About a month ago, I moved to another country for love. I am glad I took this decision, because it means my boyfriend and I can spend more time together and we can go forward with our relationship.
But at the same time I've been homesick. Sometimes the feeling is strong, and sometimes I barely notice it, but it's still there. I miss my cats, I miss the familiarity of my home town and the shops, I miss the customs, I miss my family, I miss the woods, I miss our local library... I've even stopped reading, although I used to read at least one book a week.
Can you please suggest some books that will help me feel less homesick and more at home?
These days, homesickness is seen as being less about missing a physical place and more about the stress caused by a break in routine. Still, it can be a serious matter – especially when it stops you from reading. Studies have shown that one good way of curing such feelings is to participate in the things you loved doing before you moved. Hopefully, our literary prescription will return you to your former bookish ways.
Sometimes, it’s comforting just to feel close to something you’ve left behind. You mention that you miss, among other things, your cats. For feline-centred literature, try Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Kafka is the chosen name of a 15-year-old runaway, but the novel belongs equally to Nakata, an elderly man with an uncanny ability to talk to cats. How he came about his gift is a whole other story, but he’s put it to good use and become a professional finder of lost cats, of whom plenty prowl through this metaphysical mind-bender of a contemporary classic.
Note that it’s not only Kafka who is far from home. Nakata, too, will find himself on a road trip – his first. You couldn’t ask for more beguiling companions as you muddle through these first few months of your own new adventure.
A black cat aptly named Behemoth features in another cult novel, The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This lethal satire of Soviet rule braids two narrative strands, one set in biblical Jerusalem, the other 2,000 years later in Moscow. That’s where Behemoth comes in. The size of a hog, he’s fond of vodka, chess and caustic philosophical utterances, at the same time retaining some undeniably cat-like traits. While making you feel a little closer to your former home, it’s a novel plenty wacky enough to distract you from any lingering melancholy.