Thanks to the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19, we’re working from home, exercising at home and socialising at home. Even if you love where you live, that’s an awful lot of the same four walls. Hopefully, we’ll all be out and exploring our own beautiful backyard very soon. However, it would seem that a trip overseas is a little further on the horizon.
Luckily reading can help you escape by transporting you to a completely different place. It can also teach you about a different way of life, which many of us will likely be craving in the weeks and months to come.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six books perfect for every type of armchair traveller to enjoy during lockdown, and beyond. All of these books are available to hire from our fabulous libraries via Overdrive (some even as audio books) so you won't even have to order in to enjoy these gems.
The Year Of Living Danishly
When Londoner and journalist Helen Russell moved to Jutland, Denmark, for her husband’s dream job at Lego, she had one major question. Why are the Danes so happy? Shocked by the statistic that positions Denmark as the happiest place on earth, Russell spends her year in Jutland investigating everything that makes the country so special. From forgetting the 9 to 5, education, taxes and food to interior design and exercise, Russell covers all bases in this joyful book that will leave you feeling warm, fuzzy and ready to live Danishly.
Set in the small, fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, Chocolat is (unsurprisingly) a treat for all of those who read it. It follows Vianne Rocher and her young daughter, Anouk, who choose to open a chocolaterie (that’s fancy chocolate shop to you and me) on the first day of Lent, horrifying the local priest. What follows is a passive aggressive battle between Vianne and the village church, as well as mouth-watering descriptions of everything she concocts in the chocolaterie kitchen. A Joanne Harris classic, after reading this sensory novel, it’s not only chocolate that you’ll crave but a one-way ticket to France.
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist In Spain
The original drummer in world-famous band Genesis, Chris Stewart packed it all in to become a sheep farmer in the isolated Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. In this autobiographical tale, Stewart shares his adventures with his wife, Ana, and their baby girl, Chloe, as they set up home at the rundown farm of El Valero. Although rich with olive, lemon, and almond groves, the farm lacks a few essentials—including running water and electricity. Luckily Stewart demonstrates unflappable optimism in this gem of a book that will inspire you to embrace a new way of life with determination and positivity.
Made famous by the Danny Boyle-directed film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Beach was written by English author, Alex Garland. Set in Thailand, the story is about Richard – a young backpacker in search of somewhere off the beaten track. His quest takes him to an isolated paradise, a secret island inhabited by long-term travellers and completely unspoiled by tourists. When Richard is punished for an unforgivable crime by his fellow islanders, things begin to spiral out of control. Somewhat darker than the film (which is pretty dark already), this gritty novel if the perfect reminder to be careful about what you wish for.
Have you ever dreamed of quitting your job, packing it all up and sailing away to shores
unknown? That’s exactly what Mari Rhydwen and her husband Allen did, sailing across the
Indian Ocean in their boat White Cloud. In this thoughtful memoir, Rhydwen shares all the
triumphs and challenges of their journey from Western Australia to Kenya. As she and Allen
face obstacle after obstacle, Rhydwen learns how to relinquish control and go with the flow
(and sometimes, the slow). Her no-nonsense attitude and strong character is an inspiring
example of how to deal with the unexpected.
Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist sneaks onto many a “must-read” list, and for good reason. An allegorical novel, or parable, The Alchemist looks at what happens when you go searching for more in life. A young Andalusian shepherd travels to the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding a treasure there. Revealing what he discovers by the end of the book would spoil the story. Needless to say, after finishing this tale you’ll be left with a new found sense of what’s really important in life.
Yearning for more recs? Check out these long reads perfect for isolation.
Image credit: Maarten van den Heuvel