In the midst of summer, you may be yearning to get out and travel. But with busy schedules, limited budgets, and even uncertainty about where to go, us would-be-travelers are often stuck watching the Travel Channel for a fix of adventure. Luckily, books allow us to experience the places we’ve always dreamed of, satiating our restless hearts.
1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac:
It would be difficult to find a Kerouac novel that didn’t spark a desire to travel. However, On the Road is his most celebrated work and belongs at the top of your reading list. Encompassing over three years of traveling back-and-forth across the United States, the book will immediately make you want to leave everything behind and go on a road-trip. It’s an American classic, permeating with jazz, sex, drugs, and adventure. It’s also the book which convinced me to study abroad.
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:
This novel is about a journey, not some sight-seeing vacation. A young Spanish shepherd named Santiago travels to Egypt after reoccurring dreams of a treasure residing there. Although the journey takes years to complete, Santiago finds more than just a monetary fortune along the way. Through his travels he meets a Gypsy woman, an old king, a mythical alchemist, and falls in love. It is a quick read filled with unforgettable quotes and uplifting vignettes. The Alchemist is so inspirational that it is commonly cited as one of the most life-changing books ever written.
3. Video Night in Kathmandu by Pico Iyer:
Pico Iyer is perhaps the most renowned travel-writer of our era and Video Night in Kathmandu, a collection of essays from his travels in Asia, is perhaps his most popular work. The essays are humorous and poignant, examining the differences in culture, but illuminating the commonality in the human spirit. What makes this collection of travel essays so unique is Iyer’s fluid writing style. The essays, which all have an overarching theme, are crafted more like short stories than conventional essays.
4. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway:
Although The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926, its themes of love, death, and search for meaning are still relevant today. The beauty of this novel is its subtlety. You will be so engrossed in the life of Jake Barnes—an American expatriate who suffered a terrible injury in World War I—that you will hardly notice the plot shifting between France and Spain. Hemingway, who spent a great deal of time in these two nations, provides a thorough description of the life and culture found there. After reading it you feel changed, seared in the fire of something ineffable.
5. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
This book is a non-fiction account of Chris McCandless’ time in the Alaskan wilderness. After graduating from Emory University in 1990, McCandless left his friends, family, and all worldly possessions behind in search of a happier life. He spent two years hitchhiking across North America before reaching Alaska. Throughout his travels he questions ideas of freedom, consumerism, and family. The book is gripping, perfect for the reader who desires to completely abandon the life they know and become a recluse.
6. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Yet another book that recounts the author’s travels, In Patagonia is a scintillating journey through South America. Teeming with wild anecdotes, wonderful descriptions, and a thirst for life, the book will pull you in from the start. Written in brief chapters—often just a single page—Chatwin likened the book to a series of photographs that capture the reader’s imagination and provide snippets of a different world.