My Top 5 Travel Reads

With so many of us dreaming about travel…books are proving to be a much needed escape. The chance to visit another country might be elusive at the moment, however a good read has the ability to bring these places closer to us, if only from the comfort of our couch. There are lots of great travel books to choose from, but here are my top 5. Hopefully you will find something here to satisfy your wanderlust…for the time being!

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert…I definitely credit this book with inspiring me to research and book a trip to Bali! Leaving behind (do I dare say “escaping”) her previous life, the author embarks on a journey of self-fulfillment and invites us along for the ride. Travelling and discovering food in Italy, spirituality in India, and love in Indonesia, we can’t help but fall in love with the destinations she describes, as well as perhaps understand the urge to find what fills our heart. There is also a movie starring Julia Roberts, but as in a lot of movie adaptations it falls a bit short compared to the book.

Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry…a book set in India in the 1970’s that shares with us the main character’s personal and political life. We journey with him as he leaves his family behind, seeking a way to help them out of their poverty. This leads him to make some difficult choices as he navigates the changing world around him. The Canadian author of this book was born in India and is able to share richly detailed accounts of that country. Such a Long Journey has won numerous awards and is one I think I will have to pick up and read again. Another book, A Fine Balance, written by the same author is also a fantastic read!

Out of Africa…I mean who can resist a love story set in Africa? This book takes the reader on a journey with the author as she begins a new life in Kenya. Filled with triumph and tragedy, love and heartache, and the backdrop of the African savannah, this book is definitely geared to the female reader. However, there are lots of books about Africa that will fill your wanderlust to be on safari, go in search of amazing animals, and camp under the stars. The movie based on this book is one that I think is worth seeing as it does an excellent job of following the plot and mood of the book.

The Best of James Herriot by James Herriot…or actually anything written by James Herriot. This English vet, born James Wight, used James Herriot as his pen name. He wrote about his time as a country veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales during the 1930’s to 1950’s. His description of the countryside and the characters he encounters is rich in detail and he brings us along for rides, as he travels through small villages in this part of England. Definitely a book that will inspire you to explore those less visited places that are sometimes overlooked when you travel somewhere new. Getting out of the big cities and discovering the rural areas can bring rewarding surprises…especially those magnificent views!

View From the Summit by Sir Edmund Hillary…so you want some adventure travel literature? some stories of survivors that have beat the odds and climbed to the top of the world’s highest mountain peak? Well then add these books about Everest to your travel reading list. Of course there is no better place to start than with this book by Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander (Kiwi) who was the first man to step foot on the summit of Mount Everest. Many others have done it since then, and many books have been written, but this one is still the best! Follow it up with Touching My Father’s Soul by Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the son of the Sherpa who accompanied Hillary to the top.

Other books worth checking out:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed…The story of a solo-woman’s trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. Starting from the Mojave Desert in California and hiking north more than one thousand miles to the U.S.A./Canada border, this female traveler shares the day to day struggles and successes that she encounters along the way.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson…This author is well known for his humour as well as for his love of travel. He shares both in this book about a trip around England entertaining the reader with his take on British places and people. He has quite a selection of books about other countries as well that are worth checking out. I’m actually looking forward to reading his book A Walk in the Woods.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes…Ohhhh Italy! Still haven’t been but hope to go there one day! In this novel the author travels to Italy and ends up staying after deciding to restore a villa in Tuscany. This book will make the reader yearn to spend days wandering vineyards, enjoying fresh produce, and soaking up those sweeping vistas.

And….if you just want to fuel your wanderlust for future trips with some ideas or photos, then here are some beautiful picture books for your coffee table, or for planning that post-Covid vacation…

14 thoughts on “My Top 5 Travel Reads

Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing these books! Paul Theoreux’ The last Train to Zona verde is a good read too, an overland trip he made to Western Africa. And books by Victoria Hislops are set in Mediterranean. 😉

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  2. Always looking for book recommendations and these all sound like great books to inspire travel. I’ve read Eat, Pray, Love and Wild so am adding quite a few to my #tbr stack.

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  3. I wouldn’t argue with your choice and I would add that to really get under the skin of a place you should read novels that almost have the city/region/state as a character. I’m thinking in particular of the novels about Louisiana by James Lee Burke, about Portsmouth in England by Graham Hurley, about Bangkok by John Burdett: there are so many great writers out there who can portray your destination as it really is, not the varnished one presented by guidebooks and tourist boards. Oh, and ANY Bill Bryson.

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