There are moments when the time between vacations seems endless. (That’s how we all feel, right? RIGHT?!) If you’re looking to shorten the time between vacations or are simply looking for a great read, enjoy some of the most wonderful wanderlust inspiring books!
1. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
What happens when a young man from a well-to-do family gives $25,000 to charity, abandons his car, burns his cash and invents a new life for himself by hitchhiking to Alaska? That’s exactly what Christopher McCandless did in this adventurous and bone-chilling story later adapted into a movie.
2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Another movie adaptation, Jack Kerouac’s famous novel On the Road chronicles the American travels of “Sal Paradise” during the America’s famous “beat” generation. This novel is filled with bohemian whimsy, drug-fueled writing and a love for America.
3. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Probably my favorite book ever, Hemingway’s second novel describes the lost generation as seen through the characters of Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley . Characters of the sun also rises deal with angst and disillusionment of the post-World War I era as they travel through France and Spain.
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Another favorite of mine (and the world evidently as it was to 67 different languages by 2009) is The Alchemist. This simple yet incredibly profound book tells the tale of a shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert to search for buried treasure in the Pyramids. His quest takes him on a journey of compassion, self-discovery and internal power.
5. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Not only does this book highlight the magic of reading, it also explores the Chinese culture during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s to the 1970s. As two boys are exiled to Tibet for reeducation, they learn about the importance of education and growing up in a world that is quite grim.
6. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
The global phenomenon that was Eat, Pray, Love inspired real solo, female travel and living outside of your comfort zone. The novelist and narrator, Elizabeth Gilbert, sets on a quest to find happiness and self-discovery after her messy divorce by eating her way through Italy, gaining spirituality in India and falling in love in Indonesia.
7. Burmese Days by George Orwell
One of the greatest authors in English history recounts his days as a policeman in the Burma (now present day Myanmar) through the eyes of Flory, a white timber merchant, who befriends Dr. Veraswami, a black enthusiast for the Burmese Empire. Set in the days of the Empire where the British ruled Burma with corruption corruption and imperial bigotry towards the locals or “natives” as they called them.
8. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This brick of a novel (1,000+ pages!) is absolutely addicting! If you’re looking for a deliciously detailed day in the life of India and those who live in the heart of Bombay, this is your book! This tale of an outsider’s view of India is told by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia. Too many pages for a proper summary, so you gotta read it for yourself. I couldn’t put it down!
9. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
If you want to learn more about France than it’s romantic capital, then Provence is the perfect wanderlusting book. Peter Mayle tells his story moving into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. This book is perhaps even more romantic as it lets us fantasize a Provençal life led by a well-to-do Brit.
10. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This incredibly astounding book was added to our reading list in college and I was so glad to have read it! Two resilient women, born a generation apart, are brought together by dark and troubling times in Afghanistan. Due to the many dangers in their life, they form a bond that is so moving, you will be in tears.
11. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Though slightly darker and with a touch of dry humor, Orwell recounts some of the depravity and darkness he experienced in these cities through a fictional character. Don’t look for magical lights or romantic cobblestones here; this book is perfect for a literary or history buff looking for sensory detail.
This book reads much like Hector and the Search for Happiness with a little less Africa and a little more Asia. A man who worked as a foreign correspondent for foreign locations with less than happy circumstances, author Eric Weiner travels the world to search for “unheralded happy places.” The book is equal parts funny and inspiring!
13. When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa by Peter Godwin
Quite possibly the saddest book you’ll ever read. These memoirs by Peter Godwin begin on his trip back to Zimbabwe after his father’s heart attack. On this journey, you witness the country’s struggle against a cruel and ferocious dictator. Aside from the country’s drama, Peter discovers information about his family that allows him to understand the strength of the human spirit.
14. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Recently adapted into a movie and played by Reese Witherspoon, Wild is the story of a woman’s experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone, with no hiking experience. Her quest for enlightenment after her mother’s death and subsequent divorce allows her to get in touch with nature as well as her true self.
15. Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
Another movie favorite and popular if you’re into the travel hacking phenomenon. Ryan Bingham’s job involves ruining people’s lives as a Career Transition Counselor where he fires people. And although he has come to despise his line of work, he has come to love the culture of what he calls “Airworld.” His ultimate goal? Reaching 1 million air miles! But not without reaching some bumps along the way.
16. Sea and Sardinia by D.H. Lawrence
Sea and Sardinia records Lawrence’s journey to Sardinia and back in January 1921 after World War I. In the form of literary artwork, this book is his response to a new landscape and people as well as an inquiry into the political and social values of an era which saw the rise of communism and fascism.
17. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
If the great outdoors is your shangri la, then Bryson certainly speaks your language. Bryson walked the Appalachian Trail, stretching from Georgia to Maine. He recounts the absolute beauty of his surroundings as well as some beloved folks along the way.
If the title didn’t give it away, then grab a copy of Yoga Bitch to learn about 25-year-old Suzanne Morrison who goes on a journey to discover her spiritual side despite her sarcastic, addictive personality. Though she runs into a lot more weird stuff than just a typical yoga retreat in Bali. Think of it as Eat, Pray Love for us girls in our mid-twenties.
19. The Wanderess by Roman Payne
Set as a gothic and dark mystery, The Wanderess is a story of passion and romance in the Mediterranean including Spain, France, Italy and beyond. The story unveils Saul and his passion for the beautiful Saskia, a mysterious young orphan girl whom he meets and vows to protect as his child. Eventually, their adventures weave so deep into a web of jealousy, passion, intrigue, betrayal, and finally, murder.
20. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my list! The story is based on the true adventure of Maarten Troost who moved to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. Troost learns that this island isn’t the paradise that Troost expects this getaway to be.