Certainly I’m not alone in that I miss traveling. Currently in the longest stretch in recent memory without a trip somewhere. Even though I’m at home, I still like to plan travel, and think about it. Another way I’ve tried to temper my wanderlust is to read travel related books. Balancing work, parenting and teaching doesn’t allow for much free time, but thankfully I’ve been able to set aside a few minutes each day to read. Here are some of my favorite books related to travel.
A Week at the Airport
This book is not about traveling per se, since the author spends a week at Heathrow , without departing. I enjoyed this book from the perspective of an aviation geek, which is certainly fitting for me. I’ve long enjoyed airport more than most others. These days, I don’t usually spend any more time there than needed when traveling, I make some exceptions in certain airports. Hong Kong is a favorite, and I don’t mind Heathrow as most of the time. Fancy airport lounges help here, but I am still a wide-eyed kid at some airports. I just enjoy watching all the airplanes. Here is a snippet from the book that hit home:
“Out of the millions of people we live among, most of whom we habitually ignore and are ignored by in turn, there are always a few that hold hostage our capacity for happiness, whom we could recognize by their smell alone and whom we would rather die than be without.”
In A Sunburned Country
This is one of several books by Bill Bryson that I’ve enjoyed. He often writes about travel, but not exclusively. He is an American married to a Brit, and his humorous observations on life are a joy to read. This book is about an extensive tour of Australia by car and train. Many hilarious quotes, but this is a favorite:
“Australians are very unfair in this way. They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country’s dangers are vastly overrated and that there’s nothing to worry about, and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin, but that it’s okay now because he’s off the life support machine and they’ve discovered he can communicate with eye blinks.”
Video Night in Kathmandu
This book is 30+ years old, but I only recently discovered it. It is still enjoyable, even if some references are outdated. Pico Iyer often writes about travel and diverse cultures. He is British-born son in Indian immigrants, who grew up in California, and now lives in Japan with his wife. Time spent in Kathmandu reminds me of my trip there last year. He is a brilliant writer, and transports you to exotic locales just with words on the page.
“I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity.”
The Longest Way Home
While this isn’t high brow literature, I enjoyed the good storytelling around some travel. He uses getting away as a crutch, but eventually learns more about himself and the discovery of where he wants to go, and in part that means, finding home. One line I enjoyed:
“As is often the case when I travel, my vulnerability — like not knowing what the hell I’m going to do upon arrival — makes me more open to outside interactions than I might be when I’m at home and think I know best what needs to be done. On the road, serendipity is given space to enter my life.”
On The Road
A literary classic, in a very unusual style, that is sometimes hard to read. Still the adventure of long term travel, in a very different time makes for quite an experience as a reader. I relate to the sense of yearning for exploration that is prominent here. Some philosophy from the beat generation:
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”
Final thoughts on my favorite travel books
Not doing much traveling these days, but still enjoy reading about it. These are some of my favorite travel books. What are yours?