I LOVE books. They are a passion of mine that might just be equal to travel. I don’t know, maybe I love them slightly more because they’re cheaper and they don’t require me to taking a ridiculously long flight where I stand behind someone at airport security who doesn’t take their liquids and electronics out of their bag until the very last possible moment.
Not surprisingly, I love travel-related books. I love to read about other people’s adventures. I also love reading fiction that takes place in a country or part of the world that I’ve been to or that I dream of visiting one day. It totally transports you in a way that only reading can.
Admittedly, I don’t read nearly as much as I wish I did. I used to make these challenges for myself to read one book a week for an entire year. I tried to do it for three years in a row. Not once did I complete it, but the competitive side of me took hold and I did so much more reading than I would have otherwise.
This past year I’ve had to put that aside as I focus more on my writing and building my blog. Don’t get me wrong, it’s magical to be able to be on the other side of it (not that I’m writing a book or even coming close to being that great a storyteller). I get to write about my own travels in a way that I hope inspires others to get out of their armchairs and see the world.
But I’ve still managed to sneak in a few books so far this year. These are books that have inspired me to visit countries I would never have visited otherwise. These are books that take me to foreign lands and ignite my passion for the world. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
I love this book. It’s what first sparked my interest in India, and while I know it’s a cliche among many travelers and you can find it lingering in just about any hostel around the world, I simply loved it. I read it about five years ago when I was living in Australia and it just captured my imagination.
The storytelling is beautiful, the imagery created, the way you get a feel and vision for the different people he meets and places he visits is just unbelievable.
The Happy Isles of Oceania by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux is one of my favorite travel writers. Every time I read one of his books I find myself underlining things that are so poetic and clever. His sense of humor is dry and his mocking of the different people he meets is borderline mean, but I laugh out loud constantly and find myself nodding along to his observations.
This particular epic journey is through the Pacific Islands starting in Australia and navigating, mostly by kayak, through the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and all the way to Easter Island. I’ve never been to any of these places, but I want to go there now.
My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard
This six-set memoir series is an addiction of mine. Translated from Norwegian, I literally put myself on waiting lists for whenever the next book is about to come out in English. It makes me want to go to Norway and Sweden SO freaking badly, but it’s also seriously well written and incredibly captivating.
One Sip at a Time by Keith Van Sickle
One sip at a time is a quick read, but it made me laugh so much. Keith and his wife’s story of trying to leave behind the hustle and bustle of corporate America to the rural towns of France are inspiring.
The book is a collection of stories that recount their tales of what’s it’s like living in France trying to navigate life as an expat in a completely different language. It reminded me of so many awkward situations I’ve had in Korea and Mexico. It’s a lovely reminder of the changes we’re capable of making in our lives, even as adults (ESPECIALLY as adults!).
The Way of Wanderlust by Don George
One of the most beautiful collections of travel stories that I’ve ever read. Whether you’ve traveled extensively or never left your home town this book will ignite something within you, at least it did for me. Don George is an incredible travel writer and this book literally touches on every continent and the awkward situations you encounter as a stranger in a foreign land. Think I might go and reread it right now.
If you haven’t already read this book, you need to buy it right now and cozy up in your comfiest chair with it immediately.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
I’ve only just started reading this author, but I’m captivated. This particular novel takes place in Tokyo and it has been daydreaming of my time there and yearning for steaming hot bowls of ramen and delectable bento boxes. The characters are so captivating and complex. I could hardly put this book down and found myself thinking about it long after I closed it.
Books That I’ll be Reading This Summer
I’ve got a long list of books that I want to enjoy at the beach in Costa Rica and Oaxaca this summer and I’m sure I’ll get through approximately two of them by September 1st. But who says summer reading can only be read in summer? Besides, it’ll still be about 80 degrees in Mexico City in September.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – because everyone keeps talking about it and I loved Norwegian Wood so much I can’t wait to read another of Murakami’s books.
Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano – I bought this book impulsively a couple of weeks ago because I think it’ll be really interesting to read about how and why Mexican food changed so much once it crossed the border.
Into Thin Air by John Krakauer – I watched the movie earlier this year and it is a crazy and sad and gripping story about hiking up Mount Everest. I’d love to read Krakauer’s written account of the whole situation.
The Valley of Assasins by Freya Stark – I’ve read so many wonderful things about Freya Stark, yet I’ve never read any of her books. This one is all about traveling the middle east all by herself during the 1920’s. What a woman.
If you’re looking for more recommendations, check out my post I wrote about the best books I read in 2016.
What are your favorite travel books? What should I add to my ever growing list?