As summer moves into high gear, our thoughts turn to summer vacation plans. As book lovers, AMACOM staffers have been inspired by books to travel, enjoy a staycation, pick up a book or two after a holiday, or add a location to a bucket list. Here are some books that give us the itch to travel. Tell us what books make you want to travel in the comments!
When I was a kid I picked up Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, probably through the Scholastic Book Club, and quickly read my way through the whole series. Then I moved on to the Emily of New Moon trilogy about another spunky orphaned girl who finds a home and family on Prince Edward Island. Ever since, I’ve wanted to visit. Montgomery’s description of her home made it sound like the Garden of Eden, and a recent reread of one of the Emily books — promptly picked up after a particularly dark and depressing read — reaffirms how delightful a place it sounds. I haven’t made it yet to Prince Edward Island, though I did sign up for some emails from the PEI Tourism board a few years back. If I get there, I’ll be sure to steer clear of the Anne themed plays and museums, and I might be disappointed to see cars and modern conveniences on the island. But it seems like exactly the type of place I like to recharge: quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. — Kama Timbrell, Publicity & Social Media Manager
I’ve always had wanderlust, but sometimes I have to remind myself that there are wonderful things here in New York City if I slow down and put myself in traveler mode. If you want a taste of New York City’s history and architecture, to see what’s been lost but also what’s maintained, and find some real treasures, take a look at The WPA Guide to New York City. Written in 1939 as part of a program to provide work relief for artists and professionals under the Works Progress Administration, The WPA Guide was one of the program’s enduring successes and offered a detailed description of the communities and points of interest in all five boroughs of New York City. Republished a number of times, the book can still be used as a guide today. But it’s also a fascinating glimpse into what has disappeared or changed. In 1939, a room at the Plaza Hotel was $7.50 a night. The average apartment rent in Manhattan was between $30 and $59 a month. Manhattan had 218 movie houses, 15 English-language dailies, 29 museums, and 17 ferries operating between Manhattan and cities around it.
So flip through the book, find your favorite factoid, and go exploring! — Andy Ambraziejus, Managing Editor & Director of Self-Study
I hate to travel. Airport security theatre. The knowledge that everyone’s trying to suck away your last dime. Hotel rooms that lack a decent chair to read in and a lamp to read by. On top of these discomforts, of the two places I want to go, one is Florence, where everyone’s already been, so it’s done, and the other doesn’t actually exist: Middle Earth.
Sure, there is the constant threat of marauding orcs and dire wolves, the endless expanses marked only by ruins, little transportation infrastructure and a thorough lack of medicine beyond what a hero-king knows isn’t a weed. But there’s also marauding orcs and dire wolves, endless expanses marked only by ruins, little transportation infrastructure, and hero-kings. See if you can find those in Orlando.
Which is why I play The Lord of the Rings Online. I’ve retraced the routes of Bilbo and the Fellowship many times. I’ve explored the depths of Moria and the deepest reaches of Fangorn. I’ve traveled to the places Tolkien only alludes to, such as Forochel. And I’ve slaughtered so many orcs that my name in their language translates as “The One Who Knocks.”
The straight path from Middle Earth doesn’t lead to Valinor. It leads to my imagination. And the boat I sail it on is called LOTRO. — Stephen S. Power, Senior Editor
The only time I have ever traveled to Ireland, I was eight years old, too young to retain more than vague memories. Every Irish book, folktale, movie or song I’ve encountered since makes me want to go back. Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks is one of my favorites. It’s the howlingly funny (and true!) story of one man’s adventure hitchhiking all over Ireland. And yes, he travels in the company of a mini fridge, which only serves to make his adventures even goofier. I’m not sure when I’m going to get back to Ireland. Probably not until next summer at least. While I do want to visit Dublin and several of the small countryside villages Hawks describes, I don’t plan on toting along a small household appliance. — Elizabeth Willse, Publicist
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill inspired me to visit Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. To provide some context, the author recounts the story of a charismatic acquaintance who dreams of building a sports arena for cricket matches at the old airfield turned National Park. I believe this is one of the best and most descriptive books about New York and was thrilled to read about my subway stop in Brooklyn described in such detail: “the wall surrounding the subway station hosted a tattered painting of Kilimanjaro, snow-capped and circled by clouds. In the foreground were enormous leaves and bushes and fronds….” Since the mundane, daily details of my commute could be brought to life so evocatively, Floyd Bennett Field grew in my imagination. One day I took my bike down Ocean Parkway and turned off on the greenway to visit an area of Brooklyn I never knew. While the park was massive and I enjoyed the ride out there, it takes a writer such as Joseph O’Neill to imbue our taken-for-granted environments with excitement and wonder. — Lynsey Major, Senior Associate, Rights & International Sales