Travel Books capture the spark of seeing something new as well as it changes your perspective towards new places. Good books are an essential part of the ultimate travel packing checklist. Plane, train, or long bus rides can get quite boring if you don’t have a company of a good book and can give you a lot of ‘dead-time’ if you haven’t mastered the art of the 10-hours-blank-stare.
If you’re looking for some really great travel books, here are my suggestions to inspire you to travel far-off lands:
Wind, Sand, and Stars
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It’s the chronicles of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s time, evolving new mail routes as an Aeropostale pilot in the 1920s and ’30s. Saint-Exupéry’s feelings when he faces his potential death while flying above the empty Sahara and his clarity about the trivial details of early aviation made it unique read. It’s a gripping, gorgeously written travel book that shows the window into a world that doesn’t exist anymore. If the early days of flying interest you, Beryl Markham’s West with the Night should also be on your list.
Travels with Charley in Search of America
Author: John Steinbeck
There are heaps of road-trip books, and many of them don’t hold up well, mostly by dint of their selfishness. Staring at the windshield trying to figure out your life stays interesting only for a while. In Travels with Charley in Search of America, John Steinbeck takes a lap around the country in his old age. He’s fascinated by the people he meet and the way those people shape and are shaped by the land around them. Another book is Great Plains by Ian Frazier, where author tries to understand what pulls him to those plain.
The Innocents Abroad
Author: Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s funny and satirical account of his trip to Europe and Middle East on a steamship is a caricature of privileged Americans, including himself. In between character sketched and sarcasm, Twain unearths the ways tourism takes advantage of locals and capitalizes on history. He digs into why people travel and states that the baked-in moral conflict of being a traveler is responsible for that capitalism.
The Snow Leopard
Author: Peter Matthiessen
Good travel books can take a subject that you might think boring and turn it into something interesting and fascinating. The Snow Leopard is about Peter’s loosely planned trek into the Nepalese Himalayas with sheep biologist George Schaller. It is also a story about why climbers go to the mountain in the first place and what we’re trying to find there.
My Life in France
Author: Julia Child
Julia Child’ memoir of her time in France is the best, most joyous version of a travel story. The author is submerged in a foreign culture and works her way through discomfort and cultural clashes. You don’t have to wade through her thoughts on meditation as Child is funny and self-deprecating. You will also love ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ by Frances Mayes and ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Author: William Finnegan
William Finnegan blends his lifelong love of surfing and the way it took him around the world with the story of the book. He captures the feared drive to keep moving that encourages a lot of young travelers. He encapsulated the obsession of following something ephemeral, a perfect untouched place, and then having it changed by next crew of travelers looking for the same thing.