Denali National Park

Top 7 Travel Books to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Books are one of the few things that can instantly transport to a different time and place and help you discover incredible new destinations through the power of your imagination. From decoding the rituals of the ominous Illuminati cult to the blossoming of love in times of the tumultuous French Revolution, great books have had us aww-ing, gasping, and sighing in wonder since childhood. Travel books are no exception. Travel stories help us enter worlds we haven’t visited yet and help us feel at home even in a strange land. While destination guides written by seasoned travel writers like the Lonely Planet series are some of the most popular travel books of all time, travel adventures scripted by some of the greatest fiction writers of our time can sometimes offer the best travel inspiration and make great reads. So here’s a list of our top seven favourite travel books to excite your wanderlust and take you along the beaten path.

Walden - Henry David Thoreau

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

In the year 1845, disillusioned and begrudged by the mindlessness of his daily life, Henry David Thoreau retreated into a woodland near Concord, Massachusetts. Here, he built himself a cabin next to a pond named Walden to live in for two years, two months and two days. By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Considered as Thoreau’s masterwork, Walden is the best travel book for those who look to nature to escape the drudgery of everyday life. Walden is a cult classic that has inspired many travel adventures, as you will soon find out.

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." – Jack Kerouac

From another American author, we bring you yet another cult classic about leaving the cosy creature comforts behind to explore the world. On the road by Jack Kerouac follows the adventure of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty as they take a road trip from the east to the west coast of America. The book, written in free-form, typifies the Beat movement of the 1950s and is one frenzied rollercoaster ride from start to finish. Hop on to enter the world of beatniks and explore America on the road.

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

“The choice you make between hating and forgiving can become the story of your life.” – Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is a semi-autobiographical account of an Australian convict, Gregory David Roberts, who escaped the Pentridge Prison in the state of Victoria and arrived in Mumbai, India, under the fake name of Lindsay. The book chronicles Lindsay’s exploits in Mumbai over 10 years. From living in the slums to landing roles as an extra in glamorous Bollywood movies, Lindsay’s experiences span the whole spectrum. Read Shantaram (a name given to the author by the mother of one of his Indian friends) to explore the good, bad, and ugly sides of the bustling city of Mumbai.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

A travelogue, philosophical fiction, and love story rolled into one, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is not a book you read just once. It is a keepsake. Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy sets out to fulfil his prophetic dream of finding treasure in Egypt, only to find that what he sought was with him all the while. Follow Santiago’s beautiful, introspective journey through the mesmerising Arabian landscapes, from finding love in the middle of a desert to turning himself into a sandstorm, and perhaps you might learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

“Happiness is only real when shared” – Jon Krakauer

What do you do when the call of the wild tugs at you, wanderlust and itchy feet beckon you, and the urge to be closer to nature grows stronger by the day? You take a camping trip with the family or start planning your next holiday with special emphasis on natural sites. Christopher Johnson McCandless, however, donated his US $25,000 college fund to charity, abandoned his car, burned all the cash in his wallet, and hitchhiked to Alaska. Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild follows McCandless’ ambitious (spoiler alert: albeit ill-fated) journey through the rugged northern extremes of North America, all the way to Denali National Park in Alaska. Read this great travel book for the poignant description of McCandless’ personal beliefs, human encounters, and the awe-inspiring places he visits. No prizes for guessing, McCandless was inspired by the works of Henry David Thoreau and is one of our favourite travel tales.

In Patagonia - Bruce Chatwin

“I climbed a path and from the top looked up-stream towards Chile. I could see the river, glinting and sliding through the bone-white cliffs with strips of emerald cultivation either side. Away from the cliffs was the desert. There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass, and no other sign of life but a hawk, and a black beetle easing over white stones.” ― Bruce Chatwin

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the glacier carved southern tip of the South American continent, Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia is the book for you. One of the finest travel books ever written, In Patagonia is more than a travelogue of the author’s sojourn through the breathtaking exotic lands. It is a lesson in the art of travel writing. Filled with intriguing historical facts, forgotten legends, and several other endearing titbits, Chatwin’s evocative storytelling paints Patagonia in a mystical aura that makes you want to visit it all the more.

The Journals of Captain Cook - James R Cook and Philip Edwards

“Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.” ― Captain James Cook

What can be said of a man who did more to fill the map of the world than any other explorer in history? No amount of prose would be enough. It’s best to let his journals do the talking. The Journals of Captain Cook narrate the accounts of his three ambitious, courageous and skilful expeditions to the Pacific Ocean between 1768 and 1779, from the Antarctic Circle to the Arctic sea. He charted the lands of Australia and New Zealand to prepare the first accurate map of the Pacific, and revealed lands that the Europeans never knew existed. Pick up a copy to join one of the greatest explorers of the world on his nine years of voyaging that quite literally changed the world as we know it.
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