How Books Opened The Doors of the World to Me

Many years ago, much before the travel bug ensnared me in its magical web, I had already begun my voyages around the world on the wings of my imagination fueled by an insatiable appetite for books. I traveled to far away places and learnt about different cultures, I learnt about people in far away lands, about exotic locations, great cities and civilizations.

How books opened the doors of the World to me

And then one day, I started traveling to the very places about which I had read again and again, places about which I had stared in awe through the visual graphics conjured up by my imagination. It really was a heady feeling as I felt that I had entered the realm of the book itself and could almost hear the characters speaking their lines.

This post is an ode to the literary magic of the great writers who penned these masterpieces as well as the lovely places they set their stories in. Constraints of time and space compel me to restrict my account of these wonderful experiences to a few, but needless to say, they are many, and hopefully I can pick up the thread again in a later post.

Experience-1

Heidi the name of the heroine of a book by the same name had captured my young imagination as she wandered around the Swiss Alps, followed by a cute little lamb, gamboling behind her. Heidi is a childrens’ fiction by the Swiss author Johanna Spyri. The Swiss countryside and The Alps are as much a character in this book as any of the others and provide a beautiful setting to a lovely story. Years later, when I visited Switzerland, the years seemed to have fallen away from me as I reveled in the heavenly beauty of Switzerland, its meadows and mountains.

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Experience-2

One man chases another and kills him in the silent halls of one of the most famous art Museums in the world. The dying man arranges himself in a strange and convoluted pattern on the floor before breathing his last. Thus begins a race to unravel the pieces of a veritable jig saw puzzle.

The Louvre is the setting for the racy 2003 thriller by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

It was with an eerie feeling that I walked into the Louvre, through the famous Pyramid main entrance. Memories of the book and the movie haunted me as I recalled the hero of the book, Robert Langdon, doing the same. The book seemed to come alive in front of me as I traced his footsteps along the Louvre. I took the very trail as described in the book. I stared in awe at the Mona Lisa, again torn between fact and fiction, I wandered through the halls marveling at Leonardo Da Vinci’s creations, one part of my mind expecting a Robert Langdon or Sophie Nevue to step out of the shadows any minute!

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These are some experiences that have emerged from the realms of books and metamorphosed into reality for me, however there are many destinations which are still confined to the pages of the books that I have read and imagined about, these are places that are still on my bucket list.

I share two such dreams with you and hope that they too would fructify into reality very soon.

Dream-1

Much before I came to associate the city if Amsterdam with Tulips, I had read about this city in the heart wrenching book, “The Diary of Anne Frank“. The book is the English translation of the writings of a young girl in Dutch which recounts her life in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne and her family hid in a secret, sealed off portion of her Father’s office and were later joined by her Father’s business partner and his family. The secret hiding place was concealed by a movable book shelf and was known to only a few trusted associates. Anne kept a diary in which she poured her heart out. After a period of about two years of hiding the family was betrayed and were whisked off to Nazi concentration camps. Anne Frank died in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen at the young age of 15.

The book had a great impact on me and I would love to visit Amsterdam and the house where Anne Frank hid with her family and bow down to the indomitable spirit and courage of this young girl.

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Dream-2

Charles Dickens has been an all-time favorite author for me and many of his books left a deep and lasting impact on my mind. “Oliver Twist“, “Great Expectations” and what I consider as his greatest work, “David Copperfield“, have kept me mesmerized for hours and days together. My first introduction to the city of London was through the books of Charles Dickens. I walked with a vulnerable 11 year old David on his trip from London to Dover in search of Miss Betsey and I could feel his loneliness on hearing the church bells ringing on that Sunday morning.

I ran away with Oliver Twist to London where he met the Artful Dodger and started living with the ‘Gentleman”, Fagin and his gang of juvenile pickpockets.

London and England of a bygone era come alive in Dickens’ books and have always inspired me to travel to this land, the birth place of a language that has become my own, a land where the earth was kissed by the hallowed footsteps of great masters like William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens among many others.

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This article was also published on Huffington Post. Check out here.

Which books have inspired you to travel?

How have you felt when a place, about which you have read in a book, stretches out in front of you?

Would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences on this, please feel free to go ahead and comment.

How books opened the doors of the World to me

 

How books opened the doors of the World to me

70 thoughts on “How Books Opened The Doors of the World to Me

  1. Nathalie Reply

    Great post! I love seeing the places I had pictured while reading books. Dan Brown’s trilogy (Angels and Demons, Da Vinci Code & Inferno) was an inspiration to go see the places I had read about. Reading ‘Inferno’ made me look at Leonardo’s ‘Last Supper’ in Milan with a different angle and imagining St Peter with a knife in his hand wasn’t to difficult. 🙂

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Wow! glad to know that you too love visiting the places that you had read in books. Dan Brown’s trilogy is simply awesome!

