We’ve rediscovered the enjoyment of a slower pace of life, and many of us have relished the opportunity to spend the extra time we’ve gained catching up on our reading. What better way to relax and use our minds to escape, travelling far away into the pages of a great novel.
We asked our team to provide us with their recommendations for the novels and books that have really inspired them during this down time to discover new places, people and cultures when they are able to travel again.
Which one of our teams’ top recommendations will make it to your nightstand?
- The Final Days of our Fathers by Joël Dicker
This 2010 novel takes us back in time telling a story set in the heart of World War II. It reveals the true story of the Special Operations Executive, an underground branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service who trained French Resistance cells.
Recommended by: Meryll M, Digital Marketing, Geneva
“This is my favourite book of 2020 and is written by acclaimed Swiss novelist, Joël Dicker. The book tells the story of the Special Operations Executive, a British World War II organisation. The book allows you to travel into the past from France to the UK and Germany with incredible protagonists. A stunning literary journey.”
- The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Transporting us to the incredible India of the 1950’s, the Henna Artist shines a spotlight on a strong, independent woman struggling between traditional Indian culture (with an arranged marriage) and her desire to live a modern life. At just 17, she flees her marriage and travels to the vibrant, pink city of Jaipur, becoming a highly sought-after henna artist to the upper class and learning their innermost secrets.
Recommended by: Amber B, Custom Groups, California
“I have been reading books from my neighbour’s lending library and I recently found The Henna Artist: by Alka Joshi. What a find this was – India is by far one of my favourite places to travel to and it was so fun to re-visit the country through this book!”
- The Rings of Saturn by W.G Sebald
This novel follows a protagonist’s journey by foot down along the coast of Suffolk and his many observations. It deals with the themes of memory and history, touching on the Chinese empire and previous trips to Ireland and Belgium as they connect to the stories of the people and places that he encounters on his quest to understand himself and his surroundings.
Recommended by: Hayley G, Contact Centre, Toronto
“I would have to go with “The Rings of Saturn” by W.G Sebald. It’s an intriguing mix of part memoir, part travelogue, and part history as he narrates his journey down the coast of Suffolk. He encounters places and characters of interest both past and present on his quest to understand himself and his surroundings in their correct place in the passage of time, and how they all relate to death.”
- The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
This 1992 best-selling book turned movie, follows a group of different people who come together in the midst of World War II in an Italian Villa. A Canadian nurse tends to her last patient, an almost unrecognisable man who has been burnt in an attack, as they explore the patient’s life prior to injury. A story of love, deceit, and painful memories, this book not only makes us want to travel to the Italian countryside, but also highlights the importance of not just travelling the world, but understanding the people and seeing the truth that lies beneath the surface of the tourist attractions.
Recommended by: Brad F, President, Toronto
“Aside from the obvious appeal of the Italian countryside, deserts, Egypt, Bedouin mythology and sweeping vivid romantic imagery, this story changed the way I wanted to see the world. It encouraged me to look for the incredible stories that lie beneath the surface of the perfect pictures of the places we visit. I’ve read it several times – it was first recommended to me by my Mother, as it was one of her favourite reads. I’m reading it again now, and it sits on my bedside table for moments to lose myself in a story a few pages at a time.”
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Written by a Brazilian author in Portuguese and then later translated to English to becoming a best seller, The Alchemist is a brilliant combination of wisdom, magic and self-discovery. With the protagonist travelling from his Spanish hometown through the Egyptian Desert, and meeting a gypsy, a king and an alchemist who all help him in the search for “treasure.” A wonderful reminder of how travelling can help us look inside and listen to our hearts.
Recommended by: Kirsten S, Marketing, Geneva
“When I first read the Alchemist it had become a popular book for people who were looking for meaning, and was discussed everywhere from bus stops to coffee shops. Whilst it’s true that Paulo Coelho has a way of unravelling the mysteries and magic of the world that provides comfort to many, what I took from it was the rich way he described the landscapes and countries of North Africa from times gone by. A reminder that wisdom is not a new concept and that through the act of travel one can find parts of themselves that were once hidden.”
MORE INSPIRING TRAVEL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
- Spectacle: Rare and Astonishing Photographs, by National Geographic
A National Geographic collection of some of their photographer’s best breathtaking images from around the world. This coffee table book is beautiful and inspiring, filled with photography that delights and shocks readers, urging them to travel again to find the joy of witnessing a manmade or rare natural wonder for themselves.
- Journey From Venice by Ruth Cracknell
An autobiography that follows Author Ruth and her husband Eric’s journey to escape on their carefully planned holiday, with the mission to have more time to think and appreciate life and each other. As Eric falls ill, the story becomes one of unconditional love and a reminder to readers that no matter how well you plan a holiday, life can have its own plans for you.
- The Beach by Alex Garland
Another book turned into an incredible film starring Leonardo Di Caprio, The Beach makes us nostalgic for the adventures of backpacking or a warm summer holiday. Told in first person by a young boy in search of a legendary beach in Thailand untouched by the effects of tourism. Although originally published in the 90’s, the novel’s issue is more relevant than ever as we look to find a more sustainable way to travel and preserve our favourite places.
- The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
Rather than a book about travelling, or where the characters embark on an incredible journey, this book serves as a great reminder of why we travel. The book also highlights some of the issues of glorifying travel, or a specific trip, that may turn out differently than imagined, or not live up to our expectations. For everyone, it may be different, but for many of us it’s for the sense of adventure, discovering beauty in nature, cultural understanding and personal growth.
- The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
A beautiful romance novel which is the first of a best-selling trilogy, the book is set in 1941 as Russia entered the second World War. While we don’t wish to be transported back to the chaos and destruction of a warzone, the love story in this novel set in an environment of hardship, devastation and secrets, also creates a love story between the reader and the country of Russia, as we appreciate the harsh winter, grand cities and unique culture.