15 February 2021

Travel books that can help you see the world

Reading on a tropical beach

For those with wanderlust and a fascination for the world, recent travel limitations have made it hard to see this planet of ours. And, for many, there are myriad other reasons that travelling might not be an option right now, whether you have mobility issues and rely on stair lifts or you have other commitments at home you need to address.

For anyone who is feeling stuck at home and wants more than anything to travel, there is one way you can experience the world from the comfort of your armchair and that’s with books. Travellers have been documenting their experiences for hundreds of years and with merely the flick of a page, we are now able to follow in their footsteps and learn all about their first-hand experiences.

This article lists some of the best travel books to read at home which can take you around the globe.

Booked: A Traveller’s Guide to Literary Locations Around the World

Written by Richard Kreitner

For the literary lover, there may be no better travel book than Booked: A Traveller’s Guide to Literary Locations Around the World. Uncovering the settings of some of the world’s favourite novels, writer Richard Kreitner manages to combine both the literary world with our own and create the ultimate travel bucket list for book lovers.

Jessica Esa, a blogger at travel and literature site Books and Bao, recommended this book, explaining: “This gorgeous coffee table book takes you to eighty literary locations across the world including the US, Japan, the UK, and beyond. It’s a beautifully designed travel book, wonderfully readable with luscious pictures and detailed itineraries that will transport right into the moment. Quotes from the books and authors mentioned are sprinkled through the book so you can compare the real-life place with its fictional equivalent. Whether you’ve dreamt of seeing Romania through the eyes of Bram Stoker’s Dracula or you have wished you could see Louisa May Alcott’s home in Massachusetts, this charming book will take you there.”

Buy ‘Booked: A Traveller’s Guide to Literary Locations Around the World’ by Richard Kreitner

Hawaii from the air

Moloka’i

Written by Alan Brennert

Moloka’i, eponymously named after the Hawaiian island on which it is set, tells a tale that many outside of the Hawaiian archipelago may not be aware of. A story even more pertinent in light of recent events, the book explores a historic leprosy pandemic that took over Hawaii and the decision to quarantine all of those with the disease to the island of Moloka’i. However, the book doesn’t’ reflect it’s dark subject matter and shows how humankind always finds the light in a dark time.

Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew told us: “Moloka’i, by Alan Brennert, will whisk you away to a Hawai’i of more than a century ago, where an awful disease is ravaging the native Hawaiians. Forced into quarantine on the island of Moloka’i, they will prove that the human spirit is strong and can overcome even the most dire of situations. Despite the circumstances, they find joy and love on this beautiful island. Alan Brennert’s description of this tropical setting will transport you to a warmer place and a simpler time. I had the privilege to visit this island and the leper colony after reading this book and can attest to the accuracy of the book and the beautiful special feeling of this place.”

Buy ‘Moloka’i’ by Alan Brennert

Eat, Pray, Love

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love is such a popular book it’s been transformed into one of the most well-known travel films of all time. Centring around the author, Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert, this book may be about travel but is also about the journey a woman goes on to find herself. For female travellers especially, it’s an aspirational novel that offers a tale of empowerment, self-discovery and liberty that can often feel drowned out.

Liz decides, after a divorce, to take some time to herself to travel and see the world, where she visits three locations that each have a lesson to teach her. First, she visited Italy which hosts the “Eat” portion of the book, falling in love with food and life once more. Second, her spirituality grows in India, “Pray”. Finally, she visits Indonesia, where the final act of the book, “Love”, takes place.

Buy ‘Eat, Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

Arctic Tundra

Arctic Dreams

Written by Barry Lopez

One of the lesser-explored areas of the world falls within the Arctic Circle. With wild tundra, freezing temperatures and ultimate remoteness, this is not a travel destination for the faint of heart. From stories of Inuit culture to tales regarding the history of the Arctic and accounts of the local fauna, for those looking to get a real insight into this incredible location, Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez is a must-read.

Described by The Guardian as “the most important living writer about wilderness” and this book regarded his masterpiece, Lopez doesn’t approach the subject of the Arctic in a romantic or rose-tinted way but rather shows it how it really is, and often treacherous and austere place.

Buy ‘Arctic Dreams’ by Barry Lopez

The Great Railway Bazaar

Written by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux finds himself a polarising travel writer, however, despite this, he is still one of the most popular travel writers in the world. On a mission to report on every aspect of his travels, including the nitty-gritty often overlooked by other travel writers, Theroux’s memoirs are sure to give you a truly accurate portrayal of his experiences – for better or for worse.

The Great Railway Bazaar is Theroux’s first book, and details his journey, made mostly on rail, from London to Asia, including visits to Jaipur, Kuala Lumpur and Kyoto, as well as a journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. His vivid style of writing means you’ll be transported to the moment in time he is capturing, whether a conversation with a fellow traveller, a monologue about his experiences or discussions with locals from the myriad locations he visits.

Buy ‘The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia’ by Paul Theroux

Travel books that can help you see the world:

  • Booked by Richard Kreitner
  • Moloka’i by Allan Brennert
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
  • The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

With these books, you‘ll be able to take yourself all around the globe without having to leave your home. So, whether you want to pay a visit to Asia or road trip around Europe, just flick through the pages of a great book and find yourself experiencing the world.

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