Italian author Elena Ferrante once wrote, “It was marvelous to cross borders, to let oneself go within other cultures, discover the provisional nature of what I had taken as absolute.”
That’s true of travel; it’s also true of reading. Upon opening a book, you enter someone else’s mind and begin to understand that provisional nature to which Ferrante was referring. By thumbing through bound pages, you’ll find yourself walking the Appalachian Trail with a man in the throes of a mid-life crisis, or eating your way through Basque Country, one of the world’s most cutting-edge food scenes. You could follow a Nobel Prize winner as he drives around the country with his faithful poodle, or you could step into the mind of a surfer looking for his missing friend.
Here are some suggested travel books to transport you around the world from wherever you’re reading. All are available on Amazon or your local book shop.
How Soccer Explains The World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer
Franklin Foer’s delightful How Soccer Explains The World debuted at just the right time. Soccer was becoming truly globalized in 2004 (South Korea and Japan hosted the 2002 World Cup, and the United States reached the quarterfinals stage of that tournament), and the author sought answers on the sport’s past, present, and future. His explorations into soccer hotbeds around the globe (Glasgow, Amsterdam, London, among others) double as cultural guides. There are stories of triumph and tragedy that non-sports fans can relate to.
“An eccentric, fascinating exposé of a world most of us know nothing about.” —The New York Times Book Review
A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
One need not spin a globe and drop a pin to find the perfect travel destination. Sometimes, taking the path through the woods can be just as memorable. In A Walk In The Woods, Bryson puts his mid-life crisis on the page, humorously detailing his journey down the Appalachian Trail. He has no outdoor experience, just misplaced ambition. And the result fits the understated title: A walk in the woods doesn’t ever have to be just a walk in the woods.
“The Appalachian Trail…consists of some five million steps, and Bryson manages to coax a laugh, and often an unexpectedly startling insight, out of every one he traverses…It is hard not to grin idiotically through all 304 pages…sheer comic entertainment.” —Kirkus Reviews
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
At one point in our lives, most of us dream of ditching civilization and traveling the world. Few of us actually do it. Rita Golden Gelman leaves behind Los Angeles to embark on a year-long journey of self-enlightenment. Some of her stops are brief. Others are long. Each gives us snapshots of a woman finding herself in unlikely places: the Galapagos Islands, a small village in Mexico, and more.
“Gelman doesn’t just observe the cultures she visits, she participates in them, becoming emotionally involved in the people’s lives. This is an amazing travelogue.” —Booklist
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts
Rolf Potts has made a living—to put it one way—traveling the world on a tight budget. In Vagabonding, he’s happy to share his experiences and advice. This entertaining read doesn’t focus only on solo travel, though. All travelers will find use from its pages. It’s part memoir, part guide, and part inspirational material to let your mind wander in hopes that your body will soon follow. “A crucial reference for any budget wanderer.” —Time
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Best known for his Great Depression-era classics, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which captured the ethos and pathos of the most devastating economic downturn in American history, Steinbeck hits the road with his faithful companion, Charley the poodle, in this 1962 travelogue. Steinbeck outfits a GMC pickup truck with a camper shell, fills it with booze and snacks to share along the way, and drives around the country in an attempt to reconnect with what he called “New America.” What follows is a tender love letter to the vast, open spaces of the continent and the poetics of place. “Profound, sympathetic, often angry . . . an honest moving book by one of our great writers.” —The San Francisco Examiner
So, go enjoy some travel reading for when we can all get back to travelling. Do you have a favourite travel book to recommend to other travel junkies? Feel free to leave a comment or of course contact me if you are looking to book travel next year.