“The last sentence he had always feared and from the middle of a book, he had always been tormented by the thought that there would inevitably be a last sentence.” ~ Night Train to Lisbon
One of our favorite ways to prepare for a new travel destination is to hunt down the best novels we can find set in our future destinations. We have certain criteria.
The story has to be well researched and the information about the geographic location has to be accurate for the time period. It has to be available in Kindle format or chances are we won’t be able to find it in English.
It has to be a book we would have read EVEN if we weren’t traveling anywhere! This is the most important criteria. So many people have recommend books that seem to be about the location first and the story suffers.
We want to be transported from wherever we are and there is nothing better than a great novel. Books are our TV, our movies, our entertainment. We are not looking for research, we are looking to connect to a place through a great story.
- In London, Alex Rider traveled with us, as Max had just finished the series.
- In Barcelona, all of Daniel’s haunts from The Shadow of the Wind, framed our walks as talk turned to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
- In Madrid, Feliu from The Spanish Bow came to life as we listened to street musicians and wandered through markets and concert halls. Feliu followed us to Cordoba and Grenada and Seville as well! He is still with us and probably always will be.
- We visited platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross in London as Harry Potter feels like a member of the family.
- In Night Train to Lisbon, a classical language teacher, Raimund Gregorius, whispered to us as we rode the rickety cable cars through the Alfama and Baixa.
- In Suite Franciase, Irene Nemirovsky transported me to France during World War II. The author died in a Nazi concentration camp and her transcript was discovered years later. Her story is even more amazing than her literary genius. The translation is flawless and human and haunting and gentle. It is a masterpiece.
- Bianca begged to climb the Eiffel Tower stairs to see Gustav Eiffel’s apartment after reading The Magic Treehouse Night of the New Magicians.
As we move from one destination to the next, we pause and hesitate, because we are leaving more that just the geography, we are leaving the stories and characters that led us through our experience. To watch great stories come to life before our eyes feels like the ultimate gift.
One of my favorite ways to find location-specific texts is on a fabulous site called Trip Fiction! To see my interview with the creator of this amazing resource, click here! They are in the process of figuring out how to link to Amazon in the United States instead of just the UK.
In the meantime, a great way to say thank you for this incredible database is by providing book reviews and participating in literary discussions on the site. I know you will love it!