Summer might look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean we should starve ourselves of all adventure. Picking up a book and transporting ourselves to a different time and space might just be the summertime escape we need. These 11 books tell stories that take place all over the world, and, in some cases, in worlds that don’t exist at all. Kick back and let them take you on your next adventure:
1. Circe by Madeleine Miller
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019, Circe is a mesmerizing, gripping, and deeply beautiful tale of love, loss, and metamorphosis. Banished to a remote island by her father, the titan Helios, sorceress Circe practices her witchcraft in solitude. However, as she is visited over the course of several millennia by mortal sailors seeking refuge on her island, she learns to burn bright in the darkness of a world ruled by both human and divine men.
2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
García Márquez’s riveting, passionate story of love, devotion and heartbreak will take your hand and walk you through early 20th century Colombia, in a town right on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. As a young man, Florentino Ariza falls head over heels for local beauty Fermina Daza. But when Fermina is married to a wealthy doctor, Florentino does not let his disappointment extinguish his love for her. The years pass. Florentino embroils himself in 662 affairs, all the while waiting patiently for the day of Fermina’s husband’s death so he can proclaim his love to her again.
3. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
As a teenager living in New York City, Natasha meets Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers. The twist? The two fall in love just twelve hours before Natasha’s family is scheduled to be deported to their native country, Jamaica. What follows is an intense rush against time as Natasha and Daniel struggle to choose their own futures rather than let their futures choose them.
4. Vermilion by Molly Tanzer
Vermilion is seriously a trip. This steampunk sci-fi involves malevolent spirits, the undead, talking seals, and a kick-ass female protagonist: 19-year old Lou Merriwether, a “gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp.” It’s Lou’s job to keep San Francisco safe from supernatural evil, but when she hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have mysteriously gone missing in the Colorado Rockies, she rides into the wilderness to investigate in a zany, unforgettable adventure.
5. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Glamorous debutante Noemí Taboada is summoned to a house in the Mexican countryside by her newlywed cousin, who begs for salvation from a strange, impending doom. The longer Noemí stays in the house, the bloodier her dreams become. As she digs deeper into her family’s violent and hidden past, the harder she finds it to leave her cousin’s home.
6. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
In 15th century Florence, Alessandra Cecchi falls for a painter commissioned to decorate her family’s palazzo chapel walls. But after Alessandra’s parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy and much older man, the city is swept up in turbulent changes. Alessandra must navigate her new life as the rise of fundamentalist monk Savonarola threatens the Medici state — all while keeping the embers of her love for the painter secretly alive.
7. Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
After losing her mother to cancer, Chelsea Martin decides to find happiness again. Seven years after embarking on a gap year through Ireland, France, and Italy, Chelsea retraces her steps to find love — and herself — along the way.
8. Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
In a fantastical land covered in ice and ruin, magic is both feared and celebrated. When a group of magicians faces off in a series of magical challenges to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, it becomes evident that unseen danger is lurking in the shadows.
9. The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
In this epic prequel to Okorafor’s award-winning Who Fears Death, a superhuman woman discovers the truth about herself. Phoenix is “accelerated,” grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. Once she learns that her home is really a prison, Phoenix escapes. Her journey from the U.S. to Africa and back will change the course of humanity’s future forever.
10. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters — Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina — were never close growing up. Even as adults, their relationship is frayed. But their mother, lying on her deathbed, makes a final wish for the three sisters to pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Arriving in India, the sisters make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives.
11. It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham
It Is Wood, It Is Stone chronicles the intersecting lives of two women in São Paulo, Brazil. Linda is an anxious, restless American who moves to São Paulo with her husband, Dennis. Marta, Linda’s maid, is tired of Linda’s instability and the cultural, racial, and socio-economic tensions. The two women are unexpectedly bonded after Linda leaves home with a charismatic artist, whom she joins on an adventure that causes reverberations felt by everyone.