I am so excited to announce my latest project… a book club for our amazing community of travellers!

I love discovering a new story that transports me right to the destination, and inspires me to get out of my comfort zone more when it comes to travelling. There’s nothing better than experiencing an exotic location through the eyes of your favourite character and then getting to visit and live it for yourself. Although many details within a story’s setting can be fictional, more often than not they are based off of real life.

At the beginning of each month, I will be featuring one to two books that will not only transport your mind and inspire you to explore the world, but also introduce you to actual destinations and sights that you may have not thought to visit otherwise.

Although so many of us love progressing through a physical book, this isn’t always the most practical while we’re actually travelling. If you’re reading any of my picks (or any books for that matter) on-the-go, I recommend checking out Amazon’s brand new kindle e-reader. Featuring an adjustable front light so you can read indoors and outdoors and a glare-free touchscreen display that reads like real paper, even in direct sunlight. And the best part, you have access to millions of books at your fingertips. Another option is to download their free kindle app directly onto your smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re a physical or digital reader, my picks will be available in both formats.

To get us started, I wanted to feature a few classics that many of us have probably already read. However if you haven’t, now is your time to get caught up! These books are well known and well loved by everyone, and for good reason. They’ll pull you in to both their characters and setting from the very beginning.

If you have any favourites that made you feel like you were travelling from your couch, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your recommendations are 🙂

Below are my “classic” picks to get us started. Coming May 1st, I will be featuring lesser-known books to introduce you to a wider range of genres, authors and destinations. Now, I’m sure we can all guess what the first pick is…

Eat Pray Love

Yes, just like the movie. Eat Pray Love staring Julia Roberts is actually based off of a book with the same title, authored by Elizabeth Gilbert and based off of her real life journey. By the end of this novel, you won’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and travel alone in order to learn more about yourself in the process.

Synopsis: “Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way—unexpectedly.

An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.”

You’ll be itching to book a trip it Italy in no time!

Buy it here in paperback or for your e-reader.

Crazy Rich Asians

You may not think of Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan, as a travel story, but if you’ve seen the movie then you know how incredible Singapore seems! I wanted nothing more than to jump on a plane and head straight for the food stalls to devour the world’s cheapest Michelin starred meal as I was reading through.

Synposis: “Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendour beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.”

Even if this story doesn’t add Singapore to your bucket list, it’s still the perfect beach read for a relaxing vacation.

Buy it here in paperback or for your e-reader.

Wild

Also just like the movie. The film, starring Reese Witherspoon, is based off of the novel, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. This popular book was Oprah’s 2012 pick, so you know you can’t go wrong!

Synopsis: “At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.”

Although we may not all consider ourselves adventurers, by the end of this incredible story you’ll at the very least be ready to push your boundaries and do something you never thought possible.

Buy it here in paperback or for your e-reader.

Angels & Demons

We’re probably all familiar with The Da Vinci Code, however did you know that it was actually the second instalment of the best-selling Robert Langdon book series, and that Angels & Demons came first. Although the movies are made in reverse order, if you’re reading the original novels you want to start with Angels and Demons. It’s one of the best-selling books of all time!

This mystery-thriller has inspired millions to visit Vatican City and Rome. Ever since I read the gripping novel with cryptic messages and the mysterious murders inside the Vatican, I had to add the Vatican to my bucket list, too. Any of my history buffs and architecture lovers out there will fall in love with how Dan Brown weaves his tale around prominent monuments that you can go experience for yourself.

Synopsis: “World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization — the Illuminati. In a desperate race to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and deserted cathedrals, and into the depths of the most secretive vault on earth…the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.”

Once you finish and undoubtedly book a flight to Rome, you’ll stroll through sights such as St Peter’s Basilica and connect the dots as Robert Langdon did, truly bringing Angels and Demons to life.

Buy it here in paperback or for your e-reader.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

And finally, a true classic: Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Again, just like the movie starring Audrey Hepburn. Many people aren’t aware that this beautiful story was in fact a book first, by Truman Capote. This pick goes out to our readers who value beautiful writing, as opposed to just an entertaining story (but don’t worry, it’s also entertaining). At just 84 pages, you’ll be strolling through Tiffany’s in New York City with a coffee and croissant in hand in no time.

Synopsis: “It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.”

Don’t expect to be experiencing the same story as the Hollywood film though, the original novella paints a darker portrait of Miss Golightly. Unlike Audrey Hepburn’s loveable Holly, Capote’s Holly is a “wild thing” who cannot be caged, trained, or rescued, and you’ll get a in-depth look at why.

Buy it here in paperback or for your e-reader.

That’s all for now! I can’t wait to start introducing you to new reads each month. I hope that they transport you to new worlds, inspire you to get out and explore, and at the very least offer an enjoyable story.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these first picks, and if you have any recommendations for the coming months.

Happy reading,

Claire

One Comment

  • Christine Wejr says:

    This is a great informative site !!! Thanks Claire… the only suggestion I have is to darken the print that is pale blue and on the pale blue background…. It is very hard to see…

    We always use Travel Best Bets and watch for you on TV too…

    Christine & Al Wejr, Vernon, BC.

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