Match your summer vacation with a book
By Megan on May 10th, 2012
Going away this summer? Pack a book to match! Travel guides are great and obviously informative, but why not take along an applicable fiction read, one that has a connection with your travel destination, and also satisfies your want for a compelling plot line? I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I begin to organize my own summer plans, so I thought I’d compile a list of places I’d love to go, and the complementary books I’d bring along. Warning: if you’re staying put this summer, proceed with caution…
Destination: The Coast (preferably one with a lighthouse)
The books: Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is perfect. Set in the Ramsays’ summer home on the Isle of Skye, the novel contains very little dialogue and focuses instead on the surrounding landscape, especially the nearby Godrevy Lighthouse.
Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping is another captivating novel. The orphaned protagonist, Silver, is taken in by the mysterious and blind Mr. Pew, who also happens to be the keeper of the Cape Wrath lighthouse. After reading this book, I haven’t looked at a lighthouse the same way since.
Destination: The Wilderness
The books: Into the Wild, by by Jon Krakauer. This doesn’t exactly qualify as fiction as it’s based on the true story of the young adventurer Christopher Johnson McCandless, who in an attempt to live life more simply, hitchhiked to the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. Into the Wild is a beautiful portrayal of the Alaskan frontier, and resonates with anyone with a sense of adventure.
Also try Walden by Henry David Thoreau, who lived in the woods for two years as part of an experiment on “simple living.” He wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”
Destination: Summer Camp
The books: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia, is about three young girls who on a trip to visit their estranged mother in California, end up at summer camp run by a revolutionary group. At its core, this Newbery Honor Book is about sisterhood.
And while juvenile detention camp isn’t exactly “summer camp,” Louis Sachar’s Holes is a brilliant book about one teen’s summer spent digging holes to “build character” at Camp Green Lake.
Lastly, The Lost Summer, by Kathryn Williams, follows Helena though her first summer as a counselor at the camp she grew up attending. This is a quick read, but entertaining for those in the camp-going tradition nonetheless.
The book: If you’re lucky enough to be headed to France, try My Life in France by renowned chef Julia Child. This book is for anyone who loves to cook (and/or eat), and is a portrait of an incredible woman with a deep joie de vivre! Speaking of food and France, Chocolat is another wonderful read, about a woman who opens a chocolate boutique across from the village church (gasp!)
If you’re bringing children along with, pack The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Destination: New York City
The books: There are so many to choose from! For starters, try A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, which is set in Williamsburg at the turn of the century. Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann describes New York City in the 1970′s, and a mysterious tightrope walker poised above it. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a must-read (even if you’re not going to the big apple or Long Island, where this novel is also set). And lastly, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close introduced me to one of my most loved protagonists ever, nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who after losing his father in 9/11, runs about the city in an attempt to solve a mystery his father left him.
Destination: Cape Cod, or any beach
The book: That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. I’ve spent my summers on Cape Cod since childhood, so Russo’s book—and his portrayal of the Cape Cod culture—is dead-on. The Perfect Storm, by Sebastain Junger, is also a great read if you’ll be ocean-bound (though it might deter you from doing any actual sailing).
The book: The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, chronicles the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. This is a suspenseful read, with great insight into what 19th-century Chicago was really like.
This list is just a tiny fraction of the amazing potential places—and books—you could find yourself experiencing this summer. What are your summer plans, and do you have a book in mind? Share it here.
No comments yet