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Going New Places Through Novels

If you're stuck at home or just looking for inspiration on where you should travel next, these five books can help! Each novel is set in a different country and gives unique insights into the land, culture, and history of each country.

What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chancy 

What Storm, What Thunder book cover

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, forever changing the lives of people in Haiti and around the world. What Storm, What Thunder examines the lives of characters in Haiti and around the world in the days leading up to and in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Chancy, a Haitian-Canadian-American writer, wrote the book after speaking with dozens of people affected by the earthquake. Thus a raw honesty rings throughout the book, both in the stories of horror and despair, and in the tales of hope that emerged from the destruction.

Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley 

Seasons of the storm book cover

Celia Sands is cast in an "unstageable" play, put on in the Italian villa owned by the grandson of the playwright. Once in Italy, she and the other cast and crew members begin to experience strange happenings, but it is the ghosts of the playwright and the mistress he wrote the play for, or is it something more nefarious? With a story told across two times, Kearsley weaves a tale of suspense set against the beautiful back drop of the Italian Lakes. You'll be booking your trip to northern Italy before you even finish reading this book.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 

Burial rites book cover

In 1830, Agnes Magnusdottir was the last woman to be executed in Iceland. A fictionalized account of the story of the murder for which she was convicted and her last months with the family charged with taking her in, Burial Rites takes a deep look at the hardships of living in nineteenth century Iceland. Full of evocative prose about the landscape and the people who inhabit it, it's a story about life persevering in the bleakest of circumstances.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa 

The housekeeper and the professor book cover

The Housekeeper and the Professor is a heartwarming tale about a woman who is hired to look after a man who, because of a car accident decades prior, has only eighty minutes of memory. This quick read chronicles the time the two spend together along with the housekeeper's young son, building a relationship that transcends memory. While the story has the potential to be heartbreaking, Ogawa has crafted a book that can best be described as kind. The love the characters have for each other shines through and makes the book a lovely read.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta 

Under the Udala Trees book cover

Under the Udala Trees follows the story of Ijeoma as she grows up during the Nigerian Civil War and its aftermath, while also understanding her own sexuality and learning to be true to herself. At times somber and painful, and at others lighthearted and silly, Okparanta captures the struggles of coming of age in a time and place where who you are is not accepted.

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About the Author:

Adrienne is a Library Associate at the Southeast Neighborhood Library. She enjoys reading books of all genres, especially books recommended by other people. When not at the library, Adrienne is usually spending way too much time online, or taking a nap with her two cats.