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Too Broke to Travel? These 5 Books Will Satisfy Your Wanderlust

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

There comes a time of year when I contract a bad case of travel bug— That time is right about now. Winter is hanging on for dear life and I wish it would just die already. Is anyone else DONE with Canadian winter? I tire of frigid air and dark days and long for warm sunshine. I would not hesitate to jump on an airplane and jet off to another continent. But life can get in the way: studies, student debt, work, wars, and pandemics hinder us from travelling. It’s during times like these when I can’t physically escape the chaos of everyday, that I retreat to books. Bound pages, windows to places that exist far away. Reading is the easiest, most accessible way to travel. So, join me as we take a trip! Here are a few of my favourite books that satisfy my wanderlust: 

Call me by your name: A novel by André Aciman

“I loved the afternoons best: the scent of rosemary, heat, the birds, the cicadas, the sway of palm fronds, the silence that fell like a light linen shawl on an appallingly sunny day, all of these highlighted by the walk down to the shore and the walk back upstairs to the shower.”

Somewhere in Northern Italy. Summer. Sweat. Poetic prose. Drool. This story is not only an iconic, heart wrenching love story between Elio and Oliver, but also a love letter to Italy. Aciman’s writing is exquisite. The aesthetic of this novel fills all my senses: I can smell the rosemary, feel the heat of the sun on my skin and hear the cicadas. I’ve never been to Italy, but after reading CMBYN (and its equally beautiful sequel, Find Me) I feel as if I spent one appallingly sunny summer there a long time ago.

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

“I immediately had to get on my bike and ride out of Enchanted Lakes to clear my head. I rode through the other sections of Kailua, a town I know and love.”

A coming-of-age story of family and friendship—in HAWAII! Experience the beautiful mountainous landscapes of Honolulu while enjoying a wholesome YA story of a teenage girl, Lea Lane, as she navigates the messiness of high school life. Figuring out friendships and healing family trauma can be tricky, but if you add a little wry humour here and a tropical background there, you can make it through anything. I’ll admit that the storyline gives off “after-school-special” vibes, but the Hawaiian backdrop adds so much colour to this summer story.

Love & Olives by Jenna evans welch

“Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…” 

The only word I can use to describe this book is CUTE. It comes with a healthy dose of Greek vistas. I’ve never been to Santorini, and yet I can clearly visualize every white stone street, every olive tree and sapphire blue wave, after reading this novel. Olive (Liv) Varanakis travels to Santorini to reconnect with her estranged father. During a summer of sundrenched days at a seaside bookstore, she meets the charming Theo, who gives Liv the affectionate nickname “Kalamata” (you must read the book to understand just how adorable Theo is) and encourages her to live colourfully. I highly recommend Welch’s other stories, “Love & Gelato” and “Love & Luck,” which take place in Italy and Ireland, respectively. 

Crazy rich asians by kevin kwan

“This is Singapore, and the idle rich spend all their time gossiping about other people’s money. Who’s worth how much, who inherited how much, who sold their house for how much.” 

I’m sure most of you know this story already because it became a blockbuster film in 2018, but did you know it’s based on a book? Kwan weaved together this satire of Asian culture that manages to be both funny and honest. This tale of old money vs. new money is almost impossible to put down. You’ve got to be in the mood for gossip, scheming, and mansions to enjoy this read. If you want to explore the beautiful country of Singapore, this book’s your one-way ticket to breathtaking architecture, city lights and tropical beaches. 

Perhaps you’ve picked up on a common summery, tropical theme to my picks – that is because I am unequivocally a summer babe. Now that I’ve given you plane tickets (i.e. bookmarks) to explore four beautiful places (Italy, Hawaii, Santorini, and Singapore), go forth and travel (to your fav reading nook) and read these books! 

Julianna is a final year Mechanical Engineering Student at McMaster. She is a struggling student by day and a singer/poet/foodie by night. If she had it her way she would be laying on a beach on Lake Huron, soaking up some rays and reading a good book. You may find her daydreaming about bread, obsessing over her housemate’s Breville toaster oven, or listening to her carefully curated monthly playlist in her spare time.