Alright, I have a question for you guys. Do you often find yourself sitting on your sofa or in bed reading and daydreaming about being that character in your book? The one who’s busy exploring the world, having amazing adventures while meeting incredible people?
If you said yes, then you’re just like me. I envy my characters (even though they’re just characters of a book) being able to travel the world within the confines of each chapter, sampling a taste of the greener grass on the other side of the world. You certainly can’t deny that books are indeed a wonderful source for travel inspiration and a delightful way of helping us discover new destinations that we might not have contemplated visiting before.
There are so many inspiring titles that trigger our wanderlust. Even so, throughout your travels, you’d probably find yourself tapping your fingers with a few hours to kill. Whether you’re on a plane crossing the Pacific Ocean, or on an oceanliner doing the star cruise, or on an overnight train traipsing across the European plains. It’s during those hours that you’ll find yourself yearning for something to do. And reading a book is the perfect way to pass the time! Don’t go for just any book, though. Try going for books that tell the tale of travelling. Imagine reading a book about travelling while you’re doing your own travelling!
Here are 10 books that I found that might very well pique your interest (it most certainly did for me!):
. Barkskins by Annie Proulx
In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.
For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
. Greyhound by Steffan Piper
Sebastien Ranes’s single mom and her feckless boyfriend can’t be bothered to take care of a stuttering twelve-year-old. Banished to live with his grandmother on the far side of the country, the boy can barely understand a bus schedule when he gets dumped at the Greyhound station in Stockton, California. Given $35 and a one-way ticket to Altoona, Pennsylvania, Sebastien must cross the country – alone, without a clue how to fend for himself.
Filled with youthful anger and naïveté, Sebastien heads out into the “Morning in America” of Ronald Reagan’s 1980s, encountering temperamental bus drivers, charming, shifty, and downright dangerous strangers, the music of Daryl Hall and John Oates, and an ex-con named Marcus, who takes the boy under his wing. In an unforgettable trek that evokes Oliver Twist and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the unlikely pair lurch from one misadventure to another, tumbling toward an elusive understanding of where and how, in a troubling world, to look for light.
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
. The Beach by Alex Garland
The Khao San Road, Bangkok – first stop on the backpacker trail. On Richard’s first night there a fellow traveller slits his wrists, leaving Richard a map to “the Beach”. The Beach is a legend among young travellers in Asia: white as sands circling a lagoon hidden from the sea, coral gardens and freshwater falls surrounded by jungle. In this earthly paradise, it is rumoured, a select community lives in blissful innocence. For Richard, haunted by the glamour of Vietnam war movies, a trek into unknown Thai territory is irresistible. He was looking for adventure. Now he’s found it. He soon discovers that the beach and its Edenic existence located on a remote island is actually forbidden for tourists, and it becomes clear that its culture is rather troubling and dissolves in a rather disturbing fashion.
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
Some say that The Backpacker can be compared to The Beach. If you enjoy spontaneous adventures, then John Harris’s unbelievably real story across Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and Hong Kong is for you! It combines tales of danger, friendship, and travel into one unexpected journey.
John’s holiday in India begins badly. His girlfriend returns home after falling ill and he finds himself at the end of a knife in a train station latrine. But then he meets Rick, an enigmatic, streetwise traveller, who persuades him to embark on a series of increasingly bizarre journeys.
The charming true story of a spirited young woman who finds adventure–and the love of her life–in Paris. “This isn’t like me. I’m not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn’t even been part of my travel plan…”
A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor. Sarah Turnbull’s stint in Paris was only supposed to last a week. Chance had brought Sarah and Frédéric together in Bucharest, and on impulse she decided to take him up on his offer to visit him in the world’s most romantic city. Sacrificing Vegemite for vichyssoise, the feisty Sydney journalist does her best to fit in, although her conversation, her laugh, and even her wardrobe advertise her foreigner status. But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from life in a bustling quatier and surviving Parisian dinner parties to covering the haute couture fashion shows and discovering the hard way the paradoxes of France today, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: maddening, mysterious, and charged with that French specialty-séduction.
An entertaining tale of being a fish out of water, Almost French is an enthralling read as Sarah Turnbull leads us on a magical tour of this seductive place-and culture-that has captured her heart.
These are only 10 books that I found that might be of interest to you, and there are many more books on travel that you might find in your nearest bookstore. So explore your literary imagination before planning a trip around the world, I say, through the great books and unique travel experiences, and encourage the travel bug in you with a list of inspiring, must-read titles. If you’re looking for more travel-based books to pack for your next trip but haven’t the faintest idea what to bring along, then perhaps you could do a quick search online or at your friendly neighbourhood bookstore for any of the 10 listed above. Happy hunting!
Disclaimer: The synopsis of each book was taken from Goodreads.