2020 Summer Reads and Watches

As most of us will be staying at home this summer, here is a list of books and films which will make you feel like you are going on holiday. Although these travels will not help you with your Instagram feed, they are a great inspiration for your future journeys. Unlike on a plane, you will have a seat choice and more leg space when you stay at home. In this travel form, it is less about the destination and more about the journey. 

One Summer: America, 1927 – Bill Bryson (2013)

Image Credit: Amazon UK

This book allows you to not only travel in place, but also in time. Bryson talks about all major events of the year 1927, and those leading up to it, which happened in the USA. While the first transatlantic flight, a star baseball player, and two supposed murderers do not seem to have much in common, the book proves otherwise. The author describes each of these events in the perfect order and intertwines them with each other in the most natural way. With the topic of the first transatlantic flight being the most prominent in the book, we are taken on a metaphorical flight from Hollywood through to New York and even as far as Europe. The historical narrative is easy and enjoyable to read while being interesting and informative at the same time.

The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress – Mark Twain (1869)

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This travelogue recounts a real voyage from the USA, through Europe, and to the Holy Land taken in 1867. You get to explore the sights, the people, and the artefacts while reading the strong and often unpopular opinions of the author. Twain travelled on USS Quaker City, on the first mass-tourism pre-packaged luxury cruise. Although a bit outdated, this book prevents the still-in-fashion desire to travel. You might be inspired to plan your own journey for Summer 2021 (fingers crossed) and to even write your own travelogue during your travels. However, take the book with a pinch of salt, as it was initially published as travel letters in a newspaper which attracted readers.

Au Pair – Directed by Mark Griffiths (1999)

Image Credit: Letterboxd

This 1999 made-for-television film will make you feel like a young American graduate travelling around Europe as part of a job that you did not really apply for. Jennifer Morgan (Heidi Noelle Lenhart) is a recent MBA graduate who applies for a job in a well-known firm owned by Oliver Caldwell (Gregory Harrison) as a copy clerk. Through a misunderstanding, she gets the job of the au pair to Oliver’s children, Katie (Katie Volding) and Alex (Jake Dinwiddie). The family goes to Europe, however, Oliver is too busy with business and Vivien (Jane Sibbett), the-wannabe-evil-step-mother (a classic character in a 90s film). Jenny travels around Europe with the kids and discovers the beautiful sights in the day and at night. This film might make you want to rethink that graduate scheme.

Roman Holiday – Directed by William Wyler (1953)

Image Credit: IMDb

This classic with Audrey Hepburn allows you to once again travel back in time, this time to the 1950s. You get to explore Rome with Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) who is tired of her strict schedule and duties and escapes the embassy for a few days. Ann meets Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), an American journalist, who does not recognise her. The protagonist gets to explore Rome as a “commoner”. It is not only the scenery but also the costumes that are stunning. The film takes you on a Vespa ride around Rome and you can almost feel the wind in your hair. The black-and-white characteristic of the film adds to its charm.

Call Me by Your Name – Directed by Luca Guadagnino (2017)

Image Credit: IMDb

Based on a novel by André Aciman, the film tells the story of a 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and a 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer) who visits Italy to help Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) with academic work. Despite being hostile at first, the couple soon starts a romantic relationship. In this coming-of-age story, Elio takes us to romantic town squares, picturesque rivers, and peaceful fields, unless he is reading or swimming near the peach orchard in his back garden. The cool tiles inside the Villa Albergoni bring relief from the heat and shelter from the scorching sun. The setting transports you to an idyllic summer holiday in the North of Italy, where you do nothing but read, swim, and eat peaches all day long.

Image Credit: VENTS Magazine