Tag: vacation

Time for summer vacation... and your next book!

The Best Summer Vacation Locations From Your Favorite Books!

It’s getting hotter… and so is our burning desire to run off to some beach and leave our real lives behind! Okay—realistically, most of us have some financial and scheduling limitations when it comes to our plans. But that’s no excuse for missing out on a great book. (Spoiler alert: there actually is no good excuse.) So whether your escape is already on the calendar or purely hypothetical, it’s time to pick a vacation destination. More importantly, it’s time to pick the perfect book for your travels.

 

Image result for reading on an airplane

Gif Via Real Simple

 

No matter how fantastic, we love when some elements of the books we read are grounded in reality (though, of course, they still need to be fantastically good). It’s why people actually go to Harry Potter World, even though there’s nothing there for them but B.O. and overpriced Cornish Pasties—trust me on that last one. I still recall going to Blackfriars Bridge after finishing Cassandra Clare‘s The Infernal Devices trilogy and feeling myself overwhelmed with a specific, nerdy glee. It’s all real! I thought to myself. Well, except for the whole Shadowhunters and evil clockwork creatures part. But that last one probably wouldn’t make for a very good vacation.

So, without further ado, here are some incredible reads set in popular travel destinations around the world! Whether you’re going away or you wish you were, these books are sure to take you on the perfect journey.

 

1. The Lost Continent – Road Trip

 

'The Lost Continent' by Bill Bryson

 

 

Bill Bryson‘s hilarious Americana travelogue opens: “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” After the death of his road-trip-loving father and decades spent living abroad in England, Bryson returns to his former home in search of the perfect American small town that may have just been childhood idealism all along. Readers will be transfixed by the hypnotic pull of the highway AND the frequently baffling people Bryson comes across as he hits every single continental state. Deliriously witty and frequently profound, Bryson leaps from calling out people in Mark Twain’s hometown for never actually reading Mark Twain to dropping truths like this one:

I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored. But then it occurred to me that musing is a pointless waste of anyone’s time, and instead I went off to see if I could find a Baby Ruth candy bar, a far more profitable exercise.

 

2. The Beautiful and the Damned – NYC

 

'The Beautiful and the Damned' F Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

We know, we know! Why didn’t we recommend The Great Gatsby, right? Well, because it’s likely you’ve already read it or seen the movie. F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s less frequently read The Beautiful and the Damned captures a marriage falling prey to alcohol and greed, a darkly atmospheric depiction of a city that never sleeps… but might sleep around. Since nightlife and ruinous ambition appear to be the core motifs of NYC, this is the perfect book to throw in your suitcase. Besides, ‘the beautiful and the damned’ is an excellent caption for you stumbling out of some club with someone who is doomed not to live up to your expectations. Listen, the 1920s are almost upon us, so if you were looking for the right time to drink too much and be confused about your love life… your time is coming.

 

3. Nightwood – Paris, Berlin, Vienna

 

'Nightwood' Djuna Barnes

 

 

Let’s get one thing straight—this book isn’t. If you want to go be gay and edgy in Europe (which I generally do), read this book before settling down for a relaxing disco nap to wake up at midnight to head to the club. One of the earliest books to feature lesbian characters, this intense gothic novel is hopefully just as melodramatic as your going out eye-shadow. The groundbreaking novel features characters outside the gender binary well before the time when this was commonplace—since it’s still not commonplace, emphasis on the well before. If you’re interested in the dark and seedy (as I generally also am) read this one before your Parisian fling, your intoxicated misadventures in a repurposed Berlin warehouse, your late-night wandering through Vienna’s former red-light district. Looking for grungy debauchery in interwar Europe? Right here.

 

4. My Brilliant Friend – Northern Italy, Coastal Islands

 

'My Brilliant Friend'

 

 

Listen, you COULD watch the HBO adaptation… but that’s not gonna fit in your suitcase, and you’ve got a long plane ride ahead of you. This modern masterpiece is a rich story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor yet colorful neighborhood. The bildungsroman depicts the ways in which their fates diverge and how their lives parallel the turmoil of their country. A deeply immersive series, The Neapolitan Quartet addresses the transformation of both the girls and the country they live in with nuance and style. This heady dose cultural context will only improve your Italy trip, and it’s guaranteed to offset the displeasure of airplane food.

