“A Reader Lives A Thousand Lives Before He Dies.
The Man Who Never Reads Only Lives One.”
~ George R.R. Martin
Throughout my childhood I was always the ‘weird’ kid in the corner, with my head buried between the pages of a book, whisking me off to a life away from my own. Whether I was sailing around the world, exploring far away lands or getting lost in the past. Exploring and living a fantasy life or peeking into the future. My imagination was alive, something from getting lost in the mythical tales and true stories of those not here ignited a spark inside me.
Books filled me with the ideas I needed, gave me companionship while teaching me to be independent and strong. It ignited the passion and desire to always wanting to know, see, do more.
My favourite books stick with me, they have shaped me into the person I am today, so here are the 7 books which have Influenced my travels, and my life so far.
Exodus: Julie Bertagna
“Imagine our world if the ice caps really do thaw – what would it be like? What would we do to survive when we see the ocean creep up to the places we love? In Exodus, the cities and land that we know are now deep underwater and in the commencing chaos, Mara’s ancestors settled on the tip of the island of Wing. As yearly storms rage and the water rises, her community realizes that soon there will be nothing left – and Mara has a crazy idea that might save them all.”
This book has stuck with me ever since I read it years ago, back in high school (or maybe younger). So yes, it is aimed at teenagers but it is a brilliant story which also presents a very important message: Climate Change.
It is also probably one of the biggest triggers that made me passionate about the world, eco tourism and sustainable travel.
A good easy read with a great story, it will enchant you and haunt your dreams (in a good way). I highly recommend you give this book a shot!
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Probably one book almost everyone HAS to read at some point.
Cheryl is lost in life, not accidentally but by choice. She openly details the events and paths of self-destructive behavior she followed subsequent to her mother’s death, the loss of her family home and the ‘glue that held the family together’.
You will read how her life unraveled and she became someone she no longer recognized when looking in the mirror. Taking a leap of faith she took on the challenge of walking the PCT, with minimal experience, an over packed backpack and A LOT of emotional baggage to work through, you’ll follow her journey throughout the hike and experience, the highs, the lows and the laughs.
It rings a truth to everyone who has ever felt lost. While the hype of the book soared upon the release of the movie (which I have still not seen, I love the book too much) and reviews can be mixed, I highly rate this book and it still sits up there as one of my favorite reads.
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
A beautiful a tragic tale of young Chiyo who was sold off to train as a Geisha after her poor father who was caring for his incredibly sick wife met with a wealthy business man who promised a better life for his kids.
It follows the initial struggle of Chiyo growing up with strict discipline, separated from her family and one in which she yearns to escape from, until she makes a friend and mentor and begins her Geisha training. Going on to become on of Japan’s most celebrated Geisha’s she finally breaks the chains she felt trapped in all her life, found freedom and love.
An international best seller and also a fantastic movie.
The book is both beautiful and heartbreaking and a read I absolutely adored. Geisha’s have always captivated me, so beautiful and disciplined but with grace. It gives a good insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ of Geisha life and life in Japan before the second world war.
This is a book to get lost in. I would recommend reading the book before the movie if possible!
Empire Antarctica: Ice Silence & Emperor Penguins – By Gavin Francis
An inspiring book which I think almost every traveller will enjoy – regardless of your interest in Antarctica – as you follow Gavin to Antarctica where he fulfils a childhood dream of visiting this Ice Continent and living with Emperor Penguins.
Travelling to Antarctica, he lives for one year in the British Research Centre in Halley, said to be easier to rescue someone from the international space station than Halley.
Follow him as he goes through the ups and downs of living in such a lonely environment, his overwhelming joy at visiting the Emperors and boyish exploration antics him and the other researchers get up on the ice.
A book you won’t be able to put down, he has some incredible story telling skills as well as poetry. If you didn’t want to travel to Antarctica before, while he may not convince you to stay for a year, you will at least want to peek behind the curtains.
Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback – Robyn Davidson
Possibly one of my most favourite books – and yes, the movie is pretty awesome too – and I think it’s because I felt like I could relate so well to Robyn’s character.
