Thursday, March 3, 2011

Books that inspired my travels

March 3rd is world book day. It's a good day as any to think about books that I love, and books I love that inspired my love of traveling.

I was a voracious reader as a child, almost literally devouring books, and I still love reading. Here are some of my travel-related favorites for children, young adults, and adults.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Narnia)The Chronicles of Narnia Set, Books 1-7: The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; Silver Chair, Last Battle

The Narnia books
I read and re-read this series of books more times than I can remember in my tween and teen years. I've always loved fantasy and science fiction stories, especially ones where ordinary people end up on extraordinary journeys in strange new worlds. The Narnia books are a perfect example of that kind of story. Seriously, after reading these books, doesn't everyone kind of hope they will stumble upon their own Narnia somewhere, somehow?

The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Possibly my favorite book of all time. Such an amazing tale. I still re-read it every year and still love it. Again, it's about normal people (well, hobbits in this case) ending up in a grand adventure, going to faraway places and experiencing amazing things. Sure it's set in Middle Earth rather than the real world, but if this kind of story doesn't inspire travel, I don't know what does.

The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books
All the amazingly vivid descriptions of places, people, weather and food in these books have stuck in my mind since I first read them as a child. I wanted to see the prairies and the forests. I wanted to go on a steam train and in a covered wagon. I wanted to eat clam chowder (a very exotic dish for someone growing up in Sweden at that time), bacon cooked over an open fire, and especially I wanted to eat corn bread.

The Book of Thousand Nights and One Night (4 volume set) (Volume 1-4)The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 1 (Penguin Classics)

Arabian Nights
As a young girl I was totally fascinated by the fantasy blending with the real world in these stories. Magic lamps and jinns and camels, deserts, bazaars, palaces...I've visited Egypt, once upon a long ago, but I still wish I could go see more of the Middle East. Not that I think reality is the same as the fiction, but books don't have to be 100% realistic to inspire a longing to visit a certain part of the world.

The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 5: Land of Black Gold / Destination Moon / Explorers on the Moon (3 Volumes in 1)The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 4: Red Rackham's Treasure / The Seven Crystal Balls / Prisoners of the Sun (3 Volumes in 1)

The adventures of Tintin haven't all aged well, and some of the stories and characters feel pretty dated and definitely not politically correct (or correct in any way at all). But the sheer joy of travel and discovery and adventure in these books is still inspiring. Inca mummies, sunken ships with treasure, travels to China and Africa and the moon: these books were great reads for me when I was a child.

Tales from EarthseaA Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1)The Earthsea Quartet

Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books
Yes, I really love fantasy (does it show?). And LeGuin is a master storyteller in fantasy as well as science fiction. Her Earthsea books are all about magic, adventure, finding one's true path and perilous journeys. I wanted so badly to be one of the people in her stories when I grew up, capable of magic and bravery. Highly recommended reading for all young adults and old adults.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Books of Wonder)The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition (Books of Wonder)

The Wizard of Oz
This is one of my son's favorite books. He likes the movie-version too, but the book for some reason fascinates him more than pretty much any other books we've ever read to him. Like many other stories on my list, it features a regular person ending up in an extraordinary place having an amazing adventure. And even though, in the end, Dorothy wants to go home, I always figure she'd want to head out again pretty soon.

Rasmus Klump
The books about Rasmus Klump are the first books I actually remember reading myself! They feature a crew headed by a bear, Rasmus, with a pelican and seal on board and together they'd head out on all sorts of travels.

Pooh Library original 4-volume set (Pooh Original Edition)Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh
I think my fascination with England partly started with the Winnie The Pooh books, and contributed to me going there to work for a year after high school. There is no real specific English sights and places described in the books, but just the general feel and atmosphere in the stories made me want to go to the place where Winnie came from.

Finn Family MoomintrollMoominpappa's Memoirs

The books about Moomin
In Sweden and Finland  these books are classics. Moomin and his family and friends inhabit a world that blends reality and fantasy. The books have an original and very peculiar style and spirit, kind of wistfulness, loneliness and sadness mixed with happiness and joy. There is plenty of travel in the books, but also lots of staying at home while longing for travel and fearing it at the same time. Doesn't sound much like a childrens' book perhaps, but it really is, though adults can definitely read these and enjoy them as well.

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