Between foreign countries limiting travel for U.S. tourists and mandatory quarantines for those who cross certain state lines, it’s a tough time to have a case of wanderlust. Currently, one of the safest ways to travel is through the pages of a book.
Explore the Americas without Leaving Home
These talented authors have written such engrossing descriptions of their settings, readers feel like they’re there. Check out these incredible books for a mental escape throughout The Americas.
Brazil and The Amazon
In 1969, National Geographic photographer, Loren McIntyre, set off for the Javari Valley along the Amazon River with the hopes of making contact with a remote tribe known as the Mayaruna. The Mayaruna, or “cat people” as they’re known for their whisker-like facial piercings, make contact almost as soon as McIntyre arrives. As he hurries to follow them into the jungle he realizes too late that he is completely lost and cut off from civilization. McIntyre’s description of his time stranded among the plants and animals in the jungle, his eventual escape, and his search for the real headwaters of the Amazon are incredibly vivid. This is the kind of real-life adventure story that simply doesn’t exist after the advent of Google Maps and satellite imagery. Explore the mysteries of the Amazon and the harsh peaks of the Andes Mountains in Petru Popescu’s account of McIntyre’s adventures in The Encounter: Amazon Beaming.
Noemí Taboada, a willful debutante, is ordered home early from a costume soiree by her father only to be told she has a mission. The family has received frightening and frantic letters from a newly-wed cousin who lives high in the Mexican mountains with her English husband in an estate known as High Place. When Noemí arrives, she discovers High Place is a replica of a cold, English estate and incredibly isolated in the mist far away from any outside help. Slowly, she discovers her in-laws are hiding a menacing and violent past that threatens to swallow her cousin whole. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes readers on a modern ride through the gothic horror genre. The setting of the English estate makes the story feel like some right off the moors of England but Noemí never lets the reader feel like they’ve left Mexico; the juxtaposition of the two makes this novel truly engrossing.
Patricia Lockwood had an unconventional upbringing, to put it mildly. Her memoir, Priestdaddy, artfully jumps back and forth between her childhood and a rough patch in adulthood where she and her husband had to move back in with her parents. Her father, an unlikely Catholic priest, brought her family up in a midwestern rectory. He enjoys roaming the house in boxer shorts, jamming on guitars, and playing action movies with the volume all the way up. Lockwood begins her memoir with some of the most hilarious situations from her childhood and the transitions into a heartfelt questioning of faith, family, and individuality. The small towns of Indiana where she grew up nurture tensions and inspire humor; they may as well be a part of her family themselves.
The best way to describe John Fram’s debut queer horror novel, The Bright Lands, is as a cross between Friday Night Lights and Stranger Things. Joel Whitley escaped his conservative hometown of Bentley and made a life for himself in NYC as an openly gay man. However, Joel finds himself back in Bentley and teaming up with unlikely allies when his younger brother, star quarterback of the high school football team, goes missing. Joel slowly begins unraveling the mystery and the closely guarded secrets of his hometown. His insistence gains the unwanted attention of dangerous and powerful men. No one seems ready to face the darkness, their collective nightmares, or the strange and flickering lights at the edge of the horizon. This page-turning thriller depicts the West Texas landscape and football-centric small towns like never before.
New York City
New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherford is sweeping historical fiction at it’s finest. He brilliantly weaves the story of New York’s humble beginnings as a Native American fishing village, the arrival of the Dutch and British, multiple wars, the immigration boom, the Gilded Age, all the way up to September 11. He mixes beautifully crafted fictional characters with real people in stories of love, struggle, perseverance, and triumph. It’s a fictional coming of age story of one of the most iconic cities in the world.