Travel books are often the starting point for many of our travel plans, whether it’s reading about Jack Kerouac’s life ‘On The Road’ or Tom Neale’s desire to be ‘An Island to Oneself’, books and their authors inspire a restlessness in us all.
Travel literature can be about any subject you can think of, in fact, you can reason almost any fiction and non-fiction book can be classified as a travel book. Writers have the unique advantage of always writing about people and places, whether you want to visit as a result of their words is a decision only you can make.
Eight travel books to inspire you to explore the world.
Jack Kerouac, drunk, drug user, leader of the beat generation. His breakout novel, On the Road, is one long spontaneous travel diary mixed with all types of craziness from Dean Moriarty and the gang.
Travels with Charley – In search of America by John Steinbeck is an autobiographical account of the road trip undertaken by the old man of American literature along with his trusty and beloved Charley. A must read for those looking to explore small-town America.
A thrilling book by an American teacher living in China, Peter Hessler explores the deep social and cultural differences through a sharp western eye.
Hessler encounters the Chinese generation that is powering the country’s massive economic expansion, the young men and women who leave their rural homes to find work in the cities of Bejing, Nanjing and Chongqing. But Hessler also encounters those seemingly left behind by the economic boom and the changing face of many Chinese cities.
Paul Theroux is one of the all-time classic travel writers, I could have chosen any one of his excellent works, Dark Star Safari or The Old Patagonia Express – one of the best train travel books around.
However, Hotel Honolulu shows the seedy, browbeaten side of paradise, a side you won’t find in the glossy brochures.
Richard Grant’s Ghost Riders doesn’t just transport the author from an East End council estate; it takes the reader on a journey of what it means to be a nomad, a nomad in a country made for nomadic people. North America is such a vast and open country it’s easy to see why nomads from around the world are attracted to the place.
An Island to Oneself by Tom Neale is a book I picked up at a garage sale I just happened to find while passing through a small NZ coastal town, a small town whose name I have long forgotten.
What I haven’t forgotten is this inspiring travel book, Tom Neale is a nomad in every sense of the word, his island hopping exploits throughout the South Pacific is enough for a book on their own.
The book Neale did end up writing tells the tale of how he lived on a small atoll called Suvarov. An inspiring read which makes the reader want to search for their own island paradise.
In a way Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth is the ultimate travel book, achieving what so many set out to do; the impossible.
In Search of Captain Zero – A Surfer’s Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road by Allan WeisbeckerWhat Allan Weisbecker is looking for is what a lot of travellers are searching for; a friend. In Weisbecker’s case, he is off in search of Captain Zero, an old surfing, and drug smuggling buddy.