Rather than banging on about how I feel about our impending move this week, I thought it might be fun to do a roundup of the best / most recommended books about Travel And Transformation, in other words, relocating to change your state of mind, find yourself or start a new business abroad. You have many hours of enjoyable escapism ahead!
In no particular order, hence the bullets and no numbers, here they are. Click the title to go to Amazon and I’ve included the film trailer links where the books have been made into a film already.
Top 10 Travel And Transformation Books (& Films)
- 100 Days Of Solitude by Daphne Kapsali
Here’s my review of her book from Amazon: ‘Recommended highly by my “Own It!” podcast co-host Judith Morgan, once I started to read I could not put this book down. It was not just the stories of the quirky Greek neighbours which ranged from funny to, in one instance, so sad, it was the sheer quality of the writing that carried me through, enjoying every minute. Daphne’s honesty about her fears at night and her tales of spooky Christmas music playing mysteriously to her as she walked home one night, made me realise that perhaps I could man up, be brave like Daphne and fulfil my dream of going to live in Greece. My sister and I move to Stoupa, The Mani, Greece on 15 October And we will be blogging our progress of course. Daphne’s searingly honest writing has inspired me to be more open about my feelings which has been very cathartic after the loss of my life partner Steve in March. I look forward to reading Daphne’s other books and I am delighted to hear that she is spending another winter on her island.” I’ve also been chatting a bit on Facebook with author Daphne Kapsali who demonstrates brilliantly and authentically how to do social media very well indeed.Film Trailer – Coming soon I’m sure! Buy The Book
- Wild: A Journey From Lost To Found by Cheryl Strayed
I really enjoyed the film and was lost in admiration for Cheryl’s bravery at walking the Appalachian Way ON HER OWN! ‘One of the best books I’ve read in the last five or ten years… Wild is angry, brave, sad, self-knowing, redemptive, raw, compelling, and brilliantly written, and I think it’s destined to be loved by a lot of people, men and women, for a very long time.’ Nick Hornby Watch The Film Trailer.
- Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert
I must admit, the spiritual elements put me off large chunks of this book but millions of other people seemed to enjoy it! From Amazon: It’s 3am and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds, an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor, and Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.
- The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
I watched the film of this on an endless flight to the UK from Sydney via Dubai and it stood out as the funniest, most memorable film out of the 12 – 14 in total that I watched on that round trip! The book must be even better as they always have to leave stuff out for the film… From Amazon: ‘Tilly Dunnage left her hometown of Dungatar in rural Australia under a black cloud of accusation. Years later Tilly, now a couturier for the Paris fashion houses, returns home to make amends with her mentally unstable mother. Mid-century Dungatar is a small town, and small towns have long memories. At first she wins over the suspicious locals with her extraordinary dressmaking skills. But when the eccentric townsfolk turn on Tilly for a second time, she decides to teach them a lesson and exact long-overdue revenge… Packed with memorable characters, acid humour and luscious clothes, The Dressmaker is an irresistible gothic tale of small-town revenge’.
- Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
Another recommendation and described on Amazon thusly ‘Two little girls are taken by their mother to Morocco on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For Mum it is not just an escape from the grinding conventions of English life but a quest for personal fulfilment; her children, however, seek something more solid and stable amidst the shifting desert sands. ‘Just open the book and begin, and instantly you will be first of all charmed, then intrigued and finally moved by this fascinating story’ The Spectator.
- Nights In Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
Recommended by listeners of our podcast “Own It!” this is described by Amazon as ‘Two fragile people. One desperate second chance. Reeling and desolate, Adrienne Willis needs space to rethink her life after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Fleeing everything, she jumps at the chance to look after her friend’s guesthouse in the coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina. But there is a storm heading for Adrienne, in more ways than she can imagine’.
- Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Another recommendation and Bernie’s review made me laugh! ‘Frances Mayes retires to Italy and obtains a rural farm house and olive trees. It is not a story but more of a biography of the struggles and joys of restoring the farmhouse in Tuscany. It is the details that make the book so interesting. This book gives us dreams, hopes, and recipes. Be aware that reading this book will make you want to eat Italian’
- Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell
Can there be a woman of a certain ages who hasn’t seen this movie? This is the first thing anyone says to us when we say we are going to live in Greece! Not so much a book as a play by Willy Russell the review says “Shirley Valentine, 42-year-old put-upon mother and housewife, leaves the drudgery of cooking dinner for her husband, packs her bags and heads for the sun. The note on the kitchen table reads “Gone to Greece back in two weeks.” “It is a simple and brilliant idea…the profound and perennial point of the comedy is the problem we seem to have contemplating the idea of a woman alone – in a pub, on a beach, in a restaurant. This is what Shirley learns to combat as she unravels her own sexual and social identity. The play is not only funny, it is also moving.” (Michael Coveney, Financial Times)”
- My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
The book (part of The Corfu Trilogy) was absolutely magical and made me fall in love with Greece before I’d ever got there. The recent ITV series The Durrells is equally magical capturing the innocent times & passions of childhood through Gerald’s eyes, while sympathetically and very amusingly chronicling the local islanders, and family members as they wrestled with coming to terms with their change in circumstances, country and personal transformations.
- The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert by Philip Brophy
I’ve never read or even seen this (I know, shameful!) but I’m looking forward to it immensely. Described on Amazon as ”A road movie in a frock’ is one way this much acclaimed, award-winning movie has been described. Three showgirls with a difference set off in a bus across the Australian desert to play a cabaret engagement in Alice Springs. As they cut a swathe of satin and tulle across the country, there are chance encounters, some disappointments, a surprise revelation and much hilarity.’ Also got to be worth a read is the story of making the film by Al Clark.
Not strictly Travel & Transformation books as such, I also really enjoyed the following which captured the spirit of the place in which they were set beautifully.
- Things Can Only Get Feta by Marjory McGinn
How could I NOT love these books, set as they are in the Mani region of my beloved Peloponnese? AND the books feature a brilliantly irascible Jack Russell too…. ‘Book 1 of the Peloponnese series: After an Arctic winter, a British recession, and a downturn in the newspaper industry, two journalists and their dog embark on an adventure in the wild and beautiful southern Peloponnese in 2010. A perfect plan, except for one thing – Greece is deep in economic crisis. And if fiscal failure can’t overturn the couple’s escapade in rural Greece, perhaps macabre local customs, a scorpion invasion, zero dog-tolerance, and eccentric expats will. This is a humorous and insightful journey through one of the last unspoilt regions of Greece. It is full of encounters with warm-hearted Greeks who show that this troubled country still has heroes, if not euros. The story of Marjory, Jim, and their dog Wallace’s adventures in southern Greece continue in the next two books: Homer’s Where The Heart Is and A Scorpion In The Lemon Tree.Film Trailer Coming Soon I’m Sure! | Buy The Book
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
I read this so long ago I can barely remember the details but the mood of the book stays with me. From Amazon ‘It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephalonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscien-tious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consummate musician. when the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiance go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender’.
- The Magus by John Fowles
I read this intriguing book in my early 20’s as an impoverished student, in a house with no central heating, while Brighton was buried deep in snow. The only way to keep warm was to huddle around the coal fire under blankets and The Magus transported me to Greece – it it any wonder I loved the place before I even got there? From Amazon: ‘On a remote Greek Island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion intertwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games. John Fowles expertly unfolds a tale that is lush with overpowering imagery in a spellbinding exploration of human complexities. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a feast for the mind and the senses’. I’m astonished to find a rather brilliant looking 60’s film version with Anthony Quinn (of course!), Candice Bergen and a very young (and totally gorgeous) Michael Caine.
If you have any more recommendations, or you want ADD YOUR OWN BOOK do that in the comments below, I’m on a mission to read (or re-read) all of the above over the next six months! Reading about travel and transformation while travelling and transforming. It’s like going into The Matrix!