Monday, November 16, 2020

Have Book, Will Travel

 My favorite part of traveling, by far, is that hour (or two) I spend in front of my shelves, paging through old favorites, deciding which two (or three, or four) to take with me. As COVID-19 spreads across the country, opportunities for travel are few and far between. BUT KATRINA, you say, I’M TIRED OF STARING AT THESE APARTMENT WALLS.

Me too, dollface. Me, too.

But we care about ourselves and our fellow humans, so instead of ignoring the wisdom of those smarter than us, we’re going to settle in, pour a drink and dig into one of these transporting novels.


I will never write a list of Books To Read that does not include this novel. Atmospheric and magical, Erin Morgenstern crooks her finger from the first page, inviting the reader deep into the Circus of Dreams. Around each corner is something beautiful and tragic. Something that pulls you deeper into a world of black and white, with delicate, precious splashes of red.

Grab your sunscreen, bathing suit, and hand sanitizer, it’s time to head to the Florida Keys. While the Florida of Carl Hiassan’s novels, at first glance, lifts the couch cushions to expose the dirt and stickiness beneath, his love of the state’s imperfection is clear from the first page. I dare you to get through this book without cackling.

My wife and I went to London on our honeymoon, and I got particular joy out of finding the nooks and crannies of the city Neil Gaiman describes in this fantasy. Exploring the notion a city is never the same city to each person, Neverwhere gives readers the chance to see London through different eyes.

Look, I know we’re not best friends with Russia at the moment, but the Russia of Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy pre-dates Putin by several hundred years. In The Bear and the Nightingale, Russia is at the crux of an identity crisis. Watching the world unfold through the eyes of a young woman with one foot in reality and one…somewhere else, will transport you.

Prohibition era New York is one of my favorite settings, but few put the magic into it the way Libba Bray does. A group of teens with supernatural ability get caught up in a war bigger than them all, desperate to save the people and the city they love. If you’ve never been to the Big Apple, Bray will take you there.


Delia Owens will make you sweat with descriptions of mangrove-dotted swamps beneath a sweltering sun. You’ll hear mosquitoes buzzing in your ears and reach for a cool drink as the slow-burn mystery pulls you in.

Like most of Christopher Moore’s novels, the streets of San Francisco take center stage. The city is flamboyant and fun and full of loud, larger-than-life characters. The way Moore tells it, you can almost believe finding vampires in San Francisco isn’t all that much of a stretch.

Pour yourself a mint julep, darlings, we’re heading to Savannah, Georgia. This one is non-fiction, true-crime if you’re keeping track, but John Berendt writes it like fiction, the characters vivid and the mildly sinister southern charm oozing off the page.

Another circus? Perish the thought. This, my dolls, is a freak show, where the rules don’t matter and before the day is over you’ll be covered in sweat, with an ornary snake draped over your shoulders. Tessa Fontaine travels from Gibsonton, Florida (founded by Carnies) to the rest of the country and back again, clad is a corset and enough body glitter to choke a cow, all while clawing through the fog of her grief.


Let’s travel together. Drop your suggestions below for your transporting fiction recommendations.

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