Traveling and reading are two things that can gel closely together. Travel books offer an interesting read. Most of the time, a traveler passes his time by reading an interesting novel or an informative book. Some of the best remembrances are collected in books on traveling and they automatically transport you to the very place and time. Just think yourself sitting on your seat in a local train or lying on a beach and completely engrossed in a wonderful book.
Here are 15 best travel books of all time:
01. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Published in– 1957
With its wonderful insights and a journey ultimately leading inwards, On the Road is rated as one of the most powerful and best travel books of all time. This wonderful travel book is based on the personal experiences of Kerouac on traveling around America, starting from New York to San Francisco, accompanied by his friends. On the Road also talks about the ‘beat movement in America’ that was about poetry, jazz and drugs. This classic book is all about going with the flow of the journey, while dealing with safety as well as responsibility.
The book inspires its readers to ‘live life to the fullest’. Kerouac and his friends roam all around the country to for gaining experience and in the search of self-knowledge. On the Road defines freedom clearly and has helped several generations of readers to ‘imagine and explore’. The novel was turned into a movie.
02. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Published in– 1974
One of the best travel related books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a philosophical non-fiction that tells about deeply examining the way of our living and highly meditating on how we can live better. An easy read, this book is fit for lecture halls and school classrooms too.
The writer uses maintenance of motorcycle as the channel to write about his month-long motorcycle journey across America’s Northwest (from Minnesota to California) in first person, along with his young son. This book is a gripping read on values, relationships, confusion, insanity and finally enlightenment.
03. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Published in– 1884
Set in the beautiful St. Petersburg town of Missouri, which lies on the banks of the River Mississippi, this novel tells the story of Huckleberry Finn about escape from his home. It also colorfully describes the places and people who live along the river banks. This book is a sequel to the book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Even after more than a century of its publication, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is read as a classic novel of American humor as well as a unique story of adventure. Starting from a simple story of the adventures of a young boy, it turns into a more mature and rich read.
04. Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
Published in– 1996
Telling the true story of a young graduate Christopher McCandless donating all of his money to charity, taking his backpack and going on a holiday, Into the Wild is one of the best books on travel adventures. The story takes the reader on the journey of one man who is fulfilling his dreams, taking him up the west-coast of America to Alaska. After four months, McCandless dead body was found by a group of moose hunters, in the thick forests of Alaska.
The book deals with a person’s fascination of leaving the society behind, shunning his world away, exploring his self-limits, coming close to nature, and searching for enlightenment through isolation. McCandless also went by the name of Alexander Supertramp. You can also watch the 2007 American biographical drama survival film.
05. The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux
Published in– 1975
An absolutely entertaining travelogue, the Great Railway Bazaar tells about the writer’s four-month rail journey through Europe, Central Asia and South East Asia. He embarks on this journey to explore ‘the world’ outside ‘his world’. Through the book, Theroux pays tribute to memorable railway journeys, also bringing into limelight the interactions with people at the places, he visited.
The train route that the writes takes, starts from the Victoria Station of London to Asia, and finally through the Trans-Siberian express. Capturing a fun portrayal of life, this book is a good read while you are enjoying your train journey. The Khyber Pass Local, the Direct-Orient Express, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, and the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur are some of the other trains he writes about.
06. Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck
Published in– 1962
Describing an unforgettable American road trip, Travels with Charley is one of the good books about travelling the world. The writer pens down his journey around America along with his dog Charley, for understand the modern-day America. He undertakes this journey to see whether the modern America lives-up to look like the ‘classical’ America that he loved.
The writer covers the journey of around 10,000 miles in his specially-crafted camper, Rocinante. His road trip started from Long Island, to New York, and then lining the outer border of the US, from Maine to the Pacific Northwest, then descending to his home in Salinas Valley in California, through Texas, till the Deep South, and finally back to New York.
07. The Sun also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Published in– 1926
One of the greatest travel books on Americans abroad following the First World War, The Sun also Rises holds its stories together in a simple yet interesting way. The book is about a group of refugees traveling, along with the novel’s protagonists, Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley, from Paris to Pamplona in Spain for the exciting bull running festival. It is a beautiful journey from France to Spain.
A roman à clef, this novel is known to be one of the best works of Hemingway where he bases his characters on people from his real life and stories from real events. In this novel, this writer digs into varied subjects like naturel love, masculinity and death.
08. Down Under by Bill Bryson
Published in– 2000
A top travel book, Down Under is a travelogue by Bill Bryson where he writes about his journey by car and rail through the whole of Australia, his rendezvous with the people from varied areas of life and their conversation on several topics. He also gives his views, however in a funny manner, on life amenities as well as culture in each of the locality.
