My to-SEE list seems grows longer each day
thanks to living vicariously through other people’s vacation photos and followsummer. followsummer recently tweeted the Top 8 places to visit right now and London, England, makes this list. Here are four books that will inspire you to travel to the United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And if you are planning on visiting the UK, let Skyscanner help you plan and book your trip!
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal ( HarperCollins) is mainly set in Southall, “a lively and diverse community in the London borough of Ealing, West London,” according to Visit London. Considered “Little India”, the community’s diversity, colour and sounds come alive in the descriptions in this book.
“At the hot chai stall next door, a queue was forming. ‘What else have they got in this bazaar? Anything good? Mindi asked. ‘Some produce, a couple of masala stalls, Indian sweets,’ Niki said looking around ‘There’s a woman who can dye your costume jewelry stones to match the exact shade of your outfit. There’s an entire row for those jingly-dangly wedding decorations and I also spotted a guy with a parrot who picks your fortune out from your hat.”
Erotic Stories not only describes the feel of this part of London, England, including the “spice markets, the Bollywood cinema, the gurdwaras, the samosa carts on the Broadway”, but also paints a picture of the cultural rules and traditions of the people who call it home, including what is expected of widows, which made for a tougher read. However, as the main character, Nikki, finds out, there are more to these women then their white dupattas, a length of material worn as a scarf or head covering, including a lot of passion and fantasy told in story form and shared during the Nikki’s “creative writing” class for widows.
An Irish Country Cookbook
An Irish Country Cookbook by Patrick Taylor ( Raincoast Books, Tor Books) offers 10 short stories in the Irish Country series and 150 Irish family recipes. It’s the introduction to the various types of dishes – Light Plates, Fishy Starters, Mains and more – that offers you a glimpse of Ireland and its traditions and makes you want to want to eat – and see – your way through this country.
“I do think only the shamrock is more Irish than good old Liffey Water, as Guinness used to be known. And sure no surprise there….And it has more uses than as just a drink. Women who had had babies were given a bottle a day to help them make milk and patients in hospitals got a third of a pint a day as a tonic…”
You learn picnics are always popular in Ireland despite the weather and “as most of these are easily wrapped in Irish linen tea towels and packed in wicker baskets and the “Ulster fry was usually eaten at breakfast time and was regarded as the best meal to set you up for a hard day’s work or play. There was also a belief that it was a good cure for a hangover. In Ulster, most restaurants and pubs now serve the Ulster fry at any time of the day.”
At the Water’s Edge
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen is set during the Second World War and sees Madeline Hyde and her husband Ellis, who has been cut off financially by his father, and their best friend, Hank, leave Philadelphia for Scotland, where Ellis decides the only way to regain his father’s favour is to succeed in a venture his father publicly failed – to discover the famous Loch Ness monster.
You learn about the “monster” and the loch itself over the course of the book.
“She paused at the top, staring at the blackness of the loch. Thousands of tiny whitecaps danced on its surface, seeming to move in the opposite direction of the water beneath them. It was said that the loch contained more water than all the other bodies of water not just in Scotland, but also in England and Wales combined, and it held other things as well. She had been warned away from it her entire life, for its depth came quickly, its coldness was fierce, and the Kelpie lay in wait.”
Gruen does a great job of pulling you into the past with the terror of air raids and food shortages as well as creating relationships – good and bad – between characters, particularly the Scottish people Maddie comes into contact to. And it’s the people – their strength, their decency, and their kindness – that makes you want to go to Scotland, sit in a pub and share a story or two.
International Mountain Summit: The Spirit of the Mountains
While five Scottish mountains are featured in the International Mountain Summit: The Spirit of the Mountains ($40, Firefly Books) coffee table book, which offers the “most outstanding photographs submitted to the International Mountain Summit photography contest from 2011 to 2016”, it was the image of Loch Entive, a fjord in the southern Scottish Highlands, by Philip Gunkel that made me stop and sigh out loud.
The photograph is breathtaking with the water, with its line of whitecaps, cutting through the mountains, what looks like a beautiful sandy beach and sun-lit grasses and trees likely made more stunning by what looked like a nasty storm heading toward the photographer.
“I was in the middle of preparing our supper when I looked out of the tent and saw this incredible play of colors. Nothing could stop me! I grabbed the camera and took some pictures; just a few minutes later, we were in the middle of a heavy downpour.”
The photos are spectacular, which makes want to head to the Scottish mountains and enjoy the view – particularly what looks like very cold uninhabited Glen Etive and the River Etive.
Is the United Kingdom on your dream list? Where do you want to go?
Copies of these books were provided by Raincoast Books, HarperCollins and Firefly Books for honest review. The opinions are my own.
Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and Skyscanner which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, we will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining followsummer. Thank you in advance!
Lisa Day has a passion for books – owning them, reading them, writing about them and talking about them. She carries at least one, maybe two or three, books with her at all times and when she isn't reading, she is writing about them. You can also find her on Twitter at @LisaMDayC; Instagram at @LisaMDayReads, Facebook at www.facebook.com/BookTime584 and GoodReads at http://bit.ly/ldgoodreads