Around the World in 50 Books

Even though I love to travel, the reality is, with kids (and the never-ending saga that is covid), travelling is not so easy at the moment. Yes, we have managed a few places this year, but I haven’t travelled half as much as I would’ve liked to.

That being said, I HAVE travelled a lot through books! This year, I happily exceeded my target of 50 books. I know my blog posts these days are mostly about books (when I do get around to posting), but that’s because if I wrote about much else it would mostly be related to food or kids, and neither are really content-writing related!

So with that in mind, here are some of the many places I’ve travelled to this year (via books, obviously), starting in Norway, across Europe and Asia, and ending in Australia!

Christmas Island, by Natalie Normann

Based in Norway

If you’re looking for an easy read and a sweet romance that transforms you to one of the colder parts of the world, Christmas Island is a great choice! This books offers insights into the many traditions and delights of Norway, as well as the seemingly never-ending cold and darkness that shrouds the country during the winter months.

The Foundling, by Stacy Halls

Based in London

I loved this book – it was a quick read but highly enjoyable. I felt myself immersed into 18th century London, and really resonated with the main character. A well-written, interesting read, where my attention was captured from the very first sentence.  

Those Who are Loved by Victoria Hislop  

Based in Greece  

Compelling from the very first page! This book is a total eye-opener. I knew nothing about what happened in Athens/Greece during the Second World War and am still shocked about what the circumstances were like there. While I didn’t necessarily agree with the protagonist’s actions during this time, that didn’t stop me from devouring the book and not being able to put it down while reading it! Highly recommend for anyone interested in first-hand accounts of life in Greece during WWII.

Sky Burial, by Xinran

Based in Tibet 

Sky Burial is a profound and fascinating insight into life in some of the remotest parts of Tibet. It follows the story of She Wen, a Chinese woman who journeys to Tibet to find her husband. It follows her over the course of 30 years, where she spent many years living with a nomadic Tibetan family. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – it’s well-written and interesting – and definitely made me want to visit Tibet!

The Damage Done, by Warren Fellows

Based in Thailand

The Damage Done is a true story about a man who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand for heroin trafficking. Quite frankly, it’s harrowing and nightmarish, but it’s a true story and events such as these continue to happen to this day, so if you do have a strong stomach then I highly recommend this book. It’s tough-going from start to finish, but absolutely eye-opening and thankfully short too as it’s a truly shocking read (let’s put it this way, I won’t be visiting Thailand any time soon).

The Mountains Sing By Nguyen Phan Que

Based in Vietnam

The Mountains Sing is an exquisite book about hardship – and determination. Spanning multiple generations, this book offers an epic account of Vietnam’s 20th century history, much of which I was unware of. In fact, at one point I thought I was reading about North Korea, due to the similarities in government regime! This book is beautifully written, intricately woven and thought-provoking. It’s also tragic, heartbreaking and empowering. It taught me that in the midst of hardship, we have to keep going, and that within bad luck, there is always good luck.

The Girl with Seven Names By Hyeonsea Le

Based in North Korea, China and South Korea

I’ve heard about North Korea but have never read about it from such a perspective – and to think this still continues to this day! This is an utterly gripping read from start to finish. What this woman has been through is truly unimaginable but sadly not an isolated account. I devoured this book and definitely will not be visiting North Korea EVER in my life.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See

Based in China

I loved this book and I could hardly put it down! It offers a fascinating insight into a remote village of China and the world of Pu’er tea (and Chinese tea in general!) I loved learning about the Akha culture, traditions, rituals, superstitions and heritage. The book also covers the impact of being adopted as an ethnic minority in America.

Geisha of Gion, by Mineko Iwasaki

Based in Japan

Eye-opening and funny at times, Mineko is such a character with a fascinating story to tell. This is a secret world definitely worth reading about, and the book offers the perfect opportunitbey to learn all about it. I found the writing a bit simple but she writes from the heart and has an incredibly strong spirit. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learnt about her experiences in Gion, and as anyone who knows me well, have been desperate to visit Japan for a while now!

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

Based in Australia, on an isolated island off the coast

This is a beautifully written book, but more importantly it’s such an interesting concept about a couple who essentially steal a baby and bring her up as if she is their own! And because of where they are situated, they get away with it (or do they?).

Not only does it offer a glimpse into remote Australian life, but it also really gets you thinking about the bond mothers have with their children, whether or not they are truly theirs.

Where have you travelled to this year via books? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you do have any book recommendations please let me know!

P.S. I am currently ‘in the Swiss Alps,’ and things are a bit eerie. Can anyone guess which book I’m reading?

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