  2. Kim @ Three Olives Branch Reply

    I loved DaVinci Code also. Have you read Angels and Demons? I actually liked that one better, it was so interesting because it gets into the science versus religion debate. The movie is good but does not do the book justice, there is so much detail in it.

  3. Cynthia Reply

    I was 5 years old when I read my first book and I haven’t stopped ever since. I loved adventure books and was already traveling to different worlds since I was a child. And still until today, even though I’m travelling now full-time, I still love reading adventure and travel books. My dream is to write one myself one day!

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      That is fantastic! My first love too is books and I too started reading at a very young age. Thanks to my Dad who introduced me to the world of books. I too have a dream to get my books published.

  4. Rob Taylor Reply

    Really well stated… especially as I can relate to being jarred by visiting the settings of my favorite stories. I can’t wait to take my kids to Narnia… oh wait…

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Thank you Rob. 🙂 Many times reality does not live up to the expectations set by imagination.

  5. Mara Kuhn Reply

    I too loved Heidi! And it is one of the reasons I love the mountains so much. I cannot wait to travel to Switzerland. I also loved Anne of Green Gables, and a few years ago was able to travel to Prince Edward Island and visit the Anne of Green Gables house. It was like stepping into a my imagination. Great post!

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Wow! I too wish to visit the Anne of Green Gables house someday. It is such a feeling when your imagination is right in front of your eyes. Isn’t it?

  6. Amy Reply

    I spent a weekend in Norfolk, England, because of the ending of Never Let Me Go. It was just as beautiful and haunting as described in the book!

  7. Ajay Sood Reply

    I remember distinctly my race against time as I was finishing Da Vinci Code during my flight to Paris! And I remember distinctly how I too traced Langdon’s footsteps in Louvre! 😀

  8. Sally Reply

    I love reading and I feel like so many people miss out on the joy of reading and all that it teaches you. It is very much like travelling in that sense.

  9. Marge Gavan Reply

    I also started my love affair with traveling from the books that I read, to be more specific, the encyclopedia hahaha… It was one of those colorful encyclopedias that my parents bought for my siblings and I. I remember browsing through its pages everyday.

  10. Mar Pages Reply

    A wonderful account of the relationship between stories and places, I can definitely relate. Heidi was one of the stories I read and loved as a child, it was surreal to see the described landscapes in person!

  11. Jennifer Reply

    I love reading novels that take place in areas where I have dreamed of visiting. I pretend I am that character and then I find myself being taken away on an adventure!

  12. Natasha Reply

    What a cool idea for a post and for travel inspiration. I find visiting movie set locations can be fun and exciting. We recently went to Hobiton — so much fun!!

  13. Danielle Des Reply

    I’ve heard great things about the Da Vinci code and even watched clips of the movie – this is a great reminder to add it to my reading list. I visited Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam last year and it’s been years since I read her story – another great reminder.

  14. Rachel Simmet Reply

    I love reading, and I love the glimpses they give us into other worlds. My favourite recent one is “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”

  15. GeekGirlGoes Reply

    Great article! Most of my adventures have been fueled by a love of fantasy novels! I’ve been black smithing, ninja training and learnt horseback archery because it reminded me of my fantasy heroes!

  16. Jo Reply

    I have always been a reader. Books are a huge part of who/what I am today – I feel they “make” a person. I wish more people were reading these days and I always prefer a good old paperback to an ebook – just old skool, I guess 🙂 I love your post and surely I feel books are inspiring and really open the world to you.

  17. Bell | Wanderlust Marriage Reply

    These are some great books! As a kid I also loved to escape by reading and go to places via the words on a page, now after a trip I try to read a novel about that place! Speaking of the Netherlands, after visiting Delft I read Girl with a Pearl Earing, and it made me think back on a wonderful trip to that beautiful village! Thanks for sharing these!

  18. Francesca | The Working Mom's Travels Reply

    I don’t know if I could handle visiting Anne Frank’s home in Amsterdam. I was so overcome with emotion when I saw a very small exhibit about Anne Frank at a children’s museum in Indianapolis. I imagine the actual home would be even more moving.

    On another note, I totally know what you mean about books fueling your wanderlust! For me, it was my set of World Book Encyclopedias. My parents bought it when I was in fourth grade. I spent many, many hours of my childhood flipping through the volumes, marveling at stunning scenery and beginning to dream of my own world travels.

    • Voyager Post authorReply

      Oh wow. That’s interesting to know. I love Encyclopedias. I still can go back and spend hours flipping the pages! 🙂

  19. Michael Reply

    Love this! I need to check out that Heidi book, that’s the only one that I haven’t heard of.

  20. TripFiction Reply

    It is lovely to hear about how books and stories within books have inspired travel – reading about places that you want to visit or “re-visiting” places through fiction is very rewarding. It truly is armchair travel!

