BOOK BY CITY

The conversation with my stepmom gave me the idea of coming up with a list based on the books' settings - London, Paris, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, New York, Cairo and Tripoli, Tokyo or Rome. So when you travel, you can just use this booklist as your inspiration and discover both the city and the book from a whole new point of view. For example, I absolutely adore the book Daisy Miller by Henry James, but thanks to visiting Rome (the setting of the novel) I was able to see the story in a completely different light. So get your passport ready and explore the literary world!


Europe

London - Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (If you have been struggling to read this British classic, start with Cunningham's The Hours, a novel written as an homage to Woolf in which Cunningham uses the book Mrs. Dalloway as a connecting link between three stories.)

Paris - A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (Have you ever heard about the "Lost Generation", a group named by famous Gertrude Stein, referring to the writers and poets who appeared after the WWI, shocked and desperate to find means of how to express their feelings? Ernest Hemingway was one of its prominent "members", and my beloved book A Moveable Feast is exactly about this period, depicting Hemingway living in Paris with his first wife, struggling as a writer and journalist.)

Oslo - The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (One of the many Harry Hole's criminal novels is as always full of unexpected turns and scenes that will leave you want to read more and more. In my case, I was afraid to leave the safety of my bedroom just to go to the bathroom - that is how much I was terrified after finishing the book. The Snowman is my favourite one, but I can also recommend another from the series, such as Cockroaches or The Redeemer.)

Rome - Daisy Miller by Henry James (I wrote an essay about this book, so I can't stop talking about it. But I still remember my struggle with the long, seemingly boring sentences in the beginning of the book. My advice? Do not give up, as the author skillfully describes the differences between the conventional and stiff Old World - Europe, and the fresh New World - America.)

Edinburgh - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (A young teacher in a private school ignores all the conventions of the 1930's and leads a group of girls in her own, original way. You can also watch the film version with charming young Maggie Smith, known for her role of Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter books.)

Amsterdam - The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene (My friend Emily mentioned this book when we were visiting Amsterdam together. I know, technically the book is set for the most of the time in the USA, but Amsterdam has an important meaning for the main characters. By the way, in Amsterdam you can visit a bench on which the two main protagonists sit in the movie - but prepare yourself to be slightly surprised - it does not look that glamorous.)

Prague - The Metamorphosis and The Trial by Franz Kafka (Technically, Kafka's books usually lack any specific setting. However, because he was born in Prague and that is where tourists keep coming to learn about his life, I decided to place his books there as well. I do not want to give you any synopsis of the books as I believe that everyone can read it in completely different way.)

Moscow and Saint Petersburg - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (This is not an easy book to read as Tolstoy loves to give long descriptions of the settings and characters' moods. But once you get use to his writing style, you will not be able to put down the story of an unhappily married woman, who sacrifices everything to give herself to a scandalous love affair.)

Prague (and London) - Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald (The hero of this trauma fiction keeps moving around Europe, but Prague has a great importance in the story. Sebald beautifully describes its streets and parks, so you feel like you are actually in the capital of the Czech Republic.)

America

Toronto and Kingston - Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Historical fiction about the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery back in 1843. Everyone talks about The Handmaid's Tale, but Atwood has much more to offer.)

New York - poem Out of the Blue by Simon Armitage (A powerful poem about the atrocity of 9/11.)

Futuristic New York - Naked in Death by Nora Roberts (The first novel in "In Death" series about a strong, independent female detective who solves crime in the dangerous future. The books are full of futuristic details - I want to have her amazing shower -, so you actually want to leave your reading spot and transport yourself to the future. A perfect light reading for hot summer days.)

Cambridge, University of Harvard - Still Alice by Lisa Genova (I had to return to this book as for the first time I had given up after reading the first twenty pages. The second time, I finished it in one day and fell in love. Please, read it as it opens up about the Alzheimer disease and helps you realize what it actually is.)

Pacific Crest Trail - Wild by Cheryl Strayed (The author's memoir describing her journey from lost to found, while walking 1100-mile long Pacific Crest Trail with no previous hiking experience. This book is perfect for all nature lovers or for people who just need a little bit of inspiration.)

Jackson, Mississippi - The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Set in 1962 in an American city, where black maids raise white children and at the same time are treated as nothing more than an easily replaceable help. What shocks about this book most is that it happened not that long ago...)

Cartagena (although the city is never named) - Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (Columbian novelist is mainly famous for his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, but try also this story about two lovers.)

Africa

Cairo (and also London and Tripoli) - The Return by Hisham Matar (I love this novel and I will probably just keep mentioning it for the rest of my life. Why? You can read more about it here.)

Lagos and Nsukka - Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (The story of the Nigerian Civil War in the 1960's and its impact on the lives of people who struggle to survive through it. Ngozi Adichie is my new favourite writer!)

Asia

Kabul (and California) - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (I usually do not cry when I read books, nor when I watch movies. Oh well, but time to time, it happens even to me! Two friends separated by war, ocean and the feeling of guilt of one of them, who had a chance to change their future.)

Tokyo (and New York and Paris) - The Life of Hunger by Amélie Nothomb (This extravagant Belgian writer, who lived as a child in Japan, the USA and many other countries, opens up - as always in her unusual way - about anorexia, narrating her very own personal story.)

Australia

Dungatar (well, this is a fictional little town in Australia) - The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham (A story about love, hate, revenge, and injustice. If you are looking for a slightly different writing style, definitely reach for Ham's debut novel. She has a beutiful use of language. The movie adaption, with charming and brilliant Kate Winslet as the main character Tilly, is also worth of your attention.)

Melbourne - The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Don Tillman, a genetics professor, creates a questionnaire to find a suitable partner. It could work, but then he meets Rosie who is full of surprises. This seemingly innocent and funny novel gently tackles a question about the Asperger's syndrome, opening up a topic which is usually not discussed in popular literature.)

Sydney - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Three women, one unsolved murder of a teenage girl, and a letter which was not meant to be read... This easy-to-read story will not let you go until you finish it.)


28.06.2017