I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t read enough classics. I can’t seem to get around to reading travel staples like Out of Africa, 7 Years in Tibet and Travels with Charley, yet when Brandi Glanville, my favorite Real Housewife, comes out with a new book it’s on my tablet in a week. Priorities have never been in the right order with me.
I’d love to tell you all the most meaningful travel books written, but it’s safe to say I haven’t read all of the best. You’re going to have to google for a few seconds and I’m sure someone else will share. I also won’t be able to tell you about those girly travel books they say you MUST read, because I found ones like Wild and Eat, Pray, Love a little too slow or just not my style.
That being said, I do read often and most of my favorites have been read 10-20 times. Here we go!
The Best Travel Books that will Induce Severe Wanderlust… I’ve warned you.
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Need a push to follow your dreams? Not sure if home is where the heart is? Can you fall in love anywhere in the world? He’ll tell you all the answers to life in every one of his books. Probably my all-time favorite book after Harry Potter. I was told once that in Brazil, Paulo Coehlo isn’t taken seriously, but the rest of the world looks at him like a philosophical guru; a spiritual warrior of life.
I couldn’t flip one page in this book without stopping and thinking, “wow, that was insightful”. I think half of my favorite quotes are from Coehlo and I’ve read at least half of his books. Here are some of my favorite quotes of his below!
2. The Beach by Alex Garland
I finally gave in an read this after seeing the movie and being at the beach itself, Maya bay in Thailand. Interestingly enough, the author was actually inspired by Goa, my home, as well as Bangkok and Thai islands! That’s what pushed me into reading. The book has a few differences from the movie and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Some backpackers think it’s showing them in good light, but Alex has made it clear that is not the case. He thinks tourists, travelers, and backpackers are the same thing, as he’s said in interviews. He has quite negative things to say about backpackers in general but that doesn’t bother me; so much of it is spot on.
“And me? I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for. Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something. And if you find that moment… It lasts forever.”
3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A fun read, this has been a favorite since I was a little kid. You all know the story but why not give it another go? You’d be surprised how much of it is so much more cleverly written then you would have noticed as a child.
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
“Have I gone mad?
I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”
4. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
This one doesn’t need much introduction. If you’re into travel, I’m sure you’ve either read this, seen the movie, or maybe even go by the nickname “supertramp”. I have such admiration for Chris McCandless and could read this over and over. He burnt his money, made his way solo up to the Alaskan wilderness where… well, I won’t say (but things didn’t go as planned.) His famous bus/house is a stopover for backpackers even now.
“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.”
5. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
This novel has been a favorite of mine since I was about 18. A mix between history, drugs, sex, booze, and hitchhiking, this novel gives us an inside look into the “beat generation” of the 50’s. Oh how things have changed! Lately, they’ve come out with a couple movies about him and his friends like “On the Road” and “Big Sur” (which wasn’t as good).
It’s a strange book because that was a strange time. He was kind of like the first hipster, but cooler. You can’t help but wonder if he’s trying a little too hard. He writes like he talks: fast, like the jazz music they loved during that time.
It’s hard to follow, but every few pages he says a sentence or paragraph that makes you re-read, grab a highlighter, write it down, or even tweet it out as we do in this generation when we read something life-changing. Let Jack take you on his true to life U.S. road trip with his best dude, Dean Moriarty.
6. The Travel Book: A journey through every country in the world by Lonely Planet
One of my two coffee table books. The title is pretty self explanatory, but as well as giving you serious Wanderlust, this book is great for just reading a page a day to learn a little about a new place. I put tabs in the countries I’ve been to and love watching it fill up!
7. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
I read this book right before my trip to India, which was my first real solo travel trip. I was incredibly inspired by this. Someone who was “living the life” let it go, but it didn’t seem fake, exaggerated, or forced.
Some of her adventures were more like she was an anthropologist and I respected her involvement and willingness to learn. She wasn’t exactly at gap-year age, starting her trip at almost 50 years old. I really related to her thoughts on leaving her family and how to deal with them- it was hard on her, as she left two children (although they were grown).
One quote of hers about females always resonated with me:
8. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Another childhood favorite, I have an incredible copy of this book that is completely worn in from many reads. Another one where you know the story, this is a great book to re-read. Why not remind yourself how simple the world can be, and how we can all do just want we want… after all, we don’t have forever or do we?.
“To die would be an awfully big adventure.”
“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
9. Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by the National Geographic Society
This is my other coffee table book and is the ultimate in serving up a desire to see new places. It is less dense on tips, but full of fabulous photos and ideas for your next trip. I already want to order the follow up: Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Best Hidden Travel Gems
The three books I have downloaded and ready to read next are below. I’ll let you know what I think!
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Che Guevera
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
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