Reading a great book on travel is the next best thing to traveling itself. You’ve read all the classics, like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and books by Paul Theroux and Jan Morris. Now you can add these books recs to your reading list to ease your wanderlust.
1. The Art of Travel (2002)
By Alain de Botton
One of the great philosophers of our time, Alain de Botton manages to make difficult subjects truly accessible. With humor and insight, he looks at what makes travel such an appealing activity in the first place.
You’ll love it: if you’re an armchair philosopher.
You can: even watch the documentary of the book narrated by De Botton himself.
2. Notes from a Small Island (1995)
By Bill Bryson
Storyteller extraordinaire, British-American writer Bill Bryson is known for his hilarious books of adventures around the world. In fact, you can grab any one of his travel books and be transported to a new place with humor and humanity. Notes from a Small Island shares his adventures as he travels around the United Kingdom to really get under the skin of the locals.
You’ll love it: for its witty humor and clever observations of life.
You can: enjoy a classic British afternoon tea and get the full experience while riding on a sightseeing bus in London (when travel safely resumes.)
3. Eat, Pray, Love (2007)
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Rocketing to fame thanks to the film starring Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love is a moving memoir about Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to find herself after her divorce. She travels to Italy, India, and Bali. In between her soul-searching, she paints a vivid picture of these three countries in one of the best books about travel from a woman’s perspective.
You’ll love it: if you’re also searching for answers about life.
You can: eat street food in Rome, learn about spirituality in Mumbai’s Elephanta Caves, and fall in love with the beauty of Bali on a sunrise hike if you really want to walk in Elizabeth’s footsteps when it’s safe to travel again.
4. The Beach (1996)
By Alex Garland
Arguably the book that put Thailand on the map as the ultimate beach destination. This novel was a Gen X-er favorite and it really stands the test of time. The search by a young backpacker for a mythical, secret beach ends up in a nightmare.
You’ll love it: if you dream of an island paradise.
5. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found (2012)
By Cheryl Strayed
In a quest to find herself after hitting rock bottom, Cheryl Strayed hikes the Pacific Crest Trail — all 1,770 km (1,100 miles) of it on her own. With no hiking experience and her personal demons chasing her, this is a vivid, true story of an inspiring woman. She starts in the Mojave Desert and hikes through California and Oregon finishing in Washington state at the Bridge of Gods.
You’ll love it: for its raw emotion and amazing descriptions of hiking the trail.
You can: experience life on the trail by hiking Columbia River Gorge on a future trip.
6. Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram (2003)
By Iain Banks
Better known for his novels and science fiction writing, author Iain Banks visits Scotland’s whiskey distilleries. Part road-trip, part gourmet guide, this book about travel is best enjoyed with a glass of the good stuff.
You’ll love it: for his straight-talking wit.
You can: taste your way through Scotland’s finest single malt whiskies on your next trip.
7. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (1996)
By Frances Mayes
Renovating a run-down villa in Tuscany comes with plenty of problems, as Frances Mayes finds out when she and her husband take on the ambitious project. This is a light read that will also leave readers craving all the fantastic food she cooks in her Tuscan kitchen.
You’ll love it: for its picturesque image of sun-drenched Tuscan life.
8. Shantaram (2003)
By Gregory David Roberts
This massive novel takes the reader into the dark underbelly of the slums of Mumbai in India as you follow on-the-run Australian, Lindsay. There are many echoes from the writer’s real life, who escaped an Australian prison and was a wanted man.
You’ll love it: for it’s no-holds-barred, raw portrayal of Mumbai life.
You can: keep an ethical walking tour through Dharavi, Mumbai’s biggest slum on the bucket list. You’ll see how people live and work there while contributing to education and healthcare for the area.
9. My Brilliant Friend (2011)
By Elena Ferrante
The first book in a four-part series called The Neapolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend introduces readers to two childhood friends, Elena and Lila. This hugely popular series has been translated from Italian and shows the tough side of life in Naples.
You’ll love it: for its portrayal of true friendship.
10. A Year in Provence (1989)
By Peter Mayle
This is one of the first travel books that started the trend of writing about life in a new country. Peter Mayle shares his hilarious experiences of moving to Provence from the UK. Dealing with French bureaucracy and locals is made easier thanks to the delicious food and wine he enjoys throughout.
You’ll love it: for its wit and wonderful descriptions of the south of France.
You can: Tour the Provence countryside for a taste of the good life on future travels.