Why we use E-ReadersAs I said, I love to read and I read one book per week. Since we travel all of the time, I had to find a better solution than lugging 50+ in books. Not at all practical. If you are like me and don’t have space or capacity to have so many books but enjoy reading, you will love E-Readers. Kyle and I each have Kindles. With over 35,000+ positive reviews, we both have a Paperwhite Kindle that’s now waterproof. I have at least 30 books on one tiny device. We chose a kindle over a tablet because distractions are a real thing. If we had a tablet, we’d be bombarded with every notification (and drive me crazy). Also, the text and pages look more like a book with the Kindle
Have you tried Audiobooks?Another travel-friendly alternative is audiobooks. We use them primarily during long road trips where reading is impractical (and obviously dangerous). To occupy my mind, I really enjoy listening to an interesting story about a foreign land. Both have a time and place in my life and my heart.
Get Free Books and Audiobooks?If you can get on the e-reader wave, you can get free books! Well, on loan but FREE! If you don’t already have one, a library card is great for free books in general. But did you know you can also rent e-books and audiobooks for free with the same library card? mind blown Libby is an app for iOS and Android that allows you to rent thousands of library cards at hundreds of libraries around the world. Once you download the app, you enter your library credentials found on your card (email address and id number) and you have thousands of books at your fingertips. That’s it! As an added bonus, you can read your library book on Kindle.
Books by GenreWe’ve broken the books down by genre. We know that not all travel is created equal and the importance of finding a book that you actually enjoy is critical to reading. The minute I no longer enjoy a book, I stop reading it and move on to the next book. I’ve gathered the best travel books by genre and geographical location.
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, by Helen RussellThe Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country as the title suggests, Helen Russell moves to a rural Danish city. After learning that Denmark is rated as the happiest country in the world, Helen is determined to discover the secret. In the book, she covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of living in Denmark and why are they so happy. As one of the best selling travel books on Amazon, you don’t want to miss this one.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir, by Kristin NewmanKristin Newman decided to travel the world alone for several weeks a year for a decade while her friends were getting married and having babies. She tells the tales of her adventures. Amazon says “Equal parts laugh-out-loud storytelling, candid reflection, and wanderlust-inspiring travel tales, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding is a compelling debut that will have readers rushing to renew their passports” If that doesn’t send you directly to Amazon to purchase, I don’t know what will.
The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World, by Jennifer BaggettAs 3 friends approach their 30th birthdays, The Lost Girls decide to quit their jobs to travel the world together. I love this book because it is very familiar although I am not traveling with my girlfriends. We can all relate to the pressure of aging and the expected milestones. This is a feel-good book of friends with an unbreakable bond while they venture around the world with backpacks.
Food and Travel Books
A Moveable Feast, by Lonely PlanetA Moveable Feast features stories by Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Mark Kurlansky, Matt Preston, Simon Winchester, Stefan Gates, David Lebovitz, Matthew Fort, Tim Cahill, Jan Morris and Pico Iyer. Edited by Don George. Each story depicts how food has brought people together or driven them apart in every corner of the world.
A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal, by Anthony BourdainA Cook’s Tour combines Anthony Bourdain’s two favorite things: traveling and cooking. He searches the world for the perfect meal. “Bourdain’s mission is to show the cool, un-Martha side of the culinary world.” (Time magazine)
A Fork In The Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure and Discovery On The Road, by Lonely PlanetThis book features 34 stories and courses from the best travel and food writers around. Featuring tales from James Oseland, Frances Mayes, Giles Coren, Curtis Stone, Annabel Langbein, Neil Perry, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Jay Rayner, Madhur Jaffrey, Michael Pollan, Josh Ozersky, Marcus Samuelsson, Naomi Duguid, Jane and Michael Stern, Francine Prose, Ma Thanegi, Kaui Hart Hemmings, Rita Mae Brown, Monique Truong, Fuschia Dunlop, David Kamp, Mas Masumoto, Daniel Vaughn, Tom Carson, Andre Aciman, MJ Hyland, Alan Richman, Beth Kracklauer, Sigrid Nunez, Chang Rae Lee, Julia Reed, Gael Greene
Romance and Travel Books
Love with a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRocheLove with a Chance of Drowning is part memoir part love story. Fellow travel blogger, Torre DeRoche, tells the story of meeting her dream man in a bar in San Francisco. The only problem is he is set to sail around the world and she is deathly afraid of the water. Follow along her journey tackling new love and her biggest fears in this page-turning novel.
Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth GilbertIf you haven’t heard of Eat, Pray, Love, I’m convinced that you live under a rock. This is easily the first book on the list. It was even made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. After her divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert ventures off to travel in search of food, spirituality, and love. “A meditation on love in its many forms—love of food, language, humanity, God, and most meaningful for Gilbert, love of self.”—Los Angeles Times
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin KwanIn Crazy Rich Asians, Rachel doesn’t know she’s dating Singapore’s most eligible bachelor who’s family is rich RICH. While they live in NYC, she agrees to spend the summer in Singapore where she meets his crazy and rich family. “If this isn’t the funniest book so far this year, it’s up there. . . . Kwan, who grew up in Singapore, skewers his subjects deftly, stylishly, and completely—but with heart.” —The Denver Post
Fictional Books about Travel
The Alchemist, by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist tells the fictional story of Santiago, a Southern Spanish sheppard (try saying that 3 times fast) who searches to the Pyramids of Egypt looking for treasure. Although that is the premise of the book, its filled with life lessons that we all have faced. With over 65 million copies sold and 24,000 reviews on Amazon, The Alchemist is a must-read. Fun Fact: The book was originally written in Portugues and has been translated to 80 languages. So, you can even practice your language skills by picking this book up in another language.
Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk“A disorienting, intelligent, and unforgettable book.” –Bustle “A revelation … Flights is a witty, imaginative, hard-to-classify work that is in the broadest sense about travel…. In this risky, restlessly mercurial book, Tokarczuk has found a way of turning…philosophy into writing that doesn’t just take flight but soars.” – NPR’s “Fresh Air”
Self Improvement books rooted in Travel
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, by Rolf PottsVagabonding is another classic and uber-popular in any digital nomad community – with good reason. S “Vagabonding easily remains in my top-10 list of life-changing books. Why? Because one incredible trip, especially a long-term trip, can change your life forever. And Vagabonding teaches you how to travel (and think), not just for one trip, but for the rest of your life.”—Tim Ferriss, from the foreword Also, this book was also a big part of our story. Read it here.
Not Afraid of the Fall: 114 Days Through 38 Cities in 15 Countries, by Kyle JamesIn Not Afraid of the Fall: 114 Days Through 38 Cities in 15 Countries, Kyle and his girlfriend make the quick decision to quit their jobs to travel to as many countries as possible. This story is part memoir and part love story following the young couple through life-changing adventures. For anyone contemplating taking the plunge into adult gap year status, this book is for you. “An alluring read for fans of travel writing. Not Afraid of the Fall is both exhilarating and inspiring. After reading this book you’ll want to go on your own epic adventure.” ―Ed Stafford, Discovery Channel presenter and Guinness World Record-holding first man to walk the Amazon
Travel as Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity, by Gregory DiehlWe can definitely relate to transforming from traveling. This book forces the reader to question their habit and quirks influenced by the cultures we live in. One reviewer said, “Travel as Transformation is the book I needed when I was struggling to define who I was when I was lost in the world, when I didn’t know my calling. I needed this book then, but I will be sure and not let my nephew or future children miss out on this important text when they become old enough… I’ve read countless books on travel, personal development and philosophy and this one is among my top ten books of all-time.”
