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Take a Vacation With a Book

2021 may be the year that travel slowly starts to open up again. But, for many of us, this year may still be one of staying at home. So why not take a vacation with a book? I've chosen some of my favourites from the past few years, books that maybe a little more off the radar than those that make many of the other travel lists.


Gander, Newfoundland: The Day the World Came to Town

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.

Paris, France: Saving Mona Lisa

In August 1939, curators at the Louvre nestled the world’s most famous painting into a special red velvet-lined case and spirited her away to the Loire Valley as part of the biggest museum evacuation in history.

As the Germans neared Paris in 1940, the French raced to move the masterpieces still further south, then again and again during the war, crisscrossing the southwest of France. Throughout the German occupation, the museum staff fought to keep the priceless treasures out of the hands of Hitler and his henchmen, often risking their lives to protect the country's artistic heritage. Saving Mona Lisa is the sweeping, suspenseful narrative of their struggle.

Salisbury, England: In the Shadow of the Spire

A medieval cathedral city, built on the confluence of five rivers, encircled by ancient monuments and secret government establishments. A place where the past lies very near the surface, and strange events are almost a daily occurrence. A troubled man seeks sanctuary in an overgrown garden. A council employee discovers that graffiti can be more than simply anti-social. A ruthless trader learns the dark history of his latest purchase and a hapless visitor finds himself locked in the cathedral.




Cape Cod, USA: High Strangeness

Something strange has arrived on Cape Cod, and it’s not just the UFOs.


Ken Wakeman, a skeptical UFOlogist who seeks the truth about paranormal phenomenon, struggles to discredit the myriad of crackpot theories out there. Melissa "Mel" Howard, a reporter for a small Cape Cod newspaper, copes with the seasonal tourist invasion and its accompanying anxieties. When the Cape becomes the national focus over a rash of UFO sights, they join forces to get to the bottom it.



Columbus, Ohio: London Undone

London Craft has exactly the life she wants. She’s a successful artist with a hot line of edgy clothing and merchandise she sells from her boutique, Hell in a Handbasket. Along with her incredible chosen family, she’s in a loving relationship with Reggie, her girlfriend of six years.


When Reggie blindsides London with a public marriage proposal, London freezes. She’s never wanted anything traditional, let alone marriage. When Reggie leaves her, she thinks things can’t possibly get worse, until she receives the call that her estranged mother has died. Suddenly, she’s catapulted into contact with the family she hasn’t seen in nearly twenty years.



London, England: Quant by Quant

The autobiography of Mary Quant—the inventor of the miniskirt—was originally published in 1966 at the height of Swinging London. After opening her groundbreaking boutique Bazaar on London’s King’s Road in 1955, Quant soared to international fame with her brand of witty style that fitted perfectly with modern city life. She was at the forefront of fashion’s democratization—seeking to eliminate snobbery and “make fashionable clothes available to everyone.” Her joyful, evocative autobiography captures the world in which she found inspiration—and which she ultimately helped to define and change.



England: Tiny Stations

An eccentric look at lost Britain through its railway request stops. Perhaps the oddest quirk of Britain's railway network is also one of its least well known: around 150 of the nation's stations are request stops. Take an unassuming station like Shippea Hill in Cambridgeshire - the scene of a fatal accident involving thousands of carrots. Or Talsarnau in Wales, which experienced a tsunami. Tiny Stations is the story of the author's journey from the far west of Cornwall to the far north of Scotland, visiting around 40 of the most interesting of these little used and ill-regarded stations. Often a pen-stroke away from closure - kept alive by political expediency, labyrinthine bureaucracy or sheer whimsy - these half-abandoned stops afford a fascinating glimpse of a Britain that has all but disappeared from view. There are stations built to serve once thriving industries - copper mines, smelting works, cotton mills, and china clay quarries where the first trains were pulled by horses; stations erected for the sole convenience of stately home and castle owners through whose land the new iron road cut an unwelcome swathe; stations created for Victorian day-tripping attractions; a station built for a cavalry barracks whose last horse has long since bolted; and many more. Dixe Wills will leave you in no doubt that there's more to tiny stations than you might think.


Colorado: Winter at Christmas Cottage

Jay Hammond used to be in the world's biggest rock band. Until he gave into his addictions, crashed his car, ended up in rehab, and confessed to his wife that he was gay.Cutting all ties to his family, Jay moved to the tiny town of Waybridge. With just his cat for company, Jay is convinced that he'll die a bachelor.That is until he meets Dominic, the young-at-heart owner of Between the Sheets and fan of Jay's band, Winter Angels. Christmas Cottage hasn't seen Christmas for many years. But, with the help of Dominic, it may just have a shot at being a home for the holidays.



Camino de Santiago: I'm Off Then

From one of Germany's most beloved celebrities, a cross between Bill Bryson and Paulo Coelho.

It has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into eleven different languages. Pilgrims have increased along the Camino by 20 percent since the book was published. Hape Kerkeling's spiritual epiphany has struck a nerve.

Overweight, overworked, and physically unfit, Kerkeling was an unlikely candidate to make the arduous pilgrimage across the French Alps to the Spanish Shrine of St. James, a 1,200-year-old journey undertaken by nearly 100,000 people every year. But that didn't stop him from getting off the couch and walking. Along the way, lonely and searching for meaning, he began the journal that turned into this utterly frank, engaging book. Simply by struggling with his physical limitations and the rigors of long-distance walking, he discovered a deep sense of peace that transformed his life and allowed him to forgive himself, and others, more readily. He learned something every day, and he took to finishing each entry with his daily lessons.



Glastonbury, England: Marco's Pendulum

A tale of ancient myths and legends, ghostly phenomena, black and white magic and the blurring of good and evil. But this is not fantasy... there is plenty of magic in the real world if you know where to look. When Marco is dumped in Glastonbury to stay with his weird hippy grandparents for the summer, he's sure he's going to hate it. But he soon starts to recognise the magic of the place - the magic that a development company is planning to exploit and, his grandparents are sure, destroy in the process. With his mysterious newfound talent for dowsing, Marco is quickly drawn into the dangerous struggle to protect the ancient mysticism of Glastonbury.