By Diane Parfitt
During these last few months of staying home, most of us have had little chance to do any traveling. For those who love to travel, this is very difficult. Others don’t travel much but would certainly like to do more. We are finding that while we can’t travel, we can certainly read about traveling and experience these adventures around the world vicariously. Mason Cooley, a professor of world literature, aptly said, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” If you are like me and get lost in a book, you might indeed feel like you have traveled after reading some of these great adventures.
“Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World” by Leigh Ann Henion
After the author’s first child is born, she ponders the fact that children find wonder in the simplest things in nature. Can she recapture this herself as an adult? To find out, she sets out on a series of trips around the world to see its natural wonders and phenomena with the eyes of a child. Henion views the millions of swirling butterflies on a mountain in Mexico and stands on the edge of the still-burning volcanoes of Hawaii. Together with her on these and other adventures, you can imagine doing this yourself and viewing the wonders of the world through newly awakened eyes.
“A Year in the World” by Frances Mayes
Traveling from her home base in Tuscany, Mayes focuses on the joy of travel in her journey through Europe. She shares her personal view of art, architecture, history, landscape and cultural traditions in the different countries she visits. Mayes rents houses in neighborhoods with the locals, experiences small town life, and imagines it as home. Oh, and the food - she makes your mouth water with the descriptions of the food in the many locales where she takes us.
“Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche
When city girl Torre DeRoche meets the man of her dreams, what better way to keep the flames of passion going than a year-long sailing trip around the world? One little problem - she’s terrified of deep water! But passion wins out and off she goes in his small sailboat for a journey that becomes more about conquering your fears than a love story. This hilarious, moving and brave memoir is set against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world. Some risks are worth taking.
“Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes” by Alastair Humphreys
If traveling around the world in a dingy is not your idea of traveling, how about a microadventure? These are inexpensive, trips close to home that are simple and short but guaranteed to refresh your spirit. On this type of trip, you take a big adventure and squeeze it into a day or even a few hours. Filled with photographs and tips on how to create your own microadventure with family and friends, this book is surely going to help you plan for a great adventure when you don’t have all the time in the world.
“A Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country” by Helen Russell
When the author moved to Denmark with her husband, she was excited to learn that it had been designated as the happiest country in the world. In this book, she shares her year-long journey to find out all the things they get right about childcare, education, food, and interior design. How they deal with seasonal affective disorder, taxes, sexism and their unfortunate predilection in the past for burning witches is a different story. While there are some negatives about Denmark, the people have a level of comfort and trust that we should all experience. We might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.
“The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World” by Eric Weiner
If only one happiest country in the world is not enough for you, here is a chance to follow a foreign correspondent in his search for the happiest places in the world and what we can learn from them. He uses the “science of happiness” as his guide in searching from Iceland to Bhutan. It is not a typical travel book, but a “travelogue of ideas.” In his search, he is also looking for answers to the pressing questions of our time: “What are the essential ingredients for a good life? Why are some places happier than others? How are we shaped by our surrounding? Why can’t airlines serve a decent meal?”
“In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson
Bryson has written books about his travels around the globe, the English language, science and other non-fiction topics, with extraordinary humor and accuracy. In this one, he takes us to Australia, a place with friendly inhabitants, hot, dry weather and very lethal wildlife! Bryson introduces us to the cheerful, extroverted Australians and a land of clean, safe cities with cold beer and constant sunshine.
“The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho
“The Alchemist,” a book about following your dreams, was on every list I researched for this article. The main character is Santiago, a young shepherd boy, who yearns to travel in search of worldly treasure. On his quest through Europe from Spain and then to Egypt, his journey leads him to far more precious treasures. He learns to listen to his heart, follow his dreams, and discovers lessons about love and the meaning of life.
“If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”
I will leave you with that thought! Now, sit back and read any one of these books and you may just feel like you have traveled to a wonderful, new destination.
Diane Parfitt is the owner of City Center Gallery & Books in downtown Fayetteville.