Maybe you have a travel-fanatic friend that you need to find the perfect gift for. Maybe you’re looking for a good book to read on the road, so that you always associate it with that trip. Maybe, you’re a travel addict, you’ve been home for a while now and you’re itching to get out there and explore.
Whatever the case, a good travel book is always an excellent option – after all, it is the cheapest form of transportation there is.
Therefore, to help you out, I put together a list of 15 books every traveler should read at least once in their lifetime and that you can pick up at your local bookstore or order online. Take a look at it, read the review and see which book speak to you the most!
1. ‘The Geography of Bliss’ by Eric Weiner
Setting: Iceland, Bhutan, Moldova and Qatar
Travel writing at its finest, this book is clever, very funny and enjoyable. It’s written by a National Public Radio correspondent who travels the world searching for the place, or source, of happiness.
It is insightful, hilarious and peppered with references from philosophers like Russell and Nietzsche.
2. ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ by Paul Theroux
Setting: Asian continent
It’s an interesting tale of Theroux’s four month trek across the Asian continent on various railroads; he goes from London through India, Iraq, Vietnam, and Japan, ending up in Russia during the Vietnam War. Favorite quote:
My first Theroux book, and I look forward to reading many more. Really loved the style, mostly because he’s cranky open and honest. I feel as though I have traveled the distance with him.
3. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera
The novel follows the lives of four different individuals connected by romantic ties, and combines a series of essays on the human condition with a brief history of Prague Spring and the Czech occupation. It is one of those books one might need to read several times before fully taking in everything the writer has to say. Favorite quote:
This is easily one of my favorite books. It makes me want to be a tortured artist with a black bowler hat and a secret lover.
4. ‘On the road’ by Jack Kerouac
Setting: New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Mexico City
An American classic, this book is a wonderful rite of passage piece. Kerouac travels the country back and forth, and tells you about it in the most captivating of ways. This is also a nice look back at the Beat Generation and its influence on American culture. Favorite quote:
Obvious choice. It was so influential, that it has to be read.
5. ‘A Moveable Feast’ by Ernest Hemingway
Autobiography of Hemingway that reads like a novel. It’s filled with very funny anecdotes and stories of life as an expatriate in Paris in the twenties. And wine. And books. And writing. More wine. Periphery characters: F.S.Fitzgerald, J.Joyce and G.Stein. Favorite quote:
It makes you want to move to Paris and drink white wine and eat oysters. A must read for anyone living in o traveling to Paris.
6. ‘Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James
Do you have a secret fantasy of running away to live in Paris? Buy the book. Paris in Love is a collection of journal entries written by Eloisa James during a romantic year of living in Paris with her Italian husband and two children.
It is technically a memoir, but the style of writing, the little vignettes and the Twitter-length paragraphs make it an extremely easy read. Favorite quote:
A relaxing, happy, lovely read. I smiled all the way through it.
7. ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ by Heinrich Harrer
Heinrich’s journey through Tibet is the true epic adventure that any traveler waits for.
Sever Years in Tibet is a look at 1950’s Tibet, before the Chinese takeover. A Tibet we will unfortunately never know or see again. Favorite quote:
Educational travelogue. If you enjoy learning about different cultures and countries this is the book for you.
8. ‘Beautiful Ruins’ by Jess Walters
Setting: Italian Riviera, Los Angeles
This book follows the lives of many different characters, whose paths end up crossing at different points in different places throughout the story. It bounces from a small coastal town in Italy to Hollywood and from 1962 to the present day.
Brilliant book. Besides, the Cinque Terre coast of the Italian Rivera, shown also in the cover, is one of my favorite spots in the world.
9. ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ by Rainer Marie Rilke
A collection of letters from a German poet to a younger version of himself – a correspondence that changed the young poet’s life.
This book contains some of the most inspiring quotes and snippets you’ll ever read, and it will encourage you to have patience and to channel everything into art. Favorite quote:
An absolute must-read for aspiring writers, and anyone wanting to live life.
10. ‘A House in Fez’ by Suzanna Clarke
A great memoir, permeated with a love for Morocco and its people. A House in Fez is the account of an Australian couple who decide to buy a house in Fez in the old district and slowly restore it. Favorite quote:
Anyone interested in traveling to Morocco or different forms of building construction should read this book.
11. ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer
Krakauer tells the fascinating story of Chris McCandless, a man whose dream was to live alone in the Alaskan wilderness and actually walked into the Alaskan bush with a bag of rice, some paperbacks, a rifle and a fishing pole. This is book is not only awesome, but based on a true story. Favorite quote:
Super addictive read. Makes me want to go into the wild, but with more than a bag of rice to make it out alive.
12. ‘Venice’ by Jan Morris
Setting: Venice, duh.
A fantastic book about an amazing city. Written when Jan was James, Venice paints a picture of Venice as a truly fascinating place. Favorite quote:
This book is a must for anyone who wants to visit Venice, is already in Venice, or has already been there. Supplement it with an up-to-date map and travel guide.
13. ‘Istanbul: Memories and the City’ by Orhan Pamuk
A charming memoir/autobiography, as well as a wonderful book of essays about the history of the city of Istanbul since the end of the Ottoman Empire. It is also filled with pictures, black and white, of its buildings, streets and people. Favorite quote:
A must-read for anyone interested in this city.
14. ‘I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away’ by Bill Bryson
Setting: United States
After living in London for 20 years, Bill Bryson returns home to the States and finds everything has changed. It’s a very funny view of American culture, from super-sized food to the number of cup holders in cars. It’s a quick read, and it is incredibly funny.
Perfect little bites of humor.
15. ‘The Road to Oxiana’ by Robert Byron
Setting: of Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Byron trekked through Iran and Afghanistan in search of architectural treasures. Despite being written in the 1930s is surprisingly contemporary in tone.
Hilarious, bitchy, insightful.
15*. ‘The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt’
Setting: Algerian desert
Isabelle’s story is reason enough to read these collected memoirs. She was the quintessential traveler, and must’ve been the coolest woman ever. She explored the Algerian desert in man’s clothes, and she was only in her early twenties when she did it.
For women that constantly hunger for new experiences in their life.
Now pick up a book, read, repeat!
What’s your favorite travel book?
What did I miss? Leave it in the comments!
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