One of life’s greatest pleasures is sitting down with a good book, one that inspires and alters your world view in ways that only books can. Tales of survival, of experience, of curiosity, of transformation make up the travel genre. Lives lived with accidental purity, the intention of discovery almost always leading to more than a revelation of self. These books have been the driving factor in some of the major moments in my life. Have lead me to seek my own truths, find my own path in this ever changing world. They all came to me at just the right time, and I hope they come to you in a time when you need them most. This is by no means a definitive Top 10 Travel Books list, but rather my Top 10 Travel Books list. These are the books that have motivated me to travel, have kept me company while traveling, and have shown me that the road is so much more than a means of getting from A to B.
“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”
– Vera Nazarian
The Alchemist will change your life. The tale of a shepherd boy who is visited by a mysterious King and told to pursue his Personal Legend, goes on a quest to find his treasure. Through the desert, across oceans, he follows the omens that lead him along the path he was destined for. The pages littered with wisdom and whimsy, Paulo Coelho waves a tale of the human experience. Of love, loss, and the importance of following ones own Personal Legend.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
A biography of the mysterious Christopher McCandless, a young man who’s emaciated body was found by a moose hunter in a school bus in the backwoods of Alaska in 1992. Krakauer tells McCandless’ story, the people he encountered on his 4-month journey from Georgia to Alaska, and paints a picture of the idealistic man who donated all of his money to charity and took off on the open road. Illuminating in its message, this story is accompanied by tales of similar men with similar visions of the world and how we should live within it.
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
On the Road is the famous American autobiographical epic of the Beat generation. The story takes place in the 1950’s, a writer, Sal Paradise, follows and deviates from his buddy Dean Moriarty, an insatiable character, back and forth across American. Starving, broke, and poetic, the Beats were a breed of their own. An underground happening of drugs, sex and jazz fuel the madness of an emerging movement in American history. Keurac serves up a panoramic view of what life on the road looked like 70 years ago, and it’ll get you wanting to thumb your way across the country too.
“Now you’ve got to make up your mind one way or the other, or you’ll never get anywhere. It’s your duty. You’re sworn in. You can’t compromise with things like this. Law and orders got to be kept. I didn’t know what to say; he was right; but all I wanted to do was to sneak out into the night and find out what everybody was doing all over the country.”
A journey in Thailand and Burman, Nicholl leads the reader into the poppy fields of borderlines accompanied by a stone dealer and his Thai lover. Opium houses, a quest for Jade, and adventure, Borderlines will surely spark the wanderlust within you.
A magical tale of a Little Prince from a far away planet encountered by a pilot who’s plane has crashed in the desert. The Little Prince tells the story of his travels through space, the planets and their strange inhabitants he crossed paths with, and a soft yearning of the soul for innocence, imagination, and characteristics lost in the voyage into adulthood, The Little Prince reminds us to recapture the innocence of our youth.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
A story of survival, the strength of one young man’s will, and utter imagination – Life of Pi is a story that will make you believe in God. Piscine Molitor Patel survives the sinking of a ship, only to find himself in a lifeboat with a chimpanzee, a hyena, a baby zebra, and a Bengal tiger. Captivating, riddled with wisdom and truth, The Life of Pi will undoubtedly inspire you.
Eat, Pray, Love is known by all, for good reason. The account of a divorced woman, leaving everything behind for 1 year to travel the world. Liz Gilbert embarks on a journey to Italy, India, and Bali, ultimately finding herself along the way. Heart wrenching, real, and ecstatic, Gilbert shows us the world as a place of love. From gorging on gelato in Italy, to diving into the mind in India, and finding her balance in Bali, a medicine man, chastity, and an open window to the soul.
We know Jack London as the man who wrote about the Alaskan gold rush, a man who wrote about the sea, adventure, sled dogs, greed, gold. What we never knew was the man behind the stories. A man who by the age of 19 had hunted seals, sailed oceans, worked in factories, and was an oyster pirate. 10 years later, London was a world famous writer, drawing on his experiences from his adventures heading North. London’s biography by Daniel Dyer will indeed cause you to pause and wonder about the veneer of fiction, of how travel affects the traveler, and beyond.
This book belongs in your backpack, under your hostel dorm room pillow, covered in beer stains, sand, and dirt from the jungle. A leaf as a book mark, pages dogeared, underlined, read aloud across countless campfires. Robert Service is a man who understand the life of a backpacker, who calls upon the joys of being poor, the heartstring pull of wanderlust, and the call of the wild.
“They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,they have soaked you in convention through and through;they have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching -but can’t you hear the Wild? – it’s calling you. Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us; let us journey to a lonely land I know. There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us, and the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go.”
The Celestine Prophecy is a classic work of art, a call to action, a guidebook, a philosophy, an account of an adventure, and more. Whether you’re in it for the story of a mans journey to Peru to seek out an ancient manuscript, or read into it as it translates to your world today – the Celestine Prophecy is an endearing work that asks us to see more of ourselves, of each other, and of the world.
“We must assume every event has significance and contains a message that pertains to our questions…this especially applies to what we used to call bad things…the challenge is to find the silver lining in every event, no matter how negative.”