I love reading a great book especially if it takes place somewhere that I dream of traveling to. I am always looking for the best travel books that inspire wanderlust so I asked my fellow travel bloggers to name their favorite inspirational books about travel.
Whether looking for books that inspire you to travel or the best books to read while traveling, here are 45 of the best travel books every traveler needs to have on their reading list.
Best Travel Books
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The ultimate travel book is the nomad’s bible. I’m talking about On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This book is fast-paced (some might say rambling) but no other piece of travel literature so evokes the spirit of adventure and excitement that travel brings. It is especially descriptive and inspiring with regards to the quintessential American road trip. Follow Sal Paradise and his kooky, often drug-addled friends in a cross-country quest for something deep, spiritual, and unforgettable.
Amy from Two Drifters
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
There are few pieces of modern travel literature that has captivated readers around the world in quite the same way as Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The part-truth, part-fiction novel tells the story of an Australian convict named Lin who escapes prison and ends up in Bombay, India. His journey is both poetic and chaotic as he learns about his new environment and surrounding culture while living in the slums. Roberts’ writing is breathtaking, and his descriptive and elegant style transports the reader directly into the heart of bustling Indian society.
Alesha and Jarryd, NOMADasaurus
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
When it comes to book that will make you want to pack your bags and chase your dreams, you really won’t find anything better than Paulo Coelho’s legendary tale found in “The Alchemist”. It’s a quick and easy read (less than 200 pages), but it’s chalk full of inspirational travel quotes, life lessons, and thought provoking questions. It was recommended to me by a friend, and once I finished it — I was only mad at myself for not reading it sooner. It may be one of the most famous travel books out there, and it’s for good reason. If you haven’t read this one yet, than don’t wait any longer! It’s truly something special!
Dave Anderson, Jones Around the World
The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton
We are inundated with advice on where to travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial…” writes Alain De Botton in ‘The Art of Travel’ . The book is neither a guide book nor an account of experience in far away places. Rather it is journal about how our thoughts and our very being is affected by the ‘not so simple’ act of travel. The book definitely creates a craving to leave everything and travel to far off places. But what it does better is being a companion who that helps you put in words exactly what you felt while travelling.
Venkat Ganesh, India Backpack Motorbike
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
If there is one ‘wild’ travel book you should read this year, it’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. While the movie starring Reese Witherspoon is good, the book goes a mountain canyon beyond. Cheryl Strayed’s gritty portrayal of herself as a broken woman seeking redemption through nature and physical challenge is both a nail-biting travel adventure and a literary masterstroke. The way she entwines her inner journey with the harsh awe-inspiring landscape is, to my mind, inspiring. You won’t just find yourself rooting for her through every snowy pass and rocky trail, you’ll want to get out there and do it yourself.
Carol Perehudoff, Wandering Carol
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild is probably one of the best motivational books for those who want to travel with the objective of finding themselves. In Jon Krakauer’s book we can read about Christopher McCandless’ real story, who after his university graduation decided to get rid of all his material possessions and set out on a great adventure completely alone. McCandless was found dead in Alaska and this book tells us his tragic adventure based on his diary and the author’s investigations. Into the Wild teaches us a lot about life and makes us reflect on what we really want from it. Despite the tragic end, I enjoyed reading every bit of this adventure, which made me desire to live something like that.
Gabor Kovacs, Surfing the Planet
The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho
The Pilgrimage tells the story of Paulo as he walks his way to Santiago in what is both a journey and a self-discovery experience. To this date, it is still one of the books that most inspired me to travel, not only to discover new, beautiful places but also to better understand myself. While traveling became a way of life for me – as a result of a long trip across Central and South America in which I had plenty of time to think and figure out what I wanted to do with my life – it actually took me much longer to eventually walk the Camino de Santiago. I walked the Camino del Norte (the Northern route) to Santiago de Compostela last summer and, needless to say, it was an incredible, enlightening experience.
Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across the World
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino is a masterpiece, somewhere between poetry and fiction. The narrator, a young Marco Polo, entertains Kublai Khan with stories of intriguing cities, each more impossible sounding than the next. As the book goes on, it becomes more and more fantastical, leaving you wondering whether or not any of these cities exist at all — or whether they’re all one city described in various ways from the vivid imagination of a young traveler. Calvino’s lush prose makes this question almost irrelevant, and after reading this short but sweet novella you’ll be left wanderlusting for all these impossibly beautiful cities. To be able to describe a city the way Calvino does these “invisible cities” is a lifelong pursuit.
Allison, Eternal Arrival
A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani
Tiziano Terzani’s A Fortune Teller Told Me is a book about an Italian journalist who travels across Asia and consults some of the most famous fortune-tellers of Asia along the journey. He consulted shamans, soothsayers and sorcerers during his travels. One of the fortune tellers in Hong Kong told him that he should not get on a plane for a year, because the plane would crash, so he ended up traveling across Asia taking trains, boats, cars. The book describes his journey across Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia over land.
Barbara Wagner, Jet-Settera
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
This incredibly complex book takes place over the decades, with the two main threads taking place during the sixties in southern Italy and present day Hollywood. The whole book is rife with nods to the entertainment industry, both in the height of its glamourous days to a sarcastic view of its current reality-ridden state. Walter is great at invoking the various settings, and this is best seen in his descriptions of southern Italy. It’s so beautiful, so nostalgic, you want to book your ticket to Positano as soon as you’re done reading!
Samantha, There She Goes Again
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
They say most good books are based on a true story, and Eat, Pray, Love is exactly that and one each person can identify with.
It is a story of a woman who decides to end her marriage and go on a journey of discovery around the world and food for her soul. Set in three beautiful locations of the world Italy (Eat), India (Pray) and Bali (Love). We follow Elizabeth on her travels while she eats bowls of pasta and gelato which leave one instantly hungry and craving all the things she goes searching for in this book. Each part of the journey literally inspires one to book a ticket and go do their own Eat, Pray, Love trip. India a land of miracles and temples gives us a glimpse of the arranged marriage ceremonies while in Bali one learns to open their heart and love again.
The book not only inspires one to travel but also to follow their dreams. Life is too short not to eat that gelato or fall in love with a tall dark stranger.
Verushka Ramasami, Spice Goddess Blog
The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara
The Motor Cycle Diaries written by Che Guevara is a cult book and thus a must read for every travel loving soul. It has all the elements to ignite wander thirst within you and put you in a whirlwind of thoughts that will make you travel. It’s a frank account of an inquisitive traveler who experiences the amusing world and that changes himself forever.
This book is a travel journal written by revolutionary hero Che Guevara when he was 23 years old and decided to travel the world with his friend Alberto riding their old motorcycle they christened “the Mighty One”. During their 9 months of travel on battered road of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela to do their medical residency and serve at leprosy colonies of Latin America. His narration of his experiences are free-spirited and original to the core just like his shaping-up rebellion nature.
This book has all the elements that define a perfect road trip and make you realize how you can explore your true self by traveling across geographies and meeting different people. This journey, thus, transformed Che and by the end of journey it was clear what would be his destiny. This high-spirited book is an impactful read and an inspiring tale of a great legend in the making. A truly iconic book by a larger than life icon from last century.
Himanshu, Everything Candid
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson has to be my book which inspires wanderlust. If you are into hiking or love outdoors, this book is for you. The author Bill Bryson tries to take the Appalachian Trail stretching from Georgia and has a hilarious take on it. The book is written in a humorous style, with more serious discussions and curiosity relating to the trail.
The book teaches us about our co-travelers and how it could be, in some cases, a daunting experience. The goals, outlook could be different. At times, you need to discard many things which are really not needed. He has wonderfully described the natural beauty of majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes.
