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Armchair Traveling: Exploring the World Through Books

Cindy Burnett
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Books

Now is a good time to take an "armchair tour" around the world.

This week, I am writing about books that can provide you with a virtual vacation while we are practicing social distancing. Readers can visit various countries from the comfort and safety of their own homes as armchair travelers. I chose books that I have read and enjoyed from the other six continents and will write a similar article on North America in the coming weeks.

If you decide to buy any of these books, please consider getting them from your local indie bookstore. If the store does not have a book in stock, they can easily order it and get it to you pretty quickly, and numerous bookstores are offering free or heavily discounted shipping right now. Local businesses really need our help during this stressful time.

Nonfiction titles about faraway places:

  • All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter 
  • Father of Lions: The Remarkable True Story of the Mosul Zoo Rescue by Louise Callaghan
  • I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda
  • No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits by Jordan Romero

Fiction titles organized by continent:

Africa:

  • A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley (Botswana) (first in a series)
  • What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria)
  • Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey (Ghana) (first in a series)

Antarctica:

  • Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (I had to stretch a bit on this one)

Asia:

  • The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker (Burma)
  • The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan (Iran)
  • Liar’s Candle by August Thomas (Turkey)
  • The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai (Vietnam)
  • Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (Pakistan)

Australia

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • The Dry by Jane Harper
  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper 
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Europe

  • The Crossing Places by Ruth Galloway (England) (first in a series)
  • Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec (France) (first in a series)
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (France)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Russia)
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Sweden)
  • The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan (Ireland) (first in a series)
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen (The Netherlands)
  • Swiss Vendetta by Tracee de Hahn (Switzerland) (first in a series)

South America

  • The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende (unnamed Latin America country)
  • Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra (Chile)
  • Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht (Argentina)

This list made me realize that I need to virtually travel more to South America, and I plan to read more books that are set there since I am finding myself with extra time right now. I encourage you to turn off the news and get lost in a good book instead. That approach is working wonders for my mental health and hope it will for you too!

Stay well and safe.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram or Cindy’s Reading Recs.

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