Top books for travel inspiration

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Anyone that likes to read will know the power of a good book to transport you somewhere else. Add an exotic destination to the plot line and it’s a winner.

Right now, as we focus on locations closer to home, there’s no better way to satisfy the wanderlust than with books. We might not be able to travel as freely as we would like, but we can still use our imaginations.

In this guide to the top books for travel inspiration, you won’t find guide books like Lonely Planet or Rough Guides. Instead, the focus is squarely on novels and stories that you can escape into.

So, get ready to tune out the outside world and get lost in a book instead.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This is a big book. But with good reason. Shantaram is the story of a convicted bank robber from Australia that escapes from jail and becomes a fugitive in India. What follows is a tale of love, loss, redemption, spiritual awakening, friendship and, of course, adventure.

The descriptions of Indian life capture both the beauty of the country and the extreme poverty that people have to live with. And the gripping story of a man on the run is enough to keep you turning the pages.

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

Sweet Caress follows the life of fictional photographer Amory Clay. Not only is this a story about the twists and turns of life over the decades. It also highlights key moments in history from the last century, all from the perspective of a curious woman.

With chapters set in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Vietnam, William Boyd crafts a tale of love and adventure that spans the world. If this story doesn’t make you want to go out and live life to the fullest, then nothing will.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018. If you’ve already read it, you’ll understand why. And if you haven’t, add it to your list of books to read.

The story in Less follows writer Arthur Less around the world as he tries to move on from a relationship and pursue career opportunities. The satirical style of writing leaves you wanting more after each chapter. And the different locations are enough to encourage even the most dedicated home bird to flee the nest.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is known as a life changing book filled with wisdom about life and love. Which it is. But it’s the story of the shepherd boy Santiago, and his travels as he searches for answers, that makes it a must-read for travellers.

Paolo Coelho has a talent for taking readers on a mystical journey, and The Alchemist is no exception. This book will make you think and dream.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

For anyone that has survived a British winter, reading A Year in Provence might just be the final push you need to finally decide to move to France. Or anywhere else in Europe with a different climate.

This book has it all. A new life in a foreign country. French food and wine. The countryside. And some good humour to top it all off. Even better, Peter Mayle wrote this after giving up his life in London and moving to Provence. Proof that dreams can come true.

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach harks back to a simpler time. When our lives weren’t dominated by mobile phones and digital technology. And when backpacking was all about the experience.

The tale about Richard traveling alone to Thailand to find himself is now famous after the book was made into a film with Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000. The book has more twists and turns than the film though. So, if you’ve only seen the film, make sure you read the book as well.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

For Hemingway fans, this is a short memoir offering a glimpse into his life during his time as a writer in Paris.

In typical Hemingway style, the writing is simple but with enough power to transport you into the heart of the French capital in the 1920’s. With a winter detour to the Austrian Alps for good measure.

If you like Hemingway’s work, this is a must-read. And if you simply want some travel inspiration, then you can’t go wrong with A Moveable Feast.

Looking for some extra inspiration? Check out the Nomad eBook of travel stories from pre-COVID times.

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