There is something to be said about reading a rich and consuming story while wandering down the streets and places where the characters themselves have been in. I sometimes find myself saving these specific books for upcoming trips. If you’re still not convinced, here are three reasons why you’re missing out:
- It enriches the world-building experience:
While some authors have truly magical ways of describing and building the world their characters live in, nothing beats seeing the real thing. If you’re able to walk around the streets where the characters in the story are living you’ll be able to add dimension to the world in your mind. This goes all the way from the atmosphere, to architecture, weather and biodiversity. Imagine crossing the beautiful Charles Bridge in Prague while reading about a character crossing it on their daily commute to work or school. You’ll know what they see around them, the scent of freshly baked trdelnik at a shop nearby, the music from street performers enchanting the crowd, and the noise of the birds playing by the water.
- It builds empathy:
When you understand and completely visualize what characters are surrounded with and what their daily routines may encompass, you are more likely to empathize with their struggles and perceptions. This is valid anywhere from simple and mundane details to the undeniably important ones. Let’s say the character in the book you’re reading is incredibly clumsy. Now, image them crossing that same bridge in Prague with cobblestones everywhere while carrying a tray of hot coffee. Now you feel their struggle!
Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic (Photo: Markus Grunau)
- It makes for unforgettable memories:
The same way we often associate songs to specific moments in our lives, books and stories can have the same effect. While I can often pinpoint when I read a book, the ones I read while travelling tend to stick with me the most, along with the feelings I experienced while reading them. For books that end up becoming favourites, it’s nice to be able to re-read them and have myself transported back to the cities I was visiting. The one I’ll highlight here is the Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which, you guessed it: takes place in Prague! I haven’t re-read this book, but even continuing the series was still incredible after having experienced Prague in my travels.
Have you read anything while travelling to its setting? Any good recommendations? Let me know!
Happy reading and happy travels!