Crime Thriller Books about Travel
Disappearing Earth: A Novel, by Julia PhillipsDisappearing Earth tells the fictional story of two sisters who go missing from a beach in northern Russia. As the crime is uncovered, we get a look into a tight-knit community and their roles. “Thrilling. . . . This mystery takes you to a scrappy ice-bound town in Russia’s frozen north. Rumors and rivalries, secrets and lies, all add up to a compelling portrayal of a community under siege.” —People
Night Boat to Tangier: A Novel, by Kevin BarryTwo aging drug smugglers from Ireland wait for the night ferry at a sketchy Spanish port. As they sit and wait, their minds bring up all the stories of their past as drug smugglers. “Kevin Barry channels the music in every voice, from lowlife philosopher to slow-footed thug, ponderous wit to fluting child — and the comic genius in everyone, whether unfunny fool or God’s own comedian.” —Ellen Akins, The Washington Post
Moscow Rules, by Daniel SilvaThe death of a journalist leads Israeli spy Gabriel Allon to Russia, where he finds that, in terms of spycraft, even he has something to learn in this #1 New York Times bestseller. “Silva has been credited for giving new life to international thrillers. This is a case where credit has been given where credit is definitely due.”—Tampa Tribune
Extra: Books by DestinationsWhile all the books above are listed by genres, I created the following lists by destination. Find your favorite destinations below and enjoy books written specifically about it. My hope is even when you can’t travel to these places, these books will aid your wanderlust.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl StrayedIn Wild, the author talks about hiking the 2600 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon, and Washington between Mexico and Canada. This best-seller was also made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. To listen to the author’s interview on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation click here. “One of the most original, heartbreaking, and beautiful American memoirs in years. . . . Awe-inspiring.” —NPR
To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret, by Jedidiah JenkinsNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “With winning candor, Jedidiah Jenkins takes us with him as he bicycles across two continents and delves deeply into his own beautiful heart.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild Want to hear more about Patagonia and the most difficult hike, I’ve ever done? Click here.
Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, by Andrew PhamCatfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey―a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam―made by a young Vietnamese-American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland. Intertwined with an often humorous travelogue spanning a year of discovery is a memoir of war, escape, and ultimately, family secrets.
Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan, by Jamie ZeppaBeyond the Sky and the Earth is a travel memoir by Jamie Zeppa that details her life after quitting her job to teach English in Bhutan. At 24 years old, she signed up for a 3-year contract to teach English and start a new life.
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, by Adam HigginbothamEarly on the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded. Adam Higginbotham interviewed hundreds of people to write one of the most accurate depictions of this tragedy.
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, by Tembi LockeIt was love at first sight when actress Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of his marrying a black American woman. “This beautiful memoir takes us on Tembi’s personal journey of love, parenthood, and ultimately the loss of her husband, Saro. She learns to heal in the most beautiful way—through the support of three generations of women—and yes, there’s Italian food. Lots and lots of Italian food!”—Reese Witherspoon
In a Sunburned Country, by Bill BrysonBill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. “Vastly entertaining… If there is one book with which to get oriented before departure or en route to Australia, this is it.” —New York Times
The Pants Of Perspective, by Anna McNuffTraveling alone through New Zealand’s backcountry for 148 days, she scrambled through forests, along ridge-lines, over mountain passes, along beaches, and across swollen rivers. Running up to 52 kilometers in a day, she slept wild most nights and was taken into the homes and hearts of the kiwi people in between.
South American Destinations
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grannin 1925, Britsh explorer set off in the Amazon for the lost city of Z. Only to never be heard from again. Several people have tried to solve his mysterious disappearance. David Grann tells his story. “A fascinating yarn that touches on science, history, and some truly obsessive personalities.” —Entertainment Weekly
Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail, by Thomas McFadden“On a whim, Young decided it might be interesting to visit notorious San Pedro Prison in La Paz, Bolivia, so he signed up for an illegal tour. The tour guide was Thomas McFadden, an inmate who had been imprisoned for drug smuggling. They struck up a friendship, and Young bribed the guards to let him stay ‘inside’ for three months, where he recorded the particulars of life in one of the world’s most peculiar prisons. ” Booklist
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca, by Tahir Shah
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca tells the story of Tahir Shah moving his wife and children from London to a traditional house in Morroco. After falling in love with the country from his childhood vacations, the author risks it all to purchase an old caliph’s (or community spiritual leader’s) home. From religious rituals to thieving neighbors, this family has to manage it all in a completely new country and cultural norms.