The book – and the movie – captivated me. Her adventurous spirit, desire for privacy and pushing the limits that society enforces and straying from the path (literally) already trodden, instead she creates her own.
Throughout the book you learn about the journey Robyn is about to take. Instead of jumping into a rash decision of walking across the desert it is a plan that is years in the making. You watch her step out her comfort zone, face her fears, deal with loneliness, racism and sexism before heading out on the adventure. She involves you every step of the way, is a true nomad with a desire to be alone, rather than in the spotlight.
This is also one of the few books I’ve read, where the movie does it complete justice and brings the story to life so well it doesn’t matter whether you read the book first or not.
A Walk In The Woods – Bill Bryson
A writer I sometimes struggle to enjoy, Bill Bryson did it for me with this book. A tale of two middle-aged men, stuck in a rut with life and craving adventure. Bill details how he became fixated on the idea of walking the Appalachian Trail but after some good fear provoking newspaper clippings from his (supportive) wife, he decides he needs a partner and so calls (literally) everyone he knows, begging for a companion.
The companion he ended up with surprised him.
This hilarious tale of two ‘old friends’ walking the Appalachian Trail, finds them rediscovering their friendship and bonding over the fear of bears, rattlesnakes and murderers (it’s a joke, kind of). I couldn’t put this book down and i finished it within a couple of days. If this doesn’t make you want to take to the woods i don’t know what will.
One of the only books on this list i would say does better than the movie. While the movie is funny, it skims across a lot of details, jokes and experiences.
The Search – Nora Roberts
A book I couldn’t put down and a story I return to read over and over again.
Thrillers and Mystery novels are my favourite, but when you combine both of that with outdoor lifestyle, independent women, animals and love this book ticks all the boxes.
Follow Fiona as she rebuilds her life in a small island town with her dogs and outdoor living after surviving the wrath of a serial killer and is now looking to put the past to bed. Running a successful dog training business as well as being actively involved with the local community and the canine search and rescue service Fiona seems to have everything, except someone to share it with. Just as she begins to get strong enough to be vulnerable enough to let someone else in, the past isn’t quite finished with her.
A gripping tale which will have you holding tight to your book. A story that offers up new details you missed before each time you revisit it and a twist you won’t see coming.
I loved this book and while it isn’t about travel in the slightest, it’s a book I continue to go back to and read again and again.
7 thoughts on “7 Books That Influenced My Travels and Life.”
I loved Geisha too! There are various books i find extremely captivating, but the one that changed my life is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is brilliant, philosophical yet captivating. Also Orwell’s Burmese Days and Holton’s New Granada: Twenty Months in the Andes were particularly interesting for me. 🙂
Geisha was soooo good huh?!
oooo awesome, sounds really interesting I will look them up tonight and put them on my wishlist. I think i may have to invest in a kindle! 🙂
Twenty Months in the Andes sounds really interesting!
Yes, Twenty months etc. is really fascinating – besides, the guy is really funny and kind with the locals 🙂 I really loved that book. Geisha was cool 🙂 I actually have a kindle but don´t use it much ; im not sure i will take it when travelling this time around, i always end up carrying it around to no use…
I love my kindle for the sheer convenience of having several chunky books with me for the weight of one device. I read an asortment of books when travelling – for example I read Mark Twain when I was following in his footsteps in the Western US and Hawaii, great to juxtapose our experiences across a 100 years!
I’ve also read real life stories about Bolivia and Cambodia when in those countries and it adds more than a guide book history section. Thanks for sharing your favourites!
Hi Katie 🙂
I think I am going to have to invest in a kindle at this rate, so many recommendations! Which is awesome 🙂
What books did you read about Bolivia?
Great post! Reading Tracks at the moment and really enjoying it. If you’re looking for recommendations some of my favourites are (non-fiction) A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway about the time he spent in Paris and (fiction) The Beach by Alex Garland and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, which is set in Iceland and makes you really feel the majesty of the landscape!
Thank you! I loved Tracks! The movie is also good too but there is so much more detail in the book 🙂
Awesome! Thank you so much for the recommendations, i’ll pop them on my wishlist! May have to invest in a kindle at this rate haha!