Expectations are often so different than our realities. For example, I was convinced that between two jobs this summer I’d have time to road trip with my friends, maybe Canada, maybe New Orleans, maybe with no set destination. Of course, reality did as it tends to do, and set in fairly soon after my summer began. While working 40 hours a week hasn’t left me much time for traveling, it has given me enough time to dig through my bookshelf to find some novels that satisfy my own wanderlust. What better teleportation device than a good book? Most of the titles in this list are either kids or young adult reads, but I believe good fiction is still good once we grow up. Here are my five picks for wanderlust-satisfying fiction:
– The Host, by Stephanie Meyer
This Adult/Young Adult pick takes the phrase “stranger in a strange land” from a different perspective. After all, what is stranger than finding oneself in a new body on a new adventure?
Summary from Amazon.com: Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love. Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.
– Rules of the Road, by Joan Bauer
Bauer’s Young Adult novel will leave you feeling much more confident about shoe shopping, dealing with crotchety old women who happen to be your boss, and road tripping across the USA.
Summary from Amazon.com: Meet Jenna Boller, star employee at Gladstone Shoe Store in Chicago. Standing a gawky 5’11” at 16 years old, Jenna is the kind of girl most likely to stand out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons. But that doesn’t stop Madeline Gladstone, the president of Gladstone’s Shoes 176 outlets in 37 states, from hiring Jenna to drive her cross country in a last ditch effort to stop Elden Gladstone from taking over his mother’s company and turning a quality business into a shop-and-schlock empire. Now Jenna Boller shoe salesperson is about to become a shoe-store spy as she joins her crusty old employer for an eye-opening adventure that will teach them both the rules of the road and the rules of life.
– Paper Towns, by John Green
My preferred John Green novel, Paper Towns takes an active imagination and a minivan full of teenagers and sets them on a cross-state trip to find an enigmatic girl, who is entirely too fond of spray paint and catfish. Guest appearance by Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
Summary from Amazon.com: When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.
– Lionboy, by Zizou Corder
A very subtle dystopian setting and a host of well-articulated felines makes this Kids/Young Adult novel exciting to the end. There’s good news if you want more, it’s a trilogy!
Summary from Amazon.com: When his parents are kidnapped, what’s ten-year-old Charlie Ashanti to do? Rescue them, that’s what! He doesn’t know who has taken his parents, or why. But he does know that one special talent will aid him on his journey: his amazing ability to speak Cat. Charlie calls on his clever feline friends from stray city cats to magnificent caged lions for help. With them by his side, Charlie uses wit and courage to try to find his parents before it’s too late.
– The Sea of Trolls, by Nancy Farmer
The Sea of Trolls is the first in a Kids series of the same title. The setting is partial fantasy, with many historical ties to Anglo-Saxon history and legend. Yggdrasil, a magic well, and dragons all make an appearance.
Summary from Amazon.com: Jack is kidnapped by berserkers from his Saxon village in the year A.D. 793, an occurrence forewarned by his mentor the Bard. Captured by Viking chief Olaf One-Brow, Jack and his sister, Lucy, are swiftly taken to the court of Ivar the Boneless.
Ivar is married to a half-troll named Frith, an evil and unpredictable queen with a strange power over her husband’s court. Jack mistakenly casts a charm on her—and is banished to the kingdom of the trolls to find the magic that will undo the charm. Accompanied by Thorgill, a shield maiden who wants to be a berserker, and by the mysterious crow called Bold Heart, Jack sets out on a harrowing and exciting quest for the ages.
– Jessica Born