Books may let you travel without moving your feet, but they also inspire you to pack up and go. Here are 10 travel books that can definitely inspire the wanderer in you.
The Lost City of Z by David Grann is an exceptional book that I can altogether recommend to every variety of reader. This well-rendered and deeply researched biography of Percy Fawcett, centers on his all consuming obsession with the Lost City of Z (evidence of a great but forgotten jungle civilization), the international fever that follows his mysterious disappearance and some of the more exciting tidbits of Grann’s journey to piece together Fawcett’s tale.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac is an odyssey of aimless wanderlust, infidelities, bigamy, meanderings and lawlessness of the post WWII men with no frontier to conquer. Though the vice this portrays and inspires generations of exuberant, passionate and adventure seekers to travel and to lead a different life away from all the materialistic bounds on the road with no destination.
The Beach by Alex Garland is probably my favorite travel book. It Focuses on the main character of Richard, who finds a map to a hidden beach paradise while traveling in Thailand. After becoming friends with two other travelers, they set out on an adventure to find this beach. Garland has a unique writing style and it is also very descriptive. Even if you have never seen the movie, the way he paints the picture of the beach and lagoon is amazing. I feel like I can see the whole layout of the island. There are part of this book that are quite violent and Garland’s writing made them stand out to me that much more.
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson is a tremendously humorous love letter from the author to his adopted country of England. Bryson takes a walking tour of England prior to returning to the U.S., and fondly skewers everything from the architecture to the food to the relentlessly polite and proper Brits themselves. Overall, I found the book a great read.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, is a yearlong memoir of a recently divorced, emotionally scarred woman in her thirties. She decides she’ll spend four months in Rome to learn the language and enjoy the food, four months in India to meditate and pray, and four months in Indonesia to learn to balance her life. Along the way she discovers more about herself, meets unforgettable people, and constantly challenges herself to live life the fullest. It’s a very inspiring memoir and I dare you to read this and not start a saving up to go traveling yourself.
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois is about a professor named William Waterman Sherman, who leaves his home via balloon to float from one place to another wherever the wind decides to carry him. He is found, later, having crash landed in the ocean and brought safely to civilization on the East Coast. But he refuses to tell his story until he is in front of the Western American Explorers’ club in San Francisco. This is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable and imaginative children’s books I have ever read.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin is far more than an account of the lands he travelled through; instead he captures the spirit of the region, covering history and heritage ranging from the fates of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid through the European origins of the settlers and local wildlife. A fascinating, beautifully written account of why people travel to the ends of the earth and why they stay there.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a classic novel that tells the story of a teenage misfit who finds himself floating on a raft down the Mississippi River with an escaping slave, Jim. In the course of their perilous journey, Huck and Jim meet adventure, danger, and a cast of characters who are sometimes menacing and often hilarious. The dialects used may slow you down a bit at first but they add so much to the flow of the book that they are quite indispensable. But overall, this is a story full of youthful innocence and backwoods charm.
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux is a highly entertaining travelogue about Theroux’s journey across Asia by train. Theroux describes not just the places he visits, but the conversations with the interesting people he meets along the way. After reading Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island,” in which Bryson more than once mentions Theroux, I figured I’d give the latter a try. I was not disappointed. A truly fantastic account of a truly fantastic voyage.