 

5. Like Water for Chocolate – Mexico

 

'Like Water for Chocolate' Laura Esquivel

 

 

It would be kind of an understatement to call this novel sensual… so we’ll go out on a limb and call it full-on sexual. Full-on actually IS a more accurate description, given that there’s sex on horseback and, uh, a meal prepared with a ‘special’ ingredient. But this isn’t some pornographic romp across Mexico (even if that may be what your Spring Break is destined to become). Believe it or not, this international bestseller (and inspiration for a feature film) is an expansive tale of family life and forbidden love that chronicles the unlikely history of an all-female family in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Each chapter opens with a unique recipe to  give the story a sense of place within one family’s legacy… a legacy defined frequently by bad luck and surprising turns of fate.

 

6. Down and Out in Paris and London – Paris, London

 

'Down and Out in Paris and London' George Orwell

 

 

A book about a twenty-something living under questionable conditions, doing odd jobs, and not so much going broke as charging headlong into it? Relatable. If you’re on the younger side, chances are that even if you are traveling, you aren’t on your way to five-star accommodations. You might’ve worked some double shifts and second jobs to get on that plane, or maybe you’re hustling under the table to afford an extension on that trip. George Orwell feels you: he describes an eighteen-hour workday at a Parisian restaurant and sleeping on a bench to avoid paying rent (something that we do hope will not feature in your vacation). But it’s always a relief to recall that many among the literary greats got their start down in the gutter—especially if that’s where you are right now.

 

7. Native Stranger: A Black American’s Journey Into the Heart of Africa – Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa

 

'Native Stranger: a Black American's Journey Into the Heart of Africa' Eddy Harris

 

 

Eddy L. Harris, a black American travel writer, goes on a stunning search for his identity as he backpacks across the continent his ancestors called home. Or, not exactly his identity. He explains:

Because my skin is black you will say I traveled Africa to find the roots of my race. I did not—unless that race is the human race, for except in the color of my skin, I am not African. If I didn’t know it then, I know it now. I am a product of the culture that raised me. And yet Africa was suddenly like a magnet drawing me close, important in ways that I cannot explain, rising in my subconscious and inviting me.

This is not another voyeuristic analysis of a white author whose intent is to lambast the reader with relentless depictions of poverty. There are depictions of poverty, but as stricken as Harris is by the corruption and violence he encounters, he remains always enthralled by the beauty of the continent.

 

8. Catfish and Mandala: A Two-WheEled Voyage Through the Landscape of Vietnam – Mexico, Japan, Vietnam 

'Catfish and Mandala' Andrew X Pham

 

 

After his sister’s suicide, Andrew X. Pham bikes across Vietnam in search of the family he’s lost and the homeland he left behind. The memoir juxtaposes his travels with the war-torn memories of his childhood, his illegal journey in an open boat and the insincere conversion to Christianity in his new American home. This is more than a journey, although it’s certainly that as well—it’s an attempt to process a difficult past. The conflict between his new land and his native land, embodied in memories of the war, strikingly mirrors the conflict of his dual identity. Catfish and Mandala offers a unique look into Vietnam’s language, culture, geography, and history that’s both enormously meaningful and small enough to cram in that suitcase!

 

9. Sag Harbor – Long Island, The beach

 

'Sag Harbor' Colson Whitehead

 

 

What’s the best thing to do at the beach? Swim? Tan? Wrong—it’s obviously to get into unsupervised teen shenanigans. Wealthy brothers Benji and Reggie Cooper are out of prep school for the summer and at their parents’ beach house… which is pretty much the only role their parents will play in their summer of love, hate, and bad new Coca Cola flavors. At school, Benji made the mistake of revealing his passion for horror movies and Dungeons & Dragons. But, if he can master all the right handshakes, he could spend summer as the coolest kid in the Hamptons. Colson Whitehead‘s Sag Harbor is a bildungsroman for the African-American elite, for the “black boys with beach houses.” Plus, it’s loaded with 80s nostalgia.

 

10. Less – Berlin, Morocco, India, Paris, Kyoto

 

'Less: A Novel' Andrew Sean Greer

 

 

Being an accomplished novelist traveling the world sounds like anyone’s dream—but Arthur Less didn’t dream it would happen like this. On the eve of his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Less has a mid-life (okay, probably three-quarter-life) crisis. The response to his writing has been tepid. He is, he believes, “the first homosexual ever to grow old… that is, at least, how he feels at times like these.” And he is. Growing old, that is. Approaching his fiftieth birthday and the precipice of literary obscurity, Less accepts an invitation to an insignificant literary award ceremony that will take him around the world and deeper into the lyrical reflection of his own self-improvement. Let it be known that I read this novel on an airplane to another continent, and I can promise a rewarding experience. Warm-hearted and deeply human, this story is bursting with life and an obvious love of language. To quote the author, “just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”

(It’s not.)

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via RealSimple.

