I listen to a lot of podcasts, one of which is Gretchen Rubin’s Happier. It’s a lovely little bit of media, all positive and well, happy. A while back before heading off to Portugal there was an episode about recovering from vacation let down, those inevitable few weeks after a great trip where a person is forced to adjust back to real life. What a drag. One suggestion offered was to find books about the places you just went and read them while adjusting back to reality, in theory this lessens the blow of having to go back to work, the gym, the schedule, what ever it is that you are dreading etc.
I have pulled together a few suggestions and plan on working my way through some more as I remember them and as I read more (I read a lot).
-For a fun historical fiction look for books by Indu Sundaresan these include the Taj Trilogy:
- Twentieth Wife
- The Feast of Roses
- Shadow Princess
– If you have a lot of time on your hands:
- Shantoram – By Gregory David Roberts
- Red Earth and Pouring Rain – By Vikram Chandra
- Sacred Games – Also by VIkram Chandra
– For a more literate heavy read try:
- The Enchantress of Florence – By Salman Rushdie
Or for the non readers out there watch Johda Akbar a Bollywood film about the relationship between the Mughal ruler Akbar the great and his Rajput princess Johda. There is a really interesting connection between this film and the Salman Rushdie book. Two sides of a historical debate about the truth behind Akbar and his relationship with the Rajput princess. Though if you love the story in Johda Akbar you may not want to read the Rushdie book.
Switzerland and Italy:
- Night Letters – By Robert Dessaix
It’s funny, I was gifted this book back in college and remember loving it. I remember getting a sense of riding on trains at night, and rambling through ancient streets on a path to discovery. But I cannot for the life of me remember what the book was about. When I looked it up again I had no memory of the story itself. But the impressions still haunt me, when ever I am on train or traveling through Italy I think of this book.
Spain, all books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon but in particular the three (the fourth is set to publish this year) listed below. They are a set but the first in particular was published in some editions with a walking tour of Barcelona and should not be missed.
- The Shadow of the Wind
- The Angels Game
- The Prisoner of Heaven
- The Labyrinth of Sprits
Spain, Morocco and Portugal:
- The Time In Between – By Maria Duenas
There is also an excellent Spanish language mini series on Netflix right now of the book also titled The Time in Between. Everything was filmed on location and it is truly a work of art. I cannot recommend the show or the novel enough.
Alan Brennert wrote a couple really lovely novels that take place in Hawaii.
If you are looking for something a lot more serious try:
- Hawaii – By James A. Michener
Michener wrote 26 novels in the course of his career, each terribly comprehensive and rich in the locations they are set. He also wrote 30ish non-fiction pieces and had his very first novel adapted into the Rodger and Hammerstein’s Broadway epic South Pacific.
There are so very many books I have read that take place in France but I think the most important is probably Paris by Edward Rutherford. The book is huge, not just in page number of the amount of material is covered. It follows six families starting at the Belle Epoc period but sweeps back and fourth throughout history giving one of the most singular overviews of French history I have ever read. Rutherford himself much like Michener has had a terribly successful career and has published eight epic novels about locations around the world. I was reading New York prior to loosing my Kindle (doh) and plan on tackling Dublin and Ireland Awakening prior to my 2018 trip with my mom. Stay tuned for reviews on those.
I hope these suggestions either help motivate you to travel somewhere new or help cushion the return to post vacation reality. As I mentioned I will post more as I come across them. Read on and happy adventuring!