Ever since I was kid I have daydreamed about traveling. Visions of huge double decker tour buses, exotic cities, and cultures I only saw fragments of in pictures and articles haunted me. Picturing myself with a set of matching light pink suitcase traipsing all over Europe was a pastime of mine. It was all I could talk about. I couldn’t imagine why my parents would choose small town Louisiana over all of these magical, historic places. As I grew up, the concept of money hit me like a train. It was a sudden realization that in order to experience all of these places it’d cost me money my parents didn’t have. Still even knowing that it would take me years and years to save enough to go on these dream trips, I thought about it a lot. I made bulletin boards full of pictures, maps, and strings connecting paths I’d spend years tracing over as a child. I took foreign language classes and tried as hard as I could to master syllables that felt clumsy on the tip of my tongue. And most importantly, I read books. Books with main characters who lived bravely and explored nooks and crannies across the world. Where instead of just seeing pictures in my school books, I could experience the characters awe and wonder. Books that fed my appetite for adventure. For those of us who don’t have the money (yet!) to hop on a plane and take spur of the moment, romantic trips across the world, books are the perfect way to sate your hopes for a time. So from one stubborn dreamer to another, here are my eight best recommendations for books that will pick you up and fly you across the world for a couple of hours.
1. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Places: Crazy Rich Asians explores the cultural landscape of Singapore. Between beautiful descriptions of the country’s beaches, street markets, and decadent mansions, it captures the feeling of being a newcomer in such a historic, lavish place. Anyone who has ever wondered what its like to be in the upper echelon of Singapore will be enamored with this story.
3 Things It Does Well: badass heroine, confronts class issues, extremely extremely funny!
2. Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider
Places: New York! Now I know this isn’t an international read, but as the person writing this article I must admit I have a soft spot for the Big Apple. As the only place I have actually been to on this list, this book did a really nice job of capturing what the hustle and bustle of the city is actually like.
3 Things It Does Well: captures the energy of the city that never sleeps, endearing hero, demonstrates the life lesson of moving on
3. Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider
Places: I know what some of you are thinking! That Paris is cliche. But everyone wants to go there for a reason! This book covers all the corners of Paris from huge museums like the Louvre to quirky little record stores on the west bank.
3 Things It Does Well: shows the non tourist perspective by featuring a native as a main character, a type A ( always in control, super organized) heroine and a messy hero, opposites attract couple
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Place: This is the book to read if you daydream about living in Paris. It’s a beautiful love story with the enchanting backdrop of well known Parisian haunts. Not only will the reader be captivated by the setting, but the two characters connect in a powerful and memorable way perfectly fitting for a book about the city of love.
3 Things It Does Well: interesting slow burn tension, tugs on heartstrings, captures the feeling of growing up
5. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Place: This book is also set at a boarding school in Paris, but it captures the city from the point of view of someone who’s spent years and years there. Isla, the main character, has been torn between two cities and two countries her entire life. This book perfectly captures how love can change everything from the way someone sees themself to the way they see the world. This is probably my favorite book on the list, because the author does a wonderful job of bringing such a huge mass of a city down into what feels like the characters home.
3 Things It Does Well: shows a characters a journey to loving herself, a dorky male lead, and the feelings of choosing between what you thought you wanted and what was right for you all along
6. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Place: This book moves through a variety of fancy settings. One character is the son of the First Female US President who grew up in the halls of the White House. The other is the prince of Great Britain who grew up in a beautiful palace. Once the characters collide they meet up in a couple beautiful European cities and the home of the Golden Gate Bridge. All the while weaving together a tale of discovery and love.
3 Things It Did Well: bisexual representation, loveable characters, twenty-first century love letters
7. The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickenson
Places: I want to start off by saying this book is so romantic! Love at first sight and a whirlwind dream trip around Europe. It’s told from the two perspectives of the main characters: one who moves back to his hometown in Ireland and one who is traveling Europe following her PhD certification. They meet for a couple of hours in an airport and connect in a way neither of them expected and agree to spend exactly one year accomplishing their goals before meeting back up again. This book will take you across Europe as you see with each new place the two characters grow more in love and more themselves than ever before.
3 Things It Does Well: capturing each places energy, shows complicated family relationships, strong smart female characters
8. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Place: I can’t believe I made it this far into the list before including a book set in London, but here it is! This book follows two teenagers on a school trip to London. It’s funny and intriguing to see as the clever Julia explores adventure in a way she never allowed herself to before.
3 Things It Does Well: grumpy character falls in love with bouncy optimist, unexpected twist, learning to accept people as they are
I hope these novels inspire you the way they’ve inspired this soon-to-be globetrotter!