We sat on the floor and reminisced about some of our favourite reads. Quite a collection had built up over the years. Many of the books were read only once, a few we hadn’t yet gotten around to. Then there were the ones that had been read and re-read countless times, dog-eared with creased spines and faded covers.
Ultimately we decided on keeping the majority of the collection, which now sit in boxes in our parent’s basements. The most worn books are mostly travel related, full of inspiration and the ability to install wanderlust in anyone. Out of those favourites, we’ve picked our absolute best and put together this list for you. If you’re a traveller, have ever dreamed of travel, or simply like the tale of a great journey – any one (or all!) of these books should be on in your collection.
by Paulo Coelho
Not only is this one of our favourite travel books, but one of our favourite novels of all time. We’ve revisited this book several times over the years and it never fails to inspire wanderlust every times.
The story follows a young shepherd from the Andalusian region of Spain as he follows an unknown path in search of an unknown treasure; only to discover something much more valuable along the way.
I’ve personally purchased this book close to a dozen times, usually as gifts for friends. This book is on every list for recommended travel reading for a reason. It’s one of the most powerful books we’ve ever read. If you haven’t read it yet. Do it now.
For those interested in: Morocco, Egypt, Spain. Overall inspiration to follow your dreams! For more books like the Alchemist, go to bookslikethisone.com
by Gregory David Roberts
This book first appeared on our radar back while we were travelling through India, appearing regularly in hostels and bookshops. However, it wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I finally got around to reading it.
I was absolutely fascinated by the way scenes of India were painted with words exactly how I’d remembered seeing them in person. The semi-autobiographical novel follows an escaped Australian convict while he discovers a new life in India and his incredible journey through life in the slums, working for the Bombay mafia, and fighting alongside the Mujahadeen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
While the near unbelievable story itself is more than worth the read, Roberts’ writing is some of the best I’ve encountered in all the books I’ve ever read.
For those interested: India.
The Snow Leopard
by Peter Matthiessen
Kylee and I first read this book during the first few days of our visit to Nepal, and it laid out a perfect mental visualization of the cultural landscape of the country. The book follows the author as he joins biologist George Schaller to the outer reaches of Nepal, in search of the elusive snow leopard.
While the endeavour itself was one based on science, Matthiessen’s experience was much more existential. Focusing on spiritual exploration, the mystical power of the Himalayas, the roots of Tibetan Buddhism and reflection of his wife’s recent death; The Snow Leopard is both a fascinating journey and a humbling story.
For those interested in: Nepal, Buddhism.
Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert M. Pirsig
Who knew that one of the greatest road trip stories ever written was laden with modern philosophy.
Kylee has read this book several times and knows it very well. Myself, I’ve only given it one run, but was fascinated by the clever seaming of casual diary with deep philosophy. Truly one of the greats.
Zen follows the story of a man and his son as they travel across America’s Mid-West in the late 60’s by motorcycle. While the story centres around the journey itself, the author breaks experience down to both classic and romantic values. These values sharing one common element that brings to light one of the most fundamental questions of all: What is Quality?
For those interested in: Road Trips, Philosophy.
The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga
Another great novel set in India, and one that we both enjoyed during our time in the great country. However, this one is much darker than the others on this list.
Following the narrator, a low-caste villager, on his journey against the odds; the book provides a interesting perspective on class struggle in modern day India.
While at times it can be quite unpleasant to read, it’s an incredible book that paints a vivid picture of a side of India that is often unseen by foreign eyes.
For those interested in: India.
by Alex Garland
Long before writing big-screen epics like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Ex Machina; Alex Garland wrote the ultimate backpacker novel: The Beach.
Although the Hollywood version adds an element of romance while watering down the general theme, the original novel is much more raw. The story follows Richard, a young English backpacker in Thailand who is searching for something more – something different. By chance, he stumbles upon a map to a hidden beach on a remote island, completely untouched by the Lonely Planet Effect. In many ways, this masterpiece is a modern-day Lord of the Flies, and in my mind, deserves such recognition.
For those interested in: Thailand, Backpacking. As well, those travellers who have become jaded with the often over-marketed backpacker scene.
Seven Years in Tibet
by Heinrich Harrer
The captivating story of two Austrian mountaineers who escaped British India during the second world war and fled on foot across the Himalayas.
Not only a story of survival, but of adventure and friendship. Upon arrival on the other side of the highest mountain range on earth, author brilliantly describes the next seven years of his life in the mysterious land of Tibet and eventual befriending of the young Dalai Lama himself.
Beautifully written, this book never fails to conjure up dreams of visiting this once untouched land.
For those interested in: Tibet, Buddhism, Adventure.
Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer
A journalistic telling of Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp), and his giant middle finger to society.
Although this is one of those rare occasions where, at least in my opinion, the film adaptation is superior to the paper version; by no means is the book itself flawed.
Coming from a well-to-do family living in Virginia, upon graduation from university, Chris donated most of his money to charity, burned his identification, and left without a word. Travelling across the country, taking odd jobs and living the life of a vagabond, he eventually hitchhikes his way to the remote wilderness of Alaska.
While mistakes are made in this fascinating true story, the journey itself is what matters. How one can simply walk away from a near-guaranteed life of prosperity, for the simple pursuit of adventure, is one of the most awe-inspiring ideas imaginable.
For those interested in: Road Trips, Life Changes, Camping.