Literary escapes: 6 must-reads for travel book lovers

written by Sahar Aman March 8, 2024
a man reading a book

A good novel has the power to captivate our imagination, but travel literature goes a step further and whisks readers to far-off destinations, immersing them in the sights, sounds and sensations of places they may or may not have dreamed of visiting.

Travel books, memoirs and journals are magic in how they captures stories that have a life beyond the page. From vivid landscapes of Indigenous communities to the intimate struggles of personal identity, the titles below offer windows into worlds beyond your own. Whether you’re seeking adventure, enlightenment or simply a momentary escape from the ordinary, these books will take you on a journey.

An Indian Among los Indígenas

Ursula Pike is a member of the Karuk Tribe. At 25, she embarked on a Peace Corps journey to Bolivia, seeking connections with Indigenous peoples. Her memoir, An Indian among los Indígenas, challenges colonial travel narratives with sharp wit and honesty.

Ursula explores her own sense of identity while engaging with Indigenous communities in Bolivia and delves into the challenges of cross-cultural aid work, shedding light on the lingering impact of colonization. Reading this book will inspire you to travel humbly and encourage you to create genuine connections with communities worldwide.

Eat, Gay, Love

In 2012, Calum McSwiggan’s six-year relationship ends, leaving him heartbroken and adrift. Eat, Gay, Love tells the story of how he sets off on a trip across the world, teaching in Rome, exploring Berlin’s clubs and caring for tigers in Thailand. Along the way, he encounters a diverse array of LGBTQIA+ individuals, each with their own stories of resilience and hope amid challenges like homophobia and gender identity struggles.

Through these encounters, Calum finds healing and a sense of belonging within a global community that supports him through life’s ups and downs. Eat, Gay, Love celebrates the strength and beauty of LGBTQIA+ communities worldwide and inspires readers to embrace life’s adventures with openness and courage.

rome colosseum

Everything the Light Touches

Written by Janice Pariat, Everything the Light Touches brings together people and places that seem removed from each other in time and place but are ultimately connected. This rich narrative will make you reflect on the lines that connect us while exploring different cultures, landscapes and perspectives.

Readers follow four travellers: Shai, a young Indian woman who discovers renewal with Indigenous communities in northeast India. Evelyn, a student at Cambridge in Edwardian England is seeking out sacred forests in the lower Himalayas after being inspired by Goethe’s botanical works. Linnaeus, a botanist and taxonomist who led an expedition to Lapland in 1732 and famously said ‘God creates; Linnaeus organises.’ And Goethe himself, whose travels through Italy in the 1780s inspired his ideas for The Metamorphosis of Plants, in which he proposed a holistic view of nature.

The Shadow of a Mountain

Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, a Peruvian-American, is a trailblazing mountaineer, author, social entrepreneur and technologist. In June 2018, she achieved two historic feats: becoming the first Peruvian woman to conquer Mount Everest and the first openly gay woman to conquer the Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent according to the Messner and Bass lists.

In Silicon Valley’s tech scene, Silvia was a hero, but privately, she was barely holding on. Battling alcoholism, concealing her sexuality and burying childhood trauma, she found solace in climbing. In The Shadow of a Mountain, she chronicles her journey to Everest. Silvia gathers a group of young female survivors and leads them to Everest Basecamp. Taking her biggest pain to the world’s biggest mountain, she draws from the strength of her fellow survivors. This book celebrates adventure and resilience.

Somewhere in the Middle

Half-Filipino and raised in America, Deborah Francisco Douglas longed to learn more about her Filipino roots. Her book, Somewhere in the Middle, captures the story of her trip to the Philippines. Deborah jumps the at chance for self-discovery when receives an assignment as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Phillippines. In Baguio City, she faces roosters, bucket baths and kids shouting her name whenever she walks through the street. Despite her efforts, finding her identity in her community doesn’t happen as planned.

This book brims with warmth and humour, showcasing the beauty of ordinary moments and human connections. Whether you’re exploring your roots, volunteering, or seeking adventure, this memoir will inspire anyone searching for belonging in the world.

Meeting Faith

In this gripping personal narrative. Faith Adiele trades Pop Tarts and pop culture for a journey with flying rats, cobras and forest fires. As a Black Buddhist nun, Faith reveals conflict on the path to faith.

Residing in a forest temple in Thailand, enduring gruelling meditations and solitary meals, she confronts loneliness, fear and her ego. Through witty storytelling, Faith demystifies Eastern philosophy, inspiring readers to take their own transformative journeys, whether Buddhist or not, and discover the keys to overcoming challenges and redefining success in today’s world.

Feeling inspired?

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