There are some days where you inspire others to travel, and others where you look for inspiration. These travel books are for those days to boost you with some serious wanderlust. Sit back, relax – get lost in the fantasy world of literature and then go out and explore the world!
1. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
“A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”
This is a story about a modern American women who went seeking for happiness, and to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence in Bali.
2. Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
“I’m going to paraphrase Thoreau here… rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth. ”
A story of a rebellious young man who hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. A biography on Christopher Johnson McCandless and his travels, it’s a cautionary tale of his adventurous life and tragic death in the wild.
Order here – Into the Wild
3. The motorcycle diaries – Che Guevara
“I finally felt myself lifted definitively away on the winds of adventure toward worlds I envisaged would be stranger than they were, into situations I imagined would be much more normal than they turned out to be.”
The young Che Guevara’s lively and highly entertaining travel diary is now a popular movie and a New York Times bestseller. This is a travel diary showcasing the journey across a continent, offering an insightful perspective on the man and the icon – Che Guevara. This one is for the love of journeys and motorcycles.
Order here – The motorcycle diaries
4. Seven years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer
“Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet. I often think I can still hear the cries of wild geese and cranes and the beating of their wings as they fly over Lhasa in the clear, cold moonlight. My heartfelt wish is that my story may create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world.”
Heinrich Harrer is one of the first Europeans ever to enter Tibet. After being imprisoned by British authorities in India during Second World War, he escaped and crossed the rugged, frozen Himalayas. He finally reached the Forbidden City of Lhasa – without money, or permission to be in Tibet. Although, his intelligence and European ways intrigued the young Dalai Lama, and Harrer soon became His Holiness’s tutor and trusted confidant. When the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950, Harrer and the Dalai Lama fled the country together. This timeless story illuminates Eastern culture, and the current plight of Tibetans. It is a cultural, historical and adventure-filled extravaganza.
Order here – Seven years in Tibet
5. The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux
“The trains in any country contain the essential paraphernalia of the culture: Thai trains have the shower jar with the glazed dragon on its side, Singhalese ones the car reserved for Buddhist monks, Indian ones a vegetarian kitchen and six classes, Iranian ones prayer mats, Malaysian ones a noodle stall, Vietnamese ones bulletproof glass on the locomotive, and on every carriage of a Russian train there is a samovar. The railway bazaar, with its gadgets and passengers, represented the society so completely that to board it was to be challenged by the national character.”
Paul Theroux’s strange, unique, and highly engaging railway odyssey is all about the romance of train travel. Passing through Asia’s fabled trains: the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express,Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. This engrossing chronicle is an essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.
Order here – The Great Railway Bazaar
6. A walk in the woods – Bill Bryson
“At times, you become almost certain that you slabbed this hillside three days ago, crossed this stream yesterday, clambered over this fallen tree at least twice today already. But most of the time you don’t think. No point. Instead, you exist in a kind of mobile Zen mode, your brain like a balloon tethered with string, accompanying but not actually part of the body below. Walking for hours and miles becomes as automatic, as unremarkable, as breathing. At the end of the day you don’t think, “Hey, I did sixteen miles today,” any more than you think, “Hey, I took eight-thousand breaths today.” It’s just what you do.”
A riveting story of The Appalachian Trail hike that stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America – majestic mountains, dense forests and beautiful lakes. Bill Bryson details the history and ecology of the trail, some of the other interesting folks he meets along the way, and a couple of bears. One of those classics, that will make you long for the great outdoors in no time!
Order here – A walk in the woods
7. In Patagonia – Bruce Chatwin
“I climbed a path and from the top looked up-stream towards Chile. I could see the river, glinting and sliding through the bone-white cliffs with strips of emerald cultivation either side. Away from the cliffs was the desert. There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass, and no other sign of life but a hawk, and a black beetle easing over white stones.”
An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land – Bruce Chatwin’s exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with evocative descriptions, remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes. Fuelled by an unmistakable lust for life and adventure, Chatwin treks through the stretch of land at the southern tip of South America – in search of almost forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy.
Order here – In Patagonia
8. The Global Soul – Pico Iyer
“One curiosity of being a foreigner everywhere is that one finds oneself discerning Edens where the locals see only Purgatory.”
Pico Iyer takes us on a tour of the trans-national village our world has become. From Hong Kong, where people actually live in self-contained hotels, to Atlanta’s Olympic Village, to Japan, Iyer ponders what the word “home” can possibly mean in a culturally fused world with it’s alarmingly rapid rate of change.
Order here – The Global Soul
9. 20,000 leagues under the sea – Jules Verne
“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the Living Infinite. ”
French naturalist Dr. Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus – a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience amongst the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. It is an incredible fictional journey through the underwater world, which is way ahead of it’s time. This one is for the love of water and science fiction!
Order here – Twenty Thousand leagues under the sea
10. The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels – Freya Stark
“If I were asked to enumerate the pleasures of travel, this would be one of the greatest among them – that so often and so unexpectedly you meet the best in human nature, and seeing it so by surprise and often with a most improbable background, you come, with a sense of pleasant thankfulness, to realise how widely scattered in the world are goodness and courtesy and the love of immaterial things, fair blossoms found in every climate, on every soil.”
The Valleys of the Assassins firmly established Freya Stark as one of her generation’s most intrepid explorers. The book chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget. Her account is at once a highly readable travel narrative and a richly drawn, sympathetic portrait of people told from their own compelling point of view.
Order here – The Valleys of the Assassins
11. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
“I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.”
This epic, mesmerising novel is set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear. Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas – this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart.
Order here – Shantaram
So, what are your favourite travel books? Do let me know in the comments below 🙂