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Posts Tagged ‘travel books’

Do you ever find yourself reading a book that makes the nomadic existence seem so adventurous or that paints such a rich picture of life in some far-flung corner of the globe that it is all you can do just to hold yourself back from quitting your job, throwing a few things in a rucksack, and jumping onto the next flight into the sunset? I find myself in that situation relatively often (I am, however, a self-diagnosed travel addict).

So, for the good of travel addicts everywhere, I present the following list of 11 books that got me itching for adventure. You may use this list to (a) heighten the anticipation before an impending adventure, (b) satisfy the travel urge by living vicariously through the characters, or (c) so you know which books to avoid if you feel you wouldn’t be able to control yourself. The choice is yours.

Disclaimer: the following books are listed in no particular order and do not by any means represent a definitive list of books for travel junkies. They are just a few great stories I have read. Please feel free to use comments to add to and/or debate my list.

And so, without further kerfuffle, I present you with 11 books that will make your knees knock with desire for the road.

1. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman (Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galapagos Island, Indonesia, New Zealand, USA, Thailand)

Gelman spent 8 years living in Indonesia

This woman is my hero. I think this was one of the first travel books I ever read and I have been hooked ever since. After a painful divorce Rita picks herself up, dusts herself off, and high-tails it to Mexico where she is promptly mugged. Undeterred, she keeps on travelling. What follows is a sincere and sweet account of her new life as a female nomad. This story spans 15 years and 5 continents and is filled with some pretty memorable adventures. Gelman may not be a fabulous writer per se but her story is a delight.

Read a review of Tales of a Female Nomad here on the Outside of a Dog blog.

2. On The Road by Jack Kerouac (USA, Mexico)

This autobiographical account of Kerouac and his buddies criss-crossing the States in an endless driving scene of music and philosophising and tea smoking is just too cool not to love. I don’t even drive but reading this had me yearning for a good old-fashioned road trip where it’s all about the journey and who the hell cares where you end up (can anyone even remember why we were going there in the first place?)

Read a review of On The Road here on ReviewSien.

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Spain, Morocco, Egypt)

The story of one man searching for his personal treasure all the way from the fields of southern Spain and across the deserts of northern Africa to Egypt. There’s a great message in there for all us lost souls, but the adventure will thrill you in and of itself. It’s a popular read for a reason.

Read a review of The Alchemist here on Neha Kapoor’s blog.

4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (Pakistan)

K-2, Northern Pakistan

Love to travel to distant, pristine lands? Want to make a positive difference in the world? Greg does both and willingly takes you along for the ride. Mortensen is not a writer but he is an inspired and inspiring individual. I defy you not to fall in love with northern Pakistan after reading this book.

Read a review of Three Cups of Tea here on an unfinished person’s blog.

5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Kingsolver’s fictional account of a family of American missionaries who take a post in the dark heart of the Belgian Congo (told from the point of view of each family member in turn) is captivating. I wanted to move into the African jungle right away and get married to the local schoolteacher!

Read a review of The Poisonwood Bible here on Pirate Books.

6. The Letters of Vincent van Gogh (Holland, France)

This may seem like a strange choice to some, but imagine seeing the world through the eyes of one of the most brilliant artists that has ever lived. If you have a pulse it will be racing at van Gogh’s raw and poignant descriptions of the countryside of southern France and the bleak life of toil in the fields of Holland.

Read a review of The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh from The Guardian.

7. A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins (USA)

In 1973 Peter Jenkins and his dog, Cooper, set out from New York to walk across America. That’s pretty neat, isn’t it?

Read an article about Peter Jenkins and A Walk Across America from way back in 1979 here from People magazine’s archives.

8. The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux (Honduras)

The Mosquito Coast, Honduras

Man, I wish I had had an eccentric inventor for a father, who forced us all to move to the Mosquito Coast of Honduras when we were kids. Also fiction, but I am a sucker for a story set in the jungle. It had me wanting to go back to Central America and get seriously lost!

Read a review of The Mosquito Coast here on Sohel’s blog.

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9. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (Peru)

I read this famous spiritual work years ago, long before I ever stepped foot on the South American continent, but I remember falling in love with the lush jungles of Peru. I wanted to pursue the prophecy along ill-beaten jungle paths, to meditate on the auras of plants, and leave my itinerary to chance and the whim of my heart. Okay, it’s a little cheesey but it is also a lot of fun.

Read a review of The Celestine Prophecy here on Spirit and Me.

10. Eight Feet in the Andes by Dervla Murphy (Peru)

This is serious travel writing territory. Murphy is a seasoned professional; she’s written a ton of books. The woman is my hero. Get this – she buys a mule and wanders off into the Andes (with her nine year old daughter in tow no less!) for a 1,300 mile journey along the length of Peru, at extreme altitude. What a legend.

Read a review of Eight Feet in the Andes here on Out Of My Mind.

11. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (USA)

Walden Pond in Massachusetts, USA

Okay, Walden may not make you want to travel per se, but I bet you will want to, at least, get out for a brisk walk in nature after reading it; or maybe sell all your possessions and hike out into the wilderness to build a hut with your own bare hands? I know I did (I mean I wanted to, I’m too lazy to actually do it, plus I’m scared of spiders).

Read a review of Walden here on Kate’s blog.

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