Nisha Jha, Lemonicks
The Places Inbetween by Rory Stewart
There’s nothing I love more than going to countries people tell you you shouldn’t go to. There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions out there about what a country is really like, how the people are and your level of safety once you’re there. Understandably, some countries are more dangerous than others but I feel we shouldn’t leave them alone and books like The Places Inbetween keep my wanderlust for these countries pulsing. Rory Stewart’s amazing account of his walk across Afghanistan in 2002 following the US invasion is a unique insight into this fascinating country and I love how personal it is. Like all good stories, it’s the local people that really make it.
Alice, Teacake Travels
In Xanadu – A Quest by William Dalrymple
In Xanadu – A Quest is a personal travel memoir of William Dalrymple’s journey along Marco Polo’s footsteps from Jerusalem to Xanadu, the summer palace of Kubla Khan. As an avid traveler, Dalrymple spends his summer break from Cambridge to take an overland journey from Jerusalem to Aleppo, to Eastern Turkey, across Iran and Pakistan, and finally through China until his final destination – Xanadu. Along the way he shares his encounters with locals and other travelers, funny stories, bureaucratic hurdles and historic insights on the places he visits.
Maria, Maria Abroad
Can We Live Here?: Finding a Home in Paradise by Sarah Alderson
‘’In 2009, Sarah and John Alderson quit their full-time jobs in London and headed off, with Alula, their three-year-old daughter, on a global adventure to find a new home.’’
It is easy to connect with Sarah as you read her witty novel about what it is like to give up your job and to chase adventure in life! Her story is honest and real; one can’t help but feel inspired to chase a similar lifestyle! But mostly to simply be brave enough to follow your dreams! Destinations you will read about include: London, India, Australia, USA, Bali and more!
Jolene and Andrzej Ejmont, Wanderlust Storytellers
The Red Quest by Jason Smart
The story of a man determined to visit all the countries in the former Soviet Union. Some are popular tourist destinations e.g. Czech Republic but he also travels to some more ‘off the beaten track’ locations such as Kyrgyzstan and Moldova.
It provides interesting account of local life in these countries as well as the practicalities and issues traveling there as a tourist. There is some simple, easy to follow history of each country explained as well as interesting anecdotes. You’ll find yourself adding countries to your travel list you’d never considered before!
Rohan Cahill-Fleury, Travels of a Bookpacker
This biography follows the life of James Holman, a British guy who went blind during the course of his life but wasn’t discouraged by it and travelled the world anyway. Known in the 19th century as the “Blind Traveller”, he hopped on sailing boats across the oceans, crossed Siberia until he overstayed his welcome, and got invited to explore South America. His books were both despised and celebrated by his contemporaries. Unfortunately, many works have not survived to this day – hence the man’s obscurity. This budget-minded, nifty and unstoppable fellow is one to read about. After picking up your jaw, you’ll likely travel with a changed perspective.
Iris, Mind of a Hitchhiker
The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé
As a very visual person, the first books I read – if you want to call them that – were indeed comics. I would literally read one or two daily as the local library was a few steps away from my home and – newsflash! – travel ones were my favorite of them all. The Adventures of Tintin by Belgian cartoonist Hergé was a comic series that took me to Egypt, Congo, Tibet and even the Moon before I turned 8. Such great memories!
Inma, A World to Travel
Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth by Albert Poddel
This is an inspiring story of an ordinary guy who visited every country on Earth. He survived riots, revolutions, civil wars, trigger-happy child soldiers, robbers, pickpockets, corrupt cops, voodoo priests and Cape buffalo. He went around, under, or through every kind of earthquake, cyclone, tsunami, volcanic eruption, snowstorm, and sandstorm that nature threw at him. He ate everything from old camel meat, rats, dung beetles and the brain of a live monkey. And he overcame attacks by crocodiles, hippos, anacondas and several girlfriends who insisted he stop this nonsense and marry them.
This is a remarkable and meaningful tale of quiet courage, dogged persistence, undying determination, and an uncanny ability to escape from one perilous situation after another and return with some of the most memorable, frightening and hilarious adventure stories you have ever read.
