The magic of books is their ability to transport readers from a cushy living room armchair to an exotic locale using vivid imagery and a sense of place. Some writers are so skilled at crafting phrases so descriptive, you feel you’re actually there—all of the sights, sounds, and smells of a place come to life.
When the wanderlust hits but you can’t leave on a trip just yet, here are eight travel books—both fiction and nonfiction!—that will whisk you away to a different destination. Note: Most libraries have ebooks available for check out, Audible has thousands of books available (many for free or it will allow for a free trial), and kindle or nook are always great e-options (and they have mobile apps in case you don’t own a device. The short of it is—there’s not reason not to download or pick up a copy of the best travel books out there when you’re looking for wanderlust inspiration.
“In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams” by Tahir Shah
Shah’s critically acclaimed book, “The Caliph’s House,” became an instant sensation in the travel memoir world. In this new travel book, Shah travels the country on a journey of self-discovery interwoven with tales handed down through generations and a good dose of cultural anecdotes. If you’ve ever dreamed of walking through Morocco’s maze-like markets or crossing the desert, this book will inspire your wanderlust.
“Women in the Sunlight: A Novel” by Frances Mayes
Mayes authored “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a non-fictional account of her restoration of a Tuscan villa that went on to be a best-seller and hit movie. Today, she continues to immerse her readers in all things Tuscany with a fictional account of a friendship between four women. When retiree friends move to Italy, arriving with little more than their luggage, they’re immersed in the flavors, sights, and sounds of their new home—and so is the reader.
“A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” by Bill Bryson
Bryson is known for the writing he did during decades living in Britain, but it was this 1998 book that became a film starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. This book chronicles Bryson’s adventures as he and a companion strap on packs and hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking trail in the world, from Maine to Georgia. Along with the trail’s breathtaking scenery, Bryson’s entertaining commentary—which includes history and ecology lessons—keep things marching right along.
“After Kilimanjaro: A Novel” by Gayle Woodson
Dr. Woodson is an internationally-renowned surgeon, and she draws on her real-life experience in this travel book to tell the story of a surgeon in training who embarks on a year of medical outreach in Tanzania. Woodson paints a picture of the country’s exotic wildlife, natural beauty, and welcoming people, where her character trains maternity ward workers in a remote mountain village. This novel presents a different perspective than the ‘summit the mountain’ adventurelogues more common to travel tales about Tanzania.
“My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now” by Peter Mayles
Mayles and his wife moved to Provence, where they lived for 25 years. In his last book, Mayles brings to life the villages and characters of the South of France, reflecting on his life there—it’s a must-read travel book for any fan of his work.
“Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback” by Robyn Davidson
If you were a fan of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed (also a must-read travel book), you’ll love this tale of a woman alone crossing a desolate landscape by camel. While she is physically challenged by her adventure, the greater journey she takes is within herself. (Bet she wishes she had the Stash Neck Pouch for that long trek!)
“Shantaram: A Novel” by Gregory Roberts
This epic travel novel, set in Mumbai, parallels the author’s jaw-dropping real-life story of busting out of prison and living as a fugitive in India. Across a decade, he started a free clinic for slum dwellers and worked for the mafia. Roberts’ debut novel celebrates not only a love of India as a place but a deep-dive into what it means to be human.
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