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9 books every travel enthusiast should read

August 9 is celebrated as the Book Lovers Day across the world. While the day’s origins may be shrouded in mystery and rumor, the books themselves are not. Started from carving on stone tablets, the book was designed to make portable the writings and drawings of those that could not carry around stone tablets.

On this Book Lovers Day, we list 9 books that every traveller must read at least once in their lifetime.

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The AlchemistA story about following your dreams, this is one of the most read books in recent history. The story follows a young shepherd boy from Spain to Egypt as he follows his heart, goes with the flow, and learns to love and the meaning of life. The book is filled with wonderful and inspirational quotes, like my favourite: “If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.” I’ve read this book multiple times. A book about following your dreams is a great book for dreamer… and we travellers certainly are dreamers.

2. In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
In a Sunburned CountryIt’s hard to pick just one book by Bill Bryson that’s good, because they all are. He’s one of the most prolific and recognised names in travel writing. This book chronicles a journey through Australia and takes you from east to west, through tiny little mining towns, forgotten coastal cities, and off-the-beaten-path forests. Bryson includes lots of trivia in his tale as he travels around in awe — and sometimes in fear (thanks to box jellyfish, riptides, crocs, spiders, and snakes) — of this enormous country. This is the book that inspired me to go to Australia.


3. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
On the Road, by Jack KerouacWritten in 1957, Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation classic is a timeless travel novel. The story follows his character, Sal, as he leaves New York City and heads west, riding the rails, making friends, and partying the night away. The main character’s frustration and desire to see the world are themes that can resonate with many of us. What I especially love about this story is that through all his travel adventures, he becomes a better, stronger, and more confident person. I can personally relate to that.


4. Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
Around India in 80 TrainsTaking a page from Jules Verne’s classic tale, Monisha Rajesh embarked on an adventure around India in eighty trains. Indian trains carry over twenty million passengers daily, plowing through cities, crawling past villages, climbing up mountains, and skimming along coasts. Monisha hopes that her journeys across India will lift the veil on a country that had become a stranger to her.



5. Hot Tea Across India, Rishad Saam Mehta
Hot Tea Across IndiaOn Rishad Saam Mehta’s journeys — and as a travel writer and all-round road-trip junkie, he’s been on many — there’s a particular thing he noticed. There’s not a highway, road or dirt track in India where you can’t find a cup of chai whenever you want it. And with those cuppas come encounters and incidents that make travelling in India a fascinating adventure. In this riveting book, which includes stories of honey- and saffron-infused tea shared with a shepherd in Kashmir, and a strong brew that revives the author after almost getting lynched by an irate mob in Kerala, Rishad takes you across the length and breadth of India, from Manali to Munnar, from the Rann of Kutch to Khajuraho, with a wonderful combination of wit, sensitivity and insight.

6. The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World
The Turk Who Loved ApplesWritten by my friend Matt Gross, this book by the NYT’s former Frugal Traveler is about his misadventures and lessons from decades of travel. A lot of what he’s written resonates with me, especially his thoughts working in travel, being a solo traveler, and living in Southeast Asia. It’s a great book and very well written. I did a video interview with him earlier this year too and we joke about our very different feelings on Vietnam.


7. A Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost, by Rachel Friedman
A Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost, by Rachel FriedmanRachel begins the book describing her sheltered childhood and her decision to spend just a few months in Ireland. There she meets a wild-child Australian who becomes her best friend and inspires her to travel and live in Australia and South America. Along the way Rachel grows and developed as a person. Most of us will relate to this book – the desire to break out of our shell, our fear of the unknown, getting more comfortable in our own skin, and growing as travel makes us more independent. Well-written, funny, and a bit self-deprecating, this book made me smile all the way through.


8. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also RisesThe quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

9. Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby
Slowly Down the Ganges‘Slowly Down the Ganges’ is seen as a vintage Newby masterpiece, alongside ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’ and ‘Love and War in the Apennines’. Told with Newby’s self-deprecating humour and wry attention to detail, this is a classic of the genre and a window into an enchanting piece of history.

On his forty-forth birthday, Eric Newby sets out on an incredible journey: to travel the 1,200-mile length of India’s holy river. In a misguided attempt to keep him out of trouble, Wanda, his life-long travel companion and wife, is to be his fellow boatwoman. Their plan is to begin in the great plain of Hardwar and finish in the Bay of Bengal, but the journey almost immediately becomes markedly slower and more treacherous than either had imagined – running aground sixty-three times in the first six days.


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