5 Great Books to Read While Travelling
It could be said that books are not unlike travel; they’re riddled with unexplored territory, new countries, and unusual people from faraway places.
A good book entertains you on a long bus ride, it keeps you company on a long, sleepless flight. To celebrate the spirit of adventure found both in books and also our hearts, here are five novels that should find a home in your suitcase the next time you set out to explore.
1. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
On the Road is a classic travel novel, a book composed entirely of pavement, the smell of gasoline, and the spirit of a hitchhiker’s thumb.
Written in what borders on free-floating verse, Kerouac describes what he sees and what happens as he road trips across the continental USA in the late 1940’s.
The novel trades a traditional, concrete plot in favor of a narrative which meanders through Kerouac’s thoughts just as he wanders his country. A bit aimless in the best ways, any traveler’s bag is incomplete without a copy.
2. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is a charming, allegorical novel about the journeys we taken within ourselves as well as the world around us.
Through the simple, symbolic story of a young boy who is following his dreams to find treasure, the reader discovers the value of intuition and hope.
Written in straightforward, simple language, The Alchemist reads a bit like a children’s story, but delivers truths that penetrate the heart and challenge your worldview.
3. In a Sunburned Country – Bill Bryson
This cheeky travel memoir is a shining star in what is Bryson’s impressive bibliography. While many of his books are worthy of mention on this list, In a Sunburned Country is perhaps the best travel memoir written in the last thirty years.
In it, Bryson tells the story of his own journey across the Australian continent–one riddled with mishap, humor and absolute wonder. Woven into the narrative is a deep and rich history of Australia and its people.
Punctuated with anecdotes and jokes that will probably make you laugh out loud on the plane or train station, In a Sunburned Country delivers an entertaining, educational, endearing work that will encourage your sense of wanderlust and pique your interest in the world around you.
4. Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild is a semi-journalistic novel which speaks to the spirit of adventure in anyone who has ever wanted to leave their life behind in favour of adventure.
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, this novel follows a boy who prioritizes true adventure at all costs. Having graduated as a top student at Emory, Christopher leaves his life behind to wander the USA.
He hitchhikes, takes odd jobs, and eventually sets his sites on venturing out into the Alaskan wilderness to survive on his own. With a narrative that is a bit reckless and at times sad, this novel is one you have to get your hands dirty to read, but you’ll be glad in the end that you did.
5. The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
The Life of Pi tells the story of a young boy who, after losing all of his family in a shipwreck, lives several months at sea in the company of a tiger named Richard Parker.
A little unusual and a bit off-beat, this novel stretches it’s narrative in a way that allows readers to submerge themselves entirely; with impeccable detail, Martel allows readers to taste the salt in the sea air and feel the pangs of hunger and thirst pawing at Pi’s stomach.
While trying to survive alongside the tiger, Pi contemplates the meaning of his life, the purpose and function of religion, and the absolute nature of truth in a way that will have readers invested and questioning as well.
This novel is a must-read for any traveler who understands that the discovery of our true selves is, in the end, our most challenging journey.
Books are companions and adventures all wrapped into one. When you travel with a book, you never travel alone; as long as you can turn a novel’s page, you’re never stuck in one place.
If you’re feeling a bout of wanderlust or looking for a friend to take on your next long flight or bus ride, one of these five books has exactly what you’re after.