27 Must-Read Books That Will Inspire You To Travel

Cover image for the post Must-Read Books That Will Inspire You To Travel

Looking for some travel inspiration while you wait for your next big adventure? Or maybe you’re after some destination ideas on your commute to/from work? We could all do with a little travel inspo every now and then. That’s why I’ve put together this list of must-read books that will most definitely inspire you to travel.

Just like a good movie, a good travel book can transport you to a far-off, exotic location as you immerse yourself in the author’s words and let your imagination run wild. In fact, many producers and directors are so inspired by these books that many are eventually made into movies!

However, reading books also offers many benefits that a movie/tv program can’t. Just the act of reading itself can relieve stress, provide mental stimulation and improve your memory. A book will also allow your brain to be more creative. Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say “the movie was much better than the book”? Almost never!

Many of us have now moved onto the digital versions of our favourite book these days. Indeed, there are many benefits to reading on an iPad or Amazon Kindle. There’s the glare-free touchscreen displays and massive digital storage capabilities and now they have dictionaries and Wikipedia pages available with just one touch. Not to mention you can read books on your smartphone!

Of course, there’s nothing quite like digging out that tatty old paperback version of The Beach as you lie in your hammock on a beach in Southeast Asia!

While I’ve read quite a few books in my time I can’t claim to have read every travel book out there so I’ve asked some of my fellow travel bloggers to help me with this list of their must-read travel books. Check out their recommendations below!

Must-Read Travel Books

To Shake The Sleeping Self

by Jedidiah Jenkins

Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveller.

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To Shake the Sleeping Self, by Jedidiah Jenkins, is a real-life tale of a man’s self-discovery as he bikes along the Oregon coast down through Central America and all the way to Patagonia.

With absolutely no cycling experience, he leaves his stable job as an attorney and figures out how to navigate, with solely his bicycle and a couple of panniers, his way through several countries. Wild-camping on the mountain tops of Peru, exploring the streets of Mexico City, and resting his aching muscles on the stunning beaches of Nicaragua. 

Along the way, he, of course, tackles some of his own personal demons. From his sexuality to his complicated relationship with religion and his mother. I have a lot of similarities with Jedidiah- I’m an attorney by day (travel blogger by night!), with an insatiable love of travel, exploring the world, and connecting with others.

While I don’t have quite the appetite to bicycle across two continents, reading about Jedidiah’s journey has inspired me to more deeply explore Central and South America. What exactly that looks like, I’m not sure. It might be a long-haul trip in my RV, slowly visiting country by country or something else entirely.

Regardless of what form my explorations take, I’m confident they’ll have the same transformative effect as Jedidiah’s epic journey.

Shantaram

by Gregory David Roberts

Recommended by Ellie from Soul Travel India.

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Based in Mumbai, India, Gregory David Roberts’ 900+ page epic book, Shantaram paints a detailed picture of the underbelly of Bombay (Mumbai) as he flees Australia and makes his new home in the southern tip of the city – Colaba. Shortly after arriving in Mumbai, Lin (Gregory’s false name) is robbed and loses all his possessions, forcing him to live in the city’s slums and rely on his new local friends. He learns how the darker side of the city works and watches doors open to him as he hustles and learns the local language, Marathi.

Throughout the book, we are treated to a view of life on the streets of Mumbai. The power struggles between rival gangs and the world of organized crime, but most powerfully through his insights into everyday life in the slums of Mumbai and through his interactions with those who become his family.

While hardly the most romantic novel about India, Roberts captures something of the true heart and soul of India: Through her people and their generosity. 

The book is based around Colaba in the ’80s, and there are many sights around southern Mumbai that you can visit to re-create your own scenes from the book. From the markets of Colaba Causeway to Cuffe Parade and Marine Drive, the most famous Shantaram landmark is Leopold’s (Cafe Leopold, on Colaba Causeway) is a must-visit. Be warned that the beers are overpriced and the bar is always packed, but this is a must-visit for all Shantaram fans. The owner keeps photos of the author, Roberts, on the wall behind the till. 

Although the book is not a true story (it is inspired by real events) and only paints one picture of Mumbai, Shantaram may just make you fall a bit in love with Mumbai and tempt you to visit and see for yourself.

Arturo’s Island

by Elsa Morante

Recommended by Lisa from Travel Connect Experience.

