Many people associate travel with reading, whether that means pulling out a book at the beach, passing a few boring hours on the plane, or relaxing with a good mystery when the weather won’t cooperate with your plans. But what about reading before you hit the road?
National Book Lovers Day is August 9th, so why not celebrate by picking up something that will get your adventurous juices flowing. No, not your smartphone. There are thousands of great novels out there that have inspired countless travelers and could be just what you need to rekindle your passion for seeing the world. We’ve put together a list to get you started, but don’t stop there. Reading is the #1 way to stimulate creativity, fuel your imagination and reduce stress. If you haven’t turned the pages of a book for awhile, there’s no better time than today.
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all, a book written in 1957 that still resonates with travelers in the new millennium. It’s the defining book of the Beat Generation, tracing the author’s various trips with his friend Dean Moriarty through a whirl of drugs, sex, jazz and self-revelation. It’s been called one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century and while some of it may seem a little dated, there’s no denying that the search for meaning still beats strong in the heart of every traveler.
The Wangs vs. The World, by Jade Chang
Another road trip book, but one that couldn’t be more different from the Kerouac classic. When the wealthy Wang family loses everything but their car, they embark on a trip from Bel-Air to upstate New York. Their journey is both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving as it captures the evolving concept of the American Dream, a contemporary immigrant story, and the elusive meaning of “home”.
A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World, edited by Don George
If you think you’ve heard of A Moveable Feast, you’re probably thinking of Ernest Hemingway’s memoirs of the years he spent in Paris in the 1920's. This book, however, is something completely different. It’s a compilation of 38 short stories from all over the world that are as much about exploring cultural differences as they are about the various authors’ love of food. The book will leave you intrigued, laughing, and starving for a foodie adventure.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
This widely acclaimed novel was first written in Portuguese by a Brazilian writer who has now inspired readers all over the world to get out there and pursue their destiny. It tells the story of a young Spanish shepherd’s journey to the Egyptian pyramids in search of a treasure that came to him in a dream. Santiago’s adventure is guaranteed to leave you thinking about where you could go to reconnect with your “personal legend”.
The “Jack Reacher” Series, by Lee Child
Forget about the movie. It doesn’t even come close to doing justice to this terrific series that follows the wanderings of an ex-military cop across (mostly) rural America. Reacher has become a touchstone for anyone who’s just wanted to pack up their toothbrush and explore the country on foot. Sure, the books have lots of action, bad guys and plot twists, but they also provide a unique insight into life on the road, America in the new millennium, and the dream of getting completely off the grid.
Whether you’re looking for a light summer read or want to get your teeth into a classic, there’s something out there for every traveler and would-be adventurer. Pick up a book on National Book Lovers Day and explore the world, even if it’s only from your couch (for now!).