 

 

hogwarts castle

Hogwarts Voted #1 Among Top 10 Castles Children Want to Visit

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was chosen as the number one castle children most want to visit even though it doesn’t technically exist at all.

 

English Heritage, a non-profit organization who manages, and helps celebrate, historic buildings in England recently did a survey where they asked 1,000 children between the ages of six and sixteen to name their top ten castles they most wished to visit (if they could).

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, over half of the answeres listed fictional castles, some of which include iconic Disney princess castles such as Cinderella’s castle. In a surprise twist, however, Hogwarts bypassed Cinderella’s castle as well as historical sites like the Windsor Castle and was voted number one.

 

Kate Mavor, chief execute of English Heritage, said that the reason why Hogwarts likes topped the list instead of the very-real castles children can actually visit is because of their exposure to castles on screen rather than in person.

 

“We are in danger of creating an ‘iCastle Generation’ of kids who have only ever seen a castle on a screen,” Mavor said. “Today’s children are increasingly likely to catch their first glimpse via TV or film rather than in real life.”

 

The survey seemed to backup Mavor’s comments, as it found that 60 percent of children’s earliest memories of castles were through their exposure to television, film, and books including Harry Potter, Cinderella, and Frozen. Though the children who voted for Hogwarts unfortunately can’t visit the real deal, they can see a very realistic Hogwarts at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. 

 

In the meantime, check out which castles – fictional and real – made the list!

 

Top ten castles children want to visit:

 

1. Hogwarts | Harry Potter

 

2. Cinderella’s Castle | Cinderella

 

3. Elsa’s Ice Palace | Frozen

 

4. Beast’s Castle | Beauty and the Beast

 

5. Edinburgh Castle | Edinburgh, Scotland 

 

6. Castle Doom | Marvel Comic Books

 

7. Far Far Away Castle | Shrek

 

8. Windsor Castle | Berkshire, England

 

9. Dover Castle | Kent, England

 

10. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle | Sleeping Beauty

 

Featured Image Via Playbuzz

couple on holidays

Get Your Summer Fiction Fix With These 6 Romances Set Abroad

Summer is just about upon us, and we’re running out of time (and money, don’t forget money) to book those much longed-for vacations to far flung locations, but never fear! We’ve got the the perfect way to visit those exotic destinations you’ve been dreaming of, without the extra expense. Live out your summer romance fantasies with these six gorgeous romance novels set abroad! 

 

Enter for a Chance to Win Mia Sheridan’s ‘More Than Words’ and ‘Most of all You’ Plus a Beautiful Lunchbox+Notebook Set! 

 

1. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

 

Image via Goodreads

Image Via Goodreads

 

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. 

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

 

2. More Than Words by Mia Sheridan 

 

Image Via Nova Era Books

Image Via Nova Era Books 

 

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed her—Jessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.

 

Check our our Facebook Live interview with Mia here

 

3. Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

 

Image Via Goodreads

Image Via Goodreads

 

From the author of LAKE COMO comes the story of a young actress who lands the lead in a film that is shooting in Rome, bringing about difficult life choices, new friendships, and a chance at love.

When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful Rome for the next two months. 

Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia’s boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble. 

While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she’s always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?

With her sensory descriptions of the beautiful sites, decadent food, and high fashion of Rome, Hughes draws readers into this fast-paced and superbly written novel. Rome in Love will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.

 

4. Lilac Lane by Sheryl Woods

 

Image Via Goodreads

Image Via Goodreads 

 

Single mom Kiera Malone struggled for years to raise her three children in a small town on the coast of Ireland. Just when she’s let down her guard and allowed herself to love again, her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack and leaves her alone yet again. Overwhelmed by her loss, she’s persuaded to visit her father, Dillon O’Malley, and her daughter, Moira O’Brien, in Chesapeake Shores. With the promise of family ties and a job at O’Brien’s, her son-in-law’s Irish pub, she takes what seems like the biggest risk of her life.

As it turns out, though, crossing the ocean is nothing compared to moving into a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, right next door to Bryan Laramie, the moody chef at O’Brien’s, who doesn’t do anything the way Kiera believes it should be done. Their kitchen wars quickly become the stuff of legend in Chesapeake Shores, and the town’s matchmakers conclude that where there’s heat, there’s sure to be passion.

As these two deal with their wounded pasts and discover common interests, they might just find the perfect recipe for love.

 

 

5. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

 

Image Via Into the Hall of Books

Image Via Into the Hall of Books

 

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.

When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.

Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for. 

