The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.
This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.
Oh, these kids! They could have stayed at their posh resort in Mexico, downing cocktails and splashing in the pool. And it’s hard to fault their curiosity about the ancient ruins in the lush jungle — but perhaps they should have had a bit more respect for the locals?
This is a straight-up horror novel, and it won’t be for everyone. But if you like creepy happenings and don’t mind graphic gross-outs, this book is a lot of fun.
Two young-and-hot couples are on vacation together in Cancun. It’s going exactly as you’d expect: There’s plenty of lounging on the beach, drinking too much, waking up with hangovers, and becoming besties with the other tourists.
When the brother of one of their new pals goes missing, they make the colossally flawed decision to leave their resort hotel for an excursion into the jungle. Amid the relentlessly green foliage and oppressive heat, they stumble onto something inexplicable… and horrible.
What began as an adventure with beer and sunscreen and crackling sexual tension turns into a fight for their lives. The story is about the terror of what’s happening to them, but it’s also about personal integrity and the ways that a stressful situation can amplify personality traits, both for good and evil.
It also has something to say about treating indigenous peoples’ monuments and ruins as a tourist playground. Respect, people; think about it.
This page-turner is giddily entertaining and, in some passages, super creepy and disgusting — but the ick-factor is all in service of the story. This is an unusual combination of probing character study and the bookish version of a middle-of-the-summer popcorn flick.
Try to be like an animal. Like a dog. Rest when you have the chance. Eat and drink if there’s food and water. Survive each moment. That’s all. — Scott B. Smith
This horror novel (336 pages) was published in July of 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf. The book takes you to the jungle of Cancun, Mexico. Melissa read The Ruins and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.
Top image courtesy of Cristian Grecu/Unsplash.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.