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L’Isola di Arturo (Arturo’s Island) is an Italian novel set on the tiny, picturesque island of Procida, off the port of Naples, in the late 1930s. Elsa Morante, the novel’s female author, won the Premio Strega, one of the highest awards for Italian literature, in the same year of publication, 1957. 

Arturo, the protagonist of the novel, is an adult man who retraces through flashbacks many episodes of his childhood and adolescence, spent on the island of Procida. Arturo’s mother died during childbirth, so Arturo grows up with his father, who is emotionally distant and also physically distant for long periods of time, so the protagonist spends most of his days exploring the length and breadth of Procida together with his dog.

The descriptions of Arturo’s adventures are an indirect invitation to visit Procida, an island with a crystal clear sea and breathtaking landscapes. For half of Arturo’s life, the island represents a dimension where he takes refuge and to which he attributes affective and familiar meanings.

When his father comes home one day with a new partner, Arturo finally sees the possibility of having a mother, but soon his little brother is born, who absorbs all the affection and attention of the woman.
From this moment on, Arturo’s world turns upside down: he finally understands that genuine and unconditional affection is possible, even if it does not affect him personally. At the same time, Arturo learns some secrets about his father’s private life. Blinded by dismay, he makes the courageous decision to visit the mainland.

In addition to being a coming-of-age novel, Arturo’s Island offers a glimpse of local Italian culture that is perfect as a prelude to a journey of discovery through southern Italy.

Eat, Pray, Love

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Recommended by Anisa from Norfolk Local Guide.

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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything is the true story of what some may call Elizabeth Gilbert’s midlife crisis.  She has everything she ever desired but is laying on the bathroom floor crying.

She went through a divorce, a deep depression, another failed romance, and had no idea what she wanted from life. Gilbert needed time and space to figure things out for herself so she got rid of her things, quit her job, and planned a year to travel by herself.

She wanted to go to three different places where she could examine one aspect of herself set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian, and enjoying the local cuisine.  In India, she learned about the art of devotion through spiritual exploration with the help of a cowboy from Texas. During the last segment of her trip in Bali, she focused on the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence and unexpectedly fell in love.

I enjoyed reading Eat Pray Love because the author was so open and descriptive with her emotions.  I felt like she was one of my close friends and I was rooting for her to find happiness.

Before I read the book, I had visited Italy and India.  It was fun to relive my time in those two countries through Gilbert’s words.  The book did inspire me to visit Bali one day.

An Embarrassment Of Mangoes

by Ann Vanderhoof

Recommended by Melinda from Mel On The Go.

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Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, office workers in Toronto, made a plan to sail the Caribbean for 2 years. Her 2003 book about the experience, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, has inspired many others to leave the land behind and live on sailboats in paradise. Similarly emboldened, my husband and I are in our third year living and traveling on our boat.

Ann’s warm tone and colorful descriptions of cruising through tropical islands transported me from wintry Toronto to the azure Caribbean sea. Reading about her and her husband’s adventures and misadventures, two normal people, learning as they go, made the dream possible to me. Oh and the recipes! A food editor, Ann shares her versions of island recipes, making mouths water with descriptions of seafood, plantains, and yes, the titular mangoes.

At the beginning of our adventure, we mirrored part of Ann’s path through ports in The Dominican Republic, Grenada for hurricane season, and beaches and potlucks in between. We aren’t professional sailors but we are successfully navigating the world by boat! We have ventured further and persisted longer, forging our own path, and chronicling our own adventures on land and sea.

Reading about so-called average people doing extraordinary things makes the deeds more accessible and achievable. Ann probably didn’t realize when she published her book almost 20 years ago that An Embarrassment of Mangoes would inspire people to jump on a boat and go, but she did, and I am grateful to her and her book for giving voice to my dreams.

The Museum Of Innocence

by Orhan Pamuk

Recommended by De Wet from Museum of Wander.

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The Museum of Innocence by Turkish novelist and Nobel prize winner in literature, Orhan Pamuk, is one of the best books to read before visiting Istanbul.

The novel starts in 1975 when Kemal, a wealthy, engaged young man, falls in love with Füsun, a poor and distant relative. The story spans eight years and is as much a story of impossible love as it is the story of Istanbul in a time of rapid modernization.