In Britain, the book was released with the same name but in Canada and The United States, the book was titled ‘In a Sunburned Country’. If you are all set for your tour to Australia, do not miss giving a read to this wonderful book.
09. The City of Djinns by William Dalrymple
Published in– 1994
A travelogue by William Dalrymple after his 6 years of stay in India’s capital, the City of Djinns is one of the best inspirational travel books about Delhi. The writer slowly reveals the layers of the centuries-old history of Delhi, bringing out an unusual group of characters, from elusive eunuchs to the descendants of Mughals and finally till the ruins of the Raj. Dalrymple wrote that Delhi is taken care of by the invisible and mischievous djinns (fire-formed spirits), and thus is always saved by any kind of destruction.
A captivating portray of the bustling city, this book explores the seven ‘dead’ cities and today’s eighth ‘living’ city. An amalgam of adventure and study, the book is quite informative, enjoyable, and absorbing.
10. The Beach by Alex Garland
Published in– 1996
A remarkable story of the protagonist Richard, The Beach describes his journey in the search of a peaceful beach, untouched by tourism. Once he lands on the beach, he realizes that his paradise-like beach is not what he had thought it would be. Even if you have seen the movie, do not give this novel a miss, as it is probably even slightly better. The writer literally attacks the tourism of Thailand.
The book not only brings into limelight the quest of travelers for the unknown but also puts forth the drawbacks of exploitation travel. Do not miss out reading this book, if you are visiting this Southeast Asian wonder called Thailand.
11. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Published in– 2003
Set in the underworld of modern Bombay, Shantaram is a philosophical, thrilling, romantic and tragic travel book. The book is semi-biographical story of Roberts, a convicted Australian bank robber who escapes from the Pentridge prison and absconds to India. The novel begins when he arrives in Bombay (Mumbai), and how he manages to settle in this new environment. He then takes on a new identity, taking you to places all around India and Afghanistan, so that he remains free.
This is the debut novel of Gregory David Roberts, an Australian writer. While some events are personal experiences of Robert, others are known to be his imaginations. Like a typical chartbuster, the novel has prison tortures and romance, dingy slum and five-star hotels, Bollywood films and criminal wars, and Mujaheddin guerrillas & spiritual gurus.
12. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Published in– 1971
The levels of immorality and dissoluteness that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas talks about, makes it an interesting read. The book explains self-indulgence through its 2 main characters that slit-up Las Vegas while they are high due to drugs. This cult classic of gonzo journalism also unveils a journey for completing an assignment for Rolling Stone Magazine.
This book is not only a travelogue, a novel, and a biography, but also a significant study on the notion of ‘American Dream’. The writer blends fiction and fact in a wonderful manner. The story basically revolves around journalist Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson) and Dr. Gonzo (Oscar Zeta Acosta), his attorney. The movie made on this novel is also an interesting one.
13. Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
One of the most inspiring travel books, Around India in 80 Trains talks about the life-changing journey of Monisha Rajesh, a journalist, all across India in 80 trains covering 65000 km. After she completed the journey in four months, she wrote her experiences in this book, penning about the massive terrain of India, her inspiration, and the different group of people whom she met.
Giving you major travel goals, this book talks about her journey from Delhi to Mumbai and then to Kanyakumari where she learned the art of exploring and understand the richness of diverse culture of India. The best part was covering the Indian landscape through trains, from luxury trains to local trains.
14. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Published in– 2001
An interesting fantasy adventure novel, Life of Pi is the story of a young boy from Pondicherry, Piscine Molitor Patel whose father is a zookeeper. The story unfolds slowly by stating how he lost his family in a shipwreck and how he survived in the Pacific Ocean for months in a lifeboat with a huge Bengal Tiger, named Richard Parker.
The book tries to examine spirituality, religion, and the psychological effect of this harrowing experience through the eyes of this boy, who turns from a child to a young man. The tale of survival of this young boy is a must-read while you are on a vacation. A movie was also made on this novel with the same name.
15. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Published in– 1984
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, finds its name in the best travel related books and is a must-read for those who are planning a visit to former Czechoslovakia, or just wish to explore its philosophical and artistic side. It shows the fight between emotions and logic during the time of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact Allies.
The book tells the story of a young woman who is in love with a man, who is uncertain about his womanizing habit and her love, as well as her faithful lover and one his mistresses. The variety of styles that the writer has used in his story-telling, make the book an interesting read. The main characters are 2 women, 2 men, 1 dog and their lives.