The World by hitchhiking: 5 years at the University of Life by Ludovic Hubler
After business school, Ludovic decided to get on the road to get a Life PhD. His hitchhiking tour of the world ended up lasting for 5 years during which he also experimented with boat-hitching and ice-breaker hitching – A story full of beautiful life lessons in kindness and inspirational meetings, including one with the Dalaï-lama.
Covering 59 countries around the world and people of all background, this book inspires wanderlust not only to seek new landscapes but new connections and understanding of life. It is a book that makes you want to meet all mankind. But be careful, after reading it you will have a strong urge to pack a bag and lift your thumb!
Claire, ZigZag On Earth Travel Blog
Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach
Without Reservations, by Alice Steinbach, is THE book that I credit with giving me a chronic case of wanderlust. Perhaps because I suspect she and I are close in age, I could relate to her observations of the people she met in her travels, and her self observations. Her writing is so sensual, I always felt I was right there with her — in Paris, Italy and England. This paragraph is beautifully descriptive it made me want to go and have my own adventures.
“Last night on the way home from a concert at Sainte-Chapelle, I stopped on the Pont Royal to watch the moon struggle through a cloudy night sky.
From the bridge my eyes followed the lights of a tourist boat as it moved like a glowworm across the water. Here in Paris, I have no agenda; here I can fall into step with whatever rhythm presents itself. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to stand on a bridge and catch the scent of rain in the air. I had forgotten how much I need to be a part of water, wind, sky.”
Penny Sadler, Adventures of a Carry-on
Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
Even if you’re not a fan of chick lit, you’ll love Torre DeRoche’s “Love with a Chance of Drowning.” It’s a love story wrapped in adventure, delivered with a healthy dose of humor and innuendos. DeRoche takes you through the gorgeous remote islands of the Pacific while riding on a leaky boat, as she shares her greatest fears and how she conquers them. This book will have you laughing and crying (cry-laughing even) and dreaming of palm trees and blue seas.
Liz, Lizzie Meets World
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlo Ruiz Zafón
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s most acclaimed novel, The Shadows of the Wind, is a magnificent book about a young boy whose life revolved around Barcelona where he eventually found himself in a tangle of mystery and drama. I can’t tell much because you have to read it actually to feel what I’m talking about.
So, how did this particular book inspired me to travel? It made me intrigued about Barcelona. So intrigued that I invited myself to join my friends who already planned their trip to the mystery city – they had to change plans to fit me in, but they were a real sport about it. Also, my visit to Barcelona ignited my passion for travel and also it is the place where I swore I’ll make it a goal to enjoy whatever our pretty wild world can offer us.
Evan, Pretty Wild World
The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
In an era today where we mostly go to work for around 9 hours a day, and spend another few hours preparing for work, and even commuting to/from it, Tim Ferris gives us a chance to open our mindset that we can actually have a 4 hour work week instead of a 40 hour one. Four hours a week to work anywhere we want. Sounds too good to be true? It really isn’t. By working remotely, creating businesses and putting systems in place, you, as a business owner/worker, can actually do whatever you want. Most people who want to travel full time but are just wondering how to fund their travels can definitely pick up this book to become inspired, and eventually become a full time nomad.
Ruby, A Journey We Love
Delaying The Real World by Colleen Kinder
I read this book by Colleen Kinder towards the end of my college career. This book was immensely responsible for a change in my beliefs of how life worked after graduation. Delaying The Real World is “a twentysomething’s guide to seeking adventure.” Within its pages, you will find hundreds of suggestions for things you could do around the world, other than heading straight into a cubicle. Suggestions include wanderlust-inspiring options such as teaching English abroad, working on a cruise ship, building homes in villages, or leading tour groups. There are also tons of helpful websites and inspiring anecdotes from real people living out adventurous lives. I highly recommend this book to anyone bitten by the travel bug, and looking for a way to make life an adventure.
Brianna, Archives of Adventure
In 2013, my boyfriend and I planned to quit our jobs and go for a RTW trip for a year. We were reading dozens of travel guides, found some travel blogs and hosted lots of people from different countries via Couchsurfing community so we could learn about their lands and traditions.
