5 travel books for a weekend of escapism

Siobháin Spear
Apr 9, 2020

A pop-up book shop, in the middle of the Indian ocean, recommends best reads for those looking for an escape from the current COVID-19 reality.

If you have ever been whisked away to the dreamy desert hideaway of Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, you’ll know that as well as boasting luxury villas, white-sand beaches and all-around access to the azure waters of the Indian ocean, it is also home to an island library called Barefoot Bookseller.

Since escaping to this stunning retreat is not possible right now, we asked the pop-up bookshop, created in partnership with Ultimate Library, to share a list of must-read travel books that will provide you with the escapism you need while you #StayHome and wait for the world to open up again. Ready to get lost in a world away from your repetitive isolation routine?

1. Notes from a Small Island

There is much to be said for living room travel, and anything written by Bill Bryson is the perfect candidate for transporting you to new shores without even leaving your living room. In Notes from a Small Island, Bryson travels around the UK, uncovering the eccentricities of this island nation and the people who inhabit it. His witty observations about the cultures he visits will have you audibly chortling to yourself. Wherever you are in the world, Bryson is a superb travelling partner.

2. Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies and The Mirror and the Light

If you haven’t yet read this trilogy of evocative novels by Hilary Mantel, now is the time. Telling the story of the rise and fall of Henry VIII’s right hand man, Thomas Cromwell, every page seethes with the life of the Tudor court and the sounds, smells and sights of the sixteenth century. This is far more than just well-written historical fiction; this is the most vibrant world-building, biting and vivacious.

3. The Neapolitan Quartet

Beginning in the 1950s with My Brilliant Friend, this series of four novels by Elena Ferrante follows two friends, Lena and Lila, as they navigate their childhood, adolescence and adulthood in an impoverished part of Naples. Depicting the social workings of a small, poor community, and the joys, jealousies and evolutions of friendship, you’ll find yourself transported to Naples through Ferrante’s warm characters and addictive prose.

4. Silk Roads

Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan has the ability to re-frame perspectives on history. Awakening readers to the prominence of the Asian continent throughout history, Peter Frankopan’s remarkable book manages to condense thousands of years of history into a concise yet thorough narrative. It’s a gripping story of empires, wars, and alliances that were built up along those trade routes. For anyone who would like to use the opportunity of some time at home to learn something new, this is perfect book.

5. Outside The Gates Of Eden

Two teenagers meet in the summer of 1965 and, inspired by their hero, Bob Dylan, decide to form a band. The novel, Outside The Gates of Eden, follows them through the next five decades, into the Summer of Love, the hope of those years, and the disillusion that followed. Described by George R.R. Martin as ‘a brilliant requiem for our generation and all our dreams’, author Lewis Shiner delivers an epic about music and friendship, with a phenomenal soundtrack to boot.

And just remember, your luxe escape to Soneva Fushi will still be waiting for you when the travel restrictions are lifted.

Prefer to get lost in TV shows rather than travel books? Here are ten incredible travel documentaries to add to your list for the coming weeks. Keep that wanderlust alive with more travel tips and inspiration from World Traveller Middle East. For the latest health updates regarding coronavirus, ensure that the information you are consuming is from an official source