In a perfect world, we could hop on a plane and explore the globe whenever we wanted to. The reality for most Canadians is much different so thankfully when plane tickets are out of reach, the bookstore is close at hand. Here are some unconventional reads that will have you exploring far-flung regions from the comfort of your armchair.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: This story is about an eccentric mother, suburbia, creativity, childhood, a missing person – and Antarctica. The main characters’ preoccupation with Antarctica and the hijinks that happen there are enough to make any reader want to visit the South Pole. In a world where most vacations take place in warmer climates, this book piques the interest for some of the lesser travelled roads, and why we choose them.
What I was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman: Reader beware! You need an open mind and ID that proves you are over 18 for this spicy true tale of a traveller with a restless heart and soul. Kristin is terrified of commitment to a man but has no trouble committing to wild adventures overseas. Along the way, she details (in great detail) encounters with lovers she meets on her trips, along with heartbreaking and heartwarming revelations she learns about herself on each new journey.
The Tunnels of Moose Jaw Series by Mary Harelkin Bishop: While these adventure stories for youth centre on the central character time travelling through history, many are surprised to learn that the Tunnels of Moose Jaw are a very real place. The Tunnels are a significant part of Saskatchewan’s history, and within them, two tours are available: The Chicago Connection, that lets you relive prohibition, and Passage to Fortune, which depicts the injustice done to early Chinese immigrants in the region.
Yotsuba (also depicted as Yotsuba&! And Yotsuba to) By Kiyohiko Azuma: If you are not already a fan of Japanese manga (graphic novels from Japan), Yotsuba is a great place to start. While many mangas have supernatural elements that don’t enchant all readers, Yotsuba is the simple serialised tale of a young girl with a huge personality living her everyday life in Japan. Her adventurers are charming, and readers get a glimpse of Japan’s day-to-day activities and festivals, as the ordinary resident would experience them. It’s a sweet way to learn a little more about Japan while enjoying a laid-back manga.
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho: The protagonist in this mystical novel is on a quest for an elusive treasure, even though he has no idea what that treasure is. His pursuit takes him from Spain to Egypt, and his travels are as intriguing as the characters he meets along the way. This book is part adventure, part ethereal and part inspiration to follow your dreams – and your passport – to wherever your personal treasure is found.
A “travel book” does not have to be a formal guidebook. You can be inspired to visit places you have yet to dream of when you choose books that just happen to take place outside of your postal code or country. The next time you are in a bookstore, step away from your go-to selection and think outside of the border. You just may find a new book to love, and a new place to visit.