  21. Susan Reply

    I hope that you get to experience my hometown, London, very soon and all the literary gems that have been written here. The Knights Templar church in the Da Vinci Code is definitely somewhere that I think you’d enjoy visiting. As for me, Eat Pray Love was one of the books that I read before visiting Bali as it sums up the laidback vibe very well.

  22. Ania Reply

    These are such lovely books. I’ve only read Anne Franks and the Da Vinci Code, which both were amazing. But I’ve definitely read other books that have inspired me to travel. I love a good book recommendation.

  23. candy Reply

    I remember read Anne Frank when I was a teenager. I haven’t reread the book since then and think it’s time I sit down and read it again. I also never read the book Heidi, but growing up in Japan there was a very popular cartoon show Heidi that was based on that book. But I think in the cartoon her side kick was a dog 🙂

  24. Tamara - @Girlswanderlust Reply

    It’s so nice to read how books gives you inspiration for your travels! I love to read travel-related books as well. I’m not only a fan of stories where the main role goes travelling, but I also love books like ‘1000 places to visit before you die’ and ‘Make the most of your time on earth’. So much inspiration! 🙂

  25. Hang Around The World Reply

    Totally agree with you, books open your mind! Two of my favorite are The Da Vinci Code and David Copperfield even if they belong to two different genres 🙂
    This is a cool list anyway!

  26. Fiona Mai Reply

    Very interesting to read about these books that have inspired you to travel. Mine is definitely Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk. I read it for the first time when I was 18, and since then have been determined to make a long trip to this city. Also the book The Secret Garden has brought me to Yorkshire – an amazing English region where I am living now 🙂

  27. Audrey Reply

    Heidi and Anne Frank’s house diary are two of my favorite! I watched Heidi, the movie, as a little girl. It made me love and long to go visit the Swiss Alps. And I just visited the Anne Frank House a couple weeks ago! It’s amazing reading a book about a place or an event and then actually visiting!

  28. Abigail Sinsona Reply

    I can totally relate to you on this! As a child, I spent most of my days reading books and they definitely intrigued me about the different settings they are in, so I wanted to travel at a young age because of those inspirations. I haven’t been to most of the destinations you’ve featured here so I cannot wait to tick them off the bucket list!

  29. Dannielle Reply

    This made me want to re-read Heidi! I’ve never actually read the Da Vinci Code but it’s on my list. I think my fave travel book is Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

  30. Mel Butler Reply

    I love hard back books especially ones that revolve around places and areas. Only a couple of weeks ago, I went and visited the Anne Frank house and it was very moving. I remember reading the book in school as a teenager. I hope that you get to visit some of these places one day, especially my adopted city of London.

  31. Teresa Reply

    What a great post! It’s so true that books give us our first adventures! I love that you are able to imagine what a place will be like through a book before you get to visit it. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  32. Colby Reply

    Such a great post! I love visiting places I’ve read in books. Also, if I’m visiting a new country I try to read a book based in that particular country. I feel like it gives me a deeper connection and I get to see it through, not only my eyes, but also the eyes of the author.

  33. Laura Barton Reply

    I remember reading Anne Franks Diary in school when I was a child. It was so weird visiting her house in Amsterdam. It brings the book to a very close reality. I remember reading about the bookcase that blocked the stairs. For some reason that always stuck in my head. Walking up those stairs myself gave me a weird feeling inside.

  34. Harsh Gupta Reply

    Books definitely open the doors of new world for me and you have jotted down everything so nicely in this blog. It is so relatable! The Da Vinci Code happens to be my favorite and I can’t wait to see Louvre from a new set of eyes next month!

  35. Chi Reply

    Books are all the world to me. Dan Brown is the best author on planet! I never ever stop reading his work.

  36. Oursweetadventures Reply

    I don’t think most people read a book with the intention of being swept away to that place while reading. it’s just something that happens. I’ve always liked the imagination that comes with reading. I’m reading about apartheid in South Africa and the images I conjure up are amazing.

  37. Sara Broers Reply

    Thanks for walking me back in time. Heidi was a book that I remember from my childhood. Reading is such an important part of our lives and opens up new doors, including the travel bug!

  38. neha Reply

    Could totally relate to what’s said here. Books have been my best friends too since long. Da vinci code did fascinate me about Louvre and Anne Frank’s Diary totally moved me. I love reading travel related books now a days

  39. jitaditya Reply

    Books, of course, are the window to the world. We have more options now but during school days, they were the only option. My favorite book from that era was Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. I still hope to visit the Amazons.

  40. Ami Bhat Reply

    I so relate to this. A lot of my travel lust was fueled by these books, especially Dan Brown that fired my yearning for Rome. And Anne Frank always inspired me to visit Germany – something that I still need to fully explore. Loved to see that it was the same with you.

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