Whenever I’m planning a trip I always spend a significant amount of time trying to find the perfect book to bring with me. It needs to be engaging enough to hold my attention in a distracting airport but not too heavy a story. I like my holiday reads to be about adventure and to inspire me a bit. So here are my carefully selected, tested and true top picks for travel books.
Euphoria by Lily King. Possibly one of my favourite books on this list, Euphoria follows three anthropologists in the 1930’s as they study the lives of the people living on the Sepik River in the Territory of New Guinea. The story has plenty of romance and shocking plot twists and will inspire you to start planning your next big adventure.
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. This love story follows Maddie and Ellis Hyde, a young couple who have moved to Scotland during World War II. After being cut off financially from his socialite parents, Ellis comes up with a scheme to win back the respect of his community. This book is a nice light read, perfect for a beach holiday where you want something romantic and easy.
Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard. This memoir by semi-rad.com blogger Brendan Leonard is about overcoming addiction through climbing and mountaineering. It’s a great choice for those who are traveling vs vacationing or if you are in a reflective head space and want something to really make you think. As a bonus it will leave you inspired to get outside on some adventures.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. My mom picked this up for me a few days before I left for Bali. This book is a hilarious read about two men in their forties who take on the strenuous task of through hiking the Appalachian Trail. It would be a great vacation read for the adventure traveler with a sarcastic sense of humor or anyone interested in learning about the United States Park Service (which is actually super interesting).
The Marriage of Opposites by Mara Hoffman. Travel back to 19th century St. Thomas where Rachel and Frederic Pissarro have scandalized their tight knit Jewish community with their forbidden romance. This book is perfect for both tropical holidays or rainy staycations. Art history buffs will love the novelization of impressionist artist Camille Pissarro’s life.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Author Cheryl Strayed writes about her impulsive decision to step away from a life that was falling apart and hike the 1,100 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Jonathan and I have always wanted to hike this trail so of course this book was a must read for me. The writing is gritty and honest, this book would be a great choice for someone looking for inspiration on their path to self discovery.
The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux. This book of novellas tells the story of three different Americans traveling in India. The stories explore the many complex contradictions of contemporary India through the lens of the entitled western traveler. This book is for the traveler who wants something a little heavier and who is willing to examine the effect of their own “tourist gaze” when visiting foreign countries.
By the Seat of My Pants edited by Don George. This book is a collection of humorous short stories by Lonely Planet travel writers. I’ve mentioned on this blog before how much I love the Lonely Planet guidebooks and I always love when the writers for them are a little bit sarcastic or anecdotal. So I was super excited when I found this book of hilarious stories of misadventure and blunders. It’s a great choice for the traveler who finds it difficult to concentrate on a novel in a distracting airport or just can’t bring themselves to dive into a complex plot line while relaxing poolside.
So those are my top choices for travel reads. Have you read any of these books yet? What did you think of them? What do you look for in a holiday read? Leave me a comment below and let me know!