During the eight years, Kemal finds an excuse to visit Füsun and her family in their family home almost every night.  Every night that he goes to visit, he takes something back with him: a teaspoon, a cigarette butt, an empty bottle, a toothbrush, and so on. At the end of the novel, Kemal puts all the things he had collected in a museum.

But then Pamuk went the extra mile. Instead of just writing about a guy collecting things and putting them in a museum, Pamuk went and opened an actual brick and mortar museum, just as described in the novel!

It’s mindboggling to walk through the actual museum and see all the things that Kemal had collected in the novel, with extracts from the novel for context.


In the closing pages of the novel, Kemal says that all readers of the book can get free entrance to the Museum of Innocence. So take your novel with you when you go and enter for free.


A visit to the Museum of Innocence is one of the most surreal things to do in Istanbul (for those who have read the book). 

Into The Wild

by Jon Krakauer

Recommended by PlacesofJuma.

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Probably one of the best travel books is definitely Into the Wild, written by Jon Krakauer. In the year 1992, a dead body was found in Alaska. The author researches the story about the man, called Chris McCandless and reconstructs his story of life.

Honestly, the book is exciting, full of adventures and very moving the more you read further. If you love freedom and travel, this book will definitely catch you. You dive into the beautiful and, at the same time, sad life of a seeker. It’s all about the searching for freedom that leads a young man to leave modern society behind. He is traveling through the USA, is meeting new interesting friends, and is visiting amazing places.

But he wanted more, and finally, he went to Alaska for finding peace in the deepest nature. Unfortunately, his last adventure was not supposed to find a happy ending. He hiked through Denali National Park and along the Sushana River, where he finds an abandoned bus that becomes his base camp. 112 days in Alaska’s wilderness, Chris McCandless meets his lonely death.

Although the story has a sad ending, the book still inspires travel a lot. It made me want to go on a road trip, experience new things, and explore foreign countries. The USA and Canada are definitely on my bucket list.

The Snow Leopard

by Peter Matthiessen

Recommended by Nicole from Wandering with a Dromomaniac.

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Written in 1978, The Snow Leopard is one of the most beautifully written stories of adventure and exploration you will ever read.

The author, Peter Matthiessen embarks on a two-month journey along the Tibetan Plateau of the Himalayas with his naturalist friend George Schaller to study the mating rituals of blue sheep for comparison to the common sheep of the United States.

The other main objective was to catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard, something only 2 Westerners had glimpsed in the previous 25-years. But what he gets is a deeper understanding of the natural world and his place in it, sinking deep into his Buddhist teachings. It’s a 200-mile journey of struggle, waist-deep snow, extremes, and incredible imagery.

This book ignited that explorer in me that wants to go and discover the wild places that still remain, to push myself to my limits in the pursuit of wildlife conservation. It was a research trek that was written like a novel.

Peter’s book is so steeped in imagery, it was easy to fall in love with this wild and treacherous place and begin to question what we know about these wild spaces.

Vagabonding

by Rolf Potts

Recommended by Katja from Wander Cape Town.

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In Vagabonding, Rolf Potts explores how slow, conscious, and cheap travel can change your way of seeing and experiencing life, both on the road and at home. It’s a really interesting deep dive into the benefits of simply and enthusiastically exploring your surroundings, with a focus on long-term travel specifically.

In the book, Rolf Potts outlines how you can finance a long-term trip, how to deal with adversity on your travels (because it never runs perfectly smoothly, and nor should it!), and how to adjust to life on the move. It’s the perfect book for anyone travelling on a budget, with little experience away from home but a dream of what it can be like. 

Vagabonding inspired me to travel slowly, and after reading it, I planned a 4-month long trip where I spent two months in each location (specifically, Greece and Portugal). I took the time to explore slowly and get to know the locals, their history, and contemporary culture.

Perhaps more importantly though, the book helped me to explore my own city, Cape Town, with a more open mind, and greater excitement for the everyday experiences that we locals take for granted. Basically, it inspired me to become a vagabonder wherever I go – someone who embraces the unknown and jumps into new experiences.

The Art Of Travel

by Alain de Botton

Recommended by Ania from Ciekawostkio.com

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Most people know that travelling can change your perspective on life, but if you cannot afford far away travels you can always read about them and book the Art of Travel is one-off such powerful books.

