Travel writing, sometimes it tells the story of a journey. Sometimes, it tells the story of the person’s journey. Their self-exploration and change when they come face to face with new places and cultures. Most often it celebrates the act of exploration itself – poking around, asking questions, getting lost and into scrapes, making all the mistakes of the newcomer. Whichever story it tells, it should compel us to look wistfully at our backpack and start thinking about a new adventure, a new road, and a new journey. Below are listed 10 best travel books based on our survey of few traveling sites like Telegraph Travel, Huffington Post Travel, and the likes of Good reads Readers favourite.
Did we highlight your favourites? Forget any notable titles? We’d love to hear your thoughts, in the comments section below.
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac: The story follows the character, Sal, as he leaves New York City and heads west, riding the rails, making friends, and partying the night away. The main character’s frustration and desire to see the world are themes that can resonate with many of us. What I especially love about this story is that through all his travel adventures, he becomes a better, stronger, and more confident person.
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed: Cheryl Strayed’s book is about her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26. She sets off in hopes of finding herself and coming to grips with the death of her mother, break-up of her marriage, and drug use. She’s looking for a fresh start. Along the way, she encounters kindness, happy fellow hikers, and a deep sense of belonging. Filled with wonderful prose, I found this book deeply moving. It’s easy to see why the book became such a hit.
- City Squares: Eighteen Writers on the Spirit and Significance of Squares Around the World by Catie Marron: In this important collection, eighteen renowned writers, including David Remnick, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Skloot, Rory Stewart, and Adam Gopnik evoke the spirit and history of some of the world’s most recognized and significant city squares, accompanied by illustrations from equally distinguished photographers. Catie Marron curates a collection of essays in which writers respond to the phenomenon of the city square and the roles and identities of these public spaces
- Notes from a small Island by Bill Bryson: Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey.
- In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
This funny and insightful book eloquently captures a country often obscured by the stereotypes fuelled by all those Foster’s beer ads. Along with the curious geography and terrifying fauna – snakes, sharks, and crocs – Bryson captures the spirit of a uniquely sporting people, who excel at games ranging from cricket to Australian Rules football
- The Beach by Alex Garland: What I love about Alex Garland’s tale about backpackers and their search for paradise is that you can identify with Richard and his quest to “do something different and get off the beaten path,” but in the end see that as an illusion. It’s also a good tale about how backpackers’ search for the ideal can end up ruining that ideal.
- The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux: Paul Theroux’s strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Asia’s fabled trains – the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express – are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London’s Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian.
- The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron: In 1933 the delightfully eccentric Robert Byron set out on a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad and Teheran to Oxiana -the country of the Oxus, the ancient name for the river Amu Darya which forms part of the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union.
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.
- A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby: No mountaineer, Newby set out with a friend to explore the formidable peaks of the Nuristan Mountains in northeast Afghanistan. His witty, unorthodox report is packed with incidents both ghastly and ecstatic as he takes us where few Western feet have trod.
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