By Joann Pan
The greatest adventures and “relocations” have taken place in books; if only, based on the sheer will given to the created characters, but it’s facilitated by the factor of otherworldly places. Think: Dante’s trek through nine circles of the Earthly Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso as depicted in “The Divine Comedy” or Homer’s journey home to Southern Greece from a long battle in Troy—not without time-consuming pit stops all along the Aegean Sea.
Even a person with an imperfect imagination can take in a modern tale of a magnificent journey in a favored spot at home—mine being a velvet couch next to my northern facing windows. I have often gone along to the rough slum houses of Mumbai where tightly knitted communities reign, have taken late-night walks on Roman cobblestone drunk on moonlight, and have simply walked the streets of New York City  witnessing something even crazier than what happens day-to-day. I have learned that the greatest readers are also some of the greatest travelers—from my own firsthand experience as traveling and talking about books seem to be the top pastimes amongst friends and co-workers.
Here at Relocation.com, where we can’t stop talking about relocating and moving , we complied a list of the Top 5 Greatest Relocations in book form to inspire you (and ourselves) to take a trip of a lifetime and maybe introduce you to places you’ve never heard of. Happy Reading!
1. “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts
Where: From Australia to Mumbai [or Bombay as it was formerly called but still commonly referred to as].
Reason for move: Based on sort of true events…Roberts is convicted of armed robberies and convicted to imprisonment. But, like most adventure book protagonists, as Roberts sees prison is not in his destiny, he quickly rewrites fate by getting lost in Mumbai—probably to become lost in a sea of faces in the most populous city in India with over 14 million people.
2. “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave
Where: From Nigeria to England
Reason for move: In this great chronicle of the disparity of the Third World of Nigeria and First World of England, Little Bee is saved by the O’Rourke family and brought to their safe haven of London. The juxtaposition of new nations is as striking as it is startling. There is a lot of violence in this sweetly covered and titled book.
3. “Eat, Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Where: From New York to Italy, India and Indonesia
Reason for move: As Gilbert recounts her past relationships and the breakdowns of her life, there is no doubt she needed therapy in form of a life-changing trip by herself—in every sense of the word. Spending a couple months in each country, she learns to deal with the issues that have plagued her short life of 30 years which she has filled with responsibility and bad relationships. On her journey, she heals herself by eating, praying and eventually learning to love in a pure way. After you read the book, check out the movie version starring Julia Roberts.
4. “Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy” by Frances Mayes
Where: From the U.S.  to a summer home in Italy
Reason for Move: Yes, this is another memoir about a woman living a “troubled” life in American only to discover herself in Italy by buying an old farmhouse and refurbishing her way to recovery. This book is full of recipes, weather reports, gardening tips and a woman’s chronicle of falling in love with Italy.
5. “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
Where: England to the Congo in Africa
Reason for Move: Charles Marlow is on assignment from a Belgian trading company as he treks through the Congo River on a ferry where he will transport ivory. A simple job transporting goods down river turns into a psychological mission in trying to rescue a dark man named Kurtz after he has entwined himself with the native groups residing in the Congo.
Other books we love based on life-changing relocations are “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “Look Homeward, Angel” by Thomas Wolfe. What are your favorite books based on moving or traveling?
Joann Pan is a freelance writer and photographer based in New York City. She has interned and contributed to Buffalo Spree Magazine and Racked NY.