That’s because The Art of Travel is one of those books that will inspire you to travel and show you just how much there is to explore out there

The Art of Travel is a book that won’t just teach you about how to pack your bag and explore the world, but it will also show you how to slow down and enjoy life. In this book, Alain de Botton in his essays explains why sometimes Travel disappoints us, or why Van Gogh and many other artists chose Provence and that where they create masterpieces.

The Art of Travel isn’t a fast-paced piece of work, instead, it’s a book that encourages readers to slow down and pay attention to where they are in the process. Readers will be inspired by de Botton’s tales and positively affected by his words and will discover their own Art in the Travelling.

The Beach

by Alex Garland

Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel

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The Beach by Alex Garland is an essential travel book for anyone wanting adventure, a sinister vibe but also lots of mystery, and a great narrative. Published in 1996 this book has been a classic for a while and is a great way to get into Thailand if you’re planning on going there soon. 

Richard, a young Englishman, travels through Thailand with his backpack in search of a unique adventure. When he finally discovers a secret beach together with the French couple Etiénne and Françoise, he believes he has found his paradise: white sand, turquoise water, tropical jungle.

The three mingle with the small community of “dropouts” living there and from now on enjoy the idyllic life on the beach. But what at first seems like heaven on earth changes into a nightmare in the course of the story.

Of course, The Beach by Alex Garland is incredibly famous because of its 2000 movie adaptation which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. It was filmed in many locations throughout Thailand including Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi which has become a tourist hotspot since. If you’re trying to find inspiration to travel and live the backpacker lifestyle the Beach is the right book to choose.

A Philosophy For NEFA

by Verrier Elwin

Recommended by The Gypsy Chiring

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The book Philosophy for NEFA written by Late Verrier Elwin is based on Arunachal Pradesh- one of the least known states of India. Previously known as North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) till 1972, Arunachal Pradesh is home to 26 ethnic groups and 100+ sub-ethnic groups.

The state shares international borders with China, Bhutan, and Myanmar. A land of lush green valleys and snowcapped Himalayan mountains with diverse languages and dialects, Arunachal Pradesh is rich both culturally and naturally.

Verrier Elwin, a British-born Indian Anthropologist, wrote the book with an intention to formulate policy and philosophy for the administrative staff of Arunachal Pradesh after Indian Independence. The book also features a foreword from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Published in 1959, the book helped in solving the issues of the people of NEFA by focusing on their holistic development without super-imposing on their culture and traditions.

The reason why I loved the book very much was that it tried to understand the culture and people of Arunachal Pradesh through an emic perspective. That is viewing the essence of the way of life through the eyes of the local people and not from an outsider’s perspective.

Being a culture and adventure lover, I had always dreamt of visiting Arunachal Pradesh. My dream was finally fulfilled when I trekked the Monpa Trail Trek of Dirang in 2019. Dirang is located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. 

The Lost Girls

by Jennifer Baggett

Recommended by Nina from Nina Out and About.

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The Lost Girls is an inspirational journey of three friends who quit their editorial jobs in New York to spend a gap year exploring the world. Together, these friends take on the challenges of illness, emotional exhaustion, and the tribulations of friendships while exploring the farthest corners of the world.

This no-holds-barred approach isn’t your usual fluffy feel-good travel story. These women suffer significantly throughout their journey, nearly flying home in tears multiple times when things seemed ready to collapse around them. There are moments where it seems like their friendship will not survive this year-long experiment and that this “year off” has become more work than their office jobs.

Throughout it all, the strength of these travelling women endures.

As you read about their experiences in Africa, South America, and Europe, you feel like you’re travelling with them. The vividness of their experiences makes it feel like you’re dancing with the Masai Mara alongside them or vomiting from poor water in Peru too.

This is the book that inspired me to take a solo female gap year. It was a travel gift from my sister, but I don’t think she realized the profound effect it would have on my life.

After reading about these completely normal women who did the same thing, I figured I could do it too. If they could survive lions, malaria, and girl fights, I could surely survive a year in Europe on my own, right?

Now, I’m a full-time digital nomad who never stops exploring!

Names For The Sea: Strangers In Iceland

by Sarah Moss

Recommended by Helen from Helen On Her Holidays.

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Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland is a memoir by Sarah Moss. Moss moved to Iceland in 2009 with her husband and their two small children.

