Stephanie from In Wonderland came up with a brilliant challenge that I can’t resist. It’s very similar to my own personal Read Around the World challenge. I love travelling, in real life and in books, so here is my list of “road trip books” that I’ve read and loved or want to read (and love).
- Thailand: Alex Garland – The Beach
Please don’t judge this book by its movie! I first read it many years ago, and have re-read it many times since. It holds up every time. Not only does it convey the feeling of a beautiful beach in South East Asia, but it’s chock full of pop culture references, adventure, and good old fun. I put this book into people’s hands whenever I can.
- England: Susanna Clarke – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Granted, the real England doesn’t have magic, but I loved how Susanna Clarke gives you that feeling of being in a Jane Austen novel – except with men as protagonists. The scholarly Mr. Norrell is juxtaposed with the more social Jonathan Strange and they each show us different aspects of living in England in the early 19th century. I have copious amounts of love for this book!
- Japan: Catherynne M. Valente – The Melancholy of Mechagirl
I haven’t read the book yet but Cat Valente is a master storyteller with the ability to make me incredibly emotional about fictional characters. This story collection combines her short fiction set in or around Japan and its mythology. I plan to read this book during the read-a-thon and hope to report back to you soon. So far, Miss Valente hasn’t let me down a single time.
- Botswana: Alexander McCall Smith – The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
I have only read the first in a now quite extensive series but it was wonderfully quirky and offered an endearing, clever protagonist, Precious Ramotswe. Recently, I also discovered the TV show based on the novels and I love it! Mma Ramotswe opens a private detective agency and solves crimes that range from husbands cheating on wives, to kidnapped children, to missing dogs. She does this with heart, charms, and a quick mind. Truly irresistible.
- Russia: Tom Rob Smith – Child 44
I don’t read many thrillers or crime novels but this one had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. Set in Soviet Russia, you don’t just get a feeling of the place as such, but also of the incredible oppression and paranoia of its people during that time. In addition to that, it’s a damn good thriller with more than one plot twist that will make you gasp.
I’d like to used this place again to recommend a wonderful (if not very pretty) search engine that lets you browse books by location. It’s called Books Set In… and I’ve used it numerous times to plan my next reading destination. You can filter by continent, country, or city and the results show you where each book is set. Like I said, visually it may be a very simple page, but for people who like to travel through fiction, it is gold.