Books have always been my companion, my inspiration and my teacher. I load up my iPad before I hit the road; always have an old fashioned paperback in my bag to read in the tub. My favorite gift to give, my favorite gift to receive. Here are seven books that have changed where and how I travel. Have you read them? What are your favorite travel books?
From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple…
I love all Dalrymple’s books; this was the first one I read. He chronicles his adventures following the route of the 6th century monk John Moshos. It begins in Greece, ends in Egypt and takes you through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon & Israel. Made me think of this part of the world and the role of religion in a whole new way.
Travels with Herodotus by Rsyzard Kapuscinski
As a young Polish journalist, Kapuscinski is sent to India to report back. His boss hands him Histories by Herodotus about the origins of the Greco-Prussian War. It becomes the inspiration for his brand of journalism and his friend. The book is an amazing perspective on experiencing life outside the iron curtain and how it relates to history.
Travels with Charley, In search of America by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck wrote this book about traveling around America with his dog, Charley when he knew he was dying. I read it in grade school with profound effect. It made me want to see where the road leads, play life by ear and just go. It has been proven to be largely fiction, not the true tale it was originally sold as, but I love it anyway!
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Chatwin’s grandparents had a piece of Brontosaurus which had been found in Patagonia. Or so family stories said. His grandmother’s uncle had sold bits of these remains to the British Museum. It was actually the skeleton a giant sloth; Chatwin decided to head to Patagonia to find his own piece of Brontosaurus. He spent 6 months seeking the unusual. Many of the conversations recanted are thought to be interpretations. Regardless, it is a charming book.
Neither here nor there, Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson makes me laugh out loud! I love everything he writes. This time he travels solo around Europe revisiting many places he traveled as a back packer in his youth. It reminded me of my time living in Paris and of so many trips since. He always reminds me that the biggest disasters make for the best stories!
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermer
In 1933 Fermer set off to walk across Europe. He was 18. He had a few letters of introduction. He slept in huts and fine estates. Hitler had just come to power, monarchies abounded and a glamourous old way of living still existed. Years later his diaries were found in an old castle in Romania and sent back to him. He combines these notes with what he had learned in the next 40 odd years to create a magical travel story. This is volume I; Volume II is called Between the Woods and the Water. The third volume was never finished.
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
One of the boys had to read this for school when we lived in Beijing. I grabbed it for our trip through Uzbekistan. Although it has nothing to do with Asia, it is all about adventure. The ultimate theme is that the world conspires to make your wish come true if you want it badly enough. A magical book in a magical place.