Arriving in the middle of the financial crisis, the family have a rough start to their new life in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. They live in a windswept apartment block where all the other flats are empty. They’re constantly told that the country is bankrupt, but it’s difficult to believe on the face of it, as they see Icelanders driving around in brand-new SUVs. When Moss asks about buying things for the family and their apartment second-hand, they’re met with astonished looks that anyone would buy anything that someone else had used.

Names for the Sea is a fascinating look at everyday life in Iceland during a turbulent time in the country’s history. The little details of Moss’s life in Reykjavik are beautifully contrasted with their old life in the UK. In the later chapters, once the family had settled in, Moss begins to explore outside Reykjavik, experiencing the wild landscape and the Northern lights. She also talks to intriguing locals about the country’s literary and musical traditions and takes a trip out to the countryside to hear Icelandic folklore.

I read Names for the Sea before I visited Iceland and found it a really interesting and absorbing way to understand more about the country. I’d recommend the book to anyone who’s planning to go to Iceland.

The Sex Lives Of Cannibals

by J. Maarten Troost

Recommended by Carol from Libro Maniacs.

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Kiribati is one of those tiny little Pacific Islands that time (and the global economy) forgot. When Troost’s girlfriend is offered a position at a social service agency in Kiribati, Troost figures “what the heck” and decides to join her.

He was running away from some crippling student debt and a profound lack of motivation and he thought that the South Pacific would be just the thing he needed to jump-start something in his life.

He was wrong, of course.

Kiribati (pronounced “keerabash”) was hardly the white sand, palm tree paradise that he imagined. Life is very hard on the island. The local government is completely inept, squandering aid money and failing to provide proper sewage or garbage services. The dogs run amok, the beaches are covered in human waste and garbage, the neighbors play the Macarena on high volume repeat and electricity is fleeting at best. Even nutritious food is hard to come by.

What makes this book a great travel read (and a funny one at that) is that Troost is a complete fish out of water. And like many white folks from developed countries, it takes him a long time to figure out the local customs and make peace with Kiribati’s complicated way of life. But he tackles the whole experience with a sense of humor and a strong dose of irreverence.

This would be a fun read for anyone interested in a true taste of expat life.

Walking Home from Mongolia

by Rob Lilwall 

Recommended by Sinead from Map Made Memories.

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‘Walking Home From Mongolia’ by Rob Lilwall is an autobiographical account of the author’s incredible charity fundraising walk from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia to his home in Hong Kong.

His epic 3,000-mile walk (accompanied by fellow adventurer Leon McCarron) took six arduous months traversing the continent during the treacherous winter months. The story starts in the barren landscapes of the Gobi Desert and charts the challenges of adapting to long-distance walking in addition to having to adapt to an unfamiliar country, culture, and language.

The text graphically portrays the desolate, striking beauty of Mongolia and the resilience of the people who live there. Continuing into China, the hikers pass through isolated rural communities and dramatic country landscapes, and starkly contrasting sprawling, congested cities. The pair face many difficult challenges but also encounter warm, open hospitality and kindness.

I loved the detail that Rob included in his writing; he chronicles his experiences, the landscapes, and the characters he meets in such vivid detail that it allows a reader to conjure an accurate image of the time, person, and place.

I read this book during our family gap year whilst travelling with our three children from Hong Kong to Ulan Bataar by train. I found it accurate, enjoyable and inspirational – although I travelled in the opposite direction, much faster and in much more comfort!

Like Water For Chocolate

by Laura Esquivel

Recommended by Shelley of Travel Mexico Solo.

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If you want some Mexican wanderlust inspiration, look no further than the fiction novel, Like Water for Chocolate. This beloved book was eventually turned into a movie in 1992, and nominated for the “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar.

Each chapter of this novel, by Mexican author Laura Esquivel, starts out with a traditional Mexican food recipe. These intros will make you hungry to travel to places like Oaxaca City, Puebla, or Merida, Mexico — some of the top foodie destinations in the country.

The novel itself is set in a pueblo (small town) near the U.S.-Mexico border. Like Water for Chocolate follows the life of Josefita AKA Tita, in a magical realism genre book that mixes ancient traditions with a young woman’s present-day coming of age.

Due to a centuries-old family tradition that says the youngest daughter can never marry, Tita, the youngest, is forbidden from marrying her love, Pedro Muñoz. Instead of marrying, the youngest daughter must care for her mother until she dies.

