Travels through words: 10 books that inspire journeys
Travels through words: 10 books that inspire journeys
Skyscanner takes a look at various books where exotic, and sometimes not so exotic locations, are key to the mood of the novel.
Dr No, Ian Fleming, Jamaica
Just as huge numbers of residents of the West Indies were about to move to Britain and Europe, so Ian Fleming decided to do the much more sensible thing, and move to Jamaica instead. Dr No is one of the most famous of his novels and it is set, where he wrote it, on the now well-know Caribbean island.
Written whilst staying at his house, Goldeneye, Fleming captures the gritty glamour of Bond’s life in this tropical location, which to readers in the 1950s would have seemed worlds away. Only on a Jamaican beach could Honey Ryder have come sashaying out of the turquoise waters – though Blackpool might have worked too. Find cheap flights to Jamaica
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Congo Free State (now Democratic Republic of Congo
Oh “The horror, the horror”, as some people utter when this book is mentioned, but like it or loathe it, few would deny that Conrad is one of the pre-eminent authors of the last century. The complex story explores the contrast between the raw barbarism of Kurtz, a rogue European, and the veneer of civilisation which disguises the evil practices of the colonial Europeans.
The East African location is clearly central to this exploration of imperialism and study of man’s innate nature, and whilst it might not be a light-hearted holiday read, it will remain a classic. Find cheap flights to Congo
The Call of the Wild, Jack London, Yukon, Canada
It does not get much wilder than the Yukon in Western Canada in the winter. The story is of a huge and powerful dog stolen from a loving family for the trade in sled dogs required for the gold prospectors in the 19th century gold rush. This is a brutally harsh world, where it is sometimes quite literally dog-eat-dog.
Buck, the aforementioned doggy, is something of a legend, and quickly remembers his atavistic roots by becoming the head of the sled pack. The bloody ending ensures that Buck’s legacy lives on with the wild wolves of Canada. Find cheap flights to Canada
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson, USA
Las Vegas is a place which many would think of as the epitome of the American city – big, brash, money-laden, crude, violent and yet so right in so many ways. The novel predominantly explores the pursuit of the American dream, and in a town where so many have lost theirs, it is fitting that the protagonists go on a mind-bending series of destructive adventures ably assisted by a profusion of A class drugs, as they contemplate the decline of American culture. Find cheap flights to USA
Wild Swans, Jung Chang, China
This fascinating novel offers insight into the lives of three women, across three generations, in twentieth century China. Chang writes biographically about her grandmother and mother, before relating her own experiences of growing up during the Cultural Revolution and the worst excesses of the Gang of Four.
China is a complex country, with an even more complex past, and Chang presents the reader with the often unimaginable suffering of ordinary Chinese people under a regime of tyranny. Despite this, one is left with an impression of hope and a desire to survive which can overcome everything. Find cheap flights to China
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, Northern England
The Yorkshire Moors are the setting for this classic novel. If you like pathetic fallacy, and quite frankly, who doesn’t, then this is the book for you. The anti-hero, Heathcliff, rants and raves whilst storms abound, as he lives a life tormented by his thwarted love for Catherine Linton.
The novel explores the destructive forces which their unresolved passion unleashes on them and others caught up in the drama. Part romance, mostly gothic fiction, the setting matches perfectly the isolation of many characters and the harshness of the landscape is an ideal backdrop for Heathcliff’s elemental nature to show its true colours. Find cheap flights to England
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, St. Petersburg, Russia
Another light-hearted and whimsical little number this, which tells the story of a young man who commits a premeditated murder, and is then forced to commit another through circumstance. The novel examines not so much the legal questions raised by the title, but rather than the machinations of human conscience.
The city itself is key to the novel, presenting the reader with an impression of unremitting poverty, and the crowded streets, and oppressive atmosphere offer a host of metaphorical possibilities for the protagonist’s tormented state of mind. Find cheap flights to Russia
Passage to India, E. M Forster, India
Forster’s novel set in 1920s India regularly makes the top 100 of all time greats of English literature. The characters are a mix of indigenous Indians and the British colonialists who ruled during the Raj period. The novel centres on the relationship between the nationalities in Chandrapore, and the tension between the communities comes to head when a young Indian, a Dr Aziz, is accused of sexually assaulting a young English schoolmistress, Adela Quested.
Without giving too much away, the ensuing trial highlights the prejudice of the British, and also the very understandable distrust and resentment of the colonial rule. Find cheap flights to India
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, London
London in the 1830s was not a good place if you were poor, and particularly bad if you were a child too. Throw in the fact that the eponymous character is also an orphan, and Dickens has all the ingredients to produce a damning, if entertaining, critique of society at the time. As always with Dickens, there are plenty of great characters with not so subtle names (Toby Crackit the burglar springs to mind), and the likes of Fagin and the Artful Dodger are surely household names. Despite the story having a fairy-tale ending, life in the criminal underworld of London is grimly described. Find cheap flights to London
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis, Narnia
I am told there are definite Skyscanner plans to show flights to Narnia in the next release, but until that happens, we’ll just have to get there via bits of furniture instead. Primarily, this is a book for kids of course, but as with all the best books, this is a multi-layered story with a Christian allegory at its core, and no one who has read it will forget the heart-breaking death of Aslan.
Narnia is a fictional country, but the issues of tyranny and an oppressed people fighting back, means that the story will always have resonance with generations to come. Find cheap flights to Narnia