I’m a self confessed book worm, and my love for travelling is only paralleled by my love for curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. (Tea and reading just go together like two peas in a pod, you guys).This is not a list of useful travelogues or travel guides that list out best places to visit and help plan out itineraries (Those are awesome, too!).
I’m talking specifically of novels that have the power to transport you to the places described through their poetic and vivid storytelling. So while you’re waiting for the protagonist to win hearts and save the planet, a part of you is wondering how amazing it would be to wander like them into the Alaskan wilderness, explore frozen landscapes, scale mountains and discover hidden spots.
In no particular order, here is my list of 5 books that had me completely immersed in the storyline, and at the same time leaving me wanting my own personal travel adventures :
A young boy travels from Spain to Egypt, learning all about love, life and following his heart, while searching for hidden treasures in the sands of Egypt. Paulo Coelho is a master; he flawlessly weaves in elements of adventure and intrigue, while letting the underlying message of fate, the universe, and personal discovery shine through. This book is for and about dreamers, and gathering the courage to follow your dreams inspire of the risks. If you’ve ever wanted to leave everything behind and go on a journey, this book will speak to you.
Favorite quote from the book – “We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity.“
The life path of two siblings separated in childhood, one in Afghanistan and the other in Paris; this book has it all – adventure, betrayal, sacrifice. All wrapped up in one glorious journey globetrotting across Kabul, Paris, California, and Greece. His descriptions of picturesque Afghanistan and its local delights made me dream of a time when I would be able to witness them myself. Hosseini is an excellent storyteller; his words will produce technicolor images in your head and leave you sparkly eyed, wanting a journey of your own.
Fair warning – His stories, while inspiring major wanderlust, almost always deal with intense and emotional topics that will leave a lump in your throat. The sparkle in your eye may just be a tear or two sneaking out 🙂
Favorite quote from the book – “I want to give up my bearings, slip out of who I am, shed everything, the way a snake discards old skin.”
Book four in the Robert Langdon series; the other most popular works being The Da Vinci Code, and Angels and Demons. Dan Brown is by now an expert in weaving fantastical storylines wrapped in codes, science, religion, history, art and architecture. His works are also a personal favorite of mine due to his innate ability to imagine remarkable, capable women who are in the crux of all the action.
Inferno follows a similar recipe that takes our favorite Harvard professor (described as a Harrison Ford in Harrison Tweed :D) across the world to majestic Florence, picturesque Istanbul, and unique Venice; a plotline dripping with mystery, intrigue, and of course, a countdown to saving the world.
This book will keep you up all night, and when you’re done, you’ll want to hop on a flight and go visit all the places he describes with such wonder and in such glamourous detail. You’ll want to wake up in Florence, walk the hallowed halls of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cisterns, and spend an enchanting evening at the Venetian Carnevale.
If you, like me, are ever intrigued by art and architecture but get bored to death by actual art history books – pick up any Dan Brown novel. You’ll be a fan for life.
Favorite quote from the book – “Nothing is more creative. . .nor destructive. . .than a brilliant mind with a purpose.”
Set between 1969 and 1993 in Kerala, India. The story takes you along with the lives, loves and struggles of a family as they figure out how small things can influence life in a big way. What sets it apart though, is the underlying theme which gives fascinating insights into life under Kerala’s communist government, the Caste system, and the Christian community. It will inspire readers to learn more about this unique part of India, and perhaps plan a visit.
There is a reason Kerala is fondly called “God’s own country” and this book definitely captures its essence. It will make you want to take a journey, live in a backwater house and take a cruise, play with elephants, explore lush rainforests, relax on pristine beaches, eat exotic dishes and more.
Favorite quote from the book – “…the whole of contemporary history, the World Wars, the War of Dreams, the Man on the Moon, science, literature, philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge—was no more than a blink of the Earth Woman’s eye.”
Based in Barcelona and Spain. A young boy finds a mysterious, old book and goes on an adventure to find its missing author. This book has it all – murder, mystery, mayhem, love, sacrifice and adventure. At the heart of it is the authors depiction of the city’s dark, mysterious streets in the years following the Spanish Civil War. Carlos Ruis was born in Barcelona and the way he manages to capture its magic is every bit as gripping as it is fascinating; it’s the perfect backdrop to this eloquently enchanting tale with a gothic feel.
There are elements of magical realism in this novel, and it left me wanting to stroll along the cobbled streets of Rambla de Santa Monica, climb Montjuic and spend a sunny afternoon on the shores of Barceloneta.
Favorite quote from the book – “it occurred to me that between the covers of each of those books lay a boundless universe waiting to be discovered while beyond those walls, in the outside world, people allowed life to pass by in afternoons of football and radio soaps.”
So there you have it! Books have an amazing capability of transporting you to amazing places from within its pages, that just beg to be explored in reality. Almost every book I read adds another place to my bucket list. I would love to hear other recommendations for books that inspired you guys to travel.
As always, thanks for reading!