In a cruel twist of fate, Pedro marries Tita’s sister. To cull her pain, Tita taps into another ancient family tradition, cooking. She uses food as a creative outlet but also hopes her delicious cooking of ancestral recipes as a way to woo Pedro.

Wild

by Cheryl Strayed

Recommended by Ummi from Ummi Goes Where?

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“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed is a memoir about the author’s solo hike across the Pacific Crest Trail, which took her from the Mojave Desert – the driest desert in the USA – through California, Oregon, and all the way to Washington State.

The impulsive decision to embark on that challenging 1,100-mile (1,770-kilometre) journey was made in the wake of her mother’s death and her own impending divorce. However, the author’s total lack of hiking experience got her off to a rocky start and a series of amateurish blunders throughout the three months she took to complete the hike.

Funny and poignant at the same time, this tale of healing and self-discovery is sure to touch your heart, whether you’re a savvy backpacker or a clueless beginner. Even if you’re not into hiking, you’ll find the book relatable for all those times you’ve ever had to navigate a foreign new place or situation on your own, without so much as a clue of what you’re doing.

I’ve not had a chance to hike the Pacific Crest Trail just yet, but the book has definitely inspired me to try it someday. If, not the PCT itself, then something of equal proportion. In any case, it’s a great reminder that you don’t have to know everything to start something. Sometimes, your only option is to take that first step and keep on going. With perseverance, even a shaky start can end with a strong finish.

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

by John Berendt

Recommended by Erin from Savannah First-Timer’s Guide.

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“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt takes place in beautiful Savannah, Georgia. Even though the book was written decades ago, it still inspires hundreds of thousands of people to visit the charming city each year.

The book almost seems too outrageous to be true, but it’s actually classified as non-fiction. It focuses on the tale of Savannahian Jim Williams, who was a preservationist, philanthropist, local antiques dealer, and…an alleged murderer.

Williams was accused of murdering his secret lover, a prostitute named Danny Hansford, on the same night in which he held a popular annual Christmas gathering at his beautiful mansion, the Mercer Williams House.

The story is filled with quirky personalities, such as The Lady Chablis – a transgender performance artist, and Valerie Fennel Boles – the Lowcountry hoodoo practitioner who assisted Williams in hexing the outcome of the trial.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil does an excellent job of portraying the eccentric side of Savannah. The book was so popular that it spent a record-breaking 216 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list! It inspired me, like many others, to move to the city I’d spent so many years visiting.

The Mercer Williams House is currently open for tours. Visitors to the city can also explore many other locations mentioned in the book and seen in the movie adaptation. If you plan to visit, here’s a helpful one-day Savannah itinerary that covers many of the most popular points of interest. 

Next Year In Havana

by Chanel Cleeton

Recommended by Rebecca from Whatever Packs Your Bag.

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Next Year in Havana was written by Chanel Cleeton and was published in 2018. The book has two timelines, the first is Elisa Perez’s story in Havana in 1958. The second is her granddaughter Marisol, in Miami 2017.

The book tells the tale of Elisa growing up wealthy and sheltered from the political unrest around her, she meets and falls for a revolutionary fighter. This revolutionary introduces her to the reality of the unrest of the country and causes some major drama. The love story unfolds, but ultimately the revolution causes the course of their lives to change.

Marisol wants to honor her grandmother and the story and life she lived. She travels to Havana and walks the same roads her grandmother once walked. Even visits the home her grandmother used to live in. She even discovers a potential love interest herself

This story paints a loving picture of Cuba, its people, the revolution, and even the struggle of Cuban Americans missing their home country after having to flee.

Having read this story, right after getting back from Cuba, made the description of the Malecon, the sea wall, that much more meaningful. The clubs for dancing, and the drinks you can get, are all so familiar. If you have been to Cuba, this story will remind you of all the beautiful and historic sites you have seen. If you haven’t been to Cuba, this story will inspire you to book your next trip to the Caribbean’s largest island.

In a Sunburned Country (Down Under)

by Bill Bryson

Recommended by Ania from The Travelling Twins.

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In the Sunburned Country is an episodic account of Bill Bryson’s travels through Australia in 1991. For three months, Bryson crisscrosses the continent with his family and friends, exploring its people, geography, and wildlife. He finds both beauty and disappointment: a country of great natural splendour and one whose people are trying to come to terms with their difficult pasts. The book has been praised for its wit and intelligence as well as for giving readers an insight into Australian culture.

