I read. A lot. I always have. And one of the things I love most about reading is that you get transported to different eras or countries, even other worlds. As a child my favourite stories involved adventures, chasing criminals or looking for lost treasure with the Famous Five in Dorset, my home county; or longing for a return to my favourite holiday spots in the mountains to be like Heidi in the Alpine meadows. I loved The Chronicles of Narnia and although I never went through the back of the wardrobe, I found my own version of Narnia in the winter wonderland of Finland.
Stories can take you to places you’ve never been, bring back memories of holidays past, and inspire you explore the world.
I never travel without a book (or usually more than one – hooray for e-readers!) and as I often travel solo they are great for whiling away long waits alone in airport lounges, but also to make me feel more comfortable in hotel lounges. I don’t have to read, and will hopefully find some fellow travellers to pass the time with, but a book acts almost like a security blanket for me that I can duck into if I need to, or as a conversation starter.
My favourite types of books to take away with me are set in the same place that I am travelling to, which makes for a fairly eclectic mix – I spent 3 weeks hitch-hiking and camping on the west coast of Ireland a few years ago, accompanied by Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks – he was on a similar journey to me but thankfully I had left my fridge at home! His stories resonated with me though as I could see the same landscape and could relate to some of the characters he met on his travels. Louis de Bernières is a favourite for me; I took Birds Without Wings to Kayakoy in Turkey upon which the fictional town of Eskibaçhe was based, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to Greece (although admittedly not the right Greek island). For travellers to Greece Victoria Hislop is also a good choice with books set in Thessaloniki and Crete, although I particularly enjoyed reading The Return whilst in Granada, where the story is set.
I don’t always get it exactly right, I took Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune with me to Chile but most of the story was actually set in California. It was still a good choice though as some of the people I met were delighted to see that I was reading one of their authors.
I am currently reading Dan Brown’s The Origin, Chapter One starts:
Professor Robert Langdon gazed up at the forty-foot-tall dog sitting in the plaza. The animal’s fur was a living carpet of grass and fragrant flowers.
So instead of being in my living room I am taken back to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao!