Usually holidays are about going to a specific place. However, when it comes to reading books, I like to think a specific point in time can also be a destination. That’s why this final part of holiday book recommendations, for those who find themselves unable to travel but desperately want to go somewhere – anywhere! -, is about books that deal with places set in the past. Read on!
Some people like to think that everything was better in the past. Everything looked nicer, it wasn’t as crowded, you didn’t have to worry about global warming, and people weren’t as self-obsessed. (Let’s not focus on the lack of personal hygiene and electricity.) I would definitely not mind travelling back in time and go on the adventures of people who lived ages ago. Want to join me?
Of course, the first book that comes to mind is Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – and if you really want to challenge yourself, do read it in the original Middle-English. Wouldn’t you love to join the pilgrimage to Canterbury, all the while listening to the stories of your companions? There are so many different people, all of whom have their own story to tell, that you’re bound to find a few friends here. Actually, come to think of it, this might well be one of the very first group holidays.
You could also travel to Italy, by reading Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s a murder mystery set in an ancient monastery in the thirteenth century. It would be so educational to go there, learning about history and religion, and how to solve a murder. Just make sure, if you’re a woman, to go great lengths to hide that fact.
If you’ve got some time on your hands, I would also recommend T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. It’s about the boy Wart who eventually grows up to become King Arthur. Medieval England is described in such a beautiful and detailed way that you can almost touch the trees and smell the meat which has just been hunted. It’s filled with anachronisms (seeing as the book was written in the twentieth century), lengthy side-notes, and animals, but it also deals with big themes such as chivalry, loyalty, and true love.
Finally, if you really want to go back in time, you might also like reading Madeleine Miller’s Circe, a retelling of part of Homer’s Odyssey, but told from the perspective of the sorceress who turned Odysseus’ soldiers into pigs, and took the great man himself prisoner. If you think she was just an evil woman who got what she deserved, well, think again. Do join her on her little island, Aeaea, and learn about her tragic tale.
Of course, there are so many, many more books to read which deal with places in the past. Every Shakespeare play would, for instance, be great to visit. In fact, I visited the castle in Denmark which Elsinore, from Hamlet, was based on.
Which books would you recommend that visit the past and are definitely worth reading? Do let me know in the comments! Also, make sure to follow me for more bookish posts!