Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The meme was originally the brainchild of The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Books That Awaken the Travel Bug in Me.
Lots of books make me want to travel — often to places that don’t exist (Hogwarts, Middle Earth) or times that no longer exist (the Middle Ages, the Regency era.) So instead of looking at books that make me want to travel, I thought I’d look at the places I most want to go, and the books that have fostered that longing.
Warning: This post is long and rambling and very much not a top ten list… and I’m not going to apologize for that.
Far too many books to count or even list! But here are just some of the books that made me fall in love with England, so deeply that I’ve been there six or seven times, beginning in fifth grade, and still haven’t got my fill or seen everything I want to see. Of course I’ve read plenty of books and authors that don’t appear on the list, but these are the formative ones; beyond these, I began to read English books because I loved England rather than the other way ’round. So below, a partial list, more or less in the order I encountered them:
- the Beatrix Potter books
- the Winnie the Pooh books (A. A. Milne) (birthday tribute)
- the Narnia books (C. S. Lewis) — because Narnia is very English, when you come right down to it
- The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
- Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, and The Cuckoo Tree (and a few others in the series as well) — and also her short stories featuring the Armitage family
- L. M. Boston’s Green Knowe series
- Linnets and Valerians and The Little White Horse (review) by Elizabeth Goudge, and later, in high school and college, Goudge’s adult novels, particularly A City of Bells (review), Pilgrim’s Inn (review)
- the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome
- the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
- the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot
- Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart
- The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
- the mysteries of
This goes along with my love of England, for obvious reasons, but the feeling of the country/province is different, as is my connection with it. Again, I’ve read other books set in or about Wales, including at least one mystery series and a number of nonfiction books delving into whether the Arthurian myths have any historical basis, but these are the books that first awakened a love for Wales in my heart.
- the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (review)
- The Grey King and Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
- The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
- The Mabinogion
I visited Scotland before I ever read about it, since I spent a few days there on a trip to Britain when I was 10 or 11, and at that point I hadn’t read any books about it that I can recall. The first time I set foot on Scottish soil, I felt I had come home. On the other hand, I was only there for two or three cold, damp days, so I suspect that my deep and abiding love for the country was fostered more by a combination of immersion in Scottish music and learning about my Scots heritage than by that trip. Oddly enough, despite how strongly I’m drawn to Scotland, I’ve read relatively few books set there: Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart, The Middle Window by Elizabeth Goudge, The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe, several of George MacDonald’s adult novels (though I had read his children’s fantasies in elementary school), The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King, Katherine Kurtz’s Adept series, and several historical romances (though not Outlander, yet.) I’m currently reading Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea and loving it! I also have a feeling I’m leaving out a book that was really important to me, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is.
Prince Edward Island
Anne of Green Gables (review) and its sequels sparked an abiding desire to visit this beautiful island as a child, but I was in my late 40s before I finally made a pilgrimage, visiting Green Gables and some of the other places described by L.M. Montgomery. Even filled with tourists and in the middle of a heat wave, it was as lovely as Montgomery depicts it. Recently I read The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, and fell in love with it all over again.
Ireland is a relatively recent interest (as compared with places I fell in love with as a child.) It’s sparked by books like Andrew Greeley’s Angel Light and several series by Nora Roberts: the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy (reviews of Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, and Blood Magick); the Circle trilogy, and the Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy (reviews of Tears of the Moon and Jewels of the Sun), along with Celtic-inspired fantasies like Patricia Kenneally Morrison’s Aeron trilogy and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (which I really liked but need to reread, because I barely remember it.)
I fell in love with the idea of the Alps — and, I think, with mountains in general — through Heidi (the book) and The Sound of Music (the movie, though I later read the book.) That interest was only strengthened when I read Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground (review.) Someday, I hope to actually go there.
The Mediterranean (particularly Greece)
I blame this one almost entirely on Mary Stewart, specifically This Rough Magic (review), The Moonspinners, and My Brother Michael, set in Corfu, Crete, and Delphi respectively. No doubt Mary Renault’s The Bull from the Sea and The King Must Die, which I read around the same time (in high school) also had a hand in it.
I’ve only read a handful of books set in New Zealand, starting with Ngaio Marsh’s Vintage Murder, Colour Scheme, Died in the Wool, and Photo Finish, but they left me with an abiding curiosity about the islands. Of course, the breathtaking scenery in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies really intensified my desire to visit the country. I may have to win the lottery to do it, though!
It’s funny; I don’t have normally have a strong interest in travelling to China, except when I’m reading about it. The two books that have most sparked my interest are Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station and The China Bride by Mary Jo Putney… primarily the former.
Blame this one on two very specific books: The Gift of the Mikado by Elizabeth P. Fleming, a childhood favorite, a memoir whose colonialist attitudes I now find quite uncomfortable, and Laurie R. King’s wonderful Dreaming Spies (review.)