Travel inspiration can come from a variety of sources; from the movies we watch, the songs we hear, wise travel quotes or from a good book. Fiction and nonfiction alike can inspire one to explore places they have never heard of or seen before, but yearn for because of the power of good writing. I love a good book, but am often too busy to read as often as I would like. This list was contributed by a fellow traveler and travel blogger at AlienAdv.com. Here are 9 books to inspire wanderlust.
1. THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
Probably the most popular book on this list. If you’ve ever thought about quitting your job and selling your possessions to travel, this book will take your breath away. Written really simply and easy to understand, The Alchemist is easily read by everyone, from children to teens to adults, and yet the layers of meaning are so deep, that it has a different meaning and insight for each one. It feeds the flame of wanderlust and passion within.
The story follows Santiago, an Andalusian boy, who leaves behind his (lucrative) shepherding career to fulfil his dream of traveling to the pyramids in Egypt. Well, more or less. It’s a fantastic, heart-warming and inspiring read and has many testimonials to it, including one by Bill Clinton, Madonna and Pharrell Williams, who claim it as their favourite book and say that The Alchemist was life changing.
2. THE DHARMA BUMS by Jack Kerouac
“One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.”
Most people, when asked about Jack Kerouac, would immediately think about the more famous “On the Road”. I loved the Dharma Bums because of the stark contrast provided between the mountains, the outdoors and hiking when compared to the city life of clubs and parties.It also has a spiritual side and explores the Buddhist meaning to the experiences of the characters.
3. INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer
“It was titillating to brush up against the enigma of mortality, to steal a glimpse across its forbidden frontier. Climbing was a magnificient activity, I firmly believed, not in spite of the inherent perils, but precisely because of them.”
Describing the tragedy of 1996 on Mt. Everest, in which 8 climbers lost their lives, this is another popular book on this list. It was in the limelight this year because of the movie adaptation “Everest”. The feelings of serious wanderlust are evoked, reading in vivid detail, about the route to Everest. It’s something every child reads about in school and harbors a wish to climb. The highest mountain in the world is actually a secret item on most people’s bucket list. Having read this, and books about George Mallory, it is one of those, that adds to and finds a permanent place on my bucket list.
4. EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert
“You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”
Frequently quoted as one of the best books to inspire travel, this tells the story of an educated, well-settled writer. Unhappy in her marriage, she found the world calling out to her and embarked on a round the world journey, where she spent four months in Italy, to her gastronomic delight, the next three months in India, finding her spirituality and The rest of the year in Bali, Indonesia looking for a balance of both and falling in love. Traveling alone always has risks involved, but if you don’t, you might miss out on some incredible life experiences.
5. SHANTARAM by Gregory David Roberts
“I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.”
I actually started reading this book on a local train in Bombay. The incredible part was, as each train station passed by, the chapter in the book was describing small insights and history about the very place I was passing! It is a really inspiring and exuberating book and just makes you want to pack your backpack and explore India. Shantaram is about a convict, who flees to India from an Australian prison, and decides to stay. It describes the colourful and tumultuous life in India ( specifically Bombay ) and has some parts where the author describes riding and trekking through the Himalayas up to Afghanistan describes the sights, sounds and characters so vividly, that you can imagine yourself in the scene. Warner Bros is reportedly set to make a film on the book.
6. THE COVENANT by James A. Michener
“This is not a promise, this is not threat, it’s just the way it’s gonna be!!!”
Set against the backdrop of Africa, I have never seen a more intriguing way of writing that covers history, fantasy and generations of change in such an entertaining manner. It really describes an incredible period in Southern Africa’s history that just makes you want to experience the place yourself. The cradle of human civilization has had such a rich and vivid history, with which most of us are unaware, that the mountains and forests call out to the adventurer within with piercing clarity.
7. THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams
“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
If looking forward to visiting strange places, hearing strange tongues and finding general, all-purpose weirdness is a part of your travel plans, read HGTTG. If you’re looking for hints on places to visit, this is NOT a book about the earth. In fact, the earth gets bulldozed in the first few pages. But the wide galaxy is yours and you’ll find excellent tips for hitchhikers in this ridiculously funny series, including why a towel is the most important component of your backpack. This book is now a part of mass consciousness and popular culture, and in fact, if you google “what is the answer to life, the universe and everything”, you get the all-encompassing answer – 42!
8. ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert Pirsig
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
A journey of self-discovery, both literally and figuratively, unfolds through the pages of this modern day philosophical epic. The scenery, the outdoors and life on the road will make you thirst for your next road trip, all the while thinking deep thoughts of life, quality and meaning. This is one of the most inspiring reads which just makes you want to travel (especially with your kid). If you haven’t read this tale of philosophy and adventure, pack it in your backpack and read it the first chance you get.
9. ENCOUNTERS WITH ANIMALS by Gerald Durrell
“They were maps that lived, maps that one could study, frown over, and add to; maps, in short, that really meant something.”
-Gernald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals
Comfortable, witty and humorous, this friendly masterpiece by Durrell describes vividly the natural attractions of Africa. The incredible boat journey, the animals and how they live, act and behave are observed in whimsical detail. The wild nature, the raucous cacophony of natural sounds and the amazing views described, re-ignite the flame to go on some adventures to strange and exotic lands.
About the Author
I’m Kshaun. Inordinately fond of tea and spices, my food choices endorse my Northeast Indian roots. I’ve lived in over 20 places and am always on the lookout for my next home and my next adventure. I am an adventure freak and write about adventure travels and sports. AlienAdv is for people who want to go on Adventures, but don’t know how to start or narrow down the best schools and guides. I share my own travel stories (in the South East Asia and internationally) and my best tips and advice on issues like road-trips, scuba-diving nuggets, and paragliding. I offer the perspective and real-world tips that only someone who actively indulges in adventure-sports regularly can offer. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.