Monday, June 2, 2014

Books for the Armchair Traveler

With summer break fast approaching, many of us will be setting off on vacations, road trips, and adventures. If, however, like me, you will be putting the "stay" in stay-cation, you can still do a bit of arm-chair exploring with some great books set in exotic locals.

I've read these three books over the last month or so, and enjoyed each one thoroughly. The are set in wildly different locals and time periods, but each transported me to a unique setting and introduced some unique characters.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I know I'm a bit late to the party in discovering this series (published in 2001, it's since been made into a TV series on HBO), but I'm already hooked. Set in Botswana, this book chronicles the adventures of Precious Romatswe, proprietor of the detective agency from which the book takes its title. Mme Romatswe is all that is charming: clever, wise, and confident, she reminded me of bit of Agatha Christie's "Miss Marple." Mme Romatswe tackles everything from snakes to kidnappers, but her heroic actions are tempered with gentle humor and a pervading love of Africa.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Another book that has been around for ages but that I've just gotten to, this memoir is every bit as delicious as the recipes Julia Child perfected. Having seen "Julie and Julia," I was familiar with a bit of Julia's biography, but this book renewed my admiration for her bravery, persistence, and immense talent. Julia's lively spirit infuses this story of her struggle to master the art of French cooking, and how she shared that mastery with the rest of us.

A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside by Susan Branch
A must-read for any Anglophile, this book is part love story, part travel guide. It's filled with pretty photos, charming illustrations, clever quotes, and yummy recipes. Susan shares her journey over the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, and throughout England including stops at Beatrix Potter's farm and Jane Austen's home (be still my lit-loving heart!). Seriously, it is my dream vacation, all packaged up in a sweet little book. Until I can make it there, this book is a wonderful substitute.

I've got a long list of books I want to read this summer, but if you're looking for a book that will transport you to another time and/or place, I recommend any of the above. Happy Reading and Bon Voyage!



  1. they all look so wonderful...I am so getting the Susan Branch book...I had no idea she had an English Countryside fun! I love her cookbooks!

  2. They all sound good! I added them all to my Goodreads: Want to Read list!


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