And then we discovered the Vagabonding. Without any exaggeration, the book changed our lives. It gave us not only necessary courage to leave our comfortable life in Germany and set off for an adventure, but it also proved that long-term travel is a lifestyle. A fascinating lifestyle!
Rolf Potts will guide you, he will warn you, he’ll give you plenty of practical advice, and he’ll definitely inspire you to hit the road.
Ivana Greslikova & Gianni Bianchini, Nomad is Beautiful
One of the most recent books that inspired wanderlust was “It’s Only the Himalayas: And Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker”. This laugh-out-loud travel memoir by Sue Bedford chronicles her year long adventures and misadventures with her best friend.
In her book, Sue details her close encounters with a lion, epic fails and triumphs trekking to Annapurna Base Camp with her dad, and her steamy romances in Asia. Since I’ve never backpacked across the world, this book gave me a lot of insight on both the challenges and amazing experiences to have on this type of journey.
This book also inspired me to travel with my mom. Since reading this book, we’ve traveled to Bermuda, Italy and Switzerland together. As Sue describes in the “It’s Only the Himalayas” author interview, traveling with your parents builds on your friendship and strengthens your bond.
Danielle, The Thought Card
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
A book that completely captured my imagination and wandering spirit and inspired me to explore regions of the earth I never thought I would surf in was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The tale of adventure and discovery helped inspire me to go surfing in places like Iceland, Africa and numerous small islands in the Pacific. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea goes into the underwater exploration of almost every region of the globe it describes an underwater world that is almost impossible to comprehend yet drove my imagination wild. From navigating under ice in the Antarctica to fending off natives off the islands of Papua New Guinea and exploring the Corals of the Red Sea it is a tale of travel and adventure that has transcended centuries and stays relevant today.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness might sound like an odd choice when naming books that inspire wanderlust, but for me it did just that. It reminded me of the raw, real, tough travel that backpackers make through developing countries, getting right into the middle of the unknown and making their own pathway through. In the book the subjects are travelling by boat through the jungles of Congo, and the further down stream they get the higher the sense of danger. Things just keep getting weirder and weirder and you begin to feel as if they are descending into a madness. The book is dirty and gritty, but so eloquently written that it transports you deep into the heart of Congo and sits you right next to the authors alter ego – Marlow.
Crystal, Castaway With Crystal
Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
Less a travel guide than an odyssey of self-discovery, Around India in 80 Trains is the account of a British woman of Indian origin who returns to travel the country she left as a child.
In a largely unplanned journey she visits the four corners of India’s train network by taking as many different trains as possible, from the crush of Mumbai’s commuter trains to a truly special hospital carriage.
While Monisha doesn’t have the easiest of journeys, the sheer variety of the places she sees and the effervescent people she meets puts India near the top of my travel list. I’ll definitely be taking the train when I visit. And if a spiritual awakening is thrown in too, so much the better.
Emily, Kids and Compass
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure is a hilarious memoir about a journalist’s unanticipated return to India; the country she hated and vowed never to visit again.
The book follows Sarah as she tries to settle into a new life in Delhi and documents all the culture shock and frustrations that go with it. Having already visited India, I found myself laughing out loud because I could completely relate to her story.
Sarah does a great job of bringing all the smells, colours, sounds and chaos of India straight to the hands of the reader, while also thoughtfully and light-heartedly explaining the many faiths and religions that embody the country.
This book makes the eccentricities of India seem so endearing that you’ll want to book your flight and experience them for yourself!
Nicole. Wee Gypsy Girl
The Beach by Alex Garland
The Beach is a story of American and European backpackers who found a paradise in an island in Thailand. The island features an untouched beach and lagoon. It is part of a huge marine park, making it inaccessible to tourists. There they lived in a secret small community, doing idyllic chores everyday – planting, fishing and construction – until this thin slice of civilization crumbles through a series of incidents. The Beach is written in 1996 but remains a classic. It fulfills the wish of every modern backpacker: getting out of the race for an authentic experience and finding a beautiful, unspoilt paradise that’s in no danger of turning into a typical commercialized tourist attraction.