I have read In the Sunburned Country while exploring Australia and, I found it was the best way to explore the country. Reading it was especially beneficial during the visit to Canberra. Learning facts about Canberra helped me understand why the city seems to be abandoned.

In a Sunburned Country was published in Europe in 2000 under a different name – “Down Under”. It was called In a Sunburned Country.

Although not everyone has the chance to visit Australia, this book allows readers all around the world to take a peek at one of Earth’s most beautiful countries. If you are thinking of travelling soon, I highly recommend you read In the Sunburned Country so you can learn about why Australia is one of the must-see places in this world.

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

Recommended by Shireen from The Happy Days Travels.

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One of the most loved stories in the travel community, as well as around the world in general is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

The book is a fable about a young, Andalusian, shepherd boy named Santiago who heads to the pyramids of Egypt seeking treasure after his recurring dreams are interpreted by a gypsy woman. Along his route, he meets several other characters who use their influence to change his course or cause an obstacle in some way until he finally learns the truth of the treasure, and himself.

For a considerably small book at around only 200 pages, The Alchemist has just as many themes including learning lessons, morals, self-help, self-discovery, self-awareness, and chasing your dreams.

I loved this book for the allegorical feel and the final lesson that it teaches in the end about listening to your heart and realizing your own destiny. 

Every time I read a travel book like this I want to visit the places that the book describes and write about it on my literary travel blog and The Alchemist made me want to overland travel from Spain to the pyramids of Egypt, meeting mysterious and different people along the way, just as the protagonist does in this travel tale. 

Around The World In 80 Days

by Jules Verne

Recommended by Elisa from France Bucket List.

Cover image for the book Around the World in 80 Days
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Around the World in 80 days is my favorite travel book. Actually, this book inspired my world tour a few years ago!

This novel was written by the French author Jules Verne in 1873, and after all these years, it is still an entertaining book that inspires readers of all ages to travel.

The story begins in London, where Mr. Fogg, an extravagant gentleman, bets with his comrades at the Reform Club that he can circumnavigate the World in 80 days. With the company of his French valet Passepartout, Mr. Fogg will travel through France, Italy, Egypt, India, Japan, and the US, living many incredible adventures and challenging situations.

Jules Verne’s imagination in this book is incredible. The author did not visit most of the countries that appear in the book, but the descriptions are very detailed and accurate. At that time, there was a trend in France for anything ‘exotic .’ Jules Verne had access to many magazines, objects from far-away countries, and tales by other travelers, which he blended magnificently in this book.  

My world tour took longer than 80 days and despite the itinerary was slightly different, I always had Mr. Fogg and his adventures in mind.

A Room With A View

by E. M. Forster

Recommended by Isabelle from Issy’s Escapades.

Cover image for the book A Room With A View
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A Room With A View, by E.M. Forster, starts in the awe-inspiring city of Florence, Italy. Set at the turn of the 20th century, the novel follows the story of Lucy, a young woman who is growing up in the constrained times of the Edwardian era, as younger people began to shake off the shackles of the era and experience life in a more liberal age. 

Through the tale of its protagonist, Lucy, the book is both a humorous critique of the stiff, English society that Lucy is constrained by, and is also a love story as Lucy battles with the same age-old struggles that women from all centuries have faced in the realm of romance. 

The novel paints an intoxicating image of Florence in times gone by. Forster gently pokes fun at the early 20th century British tourist in Italy and what the average traveller’s expectations were. Lucy has travelled to Florence to see the ‘real Italy’, but is disappointed when her lodgings are decorated in an English style and is run by a ‘signora’ with a cockney accent. 

Although written more than a century ago, the novel serves to remind travellers not to merely be a tourist but to seek out the nuances and culture that makes a destination unique. And Florence most certainly has to be one of the most unique places in the world! Reading the novel is certainly going to have you searching for flights and dreaming of Florence, as it should – it’s a destination that really doesn’t disappoint.

Crazy Rich Asians

by Kevin Kwan

Recommended by Brodi from Our Offbeat Life.

Cover image for the book Crazy Rich Asians
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When I read “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan, I knew immediately I had to visit Singapore. I’d first visited Southeast Asia in 2014 but knew nothing about the island city-state at the end of the Malay Peninsula.

