6 Books to Travel the World, No Passport Required

May 14, 2021

Reading is one of many ways we can travel without leaving our homes. It’s a way to discover and experience destinations we’ve never been to before. As we wait for travel to be opened up again, transport yourself through time and space with the help of these books.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Lost Children Archive is a travelogue that focuses on the story of an artist couple from New York. They set out with their two children on a road trip to Arizona in the heat of summer. As the family travels west, the bonds between them begin to unravel.

Through ephemera such as songs, maps and a Polaroid camera, the children try to make sense of both their family’s crisis and the larger one in the news: the stories of thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States but getting detained—or lost in the desert along the way.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Jitterbug Perfume follows two interweaving storylines, one in Ancient Eurasia and one in the present day: “It begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time).”

Darkly humorous and written in a distinctive style, the story connects duelling perfumers in Seattle, Paris, and New Orleans to a bottle of the incomparable perfume created by two lovers who seek immortality. Orchestrated by a mysterious Irish philosopher, the past and present collide when the characters come together and discover the unexpected path to everlasting life.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two half-sisters who were born into different villages in Ghana, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the same castle, and sold into slavery.

Follow these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed.

One River by Wade Davis

One River is the story of two generations of scientific explorers in the Amazon rainforest. It’s an epic tale of adventure and a compelling work of natural history. 

In the 1940s, biologist Richard Evans Schultes uncovered many of the secrets of the rainforest, relying not only on his own investigations but also on the wisdom passed down by Indigenous tribes. Thirty years later, his student, Wade Davis, followed in his footsteps.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

An archetypal Londoner relocates to Jutland and discovers the pleasures of a country where citizens pay no tuition fees and work 34-hour weeks. Denmark is known for its long dark winters, cured herring, Lego, and pastries, but did you know that it’s also considered one of the happiest places on earth?

The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, touching record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

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