Reading list

Fictional destinations you wish you could visit

One of the joys of reading is being able to travel to far off countries and magical lands from the comfort of your own sofa, with a cup of tea in hand. Here are ten of the most exciting, mad and magical places you can find in the pages of a book

Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman

The new book from YA megastar, Malorie Blackman, is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello set in space. It focuses on twins Vee and Aidan who are the only survivors of a virus on their starship, plus they’re on the run from an alien species. While their starship might not be the safest place to visit, who wouldn’t want to explore space with a super smart heroine like Vee. 

Fen by Daisy Johnson

For the wild and adventurous, sink into debut writer Daisy Johnson’s hypnotic short stories set in a land of myth and dark magic loosely based on East Anglia’s marshes. A lyrical, contemporary look at English myth and folklore, this is a land where albatrosses deliver babies, dead children are brought back to life as animals and teenage girls transform into eels. A gorgeous, uncanny mix of the modern and the mythical.

The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell

The next big thing in children’s fantasy is the world of Lundinor, featuring Ivy Sparrow and her big brother Seb. When their grandmother suddenly falls ill, a mysterious message appears in their house and a strange policeman turns up with a toilet brush, they have to escape to a very unusual world where everyday things have extraordinary powers. 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Carroll’s Wonderland is one of the most famous fictional locations and has been brought to life in various films in different ways. Home to iconic characters including the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat, it might not be the most predictable place to explore but you’d be sure to meet some interesting creatures. Just watch what you eat and drink.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Another world that might prove as dangerous as it is exciting to visit. While you would get to meet one of the best heroines of all time, Lyra Belacqua, as well as Lee Scoresby, Serafina Pekkala and Will, you might also run into some less savoury characters or even some downright terrifying ones. But imagine the chance to see the northern lights with Pantalaimon… 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Where would you visit first: the Bennet’s family home to meet all five sisters, Meryton to see the militia or Pemberley in the hope of catching Mr Darcy having a quick afternoon swim? The settings are almost as iconic as the characters in Austen’s best loved novel of love, class and social manners. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Although Fitzgerald’s vision of 1920s debauchery is proof that all that glitters is not gold, who would pass up the chance to attend one of Jay Gatsby’s legendary soirées. Pretend everything is fine as you turn the pages from one extravagant party to the next, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and the rich, to the sound of jazz bands and champagne corks popping.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

If you can get past the chocolate river, chewing-gum machine, nut-sorting room and the miniaturising machine then what a treat awaits you. Every child’s (and most adults’) dream would be to explore Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with Charlie and Grandpa Joe. You just need to choose whether to go for the lickable wallpaper, the fudge room or stick with a good old-fashioned Wonka bar.

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Visiting Discworld is probably high on most booklovers’ lists of fictional places they’d like to visit. From the bustling but grimy city of Ankh-Morpork, to Bad Ass (the home of Granny Weatherwax) via the sort-of-civilised Sto Plains, Discworld is home to some of the most eccentric and beloved characters in fiction, not to mention the fact that it’s all balanced on the top of four elephants, who in turn stand on top of a giant turtle. 

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

If you enjoy Grossman’s Hogwarts-for-grown-ups sort of school, you can see it come to life in the new American TV series. On the page it is a vivid, exciting story focused on Quentin Coldwater, who discovers he is a teenage magician. What happens when he is inducted into a magical underworld full of forbidden knowledge, obsession and privilege? 

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