If you have ever been abroad, or have a dream destination you can seem to forget about, then chances are you have experienced a burning sense of wanderlust from time to time.
Wanderlust can be insatiable; always driving you to discover one place after another after another. When you’ve been stuck in one place for a while, it can be difficult to satisfy that need to be out in the world exploring, and that’s where a good book can come in handy.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your next holiday, or you’re simply trying to keep your travel bug at bay while you’re homebound, this list is for you. Here we have identified some of the best books on the market that will give your major wanderlust
The Women I Think About at Night:
Traveling The Paths of My Heroes Calling all feminists and solo female travellers- here’s one for you. This memoir follows Mia Kankimäki as she leaves her childless, single and bureaucratic life behind to travel the world. This isn’t your average solo gap year, though. Mia sets out to travel the paths of famous women throughout history who have inspired her in her lifetime, from artists to prominent female explorers. She starts out on an African adventure inspired by Out of Africa (Which we will talk about later in this list) and ends up everywhere from Japan to Italy in the days to come. When you’re finished reading all about the tales of Mia’s feminist-inspired adventures, you’ll be itching to set out on a girl-power trip of your own.
The Land Where Lemons Grow:
The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit Who would have thought to search for travel inspiration in a book about lemons? This detailed history of Italy as it relates to this popular citrus fruit touches on all the best things that the country has to offer from culinary excellence, to horticulture and historical art. Readers will delight in Helena Atlee’s depiction of the Italian countryside and find themselves filled with a desire to plan a visit at the next possible opportunity.
Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World:
At twenty seven years old, Nell Stevens decided she was going to write a novel. When she won an all-expenses paid trip to research and write her novel anywhere in the world, she was thrilled- there was no way she wouldn’t find a way to be inspired, and there was little that could get in the way of her writing. She chose Bleaker Island, just off the coast of the Falklands. Of course, things did not go as planned, making this travelogue-style memoir full of mischief, misfortune and ultimately good advice. She was determined to write a novel, but somehow life kept getting in the way. Not only will you come away from this book with a longing to go somewhere unexplored, you might just end up coming to the conclusion that you should write a novel while you’re there.
Travels With Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life
If you’re looking for a beach read full of wanderlust and an infusion of philosophy, satire and subtle mythology, look no further. This novel will take you through Daniel Klein’s trip to the Greek island of Hydra, where he intended to unearth the secret to aging with joy. You’ll discover the truth behind simple pleasure, enjoy witty banter about the truths of life, and perhaps end up with a plan to spend your life savings on a spontaneous getaway- just as Klein did when he decided to use his denture savings to fund his midlife crisis induced greek getaway.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life:
This surfing memoir follows the life of William Finnegan as he surfs his way around the world, from the South pacific, to Australia, to Asia, to Africa. Raised between California and Hawaii, surfing became one of his greatest childhood passions. As he got older, he also became interested in literature and went on to become a war reporter and professional writer, making this a poignant and multifaceted read. Whether you are intrigued by the lifestyle or the globetrotting, this book will have you planning your next vacation to a surf retreat where you can explore the world and catch some waves all at the same time.
A Year in Japan:
If you think you know about Japan, think again. This travel memoir follows Williamson through a year-long journey across Japan and reveals all the underrated trends, cultural phenomena and quirks of the country. By the time you’ve finished reading about encounters with sumo wrestlers, geishas and temple carpenters, you’ll have dropped your cliche’d opinions of Japan and already booked a plane ticket to this colourful and eccentric country.
Waterlog: A Swimmers Journey Through Britain:
We guarantee you’ve never read a travel memoir quite like this one. Roger Deakin was growing tired of daily life in Suffolk and so he decides to embark on a journey across Britain, but not by plane, train or automobile. Deakin decided he was going to swim his way through Britain, be it through rivers, lakes, quarries, seas and everything in between. Deakin gets to know the natural side of his country, becomes acquainted with its inhabitants and sometimes gets himself into a bit of trouble- giving the novel an air of comedic relief. You’ll listen as he regales his stories of an arrest and being mistaken for a dead body, amongst other mishaps along the way. Still you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the British environment, and perhaps a need to explore it in a new way. This novel is especially great for those who love Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World:
Why not search for wanderlust in a novel that blends travel tales with one of your other greatest passions- food? Professional writer, Jeff Gordinier and renowned top chef, René Redzepi (the owner of “the best restaurant in the world” according to some critics). Together, they set out to learn about new flavours and cuisines and find themselves entangled with locals, embracing dozens of new cultures and combatting the odd misfortune. This easy read is sure to make you long for the landscapes and cuisines of the world from the jungles of the Yucatán to the wild oceans of the Arctic.
Island Dreams: Mapping an Obsession:
If you’re looking for an unorthodox memoir to soothe your travel bug, then Island Dreams is the novel for you. Author Gavin Francis expertly combines his best personal travel tales with literary voyages, psychology and philosophy for a unique take on the human relationship with Islands. You’ll find yourself crossing the globe throughout history in search of tropical islands and examining why, as a species, we have always been so utterly fascinated by them. If this book doesn’t inspire you to find a private island to hideaway on, we don’t know what will.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time:
Machu Picchu has certainly become a favourite amongst world travellers, attracting backpackers, children and bucket-listers alike. This lost city has seemingly always had this magnetic appeal. In 1911, Hiram Bingham III discovered Machu Picchu when he climbed the Andes. Australian survivalist, Mark Adams, decided he was going to recreate Bingham’s journey (and referencing the less savoury parts such as artifact theft) and record his journey in a funny memoir. The truth is, prior to this excursion, Adams’ was an adventure novelist and had limited experience with the outdoors- he claims to have never even slept in a tent prior to this journey. As Adams recounts his trek through the Andes, following in Bingham’s footsteps, your soul will burn with a need to see Machu Picchu for yourself.
Between Two Kingdoms:
The best travelogues will also have trials, tribulations and a realistic depiction of rolling with life's punches, and that’s exactly what Between Two Kingdoms does. After a receiving diagnosis of Leukaemia, and spending nearly four years journalling her treatment for The New York Times, Jaquad enters remission with a bang. She decides to hop in a van with her newest furry friend, Oscar, and embark on a 15,000 miles road trip across the United States. Along the way, she plans to meet some of the people who wrote in to her as she wrote her pieces for the Times, including a death row inmate. This novel will deal with themes of survival, forgiveness, and recovery but it will also be a major source of inspiration for making lemonade out of lemons. The next time you stumble over what you though were the best-laid plans, you might just find yourself impulsively setting out on a journey of self-discovery.
A Moveable Feast:
Considered to be the original source of literary wanderlust, Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” chronicles his time living in Paris as a young writer. Hemingway gives new life to the idealistic city of love, with his warm and affectionate retelling of events. Though not one of his most famous works, this is a favourite of many hemming way enthusiasts and globetrotters alike. By the end of the novel, you won’t be able to waste another second without booking a trip to Paris.
Out of Africa:
This beloved memoir of Karen Blixen’s time spent on a coffee plantation in Kenya is packed full of lovingly told tales of life in Africa. John Updike called her "one of the most picturesque and flamboyant literary personalities of the century” which is a testament to her her vibrant storytelling and gorgeous imagery. You’ll fall absolutely head over heals for this African nation as you navigate your way through her days in Nairobi. Blixen’s memoir was such a source of inspiration, that you may have even seen its narrative depicted on the big screen. “Out of Africa” has been considered the wanderlust film to beat for quite some time, and the novel is no different. After just a few pages, you’ll be dreaming up your next vacation to the continent.