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8 Travel Books to Read in 2015


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There is nothing more inspirational than a well-written travel book. It can fill you with awe, wonder, and wanderlust. There are books made for those 10-hour bus journeys and those books made for a relaxing day at the beach; whichever book you choose you can always be promised a magical awakening in to a world of culture, cuisine and stunning landscapes. A book can make us excited about a destination and even inspire you to book a flight somewhere on the other side of the world. Here are our top eight.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (1988)

This book is a tale about following your dreams and is one of the most widely read books in recent history. The story follows a young shepherd boy traveling from Spain to Egypt after he has a dream telling him he needs to get to Egypt. Along the way, he meets interesting people, learns to follow his heart, to go with the flow, and to love, and discovers the meaning of life. The book is filled with wonderful and inspirational quotes such as “if you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man… life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.” A book about following your dreams is perfect for travel because when you travel you certainly are living the dream.

In to the Wild, John Krakauer (1996)

This book (and now film) follows Christopher McCandless after he graduates from college, donates his savings to charity, and sets off across the United States in search of a deeper meaning to life. Throughout his journey he meets people from all walks of life and also finds a deeper insight into his own life and the life he left behind. Sadly, he was tragically found dead by hikers in Alaska after mistakenly eating the wrong type of berries. Not much is known is about his time on the road – McCandless used an alias while traveling. Krakauer tries to fill in the blanks by using McCandless’ diary and interviewing the few people he met on the road. Therefore much of the book is pure speculation however regardless, it is an inspirational story about breaking the mould and following your dreams.

Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2010)

The book follows the life of an American named Elizabeth Gilbert who realises how unhappy she is in her marriage and the life she lives. She therefore embarks on a journey of self-discovery and decides to her take her life in a new direction, leaving the US behind for an adventure of self-discovery and inner peace. The book is based on author Gilbert's real-life travels and her journey across Italy, India and Indonesia is filled with meditation, eating and finding her true self. The film is a good reminder that sometimes a little travel does a lot of good and the gorgeous scenery you can imagine throughout the film is reason enough to follow in Elizabeth's footsteps.

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure, Sarah MacDonald (2004)

Witty and well written, Holy Cow is authored by Journalist Sarah MacDonald as she writes about her experience moving to India to follow her boyfriend, despite vowing never to return after a visit a few years before. The book features amazing insights into Indian culture and its differences from the West – from family, marriage, and dating to class breakdowns. It provides real insight in to the way many travellers settle in to new lives across the world and the challenges they often face.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)

The book follows the story of Amir, a wealthy Afghan kid who escapes with his family during the Soviet invasion, grows up in America, and eventually goes back to Afghanistan during Taliban rule to save his friend’s son. A favourite book amongst millions, The Kite Runner has now been made in to a film and it is one of the most well-known stories linked to modern day Afghanistan. The book makes you realise why it was such a phenomenon – it’s beautifully and vividly written with strong characters and a powerful story about grief, guilt, and redemption.

Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail, Thomas McFadden and Rusty Young (2004)

Marching Powder tells the true story of Thomas McFadden and his time in San Pedro prison in Bolivia. McFadden was an English drug trafficker who ended up in jail after an official he was bribing double-crossed him. The storyline is what makes this book worth reading as you learn about life in a prison where inmates bought their own cells, made their own drugs, bribed cops, and developed an economy filled with shops, elected officials, and neighbourhoods. Rich prisoners were even allowed to leave with a prison escort and McFadden also started leading tours through the prison during his incarceration to backpackers. How crazy?! This book is about life in one of the most corrupt prisons in the world.

Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlanksky (2002)

Although lengthy, this book is incredibly captivating as it traces the history of salt and its importance to civilization and ancient empires. The book is filled with unusual facts from across the globe that make you realise how much of our world was influenced by salt and the industry it supports. Supposedly the Ancient Romans and soldiers were often paid in salt since it was so valuable and you really can learn a lot from this book as well as seeing another side to global trade and foreign industries. It is important to know about the world as you travel as if you can’t understand a place, if you don’t understand its past.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time, Mark Adams (2011)

This book recounts Mark Adams’s tale of roughing it through Peru in search of little-visited Inca ruins and ancient cities. While most tourists stick to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Adams goes everywhere else, tracing the Incas’ flight into the Andes Mountains after the Spanish invaded their empire. He discovers just how much there is to see in Peru that tourists never visit and that there are many unexcavated across the country. It opens your eyes to a new understanding of the Incas and also makes you want to jump on a plane headed for Peru.

What are your favourite travel books and why? Comment below.

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