I’m a bookworm by birth. Seriously, I’ve had my face buried in books for most of my life, for leisure or for more formal purposes, you know, getting an “education” and all that good stuff. Come to think of it, not being able to read as much as I normally do is one of my least favourite parts of traveling (Hey #firstworldproblems! How are you today?). It’s no secret, the world is largely shifting to digital/video information and entertainment. I spend hours a day online reading articles, e-books, blog posts, you name it.
But I’m as old school as a Millennial can be in this generation, so I’ll always cling to hardcopy books. There’s something about the texture of a page between your fingers and the smell of paper and dust. The turning of a page awakens curiosity in the mind. Anyway, enough rambling.
Here’s a short list of 5 Books All Travelers Will Love!
The Book Of Negroes:
Also published under the title Someone Knows My Name in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, is by far one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever had the privilege of reading (yes, reading is a privilege, don’t get it twisted).
It follows the lifelong story of the protagonist Aminata Diallo who is stolen from Africa and taken across vast oceans, three continents and a number of encounters with people, whom for better or worse, she will never forget.
She experiences agonizing pain, grief, anger as well as joy, love and peace.
This story is primarily based on the west coast of Africa near modern day Guinea and Sierra Leon, the deep south of the States, the east coast of Canada and London, England. I almost never read the same book twice, but I would re-read this one over and over.
I first came across this book a few years ago after a friend of mine ranted and raved about it for a few minutes. At the time, I had no clue who Paulo Coelho was, but I’m glad I was lucky enough to discover his writing through the Alchemist.
I love this book for so many reasons. First, it’s a light and simple read. No exaggeration, I probably could have read this book in elementary school. My appreciation for it would have been entirely different, but I would have enjoyed it.
The Alchemist is the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who dreams of treasures in Egypt. He awakens and eventually goes in pursuit of this treasure (literally dream chasing). He comes across omens and unlikely messengers who knowingly or unknowingly guide him to his goal.
The simplicity and effectiveness of this story are on another level. Want proof? This book was first published in 1988. And here I am, nearly 30 years later writing about it in a blog post. If that’s not staying power, what is?
Che Guevara – The Motorcycle Diaries:
Most people know Che Guevara as the rugged, handsome, revolutionary face of Argentina that appears on souvenir t-shirts in Latin American countries. What some of those people may not know about the Marxist figure is that he wrote a diary of his travels across south America starting at age 23.
I’ve talked about the transformative power of travel before. But this book depicts that power in a much more impressive way. As he witnesses the social injustices suffered by communists, lepers, labourers, something within Che changes. Though he was born into a middle class Argentinian family, he vows to fight on the side of the disenfranchised and poor.
Guevara eventually became the military leader of a “rebel” group of soldiers who had the common goal of unifying Latin America. He was eventually captured and executed.
How often can you read about the life of a hero and legend in their own words?
Maybe it’s the English Literature snob in me, but I couldn’t make a list of great travel books without including this classic. Gulliver’s Travels has been turned into cartoons, movies, comics, plays and more. Jonathan Swift is pretty much the godfather of travel writing.
Lemuel Gulliver is an English surgeon who takes to the seas when his private practice goes under. I like this story because of how purely descriptive it is. Of course he’s not visiting real places (although they do resemble some real world countries), but the practicality with which he depicts these new worlds is something that I find important.
It’s something I try to apply to my own travels in the sense of experiencing new people and environments objectively and without preconceived notions of how things should or could be. In one form or another this book should be read by kids and “grown ups” alike.
The DaVinci Code:
This book is what I call a good old fashioned page turner. It was glued to my hand until I finished it. I typically read a book every week and I got through this one in the matter of a couple of days. It’s also worth mentioning that I bought this book for about 60 cents at my local salvation army (I don’t only budget travel, a budget life).
Dan Brown has the rare ability to write a fairly long book but manage to keep every single part of it filled with information, suspense, and drama.
This book has been heavily criticized for historical inaccuracies and all that other boring stuff. I’m no history or religious studies buff so I won’t speak on that. What I can say is that this book takes the reader through, France, England and Scotland and does not disappoint. My only critique regarding this book was that the movie was a bit of a let down, but then again, that’s usually the case.
Have you read any of these books? What are your favourite travel books? Drop some knowledge and love in the comment section below!
Until next time,