Which books have made you want to close the pages, pack your suitcase and hop on a plane straight away? Last month I published a list of the books that had inspired my travel in some way. They had either given me an urge to visit a specific destination or evoked a feeling of wanderlust in me, tempting me to pack my bags and hit the open road. I was fascinated to find out which books had inspired other bloggers in the same manner so asked around for suggestions.
For me, choosing just one book is near to impossible. When I am not travelling I try to devour as many books as possible; not only travel writing but novels and history books too. I feel that sustained reading not only helps my writing but also gives me ideas, whether that be ideas for a blog post or inspiration for my next big adventure. Hopefully this list can do the same for you.
Amy Lummus of Plein De Vie Travel
by Jung Chang
I started reading Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang on the long flight to Beijing in October 2015, and was horrified by the situations families faced leading up to the Cultural Revolution. I was equally uplifted by the strength shown by the women, and their ability to adapt and to protect their loved ones. This being my first visit to China, I had several preconceived ideas of what to expect, and a few apprehensions about visiting. My Western mind had pity for the Communist people. My maverick attitude bucked at the thought of a rigidly controlled life overseen by unseen eyes; However, reading the first hand account of Chang and her family through the manic whims of Mao, I gained an appreciation for the Chinese people. China is a country of hospitality. Although the horrors of the Cultural Revolution are still memories for many citizens, China has rallied, and is determined to demonstrate its strengths. My hosts were warm and eager to ensure that my visit was perfect. Strangers were equally as welcoming, and did their best to communicate with me. (Some fun sign language-esque exchanges were had.).
We are told that history is important, so we do not repeat mistakes of the past. I suggest that more importantly history is vital to understanding current norms, long-held traditions, and the path of the future. As the world shrinks and globalisation causes strangers to become neighbours, we must take time to understand not only the cultures of the world, but also how they were formed. And if nothing else, reading a story based in an unknown land makes for a more enriching experience.
To read more about Amy’s travels in China, head to her blog post about Beijing.
Els Mahieu of My Feet are Meant to Roam
Led By Destiny
by Kinga Freespirit Choszcz
I met Kinga back in 2003 in Italy. We were both attending an international travel meeting, the perfect place for Kinga to promote her book “Led by destiny”. Kinga and her partner Chopin had just finished hitch hiking around the world for 5 years, thumbing a ride with destiny.
“Led by destiny” is a diary of their adventures. It tells about the places they have seen, the people they have met, but also delivers an insight into their personal beliefs and struggles.
The book is about simplicity, about courage and about the goodwill of other people.
In these uncertain times in which we live nowadays, the book shows you that the world is not such a bad place after all! I happily keep reading it, over and over again!
Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt
by Paulo Coelho
This book is always on my “top reads” list. A story about following your dreams, this is one of the most widely read books in recent history. It follows a young shepherd boy traveling from Spain to Egypt after he has a dream telling him he needs to get to Egypt. Along the way, he meets interesting people, learns to follow his heart, go with the flow, and discovers love and the meaning of life. The book is filled with wonderful and inspirational quotes. My favorite is, “If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man…Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.” A book about following your dreams is perfect for travelers because we certainly are dreamers. I’ve read this book multiple times — it always inspires me to enjoy life and dream more.
Lauren and Kris of Scuttabout Travel Podcast
by Sheryl Strayed
This memoir is a true testament to one’s dedication and strength. By the time she was 22, Strayed had lost her mother, her marriage was falling apart and she was soon addicted to drugs. At 26, she made the ambitious and impulsive decision to hike the entirety of the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert in California through the Sierra Nevada into Oregon and finishing in Washington state—a feat that covered more than one thousand miles (1600 km) all while hiking alone. Strayed recounts her fears, breakthroughs, and accomplishments while taking the reader on a wild ride that is funny and frightening all at once. This book will make you want to test your adventure limits.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt
This book holds the title for the longest standing book on the New York Times best-seller list with a whopping 216 weeks after its debut in 1994. Focused on the untangling of a murder in Savannah, Georgia, the reader will be introduced to a number of eccentric personalities that run rampart throughout the town including a drag queen, an invisible dog, and the parts of elite community. This book reads like an exciting fiction tale but it’s actually non-fiction. If you’ve never visited Savannah before (or only know it from the movie Forrest Gump) you’ll certainly add it to your travel list after this read.
The Paris Wife
by Paula Mclain
This historical fiction novel centers itself on the beautiful yet heartbreaking relationship of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. After a hasty courtship and wedding, the couple move to Jazz Age Paris and quickly fall into what historians refer to as “The Lost Generation” of writers and artists. This novel follows Hemingway on his journey to creating what would become The Sun Also Rises while struggling with infidelity and takes the reader through Paris, Spain, and Austria. It will make you want to find any traces of 1920s Paris that may be left today.
Eat, Pray, Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert:
I know it’s almost taboo to mention this book as a travel inspiration but I jumped on the bandwagon shortly after it was published and still think it’s a wonderful story that not only invokes feelings of love, wonder, and finding oneself, but also really teaches the reader about each place the author visited. The memoir is about Gilbert’s round the world trip after finalising a difficult divorce. She indulges in Italy (eat), finds her spirituality in India (pray), and looks for harmony while falling into an unexpected romantic relationship in Indonesia (love). There is a reason this book spent 187 weeks on the New York Times best-sellers list. This book inspired me to visit Bali and I went two years after reading the book.
If you haven’t already, head over to iTunes and subscribe to Kris and Lauren’s awesome Podcast
by Bruce Chatwin
Considered Chatwin’s masterpiece, this book tells the story of how he was inspired to travel to the far reaches of South America by a fossil that once belonged to his grandma. In search of the strange beast who’s fossilised remains he is now carrying with him, Bruce wanders Patagonia encountering tales of Darwin, Butch Cassidy, dinosaurs and – most surprisingly – Welsh tearooms. Like Bruce’s journey, the book is often meandering, focusing not on the spectacular landscape and scenery of Patagonia but more on the stories and tales of the people that inhabit this part of the world. I picked this book up while planning my own adventure to South America and although Chatwin’s wanderings didn’t really help with organising an itinerary, his evocative prose and stories of life in this odd part of the world made sure that when I did head south, I would definitely go to Patagonia.
Do you have a book that has inspired you to travel? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below and let me know if you’d like to contribute to this post. The more the merrier!
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