by the Ionia Sea as they struggle to come to terms with the realities of each of their relationships. Told in alternating points of view, Siracusa is a fast-paced, emotional read that will leave you gasping for breath at the end. Oh, and reaching for your passport, because once you read about the crystal blue waters and the warm breeze, you'll be on the next flight to Sicily.
12. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Some people travel for recreation, others for work, but in Deborah Levy's Hot Milk, young anthropologist Sofia and her sick mother travel for health. After a life spent trying to figure out her mom's unexplained illness, Sofia and her mother fly off to the coast of Spain seeking a consultation from a famous doctor who might be able to cure ailments once and for all. A fascinating book about sexuality, anger, medicine, and the drive to stay alive, Hot Milk is a unique novel that reads like a lucid dream.
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