How to Travel to England Without Leaving Your Couch
The 8 books you need to read (not including “Harry Potter”)
Sigh. If only traveling weren’t so expensive. But have no fear, ye of wanderlust. This list of eight books will take you places even British Airways can’t. Explore the past, present and future of England, all while sitting on your sofa.
“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier
Few books are as defined by their setting as this one. Manderley is a dark Gothic estate in 1930's Cornwall with one too many rooms that are off-limits. Giant blood-red rhododendrons and the perilous shores of Cornwall set the scene in this creepy tale of a young woman battling the memory of her husband’s first wife: Rebecca.
“84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff
20 years of letters between a Manhattan book collector and the buyer for a rare bookshop in London. Talk of post-WWII food shortages, notes on Elizabeth II's coronation and recipes for Yorkshire pudding abound.
“High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby
The soundtrack of London in the 1990s. Sans Spice Girls.
“The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
An epic in every sense of the word (this sucker weighs in at just over 800 pages), The Pillars of the Earth takes place across decades of 1100s England. Haven't you always wondered how those cathedrals got built, anyway?
“Haweswater” by Sarah Hall
Haweswater takes place in 1936 in the idyllic Lake District of England. It tells the story of a small, extremely conservative, town faced with a modern Manchester man whose assignment is to build a great reservoir: Haweswater. His intense affair with a devout local woman ushers in fear, doubt, and the inevitability of change in this tragic novel that will have you blubbering in no time.
“Falling Angels” by Tracy Chevalier
Following the death of Queen Victoria, two young girls meet and become friends. Experience turn-of -the-century (and all it's change, loss and regret) through their eyes.
“To Say Nothing of the Dog” by Connie Willis
The place is Oxford. The year is 2057. A time machine exists, but due to strict time-continuum laws, it was a commercial flop. Now its primary use is for historical research, and a determined woman has roped an Oxford historian into using the machine for her own means.