I love being in a book club — it exposes me to stories I may not have read otherwise. And that’s my favorite thing about books — they the pages of a book can let you experience a place or time in history without having to be there. In my opinion, the world would be a better place if everyone would read just a little bit more about something they don’t know or understand.
Enough of my soapbox. Here are some of the books that let me escape without getting on a plane … but then inspire me to get on one afterwards.
The Red Sparrow
by Jason Matthews
This juicy spy novel is hard to put down, taking you into a world of espionage from Moscow to Helsinki to Athens. It follows Soviet SVR agent Dominika Egorova and American CIA operative Nate Nash as they navigate the duties to their country amidst developing feelings. Written by a former CIA-operative, so it’s legit, and the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence comes out this December. And … it’s a trilogy.
My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
Set in a poor neighborhood in Naples, this is a coming of age story for best friends, Elena and Lila. It’s raw and very real – from the pain of poverty, ups and downs of adolescence to the dreams and desperation of making a better future. I was engrossed in their world, while also enjoying all the gelato, young love and Italian beach vacations.
The Butterfly Mosque
by G. Willow Wilson
This book is truly beautiful and touched my soul. A memoir of an American who moved to Egypt, converted to Islam, fell in love and married an Egyptian man. She recounts her struggles both with being an American in the Middle East and with converting to Islam in a post-9/11 world. Her travels to Tehran put a new destination on my bucket list.
by Blake Crouch
Total mind F&*$. You can never actually go where this book takes you, but it’s interesting to think about the possibilities. Hard to explain, but in a nutshell, it explores parallel universes happening at the same time where you exist in all of them. You’ll follow one man who is trapped in another dimension, desperately trying to get back to his life. Sci-Fi but not like, nerd Sci-Fi. But I like that too on occasion.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Therese Anne Fowler
My love for Paris began when I imagined myself among the writers and artists who made this city their home in the 20s. Sitting at cafés, thinking about the important questions in life, and of course, the fabulous parties. No one encapsulates this era better than the legendary Fitzgerald’s. This book lets you see their life and love through Zelda’s eyes; it reminded me why I fell in love with Paris in the first place.