The Dog Ear: Armchair travel for spring break
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 22:03
With a recent snowfall fresh in our minds and coating the ground, it seems impossible that spring break starts this weekend. If you’re like me, you’ll be wishing you could leave the United States and travel somewhere new next week. Also if you’re like me, you’ll have to settle for staying at home, becoming the so called, “armchair traveler” as you read books set in foreign countries. Here are some suggestions to help you live vicariously around the world.
As you leave the United States and travel across the Atlantic Ocean, stop in Ireland to read Leon Uris’ novel, “Trinity.” This is a historical fiction account of the struggles between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland. The novel encompasses many years of Irish history within its almost 800 pages of text. The beginning of the novel explains the horrors of the potato famine. Potatoes turned black and family members died of starvation, reminding us that Ireland had to overcome many battles to get where it is today. Uris follows the lives of his characters from childhood to adulthood as they attempt to pursue their dreams, hindered by differences in religion. It is interesting to see the extreme role religion played in their society. Everyone was expected to marry those who were of the same religion since becoming involved with the opposite religion was scandalous. Ireland is a very modern country today, but this novel enlightens readers with a piece of Ireland’s history.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson is set in Sweden, a beautiful Scandinavian country. Most of the book’s locations are in Södermalm, a section of Stockholm. While the novel is filled with crime and mystery, Södermalm is considered to be Stockholm’s hippest district, filled with various boutiques selling jewelry, clothing and art. The city has acknowledged the influx of tourists wanting to see locations they envisioned from Larsson’s writing, with the Stockholm City Museum offering guided “Millennium” Tours. Tourists can follow the paths of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist by seeing attractions such as Blomkvist’s home, the Millennium office and Salander’s expensive apartment. Light for most of the day, the summer is the perfect time to explore the city since the daylight leaves you feeling energized as you wander the archipelago from Gamla Stan (the Old Town) to City Hall.
Still bored in Storrs after spring break? If you’re looking for an extremely different location, read “What Tears Us Apart” by Deborah Cloyed. The protagonist, Leda, travels to Kenya to experience something new and that’s exactly what she finds. While in Nairobi, she falls in love with a man who runs an orphanage. Love does not come easy as political unrest and violence in the slums soon takeover, causing Leda to experience an entirely new world compared to her life of luxury at home. This novel sounds like it will provide readers with a good depiction of life in African countries. It has always been my dream to go to Africa but while safari rides to see wildlife would be amazing, it is important to be aware that there is more to the country than just a unique array of creatures. The culture and lifestyle of Africa is extremely different than our lives in the United States. Reading novels like this can give us a safe taste of that part of the world.
These novels will let words paint pictures of foreign landscapes in your mind that hopefully you will one day see with your own eyes. A zeal for travelling the world will fill you after you finish reading. Storrs is a small town but the entire world is out there, waiting to be explored. Let books take you for journeys while you wait for the right time to leap out of your armchair and into new endeavors.