A good book can place you into a culture without having been there, or enhance it further by travelling and recognizing what the authors meant when they were writing. Some of my favorite holidays have been made even better by having a good book by my side that gives me an authentic insight to the culture I’m experiencing.
Here are just a few my book recommendations based on places I have travelled!
Francoise Sagan captured my heart and gave me a French summer like no other. Her novel, A Certain Smile, tells the story of a young student, Dominique, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. It tells the both romantic and tragic story of when Dominique falls for an older man.
Tove Jansson defined my childhood with her creation of the Moomins – small trolls that live in a beautiful valley and go on adventures. But it wasn’t until I grew older I discovered her novels. A few summers’ ago, I read The Summer Book, one of her more famous works. It tells the beautiful story of a young girl and her grandmother, who, along with her father, live on a little island in rural Finland. When I travelled to Turku (to go to Moominland), I immediately grasped where Jansson’s inspiration had come from as I looked around at the beautiful lakes and small boats floating around in the sun.
Although Britain is not well recognized for its culinary expertise, I found that Scotland has a lot to offer when it comes to cuisine. Not only infamous haggis! My appreciation for Scotland has been emphasized by who I consider is one of Scotland’s greatest chefs, Tom Kitchin. His newest cookbook, Kitchin Suppers, unlocks the great traditions of British food with a modern and Scottish twist. The recipes are easy to follow, just as it’s easy to get lost in the beautiful alleys in Old Town, Edinburgh, where Kitchin manages his Michelin star restaurant.
Turkey is one of those places that I knew before travelling to that, my own knowledge would make or break the trip. I knew very little about Istanbul, so I researched online what the best travel book on Istanbul was. Strolling Through Istanbul by Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely kept reappearing and I hunted it down in bookstores before my trip. And I am so glad I did. The author writes about the early history of Istanbul, and when you’re walking through the Old City it comes more alive as you recognize over thousand years of history right in front of you!
Tokyo is my favorite place in the whole world. Japanese culture is fascinating because it is almost entirely different from our own, and we might never really understand it, but it is joyful and exciting. One way to get a little insight to Japanese culture, is reading the world renowned book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. As Kondo teaches you how to put your house in order, and thereby put your life in order, you get an understanding of Japanese values and traditions.