 

6. Charlie Glass’s Slippers: A Very Modern Fairy Tale 

 

Image Via Goodreads

Image Via Goodreads

 

In this delightful, clever spin on Cinderella, Charlie Glass—a heroine as loveable as Cannie Shapiro and Bridget Jones—inherits her father’s shoe empire and snatches up a drop-dead-gorgeous, multi-millionaire Prince Charming. But is he truly the key to her happily ever after?

When Charlie’s beloved father, iconic shoe designer Elroy Glass, dies after a long illness, everyone expects that he’ll leave his business to his glamorous wife and eldest daughters. After all, they’ve been running the company for years. But Elroy surprises everyone from beyond the grave: at the will reading, it’s announced that his fashion empire has been left to Charlie, his youngest—and plumpest—daughter.

Before she can run the company, Charlie decides she needs to make a few changes in her life. After several weeks at a California boot camp, she returns to London a new woman: thinner, blonder, and ready to revitalize the Elroy Glass brand. But as she’ll soon discover, a good esthetician and a killer pair of stilettos can only go so far, and there’s more to reinvention—and running a fashion empire—than meets the eye.

Endlessly entertaining, surprising, and ultimately inspiring, Charlie Glass’s Slippers is a modern-day fairytale about finding your own magic and transforming yourself from within.

 

 

Enter for a Chance to Win Mia Sheridan’s ‘More Than Words’ and ‘Most of all You’ Plus a Beautiful Lunchbox+Notebook Set! 
 

Featured Image Via wandrful.wyndhamap.com. All Synopses Via Goodreads. 

Harry Potter Boat

We Have a Feeling This Harry Potter Cruise Is Right up Your Diagon Alley!

Harry Potter fans of the world, rejoice! Just when you thought the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located at Universal Studios in Orlando, was as good as it’d get, this new thing came along! This summer, set sail on a brand-spanking new Harry Potter adventure: a themed cruise down the Thames River where guests will visit major filming locations used in the eight films. 

 

first years boats

Image Via NYDailyNews

 

The Barge Ladies cruise company are behind this week-long extravaganza aptly named “The Harry Potter Magic Cruise.” Its prospective dates will be August 5th – 11th and August 19th – 25th. The same company will be running another themed cruise in April of this year based around the hit ITV show Downton Abbey. The Harry Potter cruise, aboard the vessel Magna Carta, is intended for small groups of up to eight people. It will include Harry Potter-inspired meals prepared by gourmet chefs. Some of the sites to see along the cruise include Virginia Water, where Harry and the gentle hippogriff Buckbeak meet, and Picket Post Close which served as the filming location for 4 Privet Drive. 

 

Barge Ladies

Image Via BargeLadyCruises

 

There’s only one catch to this incredibly exciting opportunity for Potterheads across the globe: tickets for “The Harry Potter Magic Cruise” cost a little over $4,000 per person. But who knows? If you happen to visit your personal vault at Gringotts Bank, and find a few extra galleons lying around, perhaps you and yours can take part on this truly magical adventure as well. 

 

via GIPHY

 

Feature Image Via Entertainment Weekly

Books

You Have to Stay in This Japanese Hostel…I Mean Bookcase

I am basically a walking millennial cliche. You know the one–they studied abroad and now they’re all about that wanderlust and fulfilling their heart’s desire through experience. Yup, that’s me! And this new hostel in Japan proves to put all other hostels to shame. 

 

When studying abroad, you learn quickly that the only way to do it in college without selling a kidney is to use hostels. And they’re amazing. I stayed in hostels all throughout Europe, sometimes for as low as $8 a night, and I must say, I love them. I came across an article about a bookstore-themed hostel in Japan and I might make this my next trip location, just so I can experience this. 

 

Hostel

 

Hostel

Images Via Bored Panda 

 

First off, hostels are small and are not very private and you usually share bathrooms and common areas–you’ll get used to it. So, if you’re looking for a place with tons of room and great views and stellar customer service and you have about four suitcases, you will be very disappointed. BUT, if you are backpacking and travelling around the world looking for incredible experiences over comfort, you will love this. Especially if you’re a book lover like me (which you probably are, considering you’re spending your time on Bookstr). 

 

Hostel

 

hostel

Images Via Bored Panda

 

The general mantra of this place is loving the experience of reading and all that it comes with. They have over 1,700 books and offer three different types of rooms: compact, standard, or double. It’s not so much a room, but a bed in the bookshelves as you see above. What they believe is that the calm of reading a good book will ease you to sleep as you lay among some of your favorites. And trust me, staying like this for two nights is completely doable and you will definitely be surprised about how grateful you’ll be for the experience. And you’re sure to connect with tons of other book-lover-travellers who are just like you! 

 

If you want to see more photos, check out their Instagram. 

 

Feature Image Via BoredPanda