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Spring Break Responsibly: World Tour

flowersA much-needed spring break is coming up. I’m one of those people who dreams of traveling. But right now, traveling is dangerous and highly discouraged. Reading books helps scratch that itch, allowing me to visit different places and even time periods. And if you’d also like to travel without leaving the comfort of your couch, I have a few suggestions that will take you on a world tour.

Our first stop is a haunted house in the Mexican countryside. Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic follows the life of glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada living in 1950s Mexico City, who only wishes for endless merriment and to pursue a Masters in anthropology. However, after receiving a cryptic letter from her newly married cousin, Catalina, Noemí’s father sends her to investigate. Noemí arrives at the home of Catalina’s new husband, a house known as High Place located deep within the mountains. Although Catalina’s husband claims she is suffering delusions due to tuberculosis, Noemí suspects that something sinister is happening in High Place. This story brims with the eerie atmosphere of a Gothic novel. Every detail is rich and vivid, from descriptions of Noemí’s expensive dresses to the unsettling dreams she has while visiting High Place. 

After such a dark read, clear your mind with something lighter. Take a trip through space in Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. This novel follows Martian-born human Rosemary Harper, who takes a position aboard the space ship Wayfarer to escape her old life. This is a light-hearted space opera following a misfit crew on various missions. Although this book takes place in a developed, sprawling world, the main focus is the crewmates themselves and their relationships with one another. This novel can be read by itself, but if you find yourself wanting more, Chambers has also published three more books in the Wayfarers series.  

Our final stop is modern-day America. Andrew Sean Greer’s Less centers around aging author Arthur Less. On the brink of his fiftieth birthday and fearing that he’s already peaked in his literary career, Arthur decides to travel the world while writing his next novel. He may also be avoiding a wedding invitation from his ex-boyfriend. In this comedic novel, Arthur stops in New York, Paris, Berlin, Morocco, India and Kyoto, accepting literary prizes and teaching positions in languages he does not understand. Less won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2018, the first satirical novel to do so. At just over 270 pages, this is the perfect length for a week-long read. Don’t let the length fool you—although the novel is short, it packs a punch. It deals with love, loss, career aspirations, and heartbreak.

Although it’s not safe to travel right now, these books will allow you to see the different parts of the world (or even the galaxy). Mexican Gothic will take you to the rolling Mexican countryside, situating you in the middle of a thrilling mystery. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet will let you see the stars and make some friends along the way. Less takes you on a world tour alongside a man overcoming an existential crisis. No matter what you do for your spring break, these books will keep you company and show you the world through a new lens.

If you’re looking for more recommendations, see picks from Judit Ward and Nick Allred!