Book Recommendations; 10 Books To Pick Up For Armchair Travelling This Summer

Alright, today comes yet another summerish book recommendations post. Although it's now possible for a lot of people to actually travel after the bedlam of the Covid pandemic, some of us may be either a bit wary of travelling or still unable to do so for various reasons. The good thing is, it's possible to do some armchair travelling by reading, so the list for today is highly influenced by that.

Here's ten books I recommend for some armchair travelling.

From Venice With Love by Rosanna Ley

Description from Goodreads
The best-selling author of The Lemon Tree Hotel returns with an enchanting new holiday listen about family bonds and following your heart, wherever it might take you....

With her marriage in danger of falling apart, Joanna returns home to the beautiful but dilapidated Mulberry Farm Cottage in rural Dorset, where her sister Harriet is struggling to keep the farm afloat and cope with their eccentric mother.

When Joanna discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic, written by a watercolourist named Emmy, she is intrigued and sets out to discover Emmy's true story. Emmy's letters take Joanna to the picturesque alleyways and bridges of Lisbon, Prague, and the most romantic place of all: Venice - where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.

Meanwhile, back at Mulberry Farm Cottage, a mysterious prowler adds to Harriet's problems and interrupts her search for a perfect partner. Will she ever find true love? Where will Emmy's mesmerising pathway lead? And more importantly, will Joanna and Harriet be able to rescue the cottage and finally be able to rediscover their sisterly bond?

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Østby

Description from Goodreads
A novel of five lifelong friends who, in their sixties, decide to live together on a cocoa farm in Fiji, where they not only start a chocolate business but strengthen their friendships and rediscover themselves.

"I've planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don't you join me? Leave behind everything that didn't work out!"

When Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat--Kat the adventurer, Kat who ran away to the South Pacific as soon as they graduated--has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?

Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they've been dealt. There's Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat's longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like "a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different." Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness.

A story of love, hope, and chocolate, Pieces Of Happiness will reaffirm your faith in friendship, second chances, and the importance of indulging one's sweet tooth.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Description from Goodreads
A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

Braised Pork by An Yu

Description from Goodreads
Beautiful, dreamlike, and utterly intoxicating, Braised Pork is the beguiling debut of an outstandingly talented young writer who is based in China but writes in English

One autumn morning, Jia Jia walks into the bathroom of her lavish Beijing apartment to find her husband dead. One minute she was breakfasting with him and packing for an upcoming trip, the next, she finds him motionless in their half-full bathtub. Like something out of a dream, next to the tub Jia Jia discovers a pencil sketch of a strange watery figure, an image that swims into Jia Jia's mind and won't leave.

The mysterious drawing launches Jia Jia on an odyssey across contemporary Beijing, from its high-rise apartments to its hidden bars, as her path crosses some of the people who call the city home, including a jaded bartender who may be able to offer her the kind of love she had long thought impossible. Unencumbered by a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia travels into her past to try to discover things that were left unsaid by the people closest to her. Her journey takes her to the high plains of Tibet, and even to a shadowy, watery otherworld, a place she both yearns and fears to go.

Exquisitely attuned to the complexities of human connection, and an atmospheric and cinematic evocation of middle-class urban China, An Yu's Braised Pork explores the intimate strangeness of grief, the indelible mysteries of unseen worlds, and the energizing self-discovery of a newly empowered young woman.

The Folded Earth by Anurandha Roy

Description from Goodreads
Anuradha Roy weaves an evocative and deeply moving tale of a young woman making a new life for herself amid the foothills of the Himalaya. Desperate to leave a private tragedy behind, Maya abandons herself to the rhythms of the little village, where people coexist peacefully with nature. But all is not as it seems, and she soon learns that no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world. When power-hungry politicians threaten her beloved mountain community, Maya finds herself caught between the life she left behind and the new home she is determined to protect.

The Girl from the Coast by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Description from Goodreads
Pramoedya's The Girl from the Coast tells the story of a beautiful young woman from a fishing village who finds herself in an arranged marriage with a wealthy aristocrat. Forced to leave her parents and home behind, she moves to the city to become the 'lady' of her husband's house. Pramoedya's breathtaking literary skill is evident in every word of this book, one of his classic works of fiction made especially poignant because it is based on the life of his own grandmother.

The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George

Description from Goodreads
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings.

Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world.

Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.

The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak

Description from Goodreads
Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie. So begins an epic adventure that will see young Jahan rise from lowly origins to the highest ranks of the Sultan's court. Along the way he will meet deceitful courtiers and false friends, gypsies, animal tamers, and the beautiful, mischievous Princess Mihrimah. He will journey on Chota's back to the furthest corners of the Sultan's kingdom and back again. And one day he will catch the eye of the royal architect, Sinan, a chance encounter destined to change Jahan's fortunes forever.

Filled with all the colour of the Ottoman Empire, when Istanbul was the teeming centre of civilisation, The Architect's Apprentice is a magical, sweeping tale of one boy and his elephant caught up in a world of wonder and danger.

Pharcel: Runaway Slave by Alick Lazare

Description from Goodreads
Pharcel stayed in the hut long after Coree Greg had left it. His mind was in turmoil as it swung around the rationality of Coree Greg's caution, the boldness of Bala's call for present action and Paulinaire's ideas about programmed unity among all colored people and an organized campaign against the white government. He trusted the wisdom of Coree Greg and he wanted to follow him; but he found the stirring challenge put forward by Bala irresistible. Pharcel, a runaway slave, is heavily sought by all the political forces on the small island of Dominica-the white English colonists, the revolutionary French, and the rebellious mulattos-for his role in the slave uprisings.

Torn between loyalty to his race and a strong personal desire for freedom and acceptance by the colonial powers and the rising mulatto influence, he walks a razor's edge of duplicity and ambivalence until his natural rebelliousness is pitted against the full force of colonial power. In the end, he succumbs to an irresistible and nearly fatal attraction for the wife of a French planter. But in a fit of ruthless rage, Pharcel sets the colony ablaze. Can he rescue her from the hands of his archenemy?

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Description from Goodreads
After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind.

To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war.

Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants.

The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

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