In the book, Rachel Chu accompanies her boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. She discovers that Nick’s family is super-rich and he’s actually considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. While in Singapore, Rachel has to navigate his extended family dynamics, jealous socialites, and her boyfriend’s controlling and disapproving mom. 

I loved Crazy Rich Asians because snippets about Singaporean culture as well as a treasure trove of sightseeing bucket list items are sprinkled into the drama. From Michelin-rated hawker stalls and the Merlion statue to Gardens by the Bay Park and Marina Bay Sands hotel, my list of places to visit grew pretty long by the time I finished the novel.

I finally visited Singapore with my family in November 2019 as the final port stop on a one-way cruise from Los Angeles. By that time, I’d also seen the movie and loved it, too, although the book is still better. 

Singapore is a beautiful, clean, and glitzy city that captured my imagination in the book and then my heart when I visited. It’s also heaven for foodies. My five days there were not enough and I cannot wait to return someday to continue exploring. 

The Motorcycle Diaries

by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Recommended by Carley from Home To Havana.

Cover image for the book The Motorcycle Diaries
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Based on the travel diaries of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries is one of the great travel stories of the Americas, transformed in 2004 into one of the great road trip movies of all time.

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal as Guevara, Motorcycle Diaries begins in Guevara’s hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina, following the future revolutionary and his travel companion via motorcycle from the tip of the continent through the Andes Mountains and beyond. Featuring snowcapped mountains in Patagonia, Machu Picchu, tropical rainforest, and much more, the trip is both a love story to the people and places of South America and a hilarious calamity of errors of two young travelers.

Despite its focus on South America, Motorcycle Diaries remains a Cuba-focused movie in many ways and is a must-see before visiting Havana. As viewers watch how Guevara’s travels impacted him and shaped him, his future as a leader of the Cuban revolution is more and more undeniable.

Motorcycle Diaries inspires travel through the Americas, but perhaps more than a particular location that stands apart after watching the movie, it inspires exploration. So much of Guevara’s experience is based on meeting and knowing people during his travels and takes readers back to the importance of going deeper than tourism to have a true encounter with a place. 

The Kindness Of Strangers

by Tim Cahill, Dave Eggers, et al

Recommended by Ingrid from Second-Half Travels.

Cover image for the book The Kindness Of Strangers
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Travel memoir is my favorite genre, and I often devour travel anthologies, especially in these days of limited travel. The Kindness of Strangers is my favourite anthology of all time.

This uplifting collection of 26 stories by writers such as Jan Morris, Tim Cahill, Simon Winchester, and Dave Eggers was edited by legendary Lonely Planet travel editor Don George. The Dalai Lama contributed an inspiring preface.

The short essays explore unexpected acts of kindness encountered on the road. While they are quick reads, I recommend savoring one or two at a time. The stories take place all over the world, from Morocco to Cuba to Russia. However, the focus of these tales is on people rather than places, and the humanity that links us all.

While the book overall is a feel-good read, it isn’t overly sentimental. Some stories are suspenseful and even take a dark turn. A standout for me is the unforgettably creepy “Might Be Your Lucky Day,” in which cross-country hitchhiker Jeff Greenwald learns that the kindness of strangers sometimes has a price.

Another of my favorites is “Tea and Cheese in Turkey,” in which Alice Waters describes the selflessness of a Turkish boy that inspired her to eventually become an acclaimed chef and pioneer of the slow food movement.

These stories provide a powerful reminder to trust in the essential goodness of humanity, and in return, be kind to the strangers you encounter.

How Many Travel Books Have You Read?

It would be impossible to not want to travel after reading all of these!

I just love reading a good travel book! When I not travelling, it’s a great way to escape the mundane world of work and routine. When I am travelling, and reading a book that’s written about that country, I learn so much more about the history and culture and I feel so much more connected to that place.

That’s why I recommend reading at least one of these travel books. Not just for some travel inspiration, but for your mental well-being too. Give your creativity a boost and get lost in Spain, India, Cuba, or wherever the book takes you.

There’s enough here to keep you guys going but there are so many more travel books out there for us to discover. I’m so happy that I collaborated with my fellow travel bloggers as I now have an amazing list of must-read books to enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this collaboration post to bring you my list of must-read books that will inspire you to travel. If you have any other suggestions then drop me a message or just let me know in the comments below.

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