Can you think of the best way to go on vacation without even leaving your couch? Books are a great opportunity to take our minds out of daily life and discover new places. To help you out with that, here is a list of the best 14 books about travel that make you believe you are on vacation. Pack your imagination and join the ride!
Some people believe that reading books is the best and most amazing way to take our minds on a trip without leaving the room. Books about travel are definitely a journey of the mind, and according to St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. Travel and books have so many things in common, but mostly, those are activities that can change people for good, or as Derek Walcott wrote, “I read; I travel; I become”. Here is a list of the best 14 books about travel that will make you feel like you are on vacation:
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: in this book, the author brings readers to a deeper reflection. People who travel are usually seeking something, whether it is a typical meal or a beautiful destination. But what tends to happen during those trips is that while travelers are looking for external things, they end up finding things in themselves they never knew were there. The Alchemist follows the journey of a shepherd searching for treasure all the way from Spain to Egypt. As the young Andalusian boy starts his adventure, he tries focusing on the present, where he believes happiness is. This book is all about following our dreams and learning the lessons life faces us with along the way. While cruising amazingly new and beautiful places, by listening to his heart, the young shepherd discovers what truly matters and the real meaning of life.
2. The Beach by Alex Garland: this book is mainly about fantasies that don’t actually live up to expectations. Usually, travelers tend to daydream about amazing imaginary perfect places that don’t really exist in real life. Richard, the main character, is looking for paradise in an attempt to escape the boredom of daily life but ends up being crushed by situations of betrayal, obscure secrets, and even violence. The search for the ideal is a mere illusion, which ends up ruining that ideal. The Beach is the story of the utopia of paradise, where characters begin to realize that there is no such thing as paradise. Yet, they find out that there is beauty in the reality of life as it is, and its simple things are definitely worth exploring. With a paradisiac beach scenario, this book takes readers to explore an incredible place while jumping into a deeper life discovery.
3. Vagabonding: an Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts: most people usually go out on vacations for only two long-awaited weeks, which is far from enough to satiate them. Vagabonding is an honest book about what it really takes to create a whole life always on the road. This book is filled with life lessons about how to completely change a mindset that is programmed to always put money in the center of everything. In order to have a completely nomadic life, people need to let go of material things and possessions, which is a constant sacrifice in a capitalist world. The book is written by someone who spent over 10 years on the road around the world, and comes with several practical pieces of information on how to better use money along the way. Vagabonding is a very inspirational book about long-time travels that can change people for good.
4. Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom: in this memoir book, the author describes her solo trips around Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York. This book is a bitter-sweet reminder that we should all be in real peace with solitude, as our best travel company is always ourselves. A beautiful story about self-discovery in four of the most amazing cities in the world, Alone Time invites readers to join Stephanie in her journey through those incredible places.
5. Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: this book tells the story of Ginny as she inherits 13 full-of-mystery envelopes from her deceased Aunt Peg. Each of those envelopes name a different destination that means nothing to the young girl, so she boards on an adventure through Europe to hunt down whatever her Aunt wanted her to find. Filled with pretty European treasures in places like London and Scotland, this book will make you want to pack your bags and purchase an airplane ticket to Europe immediately.
6. Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will by Judith Schalansky: featuring beautiful island’s maps courtesy of the author and cartographer Judith, this book is a harsh reminder that there are still so many things left to see in this world, that we probably won’t be able to see. Each of the maps in this Atlas is accompanied by statistics on the place as well as a short but poetic description of the remote, not-very-known beautiful islands around the world.
7. Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux: this book portraits the story of Paul’s road trip from Cairo to Cape Town. Including most of the dilemmas he encountered along his journey, this book shows the beauty of the fascinating Africa continent, much further than the traditional African safaris. While traveling by canoe, cattle trucks, armed convoys among others, the author describes how misunderstood Africa usually is. Enjoy Paul’s adventure through the amazing and underestimated African places.
8. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert: as the title suggests, this book tells the story of a woman, tired of her apparently fully realized life, who decided to take an entire sabbatical year to travel around Italy, India, and Indonesia. Guided by a sentiment of unfulfillment, the author takes this trip, and in each of those countries, she discovers a part of herself she never imagined she could. In Italy she found pleasure in good food, in India she discovered devotion in praying, and in Bali, Indonesia she found the meaning of love, a perfect balance between divine transcendence and mundane enjoyment.
9. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes: in this book, the author buys a house in Tuscany and starts renewing it. While restoring this house, she finds out amazing things, such as faded frescos in her dining room, a vineyard in her garden, and much more. As she does so, she also begins to discover a whole new and wonderful world in the Italian countryside, filled with incredible people and delicious food. This experience changes Frances’ life for good, just like she poetically describes in this amazing book. It’s basically impossible not to fall in love with Tuscany after reading this book!
10. A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: in this book, Stephen describes his own experience when living and working in Paris. As a British man living in the French capital, the author feels like an outsider. For this reason, as well as due to the French language, Stephen goes through a lot in Paris. This is a fun chronicle that takes place in the wonderful city of light, and will definitely make you fall even more in love with Paris.
11. Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche: Torre is a travel blogger that decided to go sailing with her boyfriend across the Pacific Ocean. The only problem is that the author is deeply afraid of the ocean. This book is a beautiful story about facing and overcoming fears while traveling by those incredible sea views. The manner in which the author describes people, her experiences, and the scenery in this book is moving and touching. An incredible story told through Torre’s wonderful point of view.
12. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Wiener: this book follows Eric in his journey to find the happiest places on earth, which includes Qatar, Iceland, India, and Denmark. The author travels the world searching for happiness, so he informally interviews local people from each of the countries he visits to question them about the secret to happiness. A beautiful story with amazing scenarios that make readers reflect on the true meaning of happiness.
13. Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams: searching for ancient cities and Inca ruins in Peru, Mark follows the original route taken by the archeologist Hiram Bingham. This book brings many lessons about Peru and its citizens, in an incredible and adventurous journey across this country so filled with history and nature. Get ready to book your next trip to Peru!
14. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell: after her husband gets himself a job in the Lego Offices in Denmark, the author decides to follow him along this adventure. When the couple gets to the new country, they realize people there are truly happy. So, Helen decides to start a new journey seeking to understand why Danish people are this happy. This is an informative book, filled with subjects that go from education and childcare to burning witches, written in a funny way and showcasing a couple trying to fit in a different society.
Which of those books are you most curious about? Anna Quindlen wrote that “books are the plane, and the trains, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home”. So pick one of the books on this list and get ready to send your mind traveling!
Published by HOLR Magazine.