The best writers, in my opinion, create a setting that is so vivid that it almost becomes a character. The following list contains some of my favorite fiction that provides a distinct sense of a unique locale: Honolulu by Alan Brennert (Hawaii); Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene (Cuba); Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (New Mexico); The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Congo); Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell; The Commitments by Roddy Doyle (Dublin); Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange by Amanda Smyth (Caribbean); When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro (Shanghai).
I'm always a sucker for a novel of suspense, and below are some of the best for whiling away a summer afternoon. In just a few pages you can be solving mysteries in Mesopotamia or collecting clues in the Caribbean: The Shape of Water and other Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri (Sicily); The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith (Botswana); The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Los Angeles); Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen (Florida); The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey; The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Turkey); Poirot in the Orient (Murder in Mesopotamia, Death on the Nile, Appointment with Death, Murder on the Orient Express) by Agatha Christie.
Sometimes it's fun to read about the real-life adventures of people who are lucky enough to be traveling, either around the world or in our own backyard: The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (Venice); Gone Bamboo by Anthony Bourdain (St. Martin); Great Plains by Ian Frazier (American West); On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan (Mexico).
A trip through time also enhances travel narratives; I'm fascinated by the way people and places looked to tourists in past decades and centuries: Roughing It by Mark Twain (American West, 1870s); A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Europe, 1930s); Passenger to Teheran by Vita Sackville-West (Persia, 1920s); The Land of Little Rain by Mary Austin (California, 1890s).
What books take you places? Do you have favorite stories about travel?
All DPL locations will be closed November 27, and will close at 4 p.m. November 26. The Westwood Branch Library will be closed November 27-30. More...