With the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily bringing travel plans to a halt, there is no better way to quench your thirst for adventure than getting lost among the pages of a book. Whether you are dreaming of chasing the sunset in Bali or hoping to find your life purpose in India, this handpicked collection of compelling titles will transport you to spectacular faraway places from the comfort of your home. 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)

A worldwide publishing sensation, Eat, Pray, Love follows Elizabeth Gilbert’s trip across the globe as she tries to reignite her zest for life after ending her marriage and deciding to leave her old self behind. 

From eating the best pizza in Naples, to achieving spiritual enlightenment in a peaceful ashram in India before opening her heart to love again in Indonesia, the author masterfully takes you along on her journey of self-discovery and personal growth. 

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it”

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (2003)

Shantaram tells the story of Lindsay, an Australian bank robber who starts a new life in India after escaping maximum-security prison. Hiding in one of the most densely populated cities of the world, he will find himself establishing a medical clinic in a slum, working for the local mob and joining the Mujahideen fight during the Soviet-Afghan War. 

Set against the backdrop of bustling Mumbai, this semi-autobiographical novel will allow you to explore India and its fierce contrasts without leaving home. An enthralling read from the first page.

“There is no mistakes. Only new paths to explore”

Under the Tuscan Sun: at home in Italy by Francis Mayes (1996)

Frances Mayes gives you a glimpse into her life overseas in Under the Tuscan Sun, where she recounts her decision of purchasing and entirely renovating a 200-year old estate in the heart of Italy. While detailing the highs and lows of bringing “Villa Bramasole” back to its original splendor, the travel writer will make you fall in love with the “Bel Paese”.

An ode to Tuscany and the power of taking risks, this exquisitely-written memoir will  instantly teleport you to the Italian countryside.

“Life offers you a thousand chances… all you have to do is take one”

The Caliph’s House: a Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah (2006)

Tahir Shah takes you to the Kingdom of Morocco as he chronicles his move to Dar Khalifa, an old mansion in need of restoration located in Casablanca. Populated with shape-shifting spirits known as Jinns, the former residence of the Caliph will cause quite a few problems to his new tenant…

Capturing the challenges of starting over in a new country and adapting to a new culture, the English writer of Afghan descent succeeds in painting a vivid picture of contemporary Morocco and its fascinating culture. 

“The backstreet cafe in Casablanca was for me a place of mystery, a place with a soul, a place with danger. There was a sense that the safety nets had been cut away, that each citizen walked upon the high wire of this, the real world. I longed not merely to travel through it, but to live in such a city”