Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. When a real vacation just isn’t possible, an escape into a good book is the next best thing.
Here are five books that promise to transport you to worlds much different than your own, recommended by nursing students at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.
1. The Kite Runner (Afghanistan) by Khaled Hosseini
As a child, Amir is best friends with Hassan, the son of his father’s servant. Their days are spent innocently making up stories and “running” kites until an unspeakable atrocity happens to Hassan, changing everything between the boys. The Kite Runner is a haunting coming-of-age story and a brilliant account of Afghanistan’s tumultuous recent history.
2. The Poisonwood Bible (Africa) by Barbara Kingsolver
It’s the 1950s and Baptist minister Nathan Price has moved his family to the turbulent Congo region of Africa in the hope of converting the natives to Christianity—but things don’t go exactly as planned. This remarkable tale is told from the point of view of Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, and their five daughters.
3. The Shadow of the Wind (Spain) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
At a young age, Daniel discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by a writer he’s not familiar with named Julián Carax. After becoming enraptured by the book, Daniel tries to find more works by the same author, to no avail. His fascination grows when he learns that a mysterious man has been burning every copy he can find. As he continues to search, Daniel begins to recognize the shocking parallels between his own life and the engimatic author’s.
4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Peru) by Thornton Wilder
“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” This is the first sentence of Thornton Wilder’s cherished novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Brother Juniper is a monk and the witness to this tragic event. Trying to come to terms with the accident within the confines of own faith, he begins to investigate the history of the five people who perished, trying to prove it was divine intervention. This story has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 best novels of all time.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden) by Stieg Larsson
A page-turning thriller set in Sweden, this novel follows Mikael Blomkvist, a once-great reporter who has been hired to try to solve the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger. Aided by a troubled and tattooed hacker named Lisbeth Salander, the two uncover much more than they expected in this dark international bestseller about family secrets and corruption.