Here's a selection of titles to take the reader far from home and the present. Which ones have you read? Where would you go? If you can't go anywhere soon in person, try an arm-chair vacation combined with time-travel via a book. This is a very short list, only 8 titles.
James Clavell’s epic book brought the world of feudal Japan to life. Seen through the eyes of John Blackthorne, the first Englishman in Japan, the novel opened up a whole new culture to Western readers. Though the metropolis of Toyko is nothing like the Edo of the book, many areas surrounding the city still hold links to the old ways. Tours based on the book are available from a variety of groups, many of which are based on the movements of William Adams- the inspiration for Blackthorne.
Russian literature often features tales of doomed love and conflicted souls. Dr. Zhivago, with its sweeping love story set during one of Russia’s most tumultuous time periods, has tugged at heartstrings and captured imaginations since it was published in 1957. It has been made into films for the big screen and television for decades since. Companies offer tours of varying itineraries for fans to experience Russia through the lens of Boris Pasternak’s timeless love story. From a Trans-Siberian train trip to bus tours from Moscow, Perm (the real Yuriatin) is the destination for those who wish to retrace the footsteps of Yuri and Lara.
Whether you are a lover of Dracula, history aficionado, or just like to travel off the beaten path there is a tour for you in the Transylvanian region of Romania. Vlad Dracul, the infamous inspiration for Bram Stoker’s timeless villain Dracula, ruled over what was then Wallachia and left his mark on many places in the region. From this birthplace, Sighisoara, to his tomb at Snagov Monastery and the haunting Bran Castle, the curious can take tours by car, bus, or train to explore the land where gruesome fact meets romantic horror.
Paris, France - Les Miserables
PQ2286 .A39 1992
Even if someone has never been to Paris, nearly everyone can conjure up an image of the city from novels, art, or film. The legacy of the French Romantics can be thanked for that and Victor Hugo was probably the most well known of those artists. With characters from all social casts loving, fighting and struggling together forging a new republican France, Hugo turned Paris itself into a romantic hero. No work of his encompasses the scope of his vision as Les Miserables. You can tour the city and see all the scenes from this classic, nearly all much as they were then.
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK - Standing in Another Man’s Grave
PR6068.A57 S73 2013
Ian Rankin’s John Rebus ranks with Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe as a great in the realm of hard boiled detectives. Like Los Angeles in 1940’s noir, Rebus’ Edinburgh is his real partner throughout the series. The city often associated with its castle and arts festivals is laid bare in the Rebus books, exposing the dark side as well as its everyday customs. Fans of Rebus are no doubt rejoicing with the publication of his return last month in Standing in Another Man’s Grave. Celebrate by taking a Rankin approved tour through Edinburgh and see it through Rebus’ eyes.
Ernest Hemingway had a knack for capturing the essence of any place he committed to paper. From Paris to Petoskey, Michigan, where he wrote, local tourism boards are more than happy to chart his time in their region. Of all his haunts, perhaps the one with the most romantic appeal is Pamplona. The Sun Also Rises, often considered his finest novel, is full of passion against the backdrop of the city. The rich details of the bullfight, the affairs, and the unfettered machismo are all enriched by the pageantry of the Festival of San Fermin. Follow in Hemingway's footsteps in Pamplona.
The Galapagos Islands might be one of the most important destinations in a book. It was here Darwin made observations that were key to his theory of natural selection. A trip to the islands is anything but a typical day at the beach. Visit with Nova's multimedia map, see the islands as they are today and learn how they inspired Darwin.
Lucy Maud Montgomery drew on the island that was her home to create one of literature’s most memorable young adult characters. The Canadian government has taken care to preserve much of what inspired Montgomery’s books, giving tourists a fairly authentic experience.
Have you been inspired to travel to a place you’ve read about? Or, has your travel inspired you to read books that previously might not have been on your reading list? What is your favorite literary locale?
(Title and some links suggested by Bookpublishing.com)