Books that make you pack your bags
Original post: Another World Adventures
We’ve all had it. That moment when the ink smudged words on a book page come to life and suck you helplessly into the pages of a story drawing you into another world of magic, mystery and journeys.
When you’re gripped in a tangle of awe, sadness, love, curiosity… When you cautiously look up, realise it’s your bus stop and decide to go one more just so you can finish the chapter even though you’ll be late for work.
When you stop cycling in the morning because getting stuck in the sweaty slow heat of commuter hell is in fact a sumptuous treat of time dedicated to you, and your book.
When you find yourself nearly screaming at the pages in amazement at grand displays of guts, stupidity, innocence, ignorance. When you bow in your mind to great boldness.
When you cry at another’s loss or loneliness like it were your own and feel bursting pride at their every achievement.
Fiction or not, on those pages are the words of writers who have transported us on journeys in our minds already. We’ve already found romance in their roaming. So better make sure they’re packed in your bag when you set off on your next real adventure.
Here are some brilliant travel inspiring reads whether you go old school with print or slap it on the kindle. In no particular order …
ARABIAN SANDS BY WILFRED THESIGER: Tired by ‘the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets’, Thesiger left London in 1945 and roved the Arabian Desert for five years meeting kings, Bedouin and very nearly his death.
HOMAGE TO CATALONIA by George Orwell: ‘Good prose is like a window pane,’ wrote Orwell. He is at his most insightful in his portrait of Spain during its civil war.
THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR by Paul Theroux: ‘I sought trains, I found passengers,’ – tales that recount his four-month journey through Europe, Asia and the Middle East by train on some of the world’s greatest lines including the Trans-Siberian and India’s Grand Trunk Express.
THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho: “‘Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself”, the alchemist replies. “And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams…”
ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert M. Pirsig – If deep meditations on western philosophy are your thing then it’s the book for you. But then again, it’s worth it just for the epic road trip on their motorbike.
ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac – Jazz, poetry, drugs powered by extraordinary momentum “The only people in life for me are the mad ones… the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles”. And with those words, a thousand trips were launched.
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS by Hunter S. Thompson – ‘We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold…’ Enough Said. A Classic.
JUST A LITTLE RUN AROUND THE WORLD by Rosie Swale Pope tells her epic tale of 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves, 53 Pairs of Shoes and 29 Marriage Proposals and…well, read the book. I bow to you Rosie Swale Pope, I bow to you.
AS I WALKED OUT ONE MIDSUMMER MORNING by Laurie Lee who voyages as a young man in the 1930s from a sleepy part of the Cotswolds, to London then Spain, armed with little more than an adventurous spirit and a violin. Exhilarating, whimsical and poetic.
COASTING by Jonathan Raban tells the story of the author’s 4,000-mile journey around Britain in a 32-foot ketch, using only a compass for navigation. “For years I coasted from job to job, place to place, person to person. At the first hint of adverse weather I hauled up my anchor and moved on with the tide,” he said. Hmmm.
TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY: IN SEARCH OF AMERICA by John Steinbeck who sets out with his gregarious French poodle Charley in 1960 in a converted pick-up truck to tour the USA.
THE BEACH by Alex Garland is a cult classic of all consuming escapism and the search for paradise on earth. You’ve seen the film. Shame on you if you haven’t read the book.
IN PATAGONIA by Bruce Chatwin is described as a “little masterpiece of travel, history, and adventure” and we love it because it charts a six-month journey in 1972 from the Rio Negro to the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia where we have lots of super trips.
OUR MAN IN HAVANA by Graham Greene sees the hapless central character become embroiled in a web of intrigue and espionage over which he has little control. It’s both a spoof and a reflection of Cuba as it used to be.
THE LOST TRIBE: A HARROWING PASSAGE INTO NEW GUINEA’S HEART OF DARKNESS Two years before this story begins, the Liawep were living deep in the jungle of Papua, New Guinea, long forgotten by the outside world. Numbering seventy-nine men, women, and children, the tribe worshipped a mountain, dressed in leaves, and hid when planes flew overhead, believing them to be evil sanguma birds. This book changed their lives. And mine.
The list could be endless but bag-restrictions apply…
… but there must be space for a couple more… what would you pack?