Lockdown has meant adapting to a life mostly spent within the confines of our homes. Many people will have had to cancel or postpone trips away due to the COVID-19 crisis and the amazing weather has made me lust for a sun lounger and pool more than ever. While it’s not safe to travel at the moment, here are seven escapist novels to read over the bank holiday. From the Italian Riviera and Greek islands to the Amazon rainforest, while you can’t jump on a plane right now it doesn’t mean you the pages of a really good novel can still take you on an adventure.
Usually over the summer I fill my reading list with romantic comedies, Nora Ephron, and a few of the classics. When you’ve got a holiday coming up with a baggage allowance to think about, you want to pack books you know for sure you’ll love. It’s unlikely you’ll have this problem this summer as international travel is still pretty much non-existent. However, your reading list could transport you to destinations even if you won’t be able to enjoy them yourself. Here’s seven books that you can get completely lost in this bank holiday.
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‘Call Me By You Name’ by Andre Aciman
Published in 2007 and adapted for the big screen in 2017, Call Me By You Name tells the story of the turbulent love affair between Elio and Oliver. As soon as you pick this novel up you’ll be pulled into Elio’s infatuation. Mostly set in a cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera you’ll be transported to the poolside at which most of Elio and Oliver’s early relationship unfolds. However, this isn’t a straightforward love story and you’ll find yourself pining for the characters to work it out.
‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel and tells the story of 15 year old Kambili and her family. Set in Nigeria, Kambili and her brother are sent away by her controlling father to live with her aunt as political unrest rises. A world completely different to their own, their Aunt’s house is full of intellectuals, artists, and strangers ready to share their story and Kambili finds her voice to control her own. This is a coming of age novel that will be totally different to any you’ve read before.
‘City of the Beasts’ by Isabel Allende
Alexander Cold feels like he’s living a pretty mundane, ordinary life. However, that’s all turned on its head when his grandmother Kate calls on him to join her for the trip of a lifetime. Kate’s expedition will take them to the most remote, wildest corners of South America in a bid to find the Yeti of the Amazon, known as the Beast. The trip is tough, intrepid and a struggle even for Kate, who is an experienced geographic explorer. On his travels, Alex meets Nadia and embarks on an even bigger adventure.
‘The House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros
While some books take you away to the destination they’re set, The House on Mango Street whisks you away in its protagonist’s imagination. Esperanza is 12 and has just moved into her family’s first home in a Latino neighbourhood in Chicago. While she likes the idea of her home on Mango Street the reality is less enticing. It’s small and crowded and Esperanza has no privacy whatsoever. Soon after moving she meets Lucy and Rachel who live in the same neighbourhood and The House on Mango Street details the adventures they have over a summer as they grow up and the way she starts to see Mango Street differently.
‘A Theatre for Dreamers’ by Polly Samson
A Theatre for Dreamers doesn’t just transport the reader to the small Greek island of Hydra but also back to 1960. It follows Erica who leaves her dreary home in London after the death of her mother. She arrives on Hydra with no idea what’s to come and just her husband and an enigmatic writer acquaintance for company. But before long she’s surrounded by writers, artists, and musicians. However, while her new life may be freer that isn’t to say it’s free from problems. The way Samson writes about Greece will make you feel like you’re bathed in the hot sun, sitting in front of turquoise water, ready for an adventure.
‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi
Published in 2016, Homegoing is another novel which transports the reader back in time to look at how family history and circumstance from centuries ago can shape the modern day. The story opens in eighteenth century Ghana. Maame flees the household where she is an Asante slave. She leaves behind a baby daughter, Effia. She goes on to marry and has another baby girl Esi. The half sisters are born in different villages and, because of the circumstances into which they were born, their lives are dramatically different but entwined. Yaa Gyasi charts how generations are affected right up to the present day.