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A good book has the power to transport you to far away lands and immerse you in exotic cultures. So when I have itchy feet but can’t hop on a plane and fly to a foreign country, reading a great travel book is the next best thing.
Whether you’re relaxing on a remote beach or at home dreaming about your next adventure, these are some of the best travel books to inspire wanderlust:
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
After decades of reporting tragedies as an NPR foreign correspondent, Eric, a self-proclaimed grump, sets off on a journey to explore the world’s happiest countries for a change. From sterile Switzerland to chaotic India to ultra-wealthy Qatar, Weiner’s writing is full of cultural insights and self-deprecating wit. You can buy it here.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Despite having little experience or proper training, Bryson and his equally out-of-shape friend attempt to tackle the entire Appalachian Trail. Predictably, their journey is full of humorous missteps. A Walk in the Woods might be my favorite travel book of all time.
A Passage to India by E.M Forester
Set during British colonial rule of the 1920s, two British women set out on a quest to find “the real India.” Racial tensions flare after an ill-fated excursion pits the British and the locals against each other.
I liked this book because it addresses the complexities of colonialism and the problems that occur when one culture tries to control another. Buy it here.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
After graduating from Emory university, Christopher McCandless abandons his privileged upbringing and ventures alone into the Alaskan wilderness. The story is one of adventure, self-reliance, and tragedy. Buy it here.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Published posthumously, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast paints a beautiful picture of the literary expat community in Paris during the 1920s. This book is perfect for people who adore both France and literature.
Further Reading: Books Every Francophile Should Read
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
While fleeing war in India, a plane carrying three Brits and an American is hijacked and taken to a mysterious utopian settlement in the Himalayan mountains. As their initial shock fades, the characters must determine their response to their highly unexpected circumstances. Buy it here.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
In 1867, a group of American travelers board a retired Civil war ship, Quaker City, and set off to explore Europe and the Holy Land. Twain’s descriptions of the people he encounters are absolutely hysterical. Buy it here.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson
Though not a traditional “travel” book, Stephenson’s classic novel is an adventure story at its best. Following along on young Jim’s journey as he adventures with pirates and searches for lost treasure is sure to inspire wanderlust. Buy it here.
Turn Left at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
Despite being comically inexperienced, Adams sets out to retrace the steps Hiram Bingham III took on his famous 1911 expedition to Machu Picchu. With a hardened Australian adventurer as a guide, Adam seeks to uncover the truth about Bingham and the Inca people. Buy it here.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is placed under house arrest in the lavish Metropol hotel in Moscow. For the next three decades, the Count watches the Russian political drama unfold from within the most glamorous prison imaginable. Buy it here.
Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler
Wheeler lived out many avid travelers’ fantasy when she spent several months in Antarctica as part of an artist-in-residence program. Not only does her book offer a glimpse into her experience on the ice, but she also incorporates historical insights about the arctic explorers who preceded her. Buy it here.
Daisy Miller by Henry James
Daisy Miller is a vivacious American girl from New York State on an extended tour of Europe with her family. Her flirtatiousness and disregard of social etiquette causes scandal among high society. Buy it here.
Further Reading: Must-Read Books about New York City
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins is a homebody who loves nothing more than his comfortable, predictable life in the Shire. But everything changes when the wizard Gandalf arrives and offers to take him on the adventure of a lifetime. Buy it here.
The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann
Yann’s surrealist novel is comprised of three interconnected novellas, each containing eccentric protagonists who are spurred on to adventure by personal tragedy. Buy it here.
A Room with a View by E.M. Forester
Fed up with the snobbery of Victorian society, Lucy Honeychurch abandons convention and falls in love with a wildly unsuitable man while on holiday in Italy. Buy it here.
What is your favorite travel book?
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