Katherine, Tara Lets Anywhere
The Promise of Iceland by Kari Gislason
Long before I traveled to Iceland, it was a destination which fascinated me for its unknownness and unusualness. I read everything I could, but my favourite was a memoir by half-Australian, half-Icelandic author Kari Gislason, called The Promise of Iceland. Gislason was born in Reykjavik but left at age ten; he returned in his late twenties to track down his father and his regular explorations of many significant parts of Iceland convinced me that it was a place I absolutely had to visit. The book is the perfect mix of intriguing story and sightseeing, and will definitely get you booking an Iceland trip as soon as possible.
Amanda, Not a Ballerina
The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
The book that sparked my interest about Finland is The Year of the Hare written by Arto Paasilinna, one of the most famous Finnish novels. It’s the story of a frustrated journalist who hits a hare with his car, then decides to rescue it and moves to the countryside together with the hare. It inspired me because it’s a fun story, and it talks about the love that Finnish people have for their nature. Visit Helsinki in winter and you’ll see what I mean – Finns like to enjoy nature even when it’s -30 outside!
Margherita Ragg, The Crowded Planet
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
For anyone who has read The Millennium Trilogy, which includes The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you would be aware it is a crime book that is rather dark, which then opens the question, why would this book inspire wanderlust? Well for me, the book obviously did but for a slightly strange and odd reason. As an Aussie, snow is foreign and rare to us down in the sunburnt country. Reading this book, however, opened my mind to the beauty of snow and what I could experience. Since then I have been attracted to the cold and the cool white fluffy stuff. I have fallen in love with it so much I will be embarking on a trip to Antarctica.
Lauren, The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Whether you’ve been to France or not, you’ll be drawn into this best-selling memoir by Peter Mayle. In it, he regales readers with tales of his year he lived in a 200 year old stone farmhouse in southeastern France with his wife and dogs. His wit and humor make the book an easy and enjoyable read. His vivid descriptions of people, places and things makes it easy for readers to see things through his eyes. His stories include his first experience with “le mistral” (a violent, cold northwesterly wind); his initial resistance to French customs such as kissing hello; and his interactions with a local construction crew. “A Year in Provence” offers readers a glimpse of life in this beautiful region of France, making you want to buy a ticket when you’re done.
Amy, A Traveling Broad
My Life in France by Julia Child
This will not inspire you to take the road and travel but it will definitely make you curious about how the French eat, cook, sleep and cook. It really is true — France is a country that will teach you how to cook. When Julia arrived in France, she didn’t know anything about cooking (nor spoke a single French word) and I kind of resemble to that experience. I did a culinary trip in South America for 3.5 years and when I came back home, my mother was surprised that I already know how to fry an egg properly. Believe me, I never learned to cook back home because my grandmother and mother are pretty good at it. My siblings and I didn’t bother learning at all.
That trip also made me very fluent in Spanish — something I never thought I will be capable of. In Julia’s book, it is highlighted that when you are surrounded by a certain culture for a long time, you will definitely know how to adapt and adjust to its setting. I think this is one of the best reasons to travel and to keep traveling.
Trisha, PS I’m On My Way
Shopping for Buddhas: An Adventure in Nepal by Jeff Greenwald
Over 25 years ago, I discovered the Jeff Greenwald book, Shopping for Buddhas: An Adventure in Nepal. I would soon be moving to Nepal for a study abroad program and was riveted by the story of shopping for the perfect Buddha statue. Less than a year later, I would find myself in Nepal exploring the back alleys of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur in the early days of the civil war.
