Whilst we can’t all explore at the moment and travel the world, we can still read about travel to help cure our wanderlust.
I love a good book, but most of all I love a good travel book. A chance to escape and explore the world through someone else’s eyes. Or reminisce about places I’ve been. Or vicariously live in cities I long to explore, seen through other adventurers’ experiences.
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”– Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Books To Read For Travel Escape
I’ve rounded up some of my favourite travel-themed books, to help give you some wanderlust inspiration. Some of these I re-read on the regular, others I’ve only read once, but their stories have left a mark. I’m surprised I haven’t got more on the list, I really thought I’d read more books about travel, so I’ve also added a wish list of travel books too. The ones I’ve always meant to read but haven’t got around to reading.
Books and Travel – Cure Your Wanderlust
When I think about travelling, I remember spending hours, days and even weeks sitting in beach bars reading books I’d stolen from hostels or swapped in book exchanges. Greedily soaking up stories. I let the sun rise and fall over an ocean as I kept turning the page. Books and travel have always been intertwined for me. I don’t know if it’s the association of relaxation or escapism, but to me, they’ll always come hand in hand. Travel gives me permission to relax and to read. I’m trying to allow this feeling to slip into everyday life too, not just travel. But I remember backpacking in my teens was the first time I really just sunk into books, and I didn’t feel guilty or indulgent. Any buying books on the beach in India is something I’ll never forget.
Have you got a certain book that reminds you of travel? Or a specific holiday? I’d love to hear about it.
5 Books To Read To Get Your Travel Fix
1. Eat, Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Whatever you think about the film, I promise the book is better. There is a section on fighting for happiness that is breathtaking. I ripped it out of the book and stuck in on my wall for a while. Elizabeth Gilbert is a complete powerhouse, and this book is honest and vulnerable. She talks about how when we see a glimmer of hope, of happiness, it’s our duty to fight for it.
2. The Beach – Alex Garland
Again, this book is nothing like the film. I first watched the film in a dusty backpacker bar in Thailand and it was the most perfect setting. I didn’t think I needed to read the book. But when I eventually did, I couldn’t believe how much better it was. It takes you on a real journey. You won’t regret reading this book.
3. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
This was another book I saw countless people reading whilst I was travelling, but the sheer size of it put me off. However, if you’ve ever been to India, or want to travel to India, it’s an interesting portrayal. There has forever been controversy over how much of this book is real or not but, even is a fraction of it is true, it’s shocking. This Amazon description explains it way better than I could.
“In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier…”
4. Wild – Cheryl Strayed
With nothing more to lose, Cheryl Strayed walks the Pacific Crest Trail, eleven hundred miles of the West Coast of America. Her mother’s sudden death, the break up of her marriage and subsequent drug addiction mean the walk alone is the only thing she has left. What is it about walking and resilience? This book will make you want to pack your bags and head for the nearest long-distance walk.
5. The Lonely-Hearts Travel Club – Katy Collins
This is a series of easy-to-read beach books, or ‘chick-lit’ (which is a phrase I hate with a passion!). However, these books are the sort of easy-going fiction that feels like you’re watching a TV programme. Book 1 is based in Thailand; Book 2 is about India and Book 3 is about South America.
Georgia Green’s life was left in tatters after her wedding was called off. After her best friend forced her to write a life bucket list, she soon finds herself packing for a long-haul trip to Thailand, but the adventure doesn’t go to plan…
The Travel Book Wishlist
There are too many books I want to read. I can’t inhale them quick enough. I’ve got a special travel ‘to be read pile’ stacked high with travel books. This list keeps growing, but the seven listed below are next.
- Ten Years a Nomad – Matt Kepner
- Vagabonding – Ralph Potts
- On The Road – Jack Kerouac
- Into the wild – Jon Krakauer
- The Art of Travel – Alain de Botton
- Mountains of the Mind – Robert Macfarlane
- What I was Doing Whilst You Were Breeding – Kristin Newman
There is something about travel that makes me want to write.
It must be same for all these travel writers. But when I read their books, it’s as if some sort of story envy creeps through the page and up into my hands, settling itself on my heart. I gulp in another writer’s stories, and I wish I had written mine down so eloquently. I’m jealous of the record of their memories. Not of their experiences, but of the crystal-clear memories saved in ink.
Ultimately, this is why I read travel books, it forces me to remember and it forces me to document my life and stories too. I want to keep saving my stories and documenting my life. I want to empty the filing cabinet of stories that lie messy and unordered in my mind. Taking each one out, examining it, labelling it and carefully putting it back – knowing it’s been counted, detailed and saved. Permanently. What about you?
“Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have travelled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”― Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
Have you ever thought about capturing your own travel stories? I’m pretty sure you’ve got some epic tales to tell. Sign up to my new newsletter and I’ll help you tell your stories, with tips and ideas and book recommendations.
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