Lance and Laura Longwell, Travel Addicts
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
Peter Matthiessen was a CIA agent and a co-founder of the literary magazine The Paris Review. He was also a student of Zen Buddhism, which he explores in this classic travel book. In 1973 Matthiessen trekked in the remote mountains of Nepal with a field biologist friend, who was there to study the Himalayan blue sheep. During this trek they hoped to see the rare snow leopard. He writes about the harsh physical challenges of the trip, and on life and death, and practicing Buddhism. Even though they travel through such challenging conditions, this book really made me want to go to Nepal.
James Clark, Nomadic Notes
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
One of our favourite books that inspired wanderlust, specifically for Sri Lanka, was “Funny Boy”, written by Shyam Selvadurai. It is almost an autobiographical story about a young Tamil gay boy growing up in 1980s Sri Lanka during the civil war era, struggling to come to grips with his homosexuality in a very religious and traditional family and society.
It’s a really good insight into what it was like in the country during these awful civil war years. In addition for LGBT travellers, it is particularly insightful to read, mainly because since the 1980s, the country has not changed at all with regards to LGBT rights. It’s still illegal to be gay in Sri Lanka and many of the issues faced by Arjy are still the case today.
Stefan and Sebastien, Nomadic Boys
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The book is set in Afghanistan and talks about an unlikely friendship between a wealthy Pashtun kid, Amir and his servant Hassan and their relationship growing up. The book traverses through the past and present with Amir making a decision to travel back to his homeland from the United States, his current adopted home to save the life of his friend’s son. The story is fascinating, not just for its strong characterization but also for the vivid portrayal of life growing up in this vastly unexplored country. The country has been in the news for all the wrong reasons but this book makes sure every reader is transported back to the beautiful country it was before the conflict tore it apart and made it what it is in now – a picture of warzone ruin. It remains one of our favorite books and incites wanderlust for the simple reason, the beauty we take for granted today, might not be available to see tomorrow.
Rishabh Shah, Gypsy Couple
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
This travel book is about culture, traditions and challenges faced by an Afghan person who convinced his wife to escape the stable life in UK and shift with the whole family to unpredictable Morocco. The main hero buys one of the posh old houses “Dar Khalifa” in Casablanca. As the house was missing residents for many years it started slowly falling into pieces. The hero decides to return the glory and the prosperity to the house. To achieve this goal he needs to confront local peculiarities of lifestyle and working culture. Tahir Shah describes different sides of Morocco: its colors, feelings, history and, of course, superstitions.
A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke
Have you ever fell in love with a country so much that you imagine one day moving there? This is exactly what happened to Suzanna and her husband. During a trip to Morocco they fell in love with the African country enough to purchase a property and rather than just using it as a holiday home, they decided to immerse themselves completely into the Moroccan way of life.
Without being able to speak Arabic, they move to the city of Fez, a city not necessarily known for its touristic pull, purchase a tired riad in need of serious renovation and spend a year transforming it into a beautiful home.
This is a story about courage and conviction, Suzanna and her husband don’t linger on the consequences of such a move, they simply follow their hearts.
Wanderlust is all about following your heart and making decisions that will enrich your life for the better whilst exploring a different part of the world and for me this is a book that highlights just that. It also led to us jumping on a plane to explore Fez for ourselves, highlighting that it is a book that inspires wanderlust in others as well.
Tamason, Travelling Book Junkie
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Dark Star Safari by Paul Thereoux is my all-time most favourite travel book. Brilliantly sarcastic and no-bullshit, Theroux recounts the adventures and misadventures of his overland trip from Cairo to Cape Town 30 years after he spent time as a teacher in Malawi. This book was the most beautiful way for me to remember all the places I worked in Africa and it was also slightly sad to realize that, for some of them, those 30 years Theroux talks about were actually detrimental to their development. Dark Star Safari is a poignant and honest view of the continent from the point of view of an outsider. Theroux has no qualms in being to the point and very honest, sometimes bordering insulting, when describing the people and places. There are no taboos in his vocabulary and no holy cows he tells it how it is.
If you are still looking for more travel inspiration, here are other travel books for the book lover on your list. What are your picks for the best travel books to inspire wanderlust?
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